Make your vacations easier by finding a stylish travel purse that can carry all of your daily essentials comfortably and safely. We tested five different travel bags over several trips and daily errands to find the most durable and aesthetically pleasing purses.
Locking carabiners & zippers, RFID blocking pockets, anti-slash fabric
Important features to consider
Many travel purses come with features that keep your valuables safer. For example, some bags offer locking or carabiner zippers, making it harder to open the bag without alerting you. Or cable loops that lock your bag to a chair. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) blocking pockets prevent someone from stealing your credit card information. Secret pockets or compartments built into some purses offer even more security. While not every trip requires such rigorous security, it may give keep peace of mind.
Style & size
Purses can come in endless styles and designs like cross-body, shoulder, fanny pack, backpack, messenger, tote, or multi-use. Each design is subjective to each person, but we prefer bags that we can use on many different occasions and that is long-lasting. You also want to ensure that the bag style is comfortable to wear during travel.
Travel purses come in various sizes and styles, and your preferences could differ depending on your needs during your trip. For instance, we like wearing backpacks or messengers for our carry-on option because they hold a lot. Everyday walking calls for a small and lightweight option to fight fatigue and keep you comfortable.
Items used during travel can often take more of a beating than products you use at home because you may use them for longer periods over a series of consecutive days. Any travel purse’s materials can affect its durability. Many bags also have anti-slashing fabric made of nylon or polyester that stops thieves from cutting straps or slicing your bag open. Synthetic fabrics can also be water-resistant and add another level of protection. Purses made of faux leather (or polyurethane) are often budget priced. However, be cautious of cheap materials because they tend not to last as long as genuine leather bags.
How we selected & tested:
We selected five different purses of different styles, materials, and sizes under $100. Travel purses come in many variations, and we wanted to test bags of all types, like messengers, crossbody bags, shoulder bags, totes, fanny bags, and backpacks.
We test each bag on several domestic and local trips, on planes, car rides, metros, and walking adventures to evaluate its comfort level and durability. During testing, we evaluated how much each bag could hold daily essentials like wallets, phones, water bottles, jackets, souvenirs, and snacks. We also took note of how effortless it was to carry from daytime touring to nighttime dinners or events.
Sherpani - Vale Crossbody Purse
The Sherpani – Vale Crossbody Purse is our top pick for best travel purses because it can be a crossbody bag, shoulder bag, or messenger bag. It’s fitted with an anti-slash fabric with comfortable and secure straps that make carrying a medium-sized bag while traveling by foot a breeze. At 13.5” x 14” x 4.5”, this bag fits a 24 oz Hydroflask, wallet, iPhone 13 Pro, and a medium-sized jacket easily.
What’s great about this bag is that it’s reversible, too, so you can have different aesthetic choices if you want, and it comes in five different colors. It looks sleek, and we wore it during day trips and nice dinners. The Sherpani – Vale includes plenty of interior and exterior pockets on either side of the folded flap. With a wide opening at the top, you can fit bigger items inside, and the zipper also securely locks into a carabiner making thefts less likely to occur.Read more…
If you’re traveling in sketchy areas, rest assured that the locking cable attachment will securely keep your bag next to you instead of being up for grabs by potential thieves. The only issue we encountered was that some of the bag’s brand lettering started coming off after rigorous wear. However, this was a minor issue. At just under $65, this durable travel purse is perfect for any trip.
Fjällräven - Kånken Totepack
We use the Fjällräven – Kånken Totepack as our daily day trip and carry-on bag because it’s versatile, well-made, holds a lot of items, and still fits under a plane seat with extra room for your feet. Its 36” x 30” x 15” size holds one 14-inch laptop, Bose headphones case, and one travel pillow, and it still has space for snacks and chargers.
The interchangeable straps allow you to wear this bag as a backpack to carry heavy items or as a tote for beach days during vacations. Its water-resistant coating also comes in handy for unexpected rainy days or accidental spills on the plane or at the beach. Additional details like a wide-open top zipper and a foam seat pad are great for securely fitting and holding a laptop.Read more…
The only issue we had with this bag is that it doesn’t have padded straps, and you can’t adjust the straps for fit, which might not fit some people with broader shoulders. However, this wasn’t a dealbreaker for our testers and was still comfortable to wear. While the Fjällräven – Kånken Totepack is the most expensive bag we tested at $95, we think the durability and limited lifetime warranty make it worth the price.
Patagonia - Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack
This Patagonia bag is our pick for the best fanny pack because of its lightweight and durable body. This bag may be tiny at 4.75″ x 8″ x 2″, but we could fit a lot more than expected, like a small wallet, Pixel 5 phone, one 20-pack of wet wipes, and even some candies.
The Bluesign design is made of sustainable ripstop and water-repellent fabric durable enough to travel throughout Vietnam for three weeks in various climates. The comfortable and smooth straps adjust to fit waists from 8″ to 36″. This bag can also be worn as a crossbody belt bag too.Read more…
If you need to pack this bag in your luggage, it easily stuffs itself into the front pocket for easy transportation. While traveling abroad, we were worried that the clasp location would welcome thieves to unbuckle our bag, but we didn’t have any real issues. We found that the durability and lightweight features of the Patagonia – Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack, along with its $35 price tag, were a great deal.
Mundi - RFID Crossbody Bag
The Mundi – RFID Crossbody Bag is a wallet-style purse with four large accordion pockets, 12 card slots, and more interior and exterior pockets. Thanks to the adjustable straps, this bag doubles as a shoulder bag and a crossbody bag. This bag is for someone who wants to carry fewer items. Its small size (8.5″ x 5.5″ x 1.5″) makes it easy to carry all day long if you need your wallet and phone (and maybe a lipstick or two).
One issue we had with the Mundi bag was the imitation leather material. Unlike the photo on the website that mimicked an authentic, supple leather texture, the bag is a lot shinier and softer in person, which makes me question its durability over time. We foresee the material ripping easily. The adjustable straps also get stuck on the rubbery material frequently.Read more…
It’s also equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) blocking pockets that protect your card information. This bag is helpful if you want to pare down your belongings to your wallet and phone. But if you want to wear multiple bags during your trip, you will need to transfer credit cards and IDs one by one (instead of simply moving your wallet) to different bags, which could be slightly annoying.
However, we do like that the sleek and minimal style is easy to use for day trips to dressier dinners. If you’re looking for a more affordable, small wallet purse, then this $20 bag is made for light wear.
Travelon - Metro Bag
Travelon purses are popular because they offer many security features like anti-slash fabrics, RFID blocking pockets, and locking zippers–the Travelon – Metro Bag is no different. What was our original front runner during our tests ended up flopping due to the shoddy quality.
This small-sized bag measures 2” x 8.25” x 5.25” and works as a crossbody bag and a fanny bag. While we liked the minimalist style and myriad of pockets for organization, we didn’t like the bulky body and stiff straps that were difficult to adjust.Read more…
The main issue we had with this bag was the flimsy snap clips. There’s a locking feature on the snap clips; however, it’s not secure enough to make a difference and makes it easier to unhook the snap. During a test trip wearing the Travelon bag as a crossbody bag, the snap clips unlatched itself and fell to the floor. The Travelon – Metro Bag had a lot of potential, but we wouldn’t recommend this bag because it felt unsafe to wear.