Best bags for travel

Lugg brand became successful at selling bags by carefully targeting a certain demographic of buyer: travellers.

While their colourful nylon totes are lightweight with several organized compartments, I find they simply scream “tourist”. You might as well complement your Lugg with cargo shorts and a camera around your neck.

It’s great to be a tourist, but please don’t look like one. 

So, what are the best ways to carry your essentials while exploring the globe?

I’ve been fortunate to enjoy all kinds of travel, from months-long camping trips across the continent to backpacking in Asia to posh Mediterranean cruises.

This is what I’ve gleaned:

The best travel bags need to be lightweight and durable with secure closures to foil pickpockets.

I also prefer bags with several compartments rather than just one big open bucket. This makes items easier to find. Nothing worse that holding up a queue as you hunt for your ticket or money.

However, if your favourite bag doesn’t have internal organization, you can remedy this with a purse organizer such as the Chameleon insert.

Look for bags that have several carry options such as crossbody, shoulder-carry, and handheld. 

Crossbody is the most secure way to carry a bag in crowds as it’s more difficult for a would-be thief to grab and dash off with it. However, if you are carrying a lot for long periods of time, it’s nice to have other carry options to give your shoulder a break. 

Backpacks and belt bags are also great options. Both styles have gone upscale and are now offered in all manner of sizes and materials by the poshest of designers.

When considering size, the smaller the better. This means it will be more lightweight and you’ll be able to carry it for longer periods. Pick one that is just large enough to carry what you need for your particular itinerary, but no bigger.

This is where you’ll have to carefully consider your destination and activities.

For example, if you are going to visit urban centres and spend full days traipsing through cities, you’ll want something that will fit your essentials plus a water bottle, sunglasses, and perhaps a compact umbrella.

This size will also work for airplane rides with enough room for a tablet, book or magazine.

If your excursions will be shorter, you can get away with a smaller bag, maybe even a simple wallet-on-a-chain to just hold your credit cards, some cash, phone and lipstick.

Material is an important consideration. Nylon is lightweight and easy to care for. Coated canvas is another light option that is also super durable and waterproof.

Leather will typically be heavier but can also be very practical, and is probably the least likely to look touristy.

Given all these factors, here are some great totes for your next excursion:

If you love crossbody bags with lots of organization, the Roots Village bag is a classic carryall.

For something a bit more polished, check out OAD New York. Their Prism and and Kit bags come in a variety of sizes and fun colours with multiple pockets.

The camera bag style typically doesn’t have internal organization, but they are lightweight and can carry a lot more than they seem. I love the canvas print versions made by Liberty of London and Loup Noir.

Leatherology is a new online made-to-order bag company. Their Meadow camera bag comes in two sizes plus a belt bag version, and can be personalized with embossed or hand-painted initials.

This added touch will make it easier to identify your bag should it get lost. 

For more space, consider the Rebecca Minkoff Julian backpack.. With a ton more attitude than your average backpack, the Julian comes in three sizes plus leather and nylon versions.

What’s inside your bag matters, too. To protect your identity, get an RFID-blocking wallet so your credit card information can’t be stolen by those with electromagnetic reading devices.

Leatherology and Secrid construct card cases and wallets that will keep you safe.


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About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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