Beyond the Backpack: Choosing the Right Travel Purse

July 18, 2017
Katie Uniacke

So, you’re off on a big trip, and you’re starting to get excited. You’ve probably got your main backpack or suitcase sorted, but have you thought about a shoulder bag or any purses you’ll be taking along with you?

When I went on my first big trip to Australia, I’d brought along the big backpack with a matching daypack, which was all very practical, but it was only when I was actually on the road I realised I should’ve packed a smaller purse too, and generally given more thought to the bags I would need whilst on my travels. It’s not all about the practicality, after all. Even when you’re on the road, you sometimes want to look nice too!

On every trip I now take a good day-pack, a stylish shoulder bag and a smaller pouch or neck wallet for going out in the evenings, although sometimes I swap that last one out for a fanny pack (or bum bag, depending on where you’re from!). All of the above need to be carefully chosen, depending on your needs. Read on for a list of all the things you should be considering when choosing the bags which will accompany on your travels and become your trusty friends.

Although taking three types of bags or travel purses with you might seem a little excessive, it’s worth sacrificing a piece of clothing if you’re short on space so that you can fit them into your main luggage, as they’re something you’ll be using on a daily basis. Consider your colour scheme carefully, and make sure you take things that don’t show the dirt and that go nicely with your travel wardrobe.



Whenever you’re going on a trip, you should never leave home without a good daypack. If you’re going on a day trip anywhere, or even an overnight trip when you’ll be leaving your main suitcase behind, you’ll want to have plenty of space to take things along with you.

If you’re taking a large backpack with you, it may come with a matching daypack. These are often very handy as they can either be zipped onto the main backpack or taken off and clipped onto your front so that your valuables are more easily accessible to you and less accessible to prying hands. However, lots of big rucksacks don’t have this feature, and you can very easily wear any small pack on your front by slinging the straps over your shoulders without needing to clip it onto you.

A picture of a small day pack and its contents

Features to look for:

  • About 20L capacity – Enough for a change of clothes and a large bottle of water.
  • Waterproof
  • Durable

Strong seams and good quality stitching to take the weight.

  • Attractive design.
  • Outer pockets.
  • Inner pockets/compartments for organisation.
  • Double security – Zip and flap or drawstring and flap, ideally with a buckle. This means thieves have to get through two barriers to get your stuff, so there’s more chance you’ll notice and be able to stop them.


Shoulder bag

This is your in-between bag, ideal for a day of sightseeing when you’re going to be close to your accommodation and don’t want to be lugging around a backpack all day, but do need space for a bottle of water, a map or an extra layer.

A stylish shoulder bag is shown here

Features to look for:

  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable to wear.
  • Adjustable straps.
  • Inner pockets/compartments.
  • Double security.
  • Neutral colour – To match all your outfits and not show the dirt. Dark blue, grey or black are good options.
  • Not bulky – It needs to be thin enough to roll up and stuff into your main bag when moving from place to place.


Essentials bag

When it comes to an evening out, I’m sure I’m not the only one that hates bringing along a bulky bag, especially if there’s dancing on the cards. I often try and leave a bag at home altogether, but if you’re not wearing a jacket or pants with pockets then you’ll often be forced to take a bag along. This is when you’ll be grateful to have brought along a tiny purse for just the essentials.

A purse containing all essential travel items

Features to look for:

  • Neutral colour.
  • Small but functional –

Large enough for your phone, cards, cash and potentially a tube of lipstick.

  • Separate compartments for the above.
  • Right length strap –

Long enough to be worn over your head, but not too long that it gets in the way of dancing.

  • Double security.
  • Not bulky.

Some people like to swap the essentials bag for a fanny pack. These have really come back into fashion in recent years, and you can find some really cute ones out there. They’re a great option for those who like to have their hands free.

The only thing you need to consider whether its your first trip or thousandth, is security, as if there’s a clip on the back it can easily be undone by anyone with light fingers. The fastening should ideally be at the front, and a buckle is more secure than a clip. Make sure that the material of the strap is fairly robust, such as faux-leather or thick canvas, so that it can’t easily be snipped through by a thief who means business. You need to be aware of your surroundings when wearing one of these, but the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives. Make sure you can roll it up and stuff it into your backpack nice and easily.



A picture of the Rialto bridge in Venezia italy

A Complete Guide to Visiting Venice

So, you’re off on a big trip, and you’re start...

Read more
An image of the Canal in Suzhou

A guide to Suzhou, China

So, you’re off on a big trip, and you’re start...

Read more
A shot of the coastline in Santa Marta

Weekend Getaways from Santa Marta, Colombia

So, you’re off on a big trip, and you’re start...

Read more

There are 0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enter your email for a chance to win!
*Your email is kept safe and you will receive no spam from us
the gear
we test
Every month we receive a lot of gear from major travel brands for testing. Instead of letting these go to waste or selling it, we would like to give it away to our subscribers
Share This