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Guide to Buying the Best Purse for Travel 2019

shoulder bag

Your travel purse! Why? Because it’s one of the few things that you’ll use every single day while traveling. And you’ll enjoy your trip SO much more if you find the best travel purse to suit your needs.

Types of Travel Purses

The first thing to consider is the type of travel purse that will best suit your needs. You’ll carry your travel purse pretty much everywhere you go while traveling, so you might want a different type of purse than what you typically use at home day-to-day.

Crossbody Purse

Crossbody travel purses have a long strap that enables you to carry the purse across your body (rather than on your shoulder). I love crossbody purses for travel because I find them super comfortable, and I like having my hands free to take photos or eat a chocolate croissant.

Travel tip: look for an adjustable strap so you have the option to carry it as a should bag in addition to across your body. Crossbody purses offer increased security because they can’t be yanked off of you as easily as a purse that you carry on your shoulder.

Anti-theft Travel Purse

You’ve probably heard about the various anti-theft  travel purses that are available today. These purses come in all sizes have features such as safety clasps on zippers, lightweight wire mesh in the purse straps and lining, and RFID blocking pockets. Anti-theft purses often cost a little more but if increased security is important to you, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

I have an anti-theft travel purse in my collection and what I like most about it is the ability to easily unhook the shoulder strap so I can wrap it around the arm of the chair I’m sitting in. I still keep an eye on my purse (as I do when I’m at home) but I like knowing it’s not as easy to grab and run off with while I’m sitting in a cafe, on a train or in the airport.

Small/Lightweight Purses

If you carry a small or lightweight purse in your day-to-day life, that may be all you need while traveling. The benefit of carrying a small travel purse is that you won’t be tempted to bring more than you need and you won’t lug around a heavy bag all day (been there, done that, not fun).

Plus, on transit days you can easily stash a small purse in another bag. I often bring a small, lightweight purse with me for evenings out when I don’t want to carry my larger crossbody or anti-theft purse.

Large Shoulder Purse or Classic Messenger Bag  

On the other hand, you might prefer to travel with a large purse! Large purses can come in handy if you’re doing a lot of day trips and want to bring along things like a laptop or Ipad, a water bottle, a notebook, an umbrella, a jacket, etc.

Large purses can be comfortable to carry all day if you don’t overpack. When I take a large purse on an international trip (usually when I need to bring my laptop) I opt for a messenger style. I also bring a wristlet or small purse for evenings out or when I just want to run to the corner market.

What to Carry in Your Travel Purse

The next thing to consider is what you’ll carry in your travel purse wile abroad. There’s a fine line between being prepared and over packing, and it’s a line that’s super easy to cross!

One way I avoid overpacking my travel purse is by gathering the items I think I’ll want to carry while still at home. Doing so helps me decide on the size and type of travel purse that’s best for my trip.

What’s in my travel purse? Here’s what I typically carry:

  • Small make-up bag
  • Small wallet
  • Cell phone & back-up battery
  • Pocket journal & pen
  • Small camera, case & back-up battery
  • Sunglasses
  • Passport
  • Keys
  • Tin of Altoid mints
  • Snacks (small bag of nuts, an apple, power bar, etc)
  • Small roll-up bag (for groceries)

Here are additional items you may want to carry in your purse:

  • Ipad/Kindle
  • Book/map/magazine (if you prefer hard copies)
  • Sweater, long-sleeved shirt or jacket
  • Hat
  • Water bottle
  • Glasses (case)
  • Medication or other health-related items
  • Sunscreen
  • Umbrella or rain jacket
  • Items your kids or travel partner will need (if you’re traveling with others)

Take a look at what you typically carry in your everyday purse at home. Is there anything in there not mentioned above that you want to take with you on your international trip?Travel tip: anti-theft purses make great camera bags!

What Makes a Good Travel Purse?

Here’s what I look for in a travel purse:

  • A comfortable, adjustable strap
  • Interior and exterior pockets (I like one or two on the outside and one on the inside–too many pockets and it’s easy to forget where you put everything!)
  • Sturdy zippers (I only travel with purses that have a zippered main compartment, and ideally one exterior and one interior pocket also has a zipper, both for security and organizational purposes)
  • Security features, such as locking clasps, slash-resistant strap and body, and RFID pockets for credit cards and passports
  • Light colored lining (or even an LED light!), so it’s easy to see what’s inside your purse
  • Outer fabric that’s easy to clean
  • Balance of function and style
  • color that complements my travel wardrobe

Travel tip: Practice packing your travel purse ahead of your trip so you’re sure it will hold everything you want to take with you. Then wear it on a long walk around your neighborhood so you can be sure it’s comfortable to carry. Also check the purse against your travel wardrobe so you can make sure the the color and style goes with your travel wardrobe.