The Best Travel Totes for Every Occasion From Business Trips to the Beach

The best totes are versatile for both travel and day-to-day use.

In This Article

Jump to a Section

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.

Best Travel Tote Bags Tout

Travel + Leisure / Jessica Juliao

If you’re investing in a travel tote, it’s a smart idea to choose something you know you’ll consistently reach for no matter your intended activity. Whether you're trekking through airports, hopping on and off trains and buses, or exploring new cities, you can rest assured a sturdy tote bag will withstand the rigors of travel. Not to mention, totes are typically larger than regular handbags and come equipped with a spacious center compartment, making them ideal for carrying a number of items. 

With versatility and function top of mind, the tote we most recommend is MZ Wallace’s Medium Metro Tote Deluxe. It’s roomy and secure with lots of useful pockets, while remaining lightweight and stylish at the same time. Still, you may be looking for something with specific attributes such as smart features or water-resistance so our comprehensive list below outlines the very best carryalls in every category, from beach-ready sacks to work-appropriate bags.

Best Overall

MZ Wallace Medium Metro Deluxe Tote

MZ Wallace Medium Metro Deluxe Tote


Why We Love It
  • This well-made, stylish bag is so versatile with 11 pockets and a removable pouch. 

What to Consider
  • The super soft bag lacks structure. 

If you only have one tote, we suggest it be MZ Wallace’s versatile Medium Metro Tote Deluxe. This quilted soft-sided bag is perfect as a roomy personal item, but is worn just as well at the office thanks to an interior pocket that can fit a 13-inch laptop. You can opt to use it as a gym bag, or carry it all day long while exploring a new city, too. We love that the entire thing zips shut to keep your belongings extra secure (a feature that can be tough to come by as far as totes are concerned). 

Although it’s dubbed a “medium” size, it is actually quite large with six pockets inside including a key leash and a detachable pouch. The bag comes equipped with two exterior slip pockets, two zippered collar pockets, and a luggage sleeve (which can be zipped shut when not in use and used as another pocket). Still, it’s pretty lightweight and, thanks to the soft material, you can really shove a lot into this bag. The handles are reinforced and padded for all-day wear and the optional, adjustable crossbody strap will prove helpful if your load is heavy. This tote comes in a whopping 23 colors and patterns, including lacquered and metallic options.

Price at time of publish: $275

The Details: 11.6 x 9.4 x 12.7 inches | Nylon, leather | 1.78 pounds

MZ Wallace Medium Metro Deluxe Tote

Travel + Leisure / Jessica Juliao

Best Canvas

Baggu Horizontal Zip Duck Bag

Baggu Horizontal Zip Duck Bag


Why We Love It
  • It’s simple, large, and lightweight but still fully zips shut for safety.

What to Consider
  • The canvas fabric may be more prone to getting dirty and stained. 

Baggu’s Horizontal Duck Bag is a classic, and this updated version has a nifty zip top — as opposed to a snap closure — so it’s perfect to slip under a plane seat or carry on a crowded train. The recycled cotton canvas tote has a roomy interior and easily fits a 15-inch laptop. There’s an interior patch pocket, as well as an adjustable strap (with a 16.5-inch max strap drop) and top carry handles. Although canvas can be known to attract scuff marks, this bag is thankfully machine washable, so you can easily get it looking good as new. It comes in eight designs including solid colors, stripes, a floral pattern, and a checkered version. 

Price at time of publish: $42

The Details: 12.5 x 17 x 4.25 inches | Recycled cotton canvas | 1 pound

Baggu Horizontal Zip Duck Bag

Travel + Leisure / Jessica Juliao

Best for the Beach

Business & Pleasure Co. Holiday Cooler Tote Bag

Business & Pleasure Co. Holiday Cooler Tote Bag

Business & Pleasure Co

Why We Love It
  • The insulated interior keeps snacks fresh. 

What to Consider
  • The ice pack is sold separately.

Whether you’re filling it with swimsuits, sunscreen, and towels for the beach or packing a picnic complete with cold beverages, this striped 42-liter capacity tote has you covered. It’s insulated with a fully zipped top to keep snacks and drinks fresh and cold for hours. Even if you don’t plan to carry food, the insulation is beneficial to keep cosmetics and sunblock from melting in the hot sun. The interior is leakproof to contain melted ice and spills, and the recycled PVC lining is easy to wipe clean. (Pro tip: Use the B&P Co. ice pack, which is sold separately, for an extra long lasting chill.) The lightweight cotton bag has top handles as well as a detachable shoulder strap for more comfortable carrying, too. 

Price at time of publish: $99

The Details: 5.51 x 2.36 x 8.27 inches | Cotton, PVC | 1.1 pounds | Waterproof

Business & Pleasure Co. Holiday Cooler Tote Bag

Travel + Leisure / Jessica Juliao

Best Leather

Milaner Classic Elena Woven Handbag

Milaner Classic Elena Woven Handbag


Why We Love It
  • The elegant handwoven exterior makes this classic bag a true beauty. 

What to Consider
  • The $70 monogram add-on is pricier than most personalization options on the market.

The classic leather tote gets a stylish upgrade with Milaner’s woven version. Handcrafted in Italy from 100 percent Nappa or suede leather, the Elena features a timeless silhouette with two 11-inch-drop top handles. Inside, the tote is lined with cotton to protect the exterior leather from your belongings (and to give the soft bag more structure). There’s also a magnetic closure at the top and two zippered interior pockets to keep valuables extra secure.

This bag comes in 11 hues, ranging from a vibrant orange Nappa leather to a smooth taupe suede. And, while the classic size is the most versatile pick for flights and day-to-day use, the design also comes in a mini size or jumbo travel tote, too. 

Price at time of publish: $495

The Details: 20 x 14 x 3 inches | Suede or Nappa leather, cotton | 2.35 pounds

Best Eco-conscious

Troubadour Orbis Laptop Tote

Troubadour Orbis Laptop Tote


Why We Love It
  • Sustainability and functionality were top-of-mind in this bag’s design.

What to Consider
  • It only comes in black. 

London-based brand Troubadour dubs this eco-conscious tote a “fully circular product” as it’s made from recycled PET/polyester — the same material as a plastic bottle — which can be repurposed over and over again. (And when you’re done using the bag, the company will provide a shipping label to return it to them for re-recycling.) Beyond sustainability, the zip-top bag offers 11 pockets, including a padded pocket for a laptop or tablet up to 16 inches, a bottle holder, and hidden slip pockets at the front and back for easy access to your most frequently used items. For carrying, there’s a padded vegan leather grab handle and a detachable and adjustable padded shoulder strap. If you’re jet-setting, you’ll appreciate the trolley sleeve, which, alternatively, can be zipped up and used as another pocket when you’re not. 

Price at time of publish: $195

The Details: 12.6 x 15.4 x 4.3 inches | Recycled PET/polyester | 2.4 pounds | Waterproof

Best Smart

Bee & Kin The Expert Carryall Tote

Bee & Kin The Expert Carryall Tote

Bee & Kin

Why We Love It
  • The interior light feature makes it so easy to find things in the bag.

What to Consider
  • It has an open top. 

Bee & Kin’s Expert Carryall Tote is a far cry from your average sack. The tech-enabled bag’s fancy features include built-in LED lights that illuminate the interior compartment (to end futile rummaging on a red-eye flight or dark restaurant). There’s also a smart button that can be set up (via an app) to instantly start a Spotify playlist, lock your phone, navigate to a set location, send a pre-written text, and more. Still, with an Italian leather exterior (in five solid colors or one red-and-blue pattern), it’s just as stylish as any bag on our list. The interior is also equipped with a zip pocket, a phone holder, and a card holder, and it can accommodate a 13-inch laptop. 

Price at time of publish: $595

The Details: 13 x 10.25 x 6.5 inches | Leather, spandex | 1.7 pounds

Best Waterproof

Rains Rush Tote Bag

RAINS Tote Bag Rush


Why We Love It
  • This strong, sturdy bag is also wallet-friendly.

What to Consider
  • It’s not as elegant as many of the other items on our list.

There are lots of benefits to waterproof bags. For one, you can rest assured that your belongings will stay protected from an unexpected rainstorm or spill. Also, if a water bottle or other liquid comes undone inside your bag, the mess will stay contained. If these conveniences appeal to you, we suggest the Rains Tote Bag Rush, made from Rains’ signature waterproof PU fabric. The lightweight top-handle bag comes in eight colors, and each has a 16-liter capacity. The top zips shut for extra security. Bonus: It’s machine washable, so don’t worry about getting it dirty. 

Price at time of publish: $50

The Details: 14.1 x 13.7 x 5.1 inches | Polyester, polyurethane | 12.4 ounces | Waterproof

Best Folding

Longchamp Le Pliage Original Tote Bag

Longchamp Le Pliage Original Tote Bag


Why We Love It
  • The classic bag never goes out of style.

What to Consider
  • The large interior compartment can get disorganized.

Longchamp’s Le Pliage tote has been a consumer favorite for many years — and for good reason. The minimalist silhouette and roomy interior make this classic easy to pack with nearly anything. The long handles allow for a more comfortable wear on your shoulder, so feel free to throw in a laptop and some books. Inside, you’ll find two additional flat pockets. The zip top, which is reinforced by an additional snap closure, ensures the safety of all your belongings. But the best part might be how packable it is. The lightweight recycled polyamide canvas fabric folds down to the size of a small paperback book. It comes in a variety of colors including navy, neon pink, and beige. 

Price at time of publish: $155

The Details: 12.2 x 11.8 x 7.5 inches | Recycled polyamide canvas | 10.1 ounces

Best Sporty

Lululemon Clean Lines Tote Bag 22L

Lululemon Clean Lines Tote Bag 22L


Why We Love It
  • It has dedicated pockets for water bottles and more.

What to Consider
  • It’s more compact than many of the items on our list. 

Though this 22-liter capacity tote might be best suited for trips to the gym, its usefulness is certainly not limited. The water-repellent fabric bag is available in two neutral hues and has a simple and sporty look. Although it looks and feels lightweight, don’t be fooled: This sack is plenty sturdy and can keep up with all of your adventures. One of its niftiest features is the top handles which convert into shoulder straps by adjusting their length. Inside the zippered main compartment, there are multiple mesh slip pockets and a water bottle pocket. 

Price at time of publish: $88

The Details: 22.4 x 5.9 x 14 inches | Recycled nylon, recycled polyester | Waterproof

Best for Work

Beis The East To West Tote

Beis The East to West Tote


Why We Love It
  • The level of organization is top notch.

What to Consider
  • The zip top doesn’t fully seal the interior.

This recycled tote is so organized, it doesn’t waste an inch of its 31-liter capacity. The zip-top carryall’s functional features include both short and long handles, a removable shoulder strap, a front zipper pocket (with key leash inside), and a trolley pocket on back with a magnet closure on top and a zipper on the bottom. Inside, you’ll find a padded laptop pocket with velcro closure (suitable for 13- or 15-inch computers), two cell phone slip pockets, two pen pockets, a large zipper pocket, and two water bottle pockets with elastic closures. All of this comes with a sophisticated black or beige exterior and metal feet on the bottom. 

Price at time of publish: $108

The Details: 17.13 x 14.17 x 9.05 inches | Recycled poly | 2.2 pounds

Best Convertible Backpack

Arden Cove Victoria Tote

Arden Cove victoria tote

Arden Cove

Why We Love It
  • There’s a roomy, RFID-blocking front pocket with card and bill slots to leave easy access to your travel essentials, including a passport.

What to Consider
  • To actually use it as a backpack or crossbody, you’ll have to buy those straps separately.

Arden Cove’s laptop tote has dedicated pockets for everything. An exterior zip compartment keeps your phone, passport, credit cards, pens, and more baubles organized with a combination of slip and mesh pockets. The main compartment has slots for a 13-inch laptop and a tablet, in addition to an interior zip pocket, two slip pockets, and a D-ring to attach a key leash. There’s even an elastic loop to hold your water bottle upright. The exterior is made from water-resistant, slash-resistant nylon and the zippers are waterproof as well. This bag also has a trolley sleeve, so it can easily serve as your personal item. We especially love that you can add straps (which are sold separately) to turn it into a backpack, or buy crossbody straps instead. 

Price at time of publish: $399

The Details: 11 x 6 x 13.5 inches | Nylon | 1.6 pounds | Waterproof

Most Durable

Carhartt Legacy East/West Tote



Why We Love It
  • It has a durable, flat bottom that protects your items and the bag.

What to Consider
  • There is no interior padding or laptop sleeve.

Made of 600-denier polyester with a Rain Defender water-repellent treatment, this heavy-duty bag is built to last and resist stains and rips. The tote is great for everyday use, plus camping and outdoor adventures, too. The top zips closed to keep all of your item contains and the main compartment features smaller pockets for organization. There are also exterior pockets on each side, perfect for water bottles and other items you want to easily access. The two shoulder straps are also reinforced with durable polyester, so they're not only comfortable, but can withstand the weight once the bag is fully packed.

Price at time of publish: $70

The Details: 16.5 x 13.5 x 7.25 inches | Polyester | 0.9 pounds | Water-repellent

Best Lightweight

Cotopaxi Taal Convertible Tote - Del Dia

Taal Convertible Tote - Del Dia
Taal Convertible Tote - Del Dia.


Why We Love It
  • The brightly colored bag can be used for any occasion while traveling.

What to Consider
  • The lining of the bag is not waterproof.

This bold tote is part of Cotopaxi's Del Dia collection, which means each bag has a unique color scheme designed by Cotopaxi employees. It's also so lightweight you can fold it up and pack it in larger luggage to use as a day bag when you arrive at your destination. The shoulder straps are completely adjustable so you can carry this bag as an over the shoulder tote, a longer side bag, or even a crossbody. Despite its size, is also features plenty of organizational components like an interior stash pocket, water bottle pocket, and external zipper pocket for smaller items. As an added bonus, the tote is made of repurposed nylon, so you can feel great about your recycled purchase.

Price at time of publish: $60

The Details: 14 x 12.5 x 5 inches | Nylon | 0.5 pounds

Best for Outdoor Travel

Marmot Slate Tote

Marmot Slate Tote
Marmot Slate Tote.


Why We Love It
  • The bag is high-quality and water-resistant.

What to Consider
  • The bag is quite deep and narrow.

This Marmot tote is built for protection whether you're heading off your next outdoor adventure or simply to the office. While you may not want to hike long distances with just a tote, this bag is great for shorter walks or as a supplemental day bag. It features a padded laptop sleeve and additional padded tablet sleeve for anyone wanting to bring their tech items out with them while still ensuring these items are completely safe from moisture and the elements. The tote also has an 18-liter capacity and is wide enough to fit most water bottles, so you can fit all of your essentials for a fun afternoon in nature.

Price at time of publish: $59

The Details: 17 x 16 x 6 inches | Polyester | 0.93 pounds | Water-resistant

Best for Weekend Trips

Cluci Laptop Tote Bag for Women

Cluci Laptop Bag
Cluci Laptop Bag.


Why We Love It
  • It's versatile and works as a day bag, purse, or carry-on bag for quick trips.

What to Consider
  • The top doesn't have as wide an opening as other bags.

For a bag that can do it all while you're trying to pack light, consider the Cluci Laptop Tote. The stylish vegan leather design comes in five different colorways, so you can match your luggage or choose the most versatile shade for your travels. Not only does this bag feature a short tote handle, but it also comes with an adjustable shoulder strap so you can wear as a crossbody for extra comfort. It fits laptops up to 15.6 inches and includes plenty of pockets for organization including a front buckle pocket, a back zipper pocket, and interior zipper and slot pockets.

Price at time of publish: $60

The Details: 14 x 5 x 12 inches | PU leather and polyester | 2.09 pounds

Tips for Buying a Travel Tote

Think of your intended activity

Before adding a new tote to your shopping cart, take a moment to consider the where and the how. Are you going to be adventuring through inclement weather or at a water-based location like the beach? If so, a waterproof (or at least water-repellent) fabric will certainly come in handy. If you’re expecting to lug the bag all day long (for instance, while exploring a new city on foot), try to find a lightweight fabric and comfortable straps. If you’re headed on a business trip, you’ll probably gravitate towards a sleeker silhouette with organization features like dedicated laptop and pen pockets. A trolley sleeve will prove vital if you plan on bringing your tote on a plane along with your luggage. 

Aim for comfort

Bags that are meant to be carried on a single shoulder can be the most taxing on your back, which is why you’ll want to prioritize features that up your comfort. Look for longer straps which can ideally be adjusted to your perfect length. Padding is a great feature to help ease tension on your shoulder, and any bag that can convert to an additional carrying style (such as a backpack or crossbody) will also help spread the load around. If you’re lugging heavy items, you’ll want to avoid any bag that starts off weighty just from its own structure and aim for something light.

Consider organization and size requirements

While some totes have just one large main compartment, others are equipped with a variety of interior pockets. When selecting the right tote for you, you’ll want to consider the number and function of pockets based on your specific needs. The biggest concern is with large and oddly shaped items, such as a laptop or water bottle, which will require pockets designed specifically for those purposes. Smaller zip and slip pockets, which can hold cell phones, keys, and credit cards, are more easily interchangeable. 

The overall size of your bag should come into account as well. Longer excursions may require a larger interior capacity. If you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet and don’t want a heavy bag to weigh you down, think about a smaller and lighter sack.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How can I use a tote bag while traveling?

    The possibilities are endless! A tote bag is a great companion for a plane ride, especially if there’s a trolley sleeve to easily slip over your luggage handle. Another ideal scenario for a tote bag is sightseeing, especially if you have larger items (such as a light jacket, water bottle, or camera) that won’t fit in a standard-sized purse. Totes can be very useful during work trips, as many have dedicated laptop pockets. If you need to have a spare bag for shopping on hand, you’ll want to pick a lightweight, foldable tote bag which can be slipped inside your purse when not in use. 

  • Is traveling with a tote better than backpack?

    Using a tote bag instead of a backpack while traveling is completely up to your personal preference. Tote bags will usually allow faster access to your items and you can easily slip more things into a tote, keeping your hands free. They also tend to be more flexible than backpacks, so it may be easier to store them below airplane seats, in overhead compartments, and other crowded areas.

  • Does a tote bag count as a personal item on the plane?

    You may use a tote bag as your personal item on a plane, but you’ll want to check the personal item size requirements of your specific airline. If your tote is too large to pass as a personal item, it can still potentially be your carry-on bag, again depending on the airline’s specified restrictions. 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, T+L contributor Talia Ergas and T+L commerce writer Taylor Fox used their knowledge as experienced travelers and style writers to find the best tote bags in every category. Talia has over seven years of experience covering style, beauty, home, food and drinks, wellness, entertainment, and more. Taylor has been a travel and lifestyle writer for over five years.

Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles