Best Travel Totes — What to Look For

Travel 2020 | 5 min read 

Travel tote bags are some of the best luggage pieces to add to your travel bag arsenal. They are perfect if you don't like to check in bags, but still need to maximize your personal item storage. There are countless styles of travel tote bags, but here are some popular options to help with your shopping: 

The classic Women’s Tote Bag

If you’re looking for a tote bag that doubles as a travel tote, then you’ll need to make sure it can accommodate for your trip. A classic women’s tote should have plenty of pockets for your passport, credentials, wallet, phone, and more. When you’re on-the-go, you don’t want to waste time digging for important items, so organization is crucial.

Travel packing experts suggest that you find a travel tote large enough to stash makeup, toiletries, and valuables. This way, you can keep these items close at hand for quick access. Plus, they won’t take up space in your carry-on so you can dedicate your luggage to clothing and shoes. 

Some of the best tote bags for travel are made with “outdoor materials” like: leather, vegan leather, canvas, nylon, and twill. These materials are very durable and oftentimes, weather-resistant. 

Leather

Vegan Leather

Canvas

Nylon

Twill

Tear-Resistant

Water-Resistant

Fade-Resistant

Eco-Friendly

Weight-to-Strength Ratio

Maintenance 

Many leather travel tote bags are excellent style pieces that will last a lifetime. Because of the material’s flexible nature, it can resist abrasions and tears better than other materials. However, leather tends to soak up liquids and oils so it’s not considered water-resistant or easy to maintain. Leather travel totes would need to be cleaned with special leather cleaners or by a professional. Given that leather does earn a patina over time, it wouldn’t be considered “fade-resistant”, but this is great for an old-fashioned, classic aesthetic. Lastly, it’s not eco-friendly due to it being made from animal hide. 

Vegan leather, nylon, and twill check off all of the above requirements because they are synthetic materials that are specially formulated to be lightweight, yet extremely durable. Vegan leather is a combination of synthetic leathers and polymers that withstand water, sun, and abrasions very well. Nylon and twill are super lightweight in comparison to all other materials, and are known for its unmatched ability to wick liquids. Because these are all made from synthThese are great travel tote materials because you won’t be adding much additional weight to your carry. You can pack your tote to the brim without adding unnecessary weight from the tote itself. Vegan leather and nylon are also easy-to-clean which is a plus if you plan to use your travel tote frequently. 

Lastly, canvas is a great, lightweight material that can be fairly tear- and water-resistant. However, since it’s made from natural materials like cotton or linen, they will take longer to dry if exposed to poor weather. Canvas is not as eco-friendly since it takes large amounts of water to grow and harvest cotton and flax. 

Keep in mind that your travel tote should be large enough to pack for your weekend adventure, but compact enough to be approved for flights. Most flights require personal items to be 18”x14”x8” so they’re able to fit underneath a seat, however, every U.S. airline will vary. Be sure to consider this while you’re looking for a travel tote. 

The Laptop Travel Tote

This type of tote bag is perfect for those that travel for work, or like to bring entertainment on long trips. With a laptop travel tote, you’ll be able to house your laptop, tablet, or portable game console in an internal sleeve. Typically, premium laptop totes will feature a padded laptop sleeve so you can rest assured that your tech is safe and secure while in transit. 

 

 

 A tip for finding a quality laptop tote, is to make sure it has additional, interior pockets. You’ll want to make sure that your eclectic bunch of travel items have a space of their own. Most travel totes will have nylon pockets for easy cleaning, but include velour-lined or silk-lined pockets as well. These special pockets ensure that jewelry, watches, and sunglasses stay scratch-free. For all other items that don’t find a home in a pocket, be sure to keep things organized with: a toiletry bag, cosmetics pouch, and wallet.

10 smart things to pack in your travel tote are: 

  • Wallet
  • Passport
  • Phone
  • Travel Pillow
  • Chargers
  • Headphones
  • Book or Magazine
  • Scarf
  • Sweater 
  • Snacks 


 The Multipurpose Travel Tote 

If you want a travel tote that can do it all, athletic tote bags are a great option. Designed with functionality and comfort in mind, athletic totes can easily transition from weekend sports to weekend travels. 

Since they’re intended to hold sports gear, apparel, and shoes, athletic totes are designed with a deeper main compartment. They also showcase practical features like water bottle pockets and shoe compartments, which may not be offered from classic totes. 

Tennis totes in particular make for excellent travel tote bags because the racquet compartment can be repurposed to store electronics, toiletries, or even an umbrella. Plus, tennis totes are made with durable, weatherproof materials that can withstand outside elements. This makes them ideal for travel as well. 

The Hybrid Tote

A hybrid tote bag is perfect for travel because of its ability to act like a backpack or tote bag. The versatility of this 2-in-1 bag is great for long travels, since you can switch between styles to achieve the most comfortable carry.

Hybrid totes are a stylish yet multifunctional bag that can hold your laptop, work essentials, extra clothing, and all of your small travel items that you may need in-flight. 2-in-1 hybrid bags are great if you need a deep main compartment that organizes items like a traditional backpack style. Travel experts suggest storing your laptop case near the back and your shoe bag or toiletries at the bottom. Then, roll your clothing neatly and store on top. This helps prevent wrinkles and allows you fit more items in your hybrid tote.

 A tip to find the best hybrid tote-backpack, is to make sure that it’s made of lightweight, weather-resistant materials. This way, your items stay dry in poor weather, and it’ll be effortless to carry by hand or on your back.