By Karen I. Chen
Updated: May 10, 2019
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Courtesy of Retailers

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.

Related: The Best Weekender Bags for Every Style

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.

The Business Bag: Dagne Dover Signature Legend Coated Canvas Tote

Courtesy of Dagne Dover

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

Courtesy of Cuyana

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

Courtesy of Shopbop

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: shopbop.com, $52

The Celebrities' Choice: Everlane Day Market Tote

Courtesy of Everlane

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, $175

The Laptop Lugger: Knomo Grosvenor Place Expandable Laptop Tote Bag

Courtesy of Amazon

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, $199

The Classic: Longchamp 'Large Le Pliage' Tote

Courtesy of Nordstrom

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

Courtesy of Lo & Sons

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, $118

The Budget-friendly Pick: L.L.Bean Everyday Lightweight Tote

Courtesy of L.L.Bean

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, from $35

The Philanthropist Pick: Issara Leather Ziptop Tote

Courtesy of Ahalife

We love this bag from Issara — a small, socially conscious leather goods company in London — because of all the thoughtful, functional details for travel. It's got a full zipper closure to keep everything secure (and for stowing under the airplane seat without your belongings spilling onto the floor), multiple interior and exterior pockets to keep you organized, a roomy and sturdy interior (no collapsing in on itself while searching for an item), and a structured bottom with metal feet. As a major bonus, you can feel great about your purchase: the artisans Issara works with in India and Indonesia receive fair living wages, healthcare, and safe work environments, and all of the materials and processes used to produce the  leather products are environmentally friendly. 

To buy: ahalife.com, $410

The Convertible: Madewell Leather Transport Tote

Courtesy of Madewell

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

Courtesy of Senreve

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 essentails. And a zip-top is always helpful to have when traveling. 

To buy: senreve.com, $895

The Waterproof Warrior: Briggs & Riley Large Shopping Tote Bag

Courtesy of Zappos

Made of durable, abrasion-resistant ballistic nylon, this tote is great if you're traveling with kids or pets (and may have to deal with spills and scratches) 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: a waterproof pocket for a water bottle (or baby bottle), several exterior and interior pockets, and a sleeve for slipping this over a luggage handle for easy transport.

To buy: zappos.com, $199

The Carry-all: MZ Wallace Quilted Tote

Courtesy of Bloomingdales

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: bloomingdales.com, $225

The Faux Stow: Street Level Reversible Tote

Courtesy of Nordstrom

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 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: Pamela Munson Petite Isla Bahia Fringe Tote

Courtesy of Shopbop

For a more bohemian look, the woven design of this tote will transition seamlessly from sea to Terminal C.

To buy: shopbop.com, $285

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