Searching for the Perfect Travel Tote

If you’re in the market for the perfect bag in which to tote all your sightseeing essentials, here are four things to consider:

Is it comfortable?
A carry-all should not be a burden. Keep it simple. Choose the smallest bag possible, and be selective when deciding what is essential. Wider straps will reduce the stress of the bag’s weight on your shoulder.

  • “It’s not as stylish-looking as other options I’ve seen but having the hip belt helps take the pressure off my neck and shoulders and distributes the weight more evenly. I’m a much happier traveler when my neck, shoulders and back don’t hurt…” (more)

    Is it secure?
    Keep your necessities neatly tucked in your pack to reduce the risk of something falling out. Top-sided bags and purses should be securely fastened to prevent a stray hand from delicately lifting your wallet. Avoid bags with flimsy straps. For maximum security, opt for a money belt worn under your clothes. Additionally, if you have a travel partner hedge your bets and divide the valuables between the two of you—one person shouldn’t be carrying all of the cash.

  • “I would say absolutely do NOT wear a fanny pack–it makes you an easy target! Buy a money belt, and wear a bag that you can hold in front of your chest when on metros, in packed streets, etc…” (more)
  • Is it versatile?
    Keeping your essentials organized is your best bet for keeping them secure. You might find that a bag with separate compartments and several pockets helps you stay on top of your things. Remember, however, that there is such a thing as too many pockets—you shouldn’t have to send out a search party in your bag to find your lip balm. When it comes to carrying your truly essential items—like your passport, cards, and your cash—develop a routine. If everything has its place, you’ll cut down on frantic fumbling.

  • “The (bag) I like has a flat organizer with a pouch in the front. The pouch holds my camera, a small sunscreen container, lipstick and a few other small things. The flat part holds the rest. I’ve used it on several trips and really like it…” (more)
  • Is it stylish?
    Some travelers wouldn’t dare leave their hotel with a pack strapped around their waist for fear of being pegged a tourist. Surely there are worse things in life, and no one really cares how you’re toting your camera and guide book around anyway. However, opting for a pack that does not scream, “I’m ready to see this city!” could make you a less conspicuous target for pickpockets and aggressive sale pitches.

  • “A shocking pink purse with an all-black outfit would be totally cool in NYC and, I am sure, in Paris…” (more)
  • Photo credit: Joseph Hoyle