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Found!? Best ‘normal’ purse style for travel

I’m sure many of you already have your purse game dialed, but for those of you who don’t (like me) or are looking for a stylish, secure purse for travel without being a ‘travel purse’, I think I found a a great option... the crossbody, zip flap with full compartment purse. (See video on the first link below to see what I mean). Pros: crossbody, zipped up, and since the zipper pocket is folded over on itself, it seems like it’d be really hard for someone to sneak in there (minus the slashing, of course). Cons: they tend to run small, so pack light ;) and the straps are small too. Not all you see online have the zipped compartment that goes all the way down, so those others wouldn’t work (someone unzips, it all falls out).

Here are some examples I’ve found:
Video:
https://www.everlane.com/products/womens-foldover-crossbody-natural

Another one w/video:
https://m.zappos.com/p/dooney-bourke-florentine-classic-fold-over-zip-crossbody/product/8915331

Sleek and affordable:
https://m.shop.nordstrom.com/s/sole-society-marlena-faux-leather-clutch-crossbody-bag/5239287

For the Baggallini fans:
https://m.zappos.com/p/baggallini-flip-zip-crossbody/product/9028646

I love how this one expands:
https://m.shop.nordstrom.com/s/nordstrom-kara-leather-expandable-crossbody-bag/4873820

Even a designer version:
https://m.shop.nordstrom.com/s/kate-spade-new-york-large-polly-leather-crossbody-bag/5164240

Anyone have any experience using ones like these? Or have you seen any other similar ones around? I’m on the hunt.
Happy packing!

Posted by
10694 posts

You HAVE been hunting haven’t you!!

I agree it would have to be one where the compartment goes the length of the bag.

Other cons:

  • all except one are leather and to me that’s heavy.

  • I try to stay away from magnets in a clasp as they can zap Paris Metro tickets!! Yes, all my purse criteria surround keeping my measly 1.40€ ticket safe!!

  • one of them didn’t have a zipper over the bottom compartment. That’s a problem I have with many of the cute messenger bags! It had an open compartment with CC slots! No!

Pro:

  • When folded it has a horizontal hang and I like that.

I loved looking at your choices and yes, loved the videos, haha!! Thanks for sharing!

Always looking....

Posted by
3604 posts

I have one almost identical to the expandable one, but I got mine at Aldos. I took the tassel off. It works fine as long as you don't need to carry a lot ( DH can carry the bulky stuff in his messenger bag.) I used it for a month long trip a couple of years ago- my only complaint was that I couldn't fit my tablet in it to use on train trips. I've got a larger messenger style bag now that I like better, but I'm a bit of a pack rat when it comes to filling my purses.

Posted by
830 posts

The advantage of the bags that look like travel bags aren't just in the features (and of course those can be debatable like rfid). To me their utility is that the thieves know what they are and are less likely to bother you. I know I'm going to look like a tourist no matter what. I just don't want to look like an easy mark any more than I have to.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks, Pam, for the additional points! Ha yeah...I’m a bit of an over-researcher. ;)

I know many don’t like the weight of leather, but unless I find a great alternative, I’m fine to sacrifice for the look. Maybe there’s a lightweight faux-leather one out there...;)

I hadn’t thought of the magnet/metro ticket issue! Good call! I’ll keep an eye out for that.

Yeah, the silly open pocket would only hold non-important things like maps and small souvenirs. I’d get a thin wallet for the day’s cash/ID/card and keep that in the zippered foldover compartment.

Why hasn’t someone designed the perfect travel purse yet?! ;)

Posted by
7213 posts

My wife doesn't carry a conventional purse when traveling. She carries a Nicolle Miller zippered bag that's about 11" wide and 14" long and she has carried it 20 years+. J.C. Penny online has a large selection of her bags, and her cross body bags are very inexpensive there.

Posted by
536 posts

I agree, it is challenging to find a good purse. I decided I didn't want anything expensive. I don't like worrying about expensive things when I am traveling.

I found an inexpensive crossbody purse at Van Heusen outlet stores, and now have one in tan and one in black. The purse has been perfect for travel.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Van-Heusen-Dark-Teal-Blue-Green-Convertible-Crossbody-Handbag-49-NVHCB04/192902918594?hash=item2ce9e8f1c2:g:3GYAAOSwWiJcv01L

Posted by
1654 posts

If anyone is interested, please check out Kipling bags on their website, Macy's website or in store, QVC, and TJMaxx.

Check out styles, compare prices, look for sales.

TJMaxx has a lot to choose from and very affordable prices.

Macy's is next with sales and selections.

QVC recently put some Kipling bags on clearance with easy pay.

You can find other brands of cute and functional travel bags or backpacks at TJM or Marshall's too.

Posted by
613 posts

There is a company whose name I don't recall that makes secure equipment for travel. Both purses and billfolds contain an interior steel mesh that defelcts knives so they can't be slashed or pulled off your shoulder. There are electronic devices that can read the number off your credit car etc just by walking by. The wire mesh creates something I think is called a Faraday Field that blocks this.

You might look a little lumpy, but there is also the option of not taking a purse & putting all your stuff in a security travel jacket or vest (Scottevest is a very expensive version, a fisherman's vest at a sporting goods store is the cost effective way. Just make sure there are lots of interior pockets & pockets with zippers.

Posted by
37 posts

The missus sticks to Kipling—she likes the material and man, they are durable. She's got 10 y/o Kipling bags still in good condition.

Posted by
2582 posts

I love that OGIO bag that Adrienne found.

I found this Brighton purse on sale recently before my NYC trip. The strap is extremely comfortable, and doesn't slip off my shoulder like my Baggalini's does. We saw three shows in NYC, and I didn't want to take my usual, bulkier purse into the theaters.

It's compact enough to fit into my carry on when I empty it out.

https://www.brighton.com/product/hobos/36956-15787/barbados-barbados-ziptop-hobo.html

Posted by
1802 posts

I struggled to find a crossbody purse that would hold what I “need” but not hurt my neck. First try was a Travelon purse. Too big and heavy. I Gave it to my sister-in-law. Second attempt was a small canvas/leather purse from Nordstrom Rack. I love the purse but it was too small and the strap was too narrow and hurt my neck. Like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, the last purse was just right. Wide strap does not hurt my neck, holds just enough IF I don’t overpack it but I have room for more if I want:
https://www.ebags.com/product/derek-alexander/top-zip-front-zip-organizer/83714?productid=1087510

Posted by
9126 posts

I like Kipling and Baggallini and have a variety of sizes of each brand. All black. What? Black goes with everything. Lol! I agree that TJ Max is a great source for purses at a greatly reduced price. I've also found good sale prices on the Kiplings at Macy's. For lightweight functional bags they are wonderful. I use mine all the time, not just for travel.

Posted by
3372 posts

I decided to go really small with a cross body purse on our next trip. I’ll take a thin nylon daypack for water bottles and bulkier things. I bought a similar bag in brown leather last summer but never used it because it was “heavy”, even for a 4”x8” bag. Last week I was walking through Steinmart and this bag caught my eye https://www.steinmart.com/product/leather+mini+crossbody+67771022.do?sortby=ourPicksAscend&page=2&refType=&from=fn&selectedOption=100305. I bought the gray color for coordination and summer travel. I was surprised by how light it is. It must weigh about 1/2 of the bag I bought last year. I already took off the dangling leather pull and shortened the cross body strap (weight and comfort).

As far as those precious Paris metro cards, I got a paper cc sleeve from my bank that offers protection from demagnetizing. It weighs very little and it works. This summer I’m going to use up all of my old stash and see about getting a new plastic card if they’re available.

Posted by
1383 posts

Maybe there’s a lightweight faux-leather one out there.

Check Target.

Posted by
3732 posts

I'm a longtime Baggallini fan. For travel it meets my needs. My latest favorite is a "north/south" style pocket crossbody. Black, hands free, lightweight (9 oz.) 8x5x8.5x2", water resistant, machine washable. It can be worn under a coat in cooler weather. Currently on sale @Baggallini.com. $52.46. I find this "secure" because I don't carry valuables. I secure items in a money belt or neck wallet worn hidden cross body.

As a "bag lady" thanks for all the options! I'm kinda' liking the "flip-zip-crossbody!" Hmmm. That's my dilemma- Baggallini keeps evolving! ;)

Posted by
1125 posts
Posted by
9126 posts

@Mona, I like that purse. I think I will have to check it out. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by
10694 posts

I've always liked the looks of the Tom Bihn bags but it drives me crazy that the main compartment does not zip. Yes, I know there is a flap that fastens but I want a zipper as well.

Posted by
167 posts

I prefer small bags and have used the Tom Bihn Side Effect. It has a top zipper and I use Nite-Ize slidelock carabiners on the zipper pulls to secure it.

Posted by
75 posts

I'll jump in here from "on the road." I'm in Barcelona and doing a LOT of walking. I am astounded at the number of people blithely wandering around with slouchy bags on their backs, big zippers just asking to be opened and their valuables swiped. I have to bite my tongue a dozen times a day, very young women seem to be the most ignorant about basic possessions safety.

I've carried Pacsafe purses for many years, I have a couple of their small backpacks, too. I just won't risk losing things important to me. I carry my purse, fully secured with the locked latches, right under my arm and in front. Without exception. I look people in the eye if they seem the least bit sketchy, that's taken place once a day here in Barcelona.

Posted by
59 posts

Oh nice topic, love hunting for new travel purses.

I agree with many of the points and this Christmas was looking for a newer travel purse to carry for my GAS trip in September. I have an older one that served me well in the Med, is was a bit too big length wise. (I know that hardly seems possible! LOL)
https://www.ebags.com/product/travelon/ant-theft-classic-cross-body-bucket-bag/261878?productid=10267546

Anyway my requirements were 1. RFID protection 2. lockable 3. slash proof straps with at least 2 compartments 4. Long strap I can adjust. I wanted something slim enough I could wear under my raincoat which this new one satisfies.

This is what I got... https://www.ebags.com/product/travelon/anti-theft-compact-crossbody-with-rfid-clutch-wallet/329359?productid=10676412

It is not a "does not look like a travel purse", but it has become my go to purse because it is so LIGHT, I wish they had a locking mechanism on the smaller pocket but for what I wanted it is doable. And it is way lighter than the other or any of my designer bags.

The price was great too!

Happy hunting

Posted by
167 posts

Nancy, you commented “I wish they had a locking mechanism on the smaller pocket but for what I wanted it is doable”. I attached an O-ring to the small metal piece that holds the zipper pull. Then I attached a Nite-Ize slidelock carabiner to the O-ring and I can “lock” the zipper pull to the locking mechanism on the large portion of the purse. That may be a confusing explanation but the fans of Tom Bihn luggage are very creative and have devised many ways to use their luggage in new ways. The carabiners are available at recreational stores like REI or big box stores like Lowe’s.

Here is a link to some creative uses of the carabiners. https://forums.tombihn.com/photos-videos-and-reviews/4156-zipper-security-another-idea.html
Some of the photos are from 2011, probably before the slidelock carabiners were invented but they add another level of security because they definitely take some manual dexterity to open and it is a good deterrent.

Posted by
31 posts

I’m enjoying all the replies! Fun to see everyone’s different and creative solutions. Thanks to all who’ve shared!

The s-biners look really helpful, and could solve the problem of keeping my sunglasses (in their case in the purse) safe when they’re not on my head.

I’ve written up exactly what will go in my bag and referenced a recent thread on the topic, which has helped me figure out how much space I’ll actually need. I’ll probably download the ebook versions of the guidebooks so no more carrying the books! I think that’s why my shoulder ached in the past with my old Pacsafe with narrow strap.

If anyone’s interested, Macy’s current sale includes a bag in this style by Kipling, a brand recommend on this board. It even converts to a “belt bag” (aka fanny pack), because apparently those are back in style now! Haha..

https://www.macys.com/shop/product/kipling-lynne-convertible-crossbody?ID=5733514&CategoryID=26846&swatchColor=True%20Blue%20Tonal%2FSilver#fn=HANDBAG_STYLE%3DCrossbody%26sp%3D1%26spc%3D129%26ruleId%3D78%26kws%3DKiping%26searchPass%3DexactMultiMatch%26slotId%3D16

Posted by
1378 posts

Sepreitalia- that looks exactly like my travel purse. Perfect size, zipper top.

Posted by
72 posts

My favorite crossbody for travel, when I take a purse in lieu of a daypack, is my LeSportsac Classic Hobo bag.
It has no special safety features, but it has lots of zippered sections, is lightweight, and washable. Their Everyday Bag is larger with more zippered sections, but I find the Hobo works well for me. I often use it around town as my regular purse because it is so lightweight.

Posted by
2343 posts

I’m a huge fan of LeSportsac’s Deluxe Everyday crossbody bag—I now have 3 and each suits one of my basic travel wardrobes. 2 zipped front pockets—phone in one, little travel notebook and transit pass in the other. Big zipped pocket on other outside holds tickets, map & notes. First large section has an interior zipped pouch—passport goes in there. Wallet (attached to bottom of bag with a clip) makeup and other small personal things in this section, the other one can hold a travel umbrella, gloves, scarf, water bottle, snack, book & fold up nylon shopping bag. The bag is lightweight and can be washed, and they come in so many colors and patterns they will suit most anyone. I got the one I’m using right now off ebay for $30–new with tags, subtle circle print in grey, taupe, cream & tan. Wardrobe is black & blue jeans, black jacket, black sweater & grey striped sweater & printed t-shirts with a couple of scarves.

Posted by
152 posts

I am also a fan of LeSportsac bags. I use a Medium Weekender as my personal item, mine is about 20 years old, has been on many, many trips and is just now starting to show signs of wear on the inside. It is so light and surprisingly roomy, with 4 zipped outside pockets which are really handy for all the stuff you need on the airplane. Fits very easily into the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

I also use a Deluxe Everyday bag during travel, about 15 years old, still going strong. I watch for them at Marshall's and Winners, bought an Everyday Bag for my daughter last fall so she wouldn't keep borrowing mine!

Posted by
1654 posts

Hi Leslie,

I've become a fan of Kipling bags and often suggest them when people are looking for a new travel bag. They have some nice styles and not utilitarian like some travel bags. I'm a girly woman, so I prefer a different look.

Sure, it's probably nice to take a favorite leather bag, but, as we know, filling it and lugging it around all day when traveling, will soon get old.

I also like Travelon. I have a few that don't look like a travel bag. And, TJM and QVC used to promote them often. But, it seems Kipling has come in strong and sort of pushed them away a bit. Both bag companies are good - depends on what the traveler is looking for.

Kipling has many styles of backpacks, luggage, bags and duffles to satisfy almost anyone's preference. They have a strong, wipeable material on most bags, strong straps, good zippers on a lot of pockets, and a ton of pockets you could lose yourself in.

Kipling bags can be found at TJMaxx (some stores have more of a selection - depends on the demographics), Macy's sells them, QVC sells them, and of course, the official Kipling website. TJM sells them inexpensively. Macy's will put them on a good sale and then sometimes offer an additional 'percentage' coupon for even greater savings.

Some You Tubers review Kipling bags so you can see first hand how they are. Pictures don't always help. QVC can be expensive even with a sale. Factor in shipping and tax if your state charges. But, clicking on the 'live' presentation helps. Bags are put on different sized models to get a better idea of how a bag will look on most people.

Posted by
31 posts

Wow, thanks everyone! I’ve found some options and I hope others are benefiting from this thread as well.

@Kels: I love the look and function of those Arden Cove bags! Looks like they’re out to solve this exact dilemma.

Happy travels (and packing)!

Posted by
540 posts

I love the Lands End canvas tote- medium with a zip top and the small outside pocket. I don't like cross body bags. This small pocket lets me slip in a few euros and the travel pass , there are inner spaces for a phone etc. There is also a strap with a latch on it which I used to secure the straps for my camera and phone. That is mainly so I don't lose them by forgetting to put them back in the bag.

Maybe because I am from a big city, I don't feel the need to do maximum security type bags...

Posted by
23 posts

A dangerous post for me.#bagaddict

I carry a Tom Bihn side effect as my daily purse. I put it into a larger bag for travel. But I’d love a more girly purse.

Not perfect but I liked this one from Pacsafe, it can be carried as a crossbody or as a backpack. The fold over option is a little bulky, but it looked good enough for me on a recent trip. I liked that I could load it up for things needed during a long flight, but use it as a lighter purse at my destination.

https://www.pacsafe.com/citysafe-cx-anti-theft-convertible-backpack/20410.html

Hi Jill,
At first I was skeptical of Vera Bradley quality. I thought the brand offered over-priced, cute bags of marginal quality - heavily marketed. I was partially wrong. My daughter wanted a VB backpack for school and we found one on sale for 1/2 price. I was surprised - in a good way - about the quality. My middle-schooler abuses her pack and it is still going strong.
So, VB is a good choice if you can get it on sale. VB online has good travel bag sales around Thanksgiving.