Finding the perfect bag for traveling can be a tough decision for women. Should you go with the simplicity of a backpack or a purse specially designed for travel? Both can be good options; each has its benefits depending on the traveler, destination, and itinerary.
It’s essential to do research before making a purchase. The last thing you want is to arrive at your destination and determine you made the wrong choice.
What to Consider When Choosing between Travel Purse or Backpack
You’ll find several things to consider when choosing between a travel purse and a backpack. Among them are size, security, and, of course, style. Let’s take a look at what else you should consider:
A backpack is generally roomier than a travel purse, but that can be a double-edged sword. The more room you have, the more things you tend to bring. Remember that whatever you pack, you must carry through a busy airport or train station. Still, a backpack could be a good option if you’re packing for a weekend or short trip and want to avoid bringing a suitcase. See our recommendations for different occasions at the best backpack brands.
If you’re thinking about stowing your bag in a locker while you explore a museum, the small size of a travel purse will be a significant benefit. However, if you plan on traveling with a laptop, you might want to consider one of the more oversized convertible purse models.
Think about the weight distribution of each bag, especially if you have neck or back problems. Cross-body travel purses and backpacks distribute the weight evenly, while some travel purses are designed to be carried on one shoulder, putting strain on the muscles there. If exploring museums is on your itinerary, a travel purse may be a better choice as many museums will require you to wear a backpack in the front to avoid accidentally bumping into exhibits which can be very uncomfortable.
No matter what you decide, before your trip, make sure the straps can be adjusted to your body and that they aren’t digging into your shoulders or neck. Not all backpacks and travel purses are made the same way, and you don’t want to wait until you get to your destination to find out the one you bought is uncomfortable.
Since you wear a backpack on your back, when you want to access the contents, you need to remove it, which allows thieves a chance to grab your bag when it’s most vulnerable. However, travel purses are designed to slide to the front for quick and safe retrieval of your belongings—the bag never leaves your body. Look for a travel purse with a removable strap that can be wound around your seat in a restaurant or train so your bag can’t be stolen easily.
Many travel purses are slash-proof, meaning thieves cannot use a knife to tear the bag or cut the straps. Some come with anti-theft magnetic clasps; however, you must keep all credit and transit cards and hotel keys away from the clasps to avoid having them demagnetized. Having your identity stolen is the fastest way to end a vacation fast, so find a purse with RFID technology to keep your credit cards and identity safe from skimmers attempting to steal your private information.
Backpacks generally come with a side pocket for refillable water bottles, which is better for the environment than buying a new plastic bottle every time you get thirsty. A water bottle in your bag is also a reminder to stay hydrated but don’t forget to empty it before going through airport security. Another convenience of using a backpack is when a ladies’ room doesn’t have a hook for your bag. Keeping your pack on your back when you use the bathroom is a much more hygienic option than putting it on the floor.
You won’t be at a loss for pockets in a travel purse to keep your belongings organized, but they tend to be for smaller items.
Travel purses can go from day to night, which means you won’t have to pack an extra bag in your suitcase for special occasions. While they may not be appropriate to carry to a black-tie event, travel purses won’t stick out like a backpack will when you head out to dinner at a casual restaurant. Some travel purses are convertible and can be unsnapped at the bottom to create more space and snapped again to make them smaller and less cumbersome. This feature means your carry-on can quickly transform into the purse you use to explore all the hottest tourist destinations.
While many travelers are concerned with looking like a tourist when wearing a backpack in a foreign city or country, nothing beats having a backpack when hitting the hiking trails, so choose wisely and consider your itinerary.
Travel purses range in price from luxurious to affordable and are made from many different materials, such as nylon or leather. They can be purchased from the finest retailers as well as your favorite discount stores—you’re sure to find one within your budget. Just be knowledgeable on how to clean the inside of a purse. This is due to cleaning method is different for every material and using the wrong method could damage your purse.
The best backpack brands could last for years, but if you’re on a tight budget, you can often find used ones in good condition at thrift stores.
If you’re fashion-conscious, a travel purse could be the way to go. They come in myriad colors and styles and look less utilitarian than a backpack. You can purchase a black or neutral color purse that will look good with anything in your wardrobe, or switch up your look and go crazy with your favorite color palette. There are many places to find the best travel purse for your personal style.
The best way to choose a travel bag that will meet your needs is to look at your itinerary and use this list. There are as many options as there are types of travelers, and only you know what option will work for you.