The Wonderful World of Travel Day Bags

I’ve traveled for pleasure and business, domestically and internationally, both solo and with babies, toddlers, big kids, and solo. Through all that time I have used A LOT of different travel day bags. I keep hearing about the idea of a “unicorn” day bag. One that will work for all uses. I have yet to find that “unicorn”. But what I have done is figure out the types of bags best based on the type of trip, and quite a few that work great depending on your needs. I thought I’d go through the bags I use, how, and my recommendations:

Backpacks

Types of Trips: Going to spend all day at the amusement park? Or hiking? When you are looking at hauling changes of clothing, snacks and lunch for the whole family, or are just going to need a ton of diapers and wipes that day, this is the bag you want.

What to Look For: You want a backpack that will hold all you need, but isn’t one giant pocket. Organization is key. I look for bags with multiple compartments and little pockets on the side. Make sure you have water bottle pockets on the side so you can carry the large water bottles for the family to drink from. And make sure it fits your frame and isn’t too big or overwhelming. Here you want good straps that support the weight because if you are carrying a backpack, it will get heavy as it gets filled throughout the day.

Suggestions:

BONDKA Journey Backpack in teal and gray

BONDKA Journey Backpack – This not only backpack looks cute, but also has a number of great pockets for organization. The main compartment is big without being too big. It has two nice size size pockets for water bottles, as well a padded laptop sleeve against your back. I tend to not carry a laptop during the day, but I bring the iPad. Also, there is another padded pocket for the top where I store my camera. This backpack can hold everyone’s lunch in the big compartment, my camera, books in the laptop sleeve, and my little odds and ends in the front pockets. Perfect as an airport personal item, for a day out hiking, or at the amusement park.

HaloVa Diaper Travel Backpack in blue and gray

HaloVa Diaper Travel Backpack – I purchased this upgraded diaper bag for my sister, but when I saw it in use, I realized how useful it could be.  The middle has a huge compartment to store everything you nee.  The front pocket has insulated bottle holders for the babies bottles, or smaller water bottles as the kids get older.  And the L-shaped zipper at the back allows you to get at the stuff that has gotten shoved to the bottom easily.  Coming in an array of colors, and with a modern square design, it’s something that looks like a stylish backpack, and doesn’t scream mommy bag.  

Cross Body Bags

Types of Trips: City exploring? Checking out a museum or new park with the kids for a few hours? Just need to carry some hand sanitizer and masks and a few snacks? Then the medium sized cross body bag is the perfect bag for the day.

What to Look For: I always go with a medium cross body bag. A large gets too heavy on one shoulder once you start to fill it. A small leaves no room for the small items you collect during the day (souvenirs, sea shells, Thomas Trains and books. You know the basics). I like my bag to have room for at least one water bottle since my kids always seem to be thirsty (and lets face it, I like to stay hydrated as well). Again, in these types of bags, pockets are key. A nice big pocket for your wallet, camera, snacks, etc. But it’s great if it has smaller pocket on the inside or outsize. I love an outside pocket to store my phone so it’s easily accessible. Also a key clip is great so the keys don’t get lost in the abyss.

Suggestions:

Blue Ebags Piazza Daybag, compared to a green Overland Equipment Donner bag

Ebags Piazza Daybag  – I was a Overland Donner fan forever, but unfortunately Overland is no longer making that bag. However, I’ve looked at the Piazza Daybag, and it seems to have all the features I loved the the Donner. Two outside pockets, a front flat with spots for change, chapstick, keys, etc., and a back pocket for my phone. Plus the big pocket in the middle is fantastic for the more bulky items you need during the day. It also comes in an array of fun colors and it’s a great addition to your wardrobe.

Green OGIO Brooklyn Shoulder Bag

OGIO Brooklyn Shoulder Bag  – I love my OGIO bag for it’s padded tablet sleeve in the middle, and the cute button pocket in the front for my keys. The middle is roomy and you can fit your wallet, a few trains, and snacks for the kiddos. The only draw backs, no water bottle pocket and my new camera doesn’t fit as well due to the padded sleeve being in the middle. But if you don’t need those, this is a styles cross body bag that stands the test of a day bag.

Convertible Bags

Types of Trips: City traveling? Checking out museums? Expect to start the day with a small amount of stuff that will increase over the day? Will have multiple types of needs during a single trip? Then you want to use the convertible bag.

What to Look For: I was finding that when my bag held my camera and two water bottles, then the cross body, while it fit all the items, was heavy on my shoulder. I noticed that there were several bags advertised that could be a shoulder or crossbody bag that converts to a backpack. For me, I wanted something that could go crossbody or backpack, but also had water bottle pockets. Looked for something between a medium and large. And of course, stylish and functional is key.

Suggestions:

Haiku To Go Convertible Messenger Back, on a person

Haiku To Go Convertible Messenger – This is a great convertible bag. It has a big pocket for my camera, and a padded sleeve for the iPad. There is enough room for the wallet, a few snacks, and my portable power bank. There is also a key clip. There are also a zippered pocket in the main pocket, and two pockets in the front behind the flap, that clips closed. The best feature is it has 2 water bottle pockets, one on each side. The switch from cross body to backpack is fairly easy, but there is a feature that bothers me.  Due to the fact it creates the shoulder strap by looping the long cross body strap through a metal ring, when you take it off your back to get something in the purse, it slides and creates a long strap.  It’s fine if walking a long time when you aren’t getting things out of the bag, but if you are constantly reaching into the bag, it can be an issue.  

Pincnel Backpack, in red on a person, and in black

Pincnel Backpack PurseI saw ads for this bag on Amazon, and I ended up buying it as a quarantine shopping whim.  It’s turned into one of my favorite bags, and I even got one for my mom.  The bag can either be a backpack, or a shoulder bag, but you can switch to either with ease.  The big pocket opens to the back, making it difficult for pickpockets.  But I can fit an iPad, several snacks, Clorax Wipes, Hand Sanitizer, and extra masks in the big pocket with my camera.  The front pickets hold smaller items, and there are two side pockets for water bottles or sunglasses.  The material is waterproof and you can buy it in two sizes.  I have the small, but I think the large would fit a small laptop.  I use it to go hiking with the kids, and then switch to the shoulder to go run to Target for more supplies.  I get so many compliments and the price point can’t be beat.  

When you are out and about all day touristing, you want to make sure you can carry all the essentials so you don’t have to go back to your room and interrupt your day. When you are a parent, that planning is even more essential. Finding the right bag can make or break your day. I’ve shown you what I would travel with, but tell me, what do you travel with? What are your favorite bags? Tell me in the comments!

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that allows me to earn a small commission at no cost to you. I only link to products I would or have used myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. You can read the full disclaimer here.

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