A guide to choosing the best crossbody travel bag
Crossbody travel bags are the best travel companion, but not all are created equal
In the world of travel accessories, there are few areas with as much skin in the game as the humble day-to-day travel bag. There are backpacks, handbags, hidden sleeves to tuck into your clothes, crossbody bags, and many more.
If you’d like to know the benefits of using a crossbody travel bag, you’re in the right place. Ditto, if you’ve already decided a crossbody bag is the way to go and are looking for guidance on how to choose the right one. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when searching for a travel bag, so we’re here to make it easier.
The benefits of using a crossbody bag for travel
Crossbody bags live in the perfect middle ground between the shoulder-slung handbag and the bulky backpack. They take the benefits from both and merge them to create the ideal travel companion. From the handbag, crossbody bags take the style points, inconspicuous look, and easy access. From the backpack, the crossbody takes comfort and practicality. The Frankenstein creation you’re left with is super convenient, comfortable, stylish, and beats both competitors for safety.
Unlike your everyday handbag, most travel crossbodies are made from anti-theft materials. This means they can’t be slashed and emptied of their contents before you’ve noticed it’s gone. Additionally, they sit closer to your body than a typical handbag, so it’s harder for pickpockets to rummage through your things if you forget to zip up after use.
“By making sure your next crossbody travel bag is comfortable, safe, sized correctly for your needs, and looks great, your next adventure can be undertaken without the annoyance and discomfort of a bad bag.”
That same point works for backpacks, too. Having the zips in your line of vision makes a huge safety difference. Getting jostled about in a busy street makes it very hard to tell when someone’s unzipped your backpack and is rummaging through your things – trust me, I’ve learned that the hard way.
Backpacks also act as a beacon for pickpockets (travel backpacks in particular). You might as well be holding a sign saying you’re a tourist with a full wallet! For safety, you should opt for something a little less obvious. This is where our trusty crossbody bag comes in.
Inherent in their design, crossbody bags are naturally safer than many other options. However, this does not mean that all crossbody bags are as safe as the other. There are many crossbody bags on the market with impressive innovations in safety tech. From RFID shielding, lockable zippers, anti-slash fabrics, to simple solutions like interior pockets and fold-over openings, there’s a crossbody bag out there for you.
At the very least, slash-proof fabric and minimal outer pockets are a must. Once you’ve ticked those boxes, comfort, size, and style can start factoring in.
Comfort is essential when looking for travel bags as they’re something you’ll be wearing all the time. They’ll likely be loaded up with a book, your camera, and lots of water, so cushioning on the strap is vital. You’ll also be exploring new parts of the world, so they have to be designed so that they don’t rub and chafe with extended movement.
Of course, all of this is important when purchasing any bag, but with a crossbody, it’s even more so. Because a crossbody lies unilaterally on your body (all the weight is on one shoulder), if it’s uncomfortable, it can put unwanted pressure on your back. This is not what you want, so spending a bit more money on a bag that fits your body well is a worthwhile investment.
It’s hard enough buying a bag for everyday use, let alone a bag that will come with you on all of your adventures! Everyone’s size requirements will be different, so don’t pay too much attention to what your friend’s girlfriend’s Uncle used on his trip and loved. Maybe he only travels with a wallet and sunscreen while you prefer carrying a journal, water bottle, and camera. If that is the case, his bag will be awful for you and vice versa.
The best way to make sure your bag is the right size is to test it out before buying. Yes, this means going into the shop and speaking to salespeople, but it’ll be worth it. Promise. Take all the things you’ll be carrying on your trip to the store and try the bags out. Fill them up and see how they feel. Does everything fit? Is it still comfortable?
If you’re not sure what you’ll take, err on the side of caution. A slightly bigger bag is always better than running out of space and having to hold your water bottle/book/wallet all day.
While safety, comfort, and size are arguably the most important elements to consider when buying your crossbody travel bag, there is something else to consider… Style. Anybody who says that style isn’t important hasn’t seen those awful crossbody travel bags that scream ‘sad tourist trying to escape their life.’ Is that dramatic? Maybe, but the point stands.
The best way to make sure your bag is the right size is to test it out before buying
There are thousands of crossbody bags to choose from, so there’s no reason to settle for a bag you don’t like the look of. While I implore you to prioritize safety and comfort, you certainly don’t have to sacrifice style to get there.
By making sure your next crossbody travel bag is comfortable, safe, sized correctly for your needs, and looks great, your next adventure can be undertaken without the annoyance and discomfort of a bad bag. After all, you’re traveling the world to see new things, not to get robbed, chafed, and to throw your back out.
A deeper dive – Related reading from the 101:
- How to keep your purse light – at home or traveling | Vacation 101
Check this out if your travel bag is weighing you down.
- Are you planning a trip to a risky country? | Science 101
Keep your wits about you if you’re traveling to any of these countries.