The Best Purses for Travel (2021 Guide)

The perfect travel purse is the one that fits you and your trip. As simple as that.

It does just what you need, without weighing you down. The best purses for travel are practical, but have enough style to fit nicely into each outfit you’ve got in circulation.

The top rated travel purses do, however, all have one thing in common: they fulfill a specific role, whether it be as a day tote, hiking companion or general use crossover travel purse.

Meanwhile, theft proof travel purse options are becoming increasingly popular, and can help with peace of mind while you’re on the road.

best travel purses

What to Look For

Style

The best purses for travel are the ones you can use day in, day out. They’re not always the most glamorous, but they’re the kind of bag you can develop a companionship with.

The sort that goes with any outfit, and never looks out of place. 

juneau food tours

Liza using the Travelon shoulder purse in Juneau, Alaska.

The best travel purse can come with you up the morning hike, accompany you around town in the afternoon and be taken to dinner that night. Maybe its simplicity is what makes it go with everything; or maybe it’s a more personal bag that expresses your inner style to the world.

Either way, the best travel purse ever is the one that will never impose on your style.

Security

A slash proof purse can go a long way nowadays, but even some well-designed designer travel purse options exist for the careful traveler.

The Kattee Urban Satchel Tote is a good example of the latter, being both stylish and hard to access for would-be-thieves.

travelon shoulder bag

Large, stylish and well thought out this shoulder bag has all the space you will need.

On conventional travel purses and bags, look for features such as safety hooks for the main zippers, and lockable compartments.

Cross body purses for travel are better than handles, which are easier to snatch. Purses with a single large opening that can be easily covered by the forearm are worth paying attention to as well.

The best leather purses are tough to cut through, making them another option to consider if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in crowded spaces.

On the other end of the spectrum, brands like TravelSmith and Travelon are increasingly specializing in high tech safety purse and bag alternatives. Their purses for traveling abroad often feature interior slash-proof meshes, lockable zips and RFID protectors.

The philosophy here is that the best purse for international travel is the one that can’t be snatched, ripped or pilfered.

Function

This last one will depend on you: what does your perfect travel purse actually do? Does it hike? If so, the best purse to travel with may not even be a purse, but the best backpack purse that fits your shoulders.

If you’re planning on bringing an additional daypack anyway, then maybe opt for something like a small leather travel purse.

vancouver-kayaking-picnic-bbq

How's this for a BBQ after two hours of paddling? Liza's Travelon purse also made it's way here, in Vancouver!

Or, if you think the best purses are those that can stand alone and carry everything you need for the day, then look for a large travel purse such as the Baggallini Everywhere or Rebecca Minkoff Julian.

Consider the environment you’ll be traveling in. Does your bag need to handle tropical rain? If so, then go for the likes of the MOSISO. Does it need to handle the city?

Then stay secure with a Travelsmith or Travelon option. Or, if you’re going to be in the middle of nowhere and just need something that will never fall apart, the unassuming NOTAF Crossover is the best lightweight travel purse out there.

The thing to remember is that great travel purses come in all shapes and sizes.

Our Best Purses for Travel

We’ve tried to divide our favorite travel purses between shoulder bags, crossbody bags and backpacks, while also highlighting any bags that have excel in particular areas, such as security or spaciousness.

travelon mini shoulder bag

Price

Price

Travelon Anti-theft Mini bag

Packed with safety features yet small, it's versatile and fun.

Price

Price

Kattee Urban Satchel Tote

Stylish and fun for urban escapes.

notag crossover travel purse

Price

Notag Crossover

Stylish and fun for urban escapes.

baggallini everywhere travel

Price

Bagallini Everywhere Bag

Tons of style, many pockets and versatile.

roma leathers crossbody purse

Price

Roma Leather Multi Pocket

Plenty of pockets, compact, and made of real leather.

travelsmith rfid bag

Price

Travelsmith RFID Travel Bag

Plenty of style and color makes this a great choice for urban trips.

mosiso crossbody

Price

Mosiso Multipurpose Bag

The sporty air of this bag can be misleading for owners- and thieves.

travelon anith theft corssbody bag

Price

Travelon Anti-theft Bucket Bag

Plenty of pockets, RFID blocking, slashproof and fun make this travel purse a great choice.

rebecca minkoff backpack

Price

Rebeca Minkoff Julian

If fashion goes hand in hand with trvel for you this backpack will work like a charm.

cluci backpack travel purse

Price

Cluci Backpack Purse

Stylish and larger, it comes at a great price and made is made of vegan leather.

Shoulder Bags and Purses

Travelon Anti-theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag

Lightweight and secure

travelon mini shoulder bag

Travelon has a great reputation for producing high, quality, high tech bags for travelers, and their Mini Shoulder Bag is one of the best purses for travel you can get.

This anti theft travel purse is small and innocent-looking, but under the hood you’ll find it has a range of features aimed at keeping your stuff secure.

For one, it’s the only truly pickpocket proof purse on this list, and is made with Travelon’s slash resistant material. Even the sharpest of subway razors won’t be able to cut through the lightweight mesh lining inside the bag.

Meanwhile, the main compartment can be locked shut, thus making it a totally theft proof purse.

Along with the main compartment, the Travelon also has a side flap pocket, and a smaller zipper pocket for odds and ends. This is also an extremely lightweight travel purse, but isn’t particularly spacious.

It does, however, boast a large RFID protector pocket, which can be used to shield everything from your passport to bank cards from suspicious scanners.

All up, this is our favorite over the shoulder travel purse.

Kattee Urban Satchel Tote

Stylish but versatile

I’m calling it: this is probably the best travel purse for Europe. This bronze leather purse has some classic class. It doesn’t look at all like a travel purse, with its broad, slouchy design.

However, look closer, and you’ll see why this stylish travel purse is great on the road. The main compartment can be secured nicely, and contains a series of internal pockets that are perfect for stowing valuables.

There’s a detachable shoulder strap, but you’ve also got carry handles for when you just want to have fun. Next to the Rebecca Minkoff Julian mentioned below, this is our best stylish travel purse.

Crossbody bags and purses

NOTAG Crossover

No style, all utility

notag crossover travel purse

If the Kattee tote is the most stylish option on this list, then NOTAG admittedly comes in at the other end of the spectrum. Its simple, practical design could be described by some as retro, but in the vein of early 90s minimalism.

It has who knows how many zippers, with little compartments all over the place for odds and ends. It’s also fully waterproof, and durable enough to survive a tornado (I think).

No carry handles here, just one shoulder strap that’s long enough to be extended to a crossover. It’s straight forward, and one of the best lightweight purses for women who prize functionality.

It’s also our best purse with lots of pockets, and our best lightweight purse for travel.

Baggallini Everywhere Bagg with RFID

Style, utility and security

baggallini everywhere travel

One of the best purses for travel out there, the Baggallini Everywhere was specifically designed as a low key, high function handbag. It has one large, top zip closure, along with multifarious smaller pockets on the flank. 

It’s not particularly bulky, and you can easily fit an article of clothing or two, plus a camera. There’s space in a side pocket for a water bottle, while the smaller pockets are useful for small items you’ll be using throughout the day.

With a crossbody design and RFID technology, the Baggallini Everywhere could almost be described as an anti theft purse. The main opening is easy to keep watch over. Its also water resistant, making the bag a pretty reliable workhorse.

 However, this bag isn’t slash proof, and the lightweight material is food for subway razors. With 16 colors to choose from though, this workhorse can match any color palette you’re dressing in.

Overall, the Baggallini Everywhere is one of the best travel purse crossbody options.

Roma Leathers Multi-Pocket Crossbody Purse Bag

Beautiful leather and intelligent design

roma leathers crossbody purse

This leather crossbody travel purse is compact, versatile and stylish. Made of genuine cowhide, this small travel purse doesn’t offer as much space as some of the others on this list, but still has enough space for the essentials.

It has four exterior zip pockets for small, quick-to-reach items, while at the back you’ll find a handful of slip pockets. These are a good size for phones, but not secure in the slightest.

It also has a somewhat goofy front pocket that can work as a small wallet; but again, it’s not the most secure of apertures.

The Roma Leathers comes in four colors, including ivory, black, brown and tan. A good women's travel purse should always offer some durability, and the heavy leather Roma brings to bear here will survive whatever you throw at it.

TravelSmith RFID Crossbody Bag

Small and slash proof

travelsmith rfid bag

This cute travel purse is compact and secure, and aimed squarely at security-conscious travelers. It’s perhaps the best anti theft purse on this list, with a slash proof strap, and double zippers that can be secured with internal hooks.

Once secured, this bag can be locked down like Fort Knox. It also has an RFID protected pocket.

Unlike most RFID blocking bags on this list, the pocket isn’t some tiny slip for just for credit cards; instead, it’s a chunky thing big enough to hold a passport. 

The TravelSmith might look petite, but it’s just about the best secure travel purse you can get. That’s why it’s also the best small travel purse on this list. It’s also our best small crossbody purse for travel in general.

MOSISO Multipurpose Crossbody Hiking Bag

Sporty and waterproof

mosiso crossbody

Is it a purse? Is it a messenger bag? Is it both? The MOSISO is the ideal crossbody travel purse for short forays into the great outdoors.

Verging on day pack size, this crossbody bag has everything from twin water bottle holders to pockets specially designed to hold your iPad.

The flexible shoulder strap is nicely padded, and can be used either as a straight shoulder bag or crossover. The strap itself is likewise made of a breathable material designed to keep sweat to a minimum.

This is the only women's crossbody travel purse on this list with such a feature.

Meanwhile, the rest of the travel purse is waterproof. It’s not quite Gore-Tex and won’t hold up under extreme rain, but is more than enough to keep your camera dry during an afternoon shower.

Versatile and functional, the MOSISO travel purse bag has a sporty look that will appeal to hikers, but might look a little out of place around town. Nonetheless, with 23 colors to choose from, this is the best purse for traveling abroad when you know you’ll be packing the hiking boots.

It’s a travel purse with water bottle holder that will stick with you all day.

Travelon Anti-theft Crossbody Bucket Bag

Secure and spacious

travelon anith theft corssbody bag

If the Travelon Mini just doesn’t have enough space for your daily needs, then consider sizing up to their take on the classic bucket bag. 

Like the Mini, the Travelon Crossbody Bucket Bag is slash resistant and contains an RFID proof inside pocket, and is among the best crossover purses for travel. This makes for a seriously secure travel purse.

The main strap is likewise slash resistant, and can be adjusted as either a shoulder or crossbody bag. Outside the protected main compartment, there’s a water bottle mesh holder on the front, and a lockable side zip.

A smaller slip pocket can also be found on the side. Together, this makes for one of the best womens purses for the security aware traveler.

travelon purse

Liza carrying the Travelon purse in Anchorage, Alaska

It’s also arguably the best crossbody purse specifically designed for travel, and as you'll see at the end of this post, it's our favorite and the one Liza takes everywhere.

Backpacks

Rebecca Minkoff Julian

Stylish

rebecca minkoff backpack

The Julian is a lightweight travel backpack purse with a budding cult following. This stylish purse is floppy, fun and has enough space for your daily needs. 

The high quality leather is a sleek black that goes with anything, but is discreet enough to not draw undue attention.

Speaking of security, the main zipper can be secured to the top of the bag, making it harder for would-be thieves to unzip your bag behind your back.

If you’re looking for a big purse for travel, then this is it. It’s also easily the most fashionable travel purse on this list.

CLUCI Backpack Purse

Spacious, cheap and cute

cluci backpack travel purse

For under $40, this medium-sized, rectangular backpack purse is more than big enough for the essentials, and can be either worn on the back, or as a shoulder bag.

It’s one of the biggest purses on this list, and is made of a durable vegan leather. It comes in more than 20 colors, and has both a large compartment and a smaller front pocket.

There’s a few smaller pockets both inside the main compartment and to the side for little bits and bobs.

There’s also space on the side for a water bottle. Not a bad pick for anyone who likes to carry everything they could possibly need throughout the day.

Our Pick and Winner

Like with most travel items, there are many options to choose from and what works for you might not work for others.

However, when it comes to a travel purse, there are a few boxes it has to check: it has to be inconspicuous, small but not too small, with many pockets, comfortable and slash proof.

A few of the purses reviewed here do meet all these requirements, but there is one Liza has loved from day one, has been using for quite some time, and is still our winner: the Travelon Anti-theft Crossbody Bag.

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