Travel Day Bags

I don't know about you, but I have about a dozen day bags in my luggage collection. It is so hard to find the right one--something practical, comfortable, and maybe even a little bit stylish. Travel day bags are hard to pick.I have my own ways and preferences, (you remember THIS article) so I thought it would be fun to reach out to another pro traveler, from a slightly different demographic, for additional ideas. Skyla Sorenson is a university student and has assisted me on tours. She's grown up in the Rick Steves family, both of her parents have worked there for more than 25 years. She's kind of like a little sister/apprentice, although I get mistaken for being her mom sometimes (ouch!). Skyla will be contributing to my blog on occasion.

Practical Travel Day Bags for Every Type of Traveler

What type of traveler are you? Do you sacrifice style for practicality? Are you ultra-organized or more of a sit-on-the-bag-to-close-it type of person? Whoever you are, there’s a bag out there for you. Out of all the bags I’ve travelled with over the past several years, these four are my favorites. Each one has been tested to the limit, either by backpacking through Europe, or exploring rural Thailand. To make the pictures more realistic I filled each bag with a guidebook, water bottle, and light jacket.

For the Stylish Traveler

Leather TotePrice: $40ProsThis is probably the most stylish bag I own. The leather is beautiful, and the solid color design combined with the minimalistic silhouette make it easy to match with any outfit. The exterior, while not waterproof, is durable and easy to clean off. In terms of practicality, its deep interior makes it more difficult for pickpockets to get into. The handles are the perfect height for carrying over your shoulder, so it’s easy to rest an arm over the top to create an extra level of security. There is a zippered pocket as well, for quick-grab things like chap-stick and sunglasses. It can also carry a ridiculous amount of stuff, which makes it great for cramming souvenirs in on the flight home.ConsThe downsides to this are its lack of waterproofing and its weight. If you have back pain or shoulder pain, filling it to the brim and carrying it for extended periods of time may not be a good idea. It also only has one inner pocket, making it more difficult to stay organized.Where to buy?Italian leather stores sell this bag in every color under the sun so if your travels take you there, you’ll be sure to find one that matches your aesthetic.  I got this specific one in Venice, near San Marco, but I’ve seen them in every major city in Italy. If Italy isn’t on your list, these are closest products I’ve found:ilishop PU Leather Handbag Designer Pure, Color Pures Large Capacity Shoulder Bag,Minimalist Clean Cut Pebbled Faux Leather Tote Womens Shoulder Handbag Make sure to look at the other suggestions Amazon offers. This style bucket tote is available from many sellers.

For the Organized Traveler

RSE Veloce Shoulder Bag

Price: $70Pros:This bag is good for people that need to carry a lot of stuff. I found it great for assisting on RSE tours because there’s room for an iPad, folders, multiple bottles of wine, and a light jacket. Not only can it convert from a shoulder bag to a backpack, it can also expand from a 14-liter bag to a 16.5-liter bag with a quick slide of a zipper. It has multiple pockets to help keep you organized, making it easy to find exactly what you need. Another handy feature is that it can slide over the handle of a roller bag, making airport transfers very easy.Cons:This bag is square shaped, making it bulky to wear as a side-bag. I primarily used it as a backpack. The number of pockets was nice, but unnecessary, and I often found myself losing things in my own bag.Where to buy? bag also comes in a smaller size, which could be more practical for a shorter vacation.

For the Adventurer

Cotopaxi BATAC Del Dia

Price: $50ProsThis bag is great for hiking, sightseeing, lounging on the beach—you name it. It’s incredibly portable, which makes it easy to stuff in a larger carry-on bag for flights, yet it packs in quite a bit. I used this bag when I lived in Thailand, so its survived everything from jungle treks to chicken attacks (don’t ask). The bag has a couple large compartments, a notebook pocket, and a small zippered top pocket. It also has a chest strap, which makes it more secure and helps the wearer bear larger loads. For pick-pocket prevention, it’s easy to turn around and wear kangaroo style. The extra loops on the exterior are great for clipping wet clothes or hats to.ConsMy main complaint would be that it’s a very long bag. For people with smaller frames, it might feel a little droopy. The deep pockets do give it quite a bit of extra room for carrying jackets if you don’t mind the stuff-sack feel. This style of bag will most likely brand you as a tourist, but its colors make it a more fun alternative to the drab, utilitarian travel backpack (sorry Rick Steve’s). It’s also a little pricey for how it feels, but overall a good deal.Where to buy? warned, you cannot choose your color scheme. These bags are made from leftover bits of their other bags, so every purchase is a surprise!)

For the All-of-the-Above Traveler

Healthy Back Bag

Price: $60ProsThis is my number one pick for travel bags. It’s cute, durable, has lots of pockets, and can fit two bottles of wine. Nuff’ said. I used it for three months this summer, and as the name implies, had absolutely no back pain. Pretty amazing. It’s possible to wear it over one shoulder like a purse, across your back like a cross body-bag, or you can swing it to your front for easy access and security.The model I used is also reversible, which is great if you want to switch up your style midway through your trip or hide a nasty marinara stain (spaghetti al pomodoro gets me every time). It has pockets with nifty pen holders, hooks for putting keys on, and a pouch for a small iPad or kindle. The shoulder strap can also unhook, so you can loop it around a chair leg while you’re eating out, or through the luggage rack on a train.ConsAfter three months of constant use, it shows signs of wear. The light blue paneling, although beautiful, isn’t super practical. However, the overall construction of the bag has held up wonderfully. Another downside is that you can’t fit an 8” by 11” piece of paper in it without folding the paper in half. This shouldn’t be a problem for most travelers, but it felt a little weird for me to be folding up passport lists and hotel reservations.Where to buy?AmeriBag Small Distressed Nylon Healthy Back Bag, Stone Washed This is the link to the more lightweight nylon version, it has almost all the same features except for the reversibility.