Thursday, September 25, 2014

How to Choose the Perfect Travel Purse

I think all of us ladies can agree that when we’re packing for a trip, whether it’s sightseeing in the city or backpacking abroad, it’s important to choose a travel purse that’s secure yet versatile. Unless you don’t mind paying extra checked luggage fees or carting around 50 pounds on your back, space is limited and you don’t have the luxury of bringing several different types of bags to match various outfits.

Travel purses are unique because they need to be way more functional, secure, and durable than our everyday bags. The sleek clutch that’s your go-to for bar hopping or the gorgeous camel tote that you love for running errands? Yup, you guessed it – they’re not going to cut it on the road (especially when you’re travelling in developing countries or visiting busy and touristy areas).

My travel style has evolved over the past year and now I’m a strong advocate for a capsule wardrobe. This means that I plan out what to pack in advance and choose remixable pieces so that I can maximize my total number of outfits (my rule is that each item must coordinate with at least two other pieces). When I packed for Central America I opted for a neutral palette of black, white, and tan and chose to accessorize with complementary pops of colour in the accessories. 

Now that I’ve got more than a few international trips under my belt, I want to share four of my tried and true tips to help you choose the perfect travel purse:

How to Choose the Perfect Travel Purse via


Though it may sound obvious, I’m going to list my most important tip first – a good travel purse needs to have a zipper at the top! It’s much too easy to reach inside a tote bag unnoticed as compared to unzipping a purse. Choosing a purse with at least one solid zipper helps to deter pick-pocketers and keeps your valuables safe.  


I tend to gravitate towards crossbody purses in general but they’re particularly essential when you’re travelling. The liberty of being hands-free is so important when sightseeing, especially if you’re like me and love taking photos. Crossbody purses make it much harder for thieves to swipe and run (like that time my bag was stolen at the beach). Pacsafe even makes slash-proof straps that offer the ultimate peace of mind for those who are concerned about safety. 


Travel is messy. Liquids spill, food crumbles, and sometimes there’s just no avoiding it – your bag is going to sit on the floor. A perfect travel purse is one that’s durable and easy to clean. Nylon, microfiber, and leather are popular options with the latter being my favourite due to its versatility. I personally stay away from canvas as I find it easy to stain and discolour.

Purses for travel with crossbody straps
My sister and I with our purses in Belize 
Exploring Nashville, TN
Exploring downtown Nashville with a purse that's sturdy enough to carry my DSLR camera
How to Choose the Perfect Travel Purse
Taking a break from the heat in Music City

I think it’s crucial to organize your travel purse so that everything has a place and you’re not fumbling around in front of vendors when trying to pay for something. Call me paranoid but the indecision of pulling your purse inside out to search for that elusive item is a signal to snatchers that you’re vulnerable and flustered. It’s so much easier to organize your purse when you have multiple compartments and pockets. Bonus points, of course, if the compartments have zippers!

In my opinion, a perfect travel purse has all of the characteristics above, is versatile enough to go from day-to-night, and comes in a complementary colour to suit the majority of your travel capsule wardrobe. I've picked a few options below if you have an upcoming trip or happen to have your eye on a new bag that will transition perfectly into your travel style.

What are your must-haves when choosing a purse for travel and your day-to-day life?

Which purse should I pack for travel?

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