Anyone who has traveled a fair amount knows the value of a good tote. The workhorse of the travel bag ensemble, it’s the perfect carry-all for your essentials. You can toss everything in one roomy bag (we’re talking wallet, passport, phone, headphones, tablet, book, scarf, sweater, toiletry bag, water bottle, snacks — don’t forget the snacks!, and even a travel pillow), grab it, and go.
But many standard totes tend to have two straps and a main compartment, and that’s about it. While they’re perfectly fine for day-to-day use, travel requires something that's far less prone to organization chaos. You don’t want to spend tons of time digging through the depths of your bag to find your chapstick (the ultimate in-flight essential), having your headphones and charging cords tangled in a mess with your keys, or even worse, holding up the security line as you rummage for your ID or boarding pass.
So while any old tote might work for the grocery store or gym, not all totes were created equal when it comes to travel. When we’re on the go, we ask a little more of our trusty travel bags. And for those (like me) who are always rushing to make it to the gate before they shut the doors, anything that helps you stay organized is much appreciated.
Below, we’ve rounded up the best tote bags for travel that get our seal of approval — they’re stylish without sacrificing utility, durability, or carrying ability. So scroll ahead for your new go-to travel companion. You won’t want to leave home without it.
These are the best tote bags to travel with:
- The Business Bag: Dagne Dover Signature Legend Coated Canvas Tote
- The All-around MVP: Cuyana Leather Zipper Tote
- The Packable Pick: Baggu Cloud Bag
- The Celebrities' Choice: Everlane The Day Market Tote
- The Laptop Lugger: Knomo Grosvenor Place Expandable Laptop Tote Bag
- The Classic: Longchamp 'Large Le Pliage' Tote
- The Flight Chaser: Lo & Sons Catalina Deluxe Tote
- The Budget-friendly Pick: L.L.Bean Everyday Lightweight Tote
- The Eco-friendly Pick: Stella McCartney Reversible Faux Leather Tote
- The Convertible: Madewell Leather Transport Tote
- The Worthy Splurge: Senreve Voya Tote
- The Water Resistant Warrior: Briggs & Riley Rhapsody Nylon Tote
- The Carry-all: MZ Wallace Large Metro Quilted Tote
- The Faux Stow: Street Level Reversible Tote
- The Beach Bum: Poolside Bags Essaouira Beach Bag
The Business Bag: Dagne Dover Signature Legend Coated Canvas Tote
For jet-setters going from a business meeting to a client dinner straight to a flight, this bag will keep everything in its proper place. The interior features padded slots for a tablet and a 14-inch laptop, plus dedicated pockets sized perfectly for your phone, wallet, subway card, sunglasses, water bottle, and even loops for your pens and lip balm. When you get home, find your keys in a cinch at the end of the built-in key leash.
To buy: dagnedover.com, $265
The All-around MVP: Cuyana Leather Zipper Tote
Exemplifying its motto of “fewer, better things,” Cuyana makes beautiful, minimalist products that instantly become wardrobe staples. This bag in a soft, luxurious Argentinian leather — and available in an array of muted, sophisticated tones — transitions from work to brunch to the farmer’s market perfectly. And while many classic leather totes have open tops, the zipper closure on this one is especially useful for warding off pickpockets on international adventures. Might we also recommend getting the Tote Organization Insert to add even more structure?
To buy: cuyana.com, $195
The Packable Pick: Baggu Cloud Bag
These lightweight bags pack down into a palm-sized pouch, so you can easily tuck one into your luggage if you foresee flying home with one or two (or 12) more items than you arrived with — hey, shopping is a key part of the travel experience.
To buy: amazon.com, $42
The Celebrities’ Choice: Everlane The Day Market Tote
Celebs from royal It Girl-of-the-moment Meghan Markle to the ever-chic Angelina Jolie have been spotted out and about with this simple yet sleek bag — and who are we to argue with their tastes? Bonus: the sumptuous Italian leather comes at a very agreeable price point.
To buy: everlane.com, $180
The Laptop Lugger: Knomo Grosvenor Place Expandable Laptop Tote Bag
This Knomo bag marries form and function, with a rectangular shape made for comfortably toting around laptops sized up to 15.6 inches. There's also a trolley slip sleeve that fits over the handle of your wheeled luggage for easy carrying. Plus, travel without worry: The RFID-blocking liner will protect your credit cards and passport from wireless identity theft.
To buy: amazon.com, $149
The Classic: Longchamp ‘Large Le Pliage’ Tote
If black is too blasé, this cult-favorite bag comes in tons of gorgeous shades like vibrant red and olive green, both perfect ways to add color that won’t clash with your travel ensemble (which, if you’re like us, consists of comfy black stretch pants). It's made with water-resistant nylon, so a bit of rain won't keep you from a day of boutique-hopping.
To buy: nordstrom.com, $145
The Flight Chaser: Lo & Sons Catalina Deluxe Tote
A favorite among in-the-know travelers, this sturdy canvas bag works as a weekender or a carry-on bag. The ingenious exterior pocket unzips into a sleeve so you can slip the bag over the handle of a rolling suitcase for a far less clumsy sprint to your gate. A separate bottom compartment means you can also keep a pair of slippers for your long-haul flight separate from the other myriad things you throw in your bag.
To buy: loandsons.com, $87 (originally $145)
The Budget-friendly Pick: L.L.Bean Everyday Lightweight Tote
The timeless popularity of L.L.Bean’s Boat and Tote bag is a testament to its quality and durability. But for those wanting a bit more organization and a little less Nantucket, here’s an alternative: the Everyday Lightweight Tote. Starting at just $35, this tote will last you many years even with daily use. Water-resistant nylon makes it great for the pool or beach and the reinforced handles can withstand heavy lifting. There's also an exterior slot, interior pocket, and key clip keep your phone, wallet, and keys at the ready without digging around.
To buy: llbean.com, $30 (originally $35)
The Eco-friendly Pick: Stella McCartney Reversible Faux Leather Tote
We love this bag from Stella McCartney because it has the look and feel of real leather, but it’s actually completely vegan and cruelty-free. The chain-trim detail gives it a sleek high-fashion feel while it’s roomy interior is big enough to hold more than just the essentials.
To buy: bloomingdales.com, $995
The Convertible: Madewell Leather Transport Tote
Sometimes you need to free up your arms or just want to sling your tote over your shoulder or wear it cross-body. This minimalist tote comes with a longer removable strap for just those occasions.
To buy: nordstrom.com, $158
The Worthy Splurge: Senreve Voya Tote
Made in Italy, Senreve's bags are designed to be used, not tucked away in a dust bag. The pebbled leather exterior of this tote is scratch- and stain-resistant (and the microsuede interior won't stain either). You couldn't ask for more pockets inside, with two tech sleeves, and size slip pockets for smaller essentials. And a zip-top is always helpful to have when traveling.
To buy: senreve.com, $895
The Water Resistant Warrior: Briggs & Riley Rhapsody Nylon Tote
Made of durable, water-resistant nylon, this tote is great if you're traveling with kids or pets (and may have to deal with spills) or if you’re just going somewhere where rain, sleet, and snow may be unkind to leather. Luggage-maker Briggs & Riley really thought of everything when they designed this tote: several exterior and interior pockets, a slot for your laptop, and snap and zipper closures to ensure nothing slides out of place.
To buy: nordstrom.com, $229
The Carry-all: MZ Wallace Large Metro Quilted Tote
Large tote bags for travel are crucial for carrying everything you need while on the go. This one’s spacious enough to hold just about anything — neck pillow, tablet, laptop, baby accessories, gym wear, you name it — but light as a feather so it won’t weigh you down in transit. The quilting adds a bit of signature flair to an otherwise highly utilitarian tote: it’s easily packable, washable, and holds up to wear and tear. It also comes with detachable interior zip pouches that are great for organizing knick-knacks, or to use as a clutch when you don’t want the take the whole bag.
To buy: nordstrom.com, $235
The Faux Stow: Street Level Reversible Tote
For those who prefer an animal-friendly — and more affordable — option, this best-seller looks like it’s made of lustrous leather even though the material is completely vegan. The included wristlet makes for a convenient place to stash your smaller items, and it's completely reversible, so you'll feel like you're packing two bags in one.
To buy: nordstrom.com, $49
The Beach Bum: Poolside Bags Essaouira Beach Tote
For a more bohemian look, the woven design of this tote will transition seamlessly from sea to Terminal C. The fully-lined straw bag boasts soft leather straps and features a canvas interior that’s spacious enough for your essentials and more.
To buy: shopbop.com, $250
- By Karen I. Chen
- By Rebecca Carhart
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