This That and the Passport

In Search of the Perfect Travel Purse

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Ever since my Baggallini "Brussels" bag died, I have been in search of its replacement.  This Baggallini purse went on 15 overseas trips with me and I absolutely loved it! My quest has not been easy.

Baggallini Brussels

What to Look for in a Travel Purse

1. Convertible bag.  I love the option of wearing my bag as a backpack, a crossbody or a regular purse.  Having your hands free is great, especially if you are traveling with little ones.  It also helps with weight distribution. This is key on really long trips where using the same shoulder all the time can be uncomfortable.

2. Fit a DSLR or a mirrorless, an iPad and all the daily essentials.

3. Multiple outside front and secure pockets.  This is usually where I would keep my cellphone and some cash.

4. Zippered back pocket that fits a passport and boarding passes.  These are great pockets because they sit against your body where nobody can see them but are easily accesible by you.

5. Water bottle pocket/mesh.

6. A loop to attach your cardholder/wallet with a lanyard.  This is the one way that you can be sure no one will run away with your wallet when you are distracted at the register, and there is no way of misplacing it either. This is also great for keys- you don't want to loose the car rental/apartment keys on a trip!

With these things in mind I have purchased about 20 purses in the past couple years and here is the roundup of the ones I like the most and why.

My current purse, and one I really like, is the Samsonite Encompass Convertible bag.  It meets all the above criteria.

1. It easily converts from a backpack to a shoulder to a crossbody.  The short handles are long enough that they fit over my shoulder comfortably too so there are lots of ways to wear this bag.

2. I wish it was a bit roomier but it does fit my Fuji XT1, an iPad, a pashmina/scarf, wallet, glasses (2 pairs) and small bag with essentials (chapstick, handlotion, bandaids, etc), headphones, charging cables and cubes. I am also able to stuff my short packable jaket in it as well.

3. The front outside compartment is great for tissues, glasses and non valuable things. It also has an inside zippered pocket where you can keep cash or your passport securely.

4. Back pocket is zippered and so roomy it can fit an iPad as well. Added bonus is a strap to secure it to the handle of your luggage.

5. The "water bottle" pocket which is placed at the front of the bag was a weird concept but I ended up liking it.  It handled a cup of coffee well too, and it is deep enough that you can choose to keep your cellphone in there because nobody will be able to stick their hand in that far without you noticing it.

6. It has a removable key fob that you can easily attach a lanyard to.

A couple other pluses: the bordeaux colour goes with everything, it has some padding which is great for electronics and it is easy to clean.

Right now this is my go-to-bag for airplane/train travel.

Samsonite Encompass
Samsonite Encompass
Samsonite Encompass

The Peak Design Everyday Tote is an interesting bag.  It is meant to be a photography bag but I can see so many more uses for it.  This is perfect for my long trips (2 weeks plus) where I bring more photography equipment with me. I love that it is sturdy and does not fold over. This is both a pro and a con.  Pro because it is perfect for keeping everything organized, things don't shift and the inside is customizable.  Con because it is so sturdy it is not comfortable for all day sightseeing.  More than a multipurpose bag, I use it as a photography "station" that I carry with me.  I can see it being good as a diaper bag too.

1. It does easily convert to a backpack but it is not the most comfortable, both for its stiffness and unpadded straps. But it is great in a pinch and keeps you hands free during travel.

2. It fits everything mentioned above. The inside is customizable and it makes it really easy to keep everything organized.  It is great to keep at your feet during long car or train rides because everything is so accesible and items don't shift. The magnetized closure and wide opening make it really easy to find what you are looking for.

3. Even though it looks like it has no outside pockets it does.  The small front pocket is good for a phone (albeit not secure), or documents; the full size pocket for newspapers, magazines or paperwork. The side pockets however, is where the bag shines. Easily accessible from the outside- and magnetized so they dont flap around if not zippered shut, they are great for extra lenses, water bottles or sunglasses- and there is two of them!

4.  There is no back pocket, just the strap to secure it to the handles of your luggage.

5. There is no dedicated water bottle compartment but since it is so customizable there is plenty of ways to make one.

6. The key fob is attached to one of the straps and sits in an outside pocket. I switched it to the inside by attaching it to a pen in a pen slot and it serves its purpose well.

All in all this is a great bag that I pair with a smaller handbag for long haul trips when I am bringing lots of electronics or camera equipment.  I also like the black/grey/brown look as it goes with many outfits.  The middle picture below shows it under the seat of a very narrow plane seat.

Peak design review
Peak design review
Peak design review

The Ampere Convertible Purse is not the exact one I have used but I have had 2 very similar bags and I have liked them both.  These are smaller than the two reviewed above, but very good for all day sightseeing. I would pair this with the Peak design above for airplane travel if I have no wheeled carryon.

1. These easily convert from a shoulder bag to a backpack.  If you are interested in wearing it as a crossbody check the reviews because some of them don't have shoulder straps that are long enough for that purpose.

2. It fits most of the essentials listed above, but I would probably have to sacrifice something or it would be too tight. The first thing to go would be the iPad and I would make sure I have all information I need on my phone. When I travel with my husband he carries the extra DSLR lens and then I can fit everything in a purse like this one.

3. The front zippered compartment is great for the phone or glasses.  The smaller pockets are great for chapstick, tissues, gum, change, headphones etc.

4. Back pocket for passport or sensitive documents.

5. There is no dedicated water bottle compartment.

6. There is no key fob or way to attach a lanyard.

The lack of #5 and #6 can be made up by the variety of colors these purses come in! They are also soft and pliable making them great for all day wear. I line the bottom with a pashmina as padding to protect the electronics inside.

Even though they don't meet my criteria for the perfect travel purse, these are great for museum outings and sightseeing in the city.  I would probably bring something more substantial for hiking or all day bus touring.

Below are three examples of this type of bag.

When you decide on a purse, make sure you take it for a spin before you leave on your trip. Test all the zippers and snaps.  Make sure it fits what you want to bring along and that you can handle the weight for long periods of time.  If you find someting that works really well, please sound off in the comments, I am still on my quest!!

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