When you travel, you need every item you bring to count! That’s why the best purses for travel should be lightweight, secure, and super functional. Beyond that though, it’s a question of style, durability, and personal preference. Here are my picks!
If you’re in a hurry, just refer to the comparison chart below. However, if you’d prefer to read a detailed review of each travel purse, those are also included below the chart. Just scroll down to find the best travel purse for you!
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Best Travel Purse
Travel Purses Comparison Chart
|Baggallini Everywhere Bagg||crossbody||36" x 9.5" x 12"||16 colors available||$$||Click here|
|Roma Leathers Crossboy Purse Bag||crossbody||9"x6.5"x1.5"||Ivory|
|Bandolier Luxury iPhone Case||crossbody||52-56" strap|
24-27" when attached
|Pacsafe Daysafe Tech Crossbody Bag||crossbody||14.9" to 29.5" drop |
1.2 x 7.9 x 4.7"
|Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Essential Messenger Bag||anti-theft||10"x10", drop length 14" to 25.5"||14 colors||$$||Click here|
|Travelon Women's Anti-Theft Slim Shoulder Bag||anti-theft||12"x7"x2.1"||four colors||$||Click here|
|Travelon Anti-Theft Mini Shoulder Bag||anti-theft||8.5″x8.5″ x2″||17 colors||4||Click here|
|Kenneth Cole Women's Laptop Travel Tote||laptop travel tote||17"x13"x6.25"||Red|
|CLUCI Backpack Purse for Women||backpack purse||11.96"x5.90"x15.74"||Gray|
|KROSER Laptop Backpack||laptop backpack||16.2″x13.9″x7.1″||black||$||Click here|
|Pacsafe Backpack/Daypack Venturesafe||backpack/daypack||15 or 25 liter||black or navy||$$$||Click here|
What to Look for in a Travel Purse
The best women’s travel purse is that one that best meets your personal needs best. (Are you a minimalist? Or do you need room for your favorite book?) And that’s different for every woman. However, there are a few general things to consider when it comes to handbags for traveling overseas:
• Safety. Smart thieves and pickpockets are practiced at identifying their marks. They look for a tourist who is distracted (or perhaps lost), particularly praying upon people in crowded spots, such as on packed buses or trams or in popular tourist hangouts (e.g., Eiffel Tower or Vatican in Rome).
Pay attention and keep a hand over your purse when you find yourself in these situations. Your travel purse can help you here with particular safety features, like RFID and slash-proof construction which I’ll discuss in more depth below.
• Convenience. A good travel purse will make it easy to find everything you need. A great travel purse will have plenty of external and internal pockets. Choosing a purse without too much depth (to avoid rummaging around on the go) is also useful.
• Style. The best purse for travel abroad is the one you love! Choose something that works with casual outfits for daytime rambling and can dress up a bit for a special night out.
• Comfort. At home, it’s easy to carry any purse for an hour or two without much trouble, but you’re likely to surprise yourself with the miles you walk in cities all over Europe. That strap that rubs or heavy bag that looked so cute in the boutique could really compromise your enjoyment of the trip. So it can really pay to make comfort more of a priority when choosing the perfect travel purse.
Travel purses are organized below into crossbody bags, anti-theft bags, and backpack purses/laptop bags. The features above are covered in more detail within each section.
Best Travel Purse: Crossbody Travel Purses
One of the standard safety features in the best crossbody bag for travel is a zip closure. It’s obvious, right? It’s a lot harder to steal your stuff if someone has to unzip your bag. Snap closures are better than nothing, but a zip closure is best. That’s what makes crossbody bags one of the best purses for international travel.
Also, when you travel, you will want to maximize your opportunities for being hands-free. Invariably, you’re going to be snapping a photo with your phone or camera, sizing up a map, or guzzling water on a hot day.
That’s why bags that come with a sleeve for securely fitting over your carryon luggage can be particularly useful. Your purse is just one less thing to lug through airports!
Let’s also talk pockets! Nobody wants to dig through a bag to look for a ticket, a phone, or sunscreen. The best travel bags have already thought this through…designing external pockets for easy access to the items you’ll need most frequently as well as internal pockets for organizing other items more securely.
Here are in-depth reviews of some of the best of the best crossbody bags for 2020.
1. Baggallini Everywhere Bagg with RFID
Size: 36″ shoulder drop, 9.5″ high, 12″ wide
If you’re in search of the best lightweight purses—one that works with any travel outfit—the Baggallini Everywhere Bagg is one of the best handbags for travel! It’s both practical and stylish and comes in 16 colors, from basic black to red.
Travel purses for women need to be hands-free. This crossbody bag is ideal for bringing all the essentials while snapping photos on the go. It’s also a water-resistant travel purse!
With a top zip closure, it’s easy to keep thieves away. (When I’m on the Paris metro or crowded island ferry, I always look alert, pull my crossbody bag to my stomach and keep one hand over the top to discourage would-be thieves.)
• Top zip closure
• RFID blocking
• lightweight travel handbag
• Fits on luggage handle (a sleeve slips onto the handle of your rolling suitcase)
What traveling women love: oodles of outside pockets for organizing easy grab and go items, main compartment large enough to hold a thin sweater, water bottle fits in a side pocket, not bulky!
2. Roma Leathers Multi-Pocket Crossbody Purse Bag
Size: 9″ x 6.5″ x 1.5″
Best travel purse ever? If you’re in search of a small travel purse without sacrificing style, the Roma Leathers Multi-Pocket Crossbody Purse Bag might be for you. It’s one of the best shoulder bags for travel.
Made of genuine cowhide leather, this bag features four exterior zip pockets and back slip pockets for stowing your smartphone. This bag comes in ivory, black, brown or tan.
An adjustable shoulder strap means this purse is versatile. Lengthen the strap up to 27″ to change it up from a cross boy bag to a short shoulder bag.
• zippered coin purse
• compact without sacrificing function
• front pocket doubles as a “mini wallet.”
What traveling women love: A “multitasking little everyday purse”, convenient front pouch, adjustable strap.
3. Bandolier Luxury iPhone Case
Size: Strap measures 52 to 56″ or 24 to 27″ when attached
If you’re a minimalist but recognize the need to still bring your iPhone and credit cards, the Bandolier Luxury iPhone Case makes a sleek hands-free fashion statement while still meeting your needs. Think of it as a mini travel purse. That’s what makes it one of the best travel crossbody bags.
Available in black with silver detailing, this beautiful case is made of luxurious, genuine pebble leather. It’s custom-fitted to be compatible with an Apple iPhone 8+, iPhone 7+, iPhone 6+, iPhone 6s+, and iPhone X.
The crossbody strap is adjustable, too, easily detaching to convert into a stand-alone cell phone case. You can even charge your phone without removing it from the case!
The only downside to this beautiful case is that it does not protect your iPhone screen since it just covers the back of your phone. Consider also purchasing a screen protector to go with it if that’s a concern.
• open-face design with snapback cover for easy screen access
• satisfaction guarantee (30-day return for full refund)
• durable leather than only gets better with age
What traveling women love: fabulous quality construction, responsive customer service, compliments galore from strangers
4. Pacsafe Women’s Daysafe Tech Cross-Body Bag
Size: 1.2 x 7.9 x 4.7″
If you’re in search of a sleek, high-tech look in an anti-theft travel bag, try the Pacsafe Daysafe Tech Cross-Body Bag.
Made of high-density polyester, this bag comes with a single shoulder strap that you can clip around a chair leg or table while sitting in a busy restaurant or cafe. The strap is made with stainless steel wire to protect against “slash and dash” thieves.
• made of RFID blocking material to protect your data
• convenient, easy-to-access iPhone zippered compartment
• small and lightweight
The drop height ranges between a min of 14.96 in / 38 cm and max of 29.53 in / 75 cm.
What traveling women love: latching zippers, well-made, comfortable to wear.
Best Travel Purse: Anti-Theft Purses
The best handbags for travel in 2020 typically offer several anti-theft features, including:
• slash-proof construction. Thieves frequently look for a mark who is wearing a purse with a thin trap as it’s easy to, literally, cut and run.
• RFID blocking to protect your credit card data.
• Locking mechanisms.
For more details on each of these features, see “The Theft-Proof Purchase: Useful Safety Features” below.
5. Travelon Luggage Anti-Theft Classic Essential Messenger Bag
Size: 10″x10″, Strap length is 25 to 45″, strap drop length is 14 to 25.25″
The Travelon Luggage Anti-Theft Classic Essential Messenger Bag makes the list of best travel handbags almost every time. Why? For one thing, Travelon is a recognized top travel brand, particularly when it comes to anti-theft bags.
They make quality gear constructed with the traveler in mind.
This anit-theft crossbody bag has “slash proof” construction with an adjustable cut-proof strap…which makes it one of the best travel purses for international travel! Compartments also lock, making this purse less of a target for thieves. This bag comes in black only.
• locking compartments
• RFID blocking card and passport slots
• Removable LED light
What traveling women love: Purse doesn’t look bulky but holds a lot, “pockets in all the right places”, comfortable to wear
6. Travelon Women’s Anti-Theft Slim Shoulder Bag
Size: 12″ x7″ x2.1″
Love the idea of a Travelon bag, but looking for a purse with a slimmer profile? Get the Travelon Women’s Anti-Theft Slim Shoulder Bag. It comes in 12 colors and is also one of the best handbags for international travel.
Like its cousin above, the Travelon Luggage Anti-Theft Classic Essential Messenger Bag, you’ll enjoy the same great anti-theft features—slash-proof construction and locking compartments—in a more compact size.
Women’s travel purses need to be compact yet roomy. The main compartment in this one is just that, with a tether key clip that includes an LED light. Interior pockets are also slash-proof. A zip front compartment includes an RFID blocking card and passport slots.
There’s also an exterior drop pocket for a cell phone in the front and full-length zip pocket in the rear.
• full anti-theft features
• roomy main compartment
• good quality for the money
What traveling women love: “not too big and not too small”, almost like carrying a wallet with more space, shallower main compartment avoids “digging” for items.
7. Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag
Size: 8.5″ x8.5″ x2″
If you’re looking for an anti-theft bag with style—something that’s fashion-forward—go with the Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag. This bag comes in 17 colors!
Like the other featured Travelon bags above, this shoulder bag features slash-resistant body construction as well as slash-proof adjustable shoulder straps. It also includes the same RFID blocking card and passport slots.
At just 10 ounces, this little bag still holds a lot without pulling on tired back or shoulder muscles. Plus, the strap stays put.
• anti-theft features
• lightweight, slim profile
• convenient compartments
What traveling women love: “my daily ‘go-to’ purse”, “safe, cute, durable and functional!”, not too big
Best Travel Purse: Laptop Bags and Backpack Purses
8. Kenneth Cole Women’s Laptop Travel Tote
Size: 17″ x 12″ x 6.25″
Are you bringing a laptop and hoping to find a purse that can do double duty? Then consider Kenneth Cole Women’s Laptop Travel Tote is your best bet.
This faux leather tote comes in black, red or charcoal. You can grasp the tote style handles with your hands or wear the bag over your shoulder (drop length of 12 inches).
The laptop pocket is padded and will fit most laptops and tablets with a screen of up to 16 inches. The exterior is a pebbled leather-like material while the interior is lined to protect personal items.
The main compartment is divided by a full-length zippered tablet pocket for organization. This bag weighs 3.1 pounds.
• Two padded open top accessory pockets and removable zippered accessory pouch
• flap-over pocket with hidden magnetic closure (includes a zippered organizer pocket, phone pocket, three card slots, and two pen loops)
• available as either a top zip laptop tote or wheeled carry-on tote
What traveling women love: super spacious, quality construction, protective padding
9. CLUCI Backpack Purse for Women
Size: 11.96″ x 5.90″ x 15.74″
The best purse to travel with does double-duty! It’s a travel purse and backpack.
Backpack purses are an excellent hands-free alternative to cross body bags. In fact, if you have back and shoulder issues as I do, this is likely your best bet for walking miles and miles in your travel without paying the price in pain later.
That’s because shoulder bags and crossbody bags carry the weight to one size, creating misalignment in your spine. The CLUCI backpack purse for women is one of the best travel backpack purses.
That’s because a backpack travel purse evenly distributes the weight on both sides.
However, if you do go this route, just be sure to remove your backpack purse and hold it over your stomach in crowded areas. It’s otherwise too tempting a target for theft. (And you’ll never even notice that you’ve been pickpocketed when you’re jostled in a crowd somewhere.)
This backpack purse is made of high-quality genuine soft leather and comes in gray or brown. Stitching is reinforced with a double U external zipper for maximum convenience.
There are multiple compartments, including two zipper closure compartments with one padded laptop compartment (14″ or under), an inner zipper pocket, five inner slots, 2 pen loops, a key holder, and more!
• After-sale guarantee (contact if unsatisfied for any reason)
• “Free-your-hands” luggage strap attaches backpack securely to rolling luggage
• Top quality
What traveling women love: Rich color, great capacity, quality construction
10. KROSER Laptop Backpack
Looking for a high quality, durable laptop backpack that won’t break the bank? The KROSER laptop backpack could be for you.
It’s got roomy compartments, is water repellent and features high-quality zippers and hardware…all while making a sleek, modern fashion statement. Pockets provide separate space for your laptop, iPad, power bank, files, wallet, clothes and more.
Zippered front pockets hold smaller items. Plus, there are side pockets for umbrella and water bottle.
• built-in USB port
• lightweight with a convenient luggage strap
What traveling women love: stylish yet practical, super lightweight, durable and roomy
11. Pacsafe Backpack/Daypack
Size: 15 liter or 25 liter
The Pacsafe Backpack/daypack was designed by travelers. In fact, it’s Pacsafe’s highest-rated backpack with pockets for everything you need. There are side pockets for water bottles or umbrella, an RFID safe pocket and secure zippers and cut-proof material.
With padded shoulder straps and an adjustable hip belt, the Pacsafe backpack is the perfect lightweight choice for day hikes or international travelers.
• easy to get on and off with a slim profile
• fits a laptop
• comfortable for wearing all day
What traveling women love: enough space for essentials, plenty of pockets, security features
The Theft Proof Purse: Useful Safety Features
The best anti-theft purses typically offer several features that you’ll want to be looking for as you examine the options. They are:
1. RFID Blocking—RFID stands for “radio frequency identification.” It’s essentially a data-skimming method used by thieves to electronically harvest your data to steal your identity or credit card information. They can scan directly from their pocket to your purse to collect your info!
In fact, it almost happened to us in LAX as we were calling an Uber just outside the terminal. A man walked up to us and asked us how the Uber app worked. Without thinking, we offered to walk him through the process.
But weirdly, as soon as we were done, he turned around and walked back into the terminal. We suspect that’s because we had an RFID blocking credit card holder so it wasn’t so easy to steal our card info.
RFID blocking is a common feature of most anti-theft purses. They likely include RFID blocking slots and pockets. If you’d prefer a different purse, just be sure to get an RFID credit card holder or wallet at a minimum to protect your valuables.
2. Slash-Proof Construction—It’s the #1 tactic by purse thieves: He looks for a purse with a thin strap or a backpack where a quick cut can make it easy to access a traveler’s wallet for a quick getaway. That’s why anti-theft purses are designed with safety from slashers in mind.
For example, Travelon—a travel purse brand particularly trusted by travelers—uses reinforced panels with a chain construction to make it harder for a slasher to succeed. Likewise, straps on Travelon purses contain slash-resistant straps. The design conceals stainless steel cables to deter slashing.
3. Locking mechanism—Secure, locking compartments on anti-theft bags also make it harder for thieves to lift your passport or wallet. Be aware though that some travelers find these locks cumbersome to lock and unlock. It’s up to you, of course, to decide if the added security is worth the trouble.
When it comes to “life or death” items like passports, I recommend leaving your passport in your hotel room, ideally locked securely in a safe or suitcase. Make a copy of your passport and carry that with you.
Travel Tips: How to Keep Your Purse Safe
1. Keep a hand on your bag. Be alert for “dip and lift” tourist scams where one person tries to distract you while another steals your bag.
These run the gamut from children trying to tie a “free bracelet” on your arm to a group of people asking you to look at a map or for the time while his partner grabs your wallet or purse.
2. Use caution in restaurants. Always avoid leaving your purse on the back of a chair (or on the floor beside you) in café or restaurant in a busy spot frequented by tourists. Otherwise, you risk being a victim of a “kick and swipe” where a thief kicks your bag a few feet so it’s easy to grab and run off with.
Instead, be sure your bag is in your sightline, preferably touching you so you’d notice if it suddenly went missing.
3. Avoid thieves’ favorite purses. Drawstring purses are among the easiest to pickpocket! In fact, they’re sometimes called “a thieves’ best friend.”
Flap purses—where a main compartment is covered by a flap with a single snap or magnet closure are another easy-to-steal bag. Fanny packs too.
The thief presses against you as you exit a train, for example, and you don’t even notice that it’s been unzipped while your wallet is stolen.
Travel Bag Essentials: What to Bring
Do you know about soap leaves? A packet of razor-thin “leaves” of soap and a packet of travel tissues make two excellent (and lightweight) additions to your travel purse, with a big pay-off. In many public toilets throughout Europe, for example, you just won’t find toilet paper or a convenient place to wash your hands.
Soap leaves and a water bottle make it easy. (Consider a planet-friendly collapsible water bottle to cut down on single-use plastic water bottles piling up in landfills worldwide.)
Here’s a checklist of recommended items for your travel purse:
|Travel tissue||Soap leaves||Memory cards for camera|
|Wallet||Lip balm||Sun hat|
|Keys||Collapsible water bottle||Travel umbrella|
Travel Purse FAQ
1. How do you clean a nylon purse?
Nobody wants to carry around a purse with a stain…but travel can be hard on a purse. Never fear though…your travel purse will look as good as new with a little touch-up.
It’s easy! First, remove all the items from your travel purse and shake it out over a trash can to remove any loose debris in the bottom of the bag. Then fill a shallow bowl of water and squirt a bit of mild liquid soap into it. (Dish soap works well here).
Moisten a towel or rag with the sudsy water and squeeze it to remove excess water. Finally, gently wipe it down or spot clean it wherever it needs it. Stubborn stain? Scrub it with a stiff-bristled brush. When you’re finished, just blot the bag to remove excess water. Boom! Good as new.
Note: This also works great for leather purses. But skip the stiff brush and wipe along the grain of the leather.
2. Should I carry my passport in my purse?
No! Your passport is too important to risk being stolen. Leave your passport in your hotel room…preferrably in a locked safe or locked luggage. Do carry a copy of your passport in your purse as ID (I leave my driver’s license at home when I travel internationally).
I also upload a copy—both front and back–of each of the credit cards, medical insurance card, and any other key cards I’m carrying to Dropbox. Then, if my wallet were stolen, it would be easy to find the phone numbers to call for canceling the cards and requesting new ones.
3. What should I do if my purse is stolen?
Here’s what to do for Americans: Report stolen credit cards and debit cards to your bank, make a list of everything that was in your purse, and initiate a fraud alert on your credit report (i.e. a credit freeze).
If you’ve lost your passport while traveling, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate. Then file a police report.
Typically, if you go to an Embassy office, you can get a replacement passport if you have some type of identification (Keep copies of your passport and Driver’s license in Dropbox as above) some type of travel itinerary (like an airplane or train ticket), and evidence of US citizenship (eg., birth certificate or that copy of your passport I mentioned).
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Karon Golden says
My Pacsafe purse appears to have left small holes in a knit top. I’m thinking because of the safety construction. Is there a strap cover I could get to put on it?
Hi Karon, I recommend contacting the manufacturer directly to ask.