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Travel day bag for a parent with pre-schoolers

I will be traveling to Ireland summer 2019 with my husband, 5 year old, and 3 year old. I am needing advice on a bag that will, frankly, do the impossible. I prefer to use a cross-body style or very secure small backpack like this one. I have to focus on navigating and my kids when traveling so I don't want to be concerned about constantly checking on items in my bag being secure. I will most likely be hauling a camera (not DSLR but not slim either), several pairs of sunglasses, a very compact wallet, chap-stick, cell phone, a few ponytails, hand sanitizer, disposable toilet seat covers and disposable plastic table placemats. This will be my day bag and my husband would be thankful if it was a neutral color when he gets stuck holding it for a bit. I usually spring for comfort and convenience over cuteness. I am familiar with Osprey, Tom Bihn, and Patagonia bags, and know I will need something semi water resistant for rain. Any advice you can offer on this bag or lugging kid and camera equipment in general would be very helpful!

Posted by
1226 posts

On the up side, you have very specific wants/needs and your trip is a year+ away. What I did when looking for a bag, with specific wants/needs in mind, is order several and then put my stuff in them and wear them. In your position, I would consider looking into the return policies of the bags/bag companies you find that look appealing, and maybe order 4 bags and compare. Alternately, if you live near an REI or EMS you could try on several there or order several online that you could then return free to the store. As much as one bag is someone's favorite, I always find that I have particular taste and like to feel the bag on me weighted down (and see how the pocket system works and what other features it has)
Osprey is our go-to bag company. We usually study them for fit and features at REI when selecting and then buy during a sale and with our dividend. But others love other brands...

Posted by
451 posts

We have frequently used an Osprey Poco Plus with rain shield. It is a child carrier with a sun shade but can be covered up with the rain shield with four quick clips, maybe 20 seconds. When our 3 year old gets tired of walking in she goes. It is roomy for the child and she will not overheat in it. It also has two large areas for diaper bag, change of clothes, games, snacks and such. I would wear this and my wife would wear a backpack carrying camera, food, and guide book. Get your child used to it as early as possible.

Posted by
503 posts

This might be more camera bag than you need/want, but I love the Lowepro Slingbag.

I can wear it crossbody or cinch the strap and wear it on my back.
It's expandable.
Room for my Lumix 85 plus a second lens and batteries, cards, lens hoods, filters, etc.
Room also for sunglasses, small wallet, kleenex, lip balm, etc,
large (non zip) exterior pockets for stashing ... well, whatever I need handy like a small water bottle, map.
Based on what you said you needed to carry, I think it would all easily fit, even without expanding it.

The bag insert is removable so that, packed with camera gear, gets placed in my "personal item" for the plane and the bag is flattened and goes in the carry on. Once at my destination, the insert goes into the lowepro bag along with the days necessities. Since security is always a concern, my wallet (which only holds some daily cash and a credit card) gets slipped between the insert and the side of the bag - not impossible for a pickpocket but challenging - that velcro makes a LOT of noise!
NOTE: this is a camera bag so there isn't much in the way of interior organizational pockets, etc. , etc. but I have found that it makes accessing my camera very easy.
Bonus - it's a camera bag so your husband would feel no shame in holding or wearing it - LOL!!!

Posted by
1221 posts

They are not cheap and probably more camera bag than you want, but MindShift does camera bags designed to protect precious gear from rainstorms:

The company also has their less outdoorsy ThinkTank line:

The interior partitions are linked by velcro and can be moved around to accommodate not only lenses but other small items.

Posted by
420 posts

I find it easier to carry 2 bags. A small Pacsafe Venturesafe 150 crossbody sling bag. It holds cash, credit cards, passports, etc. I also carry a Rick Steve’s Civita tote. That holds 3 water bottles, sunglasses, first aid kit, sunblock, mosquito repellent, cooling towels. My husband and I take turns carrying the Civita tote—it’s not heavy.

Posted by
2768 posts

Will your husband have a day bag? In my opinion kids items should be split between the parents until the kids are old enough for their own bag. That’s what we always did. My kids are older now (the oldest is nearing middle school!) so they have their own bags.

I don’t know how big the placemats/toilet seat covers are - I just don’t find that stuff necessary when traveling but to each her own. But if they aren’t huge then what you are planning doesn’t sound like that much stuff. Pretty much any medium size bag could handle it.

Ideas - has bags and a great return policy. Order a bunch and send them all back if none work.

A diaper bag would be waterproof and big. I haven’t used one in over 6 years but back then skip hop and jujube were brands I liked.

Posted by
21 posts

Everyone's advice has been so helpful! You have really made me visualize what I need in different situations, and I think I have narrowed down my shopping list. I guess I am looking for an awesome travel "purse" really.

Thank you selkie for the bag mentions. I do like the TurnStyle 5 V2.0 sling bag. Having access to my stuff without having to remove it over my head would be very helpful. It's also sporty enough for any situation or for my husband-ha! Mine won't have all that camera gear in it, but it seemed to be the perfect design for my needs.

Mira my husband will only have a backpack with extra gear if we are on a longer excursion for the day. A short hike, visiting a farm, parking the car and shopping for the day, etc... You made me realize that this will be the bag that goes everywhere, even for a quick bite in a restaurant. So a big thank you for your input, you gave me a light bulb moment for sure!

Nancy your bag appears to be made of the fabric and color choice I would go with, but the bulkiness reminds me of the time I knocked over not one but two wine bottles at a Fresh Market with my bulky purse. I have always sworn to keep my bag as thin as possible from that moment, and I send my husband for the wine now!

Thanks to the rest of you for the bag mentions and advice on ordering several then returning what I don't need. Unfortunately I am just as poor at returning items as I am at walking past wine, so I guess I need to plan a 3 hour drive to my nearest REI for any other luggage needs. I think for now I will plan on the TurnStyle bag already mentioned and will buy a Domke protective camera wrap for any possible bag changes that may take place for the camera. Thanks everyone!

Posted by
713 posts

I have the less expensive large lens wrap from Adorama. Actually I have two, and they are amazingly useful and versatile.

The 19" x 19" is here: and the 15" x 15" is here:

They each came free when I bought a lens. Whichever type or brand you choose, those wraps are so handy when traveling with camera gear.

As to mine, I've wrapped, at different times, almost every camera and/or lens I own in them. Around town I usually carry my Sony A7RII + 35mm or 55mm lens, wrapped in one, in my everyday tote bag. The wrap gives good protection from bumps and scratches.