©Wolfgang Kaehler

Bag It: A Gal’s Guide to the Right Travel Totes

By Michelle Alten

Nifty Neutral Purse: The best travel purse is compact, sturdy, and black. I sling a simple one-strap leather pouch in front of me where I can keep an eye on my wallet, passport, and valuables. It is a durable, black Liz Claiborne bag — not elegant, but tough enough to handle a beating and inexpensive enough that I don’t care if it gets stepped on by fellow travelers or trampled by a stampeding elephant. Extra pouches, inside and out, give me a place for my cell phone, lipstick, sunglasses, and business cards. Black means the dirt doesn’t show, it matches with everything, and it can even pass muster for nice casual dressing.

Carry On with a Practical Backpack: You guessed it: a small black backpack is the best. For carry on, a dandy bag, with plenty of compartments and side pouches for bottled drinks, will serve both to free your hands for handling your tickets, luggage, coffee, etc… and give you the right bag for hiking and outings once you arrive.

Travel Totes: I pack a stylish tote (a cheery blue paisley Vera Bradley) for sightseeing. A backpack is great for nature outings, but in the city, I prefer to dress things up a bit and not stand out as a tourist. In this handy bag, I can put a sweater, guide book, maps, and umbrella — just what I need for the day. This cotton tote packs nicely flat on top of my clothing and can be tossed in the wash when I get home.

Foldable, Rollable, and Stuffable Bags: With a purse, backpack, and tote, you aren’t ready quite yet: a variety of reusable bags will come in very handy. My favorite is my vinyl bag that rolls and snaps to fit neatly in the bottom of my little purse. Like others by b.b. begonia, it has a classy design. A dear friend gave it to me, and I use it constantly. The vinyl can be easily wiped off if you spill food or drinks on it. Reusable bags, like this one, will help you avoid taking plastic disposable ones from stores that end up piling in landfills or choking our oceans.

Zip It – Ziplock bags can be reused throughout your trip for picnics, cosmetics, receipts, and much more — bring a bunch of them. On a larger scale, vacuum space saving storage bags, a great idea from my practical friend Yvonne, squeeze all those new dresses and tops you bought on your trip into a compact packet. Now you can spend your last night of vacation drinking margaritas instead of sitting on your suitcase!

Posted July 1, 2011 | Categories: Blog, Travel, and Travel Tips. Tags: backpack, bag, packing, purse, tote, travel, vacuum space saving bag, and ziplock.

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