Totes are one of the most essential travel items you can own—the best tote bags are endlessly versatile and tend to have room for everything you could need while in transit. For some travelers, a sturdy leather tote is a no-brainer personal item for flights: it's bigger than most purses, so you can more easily fit a laptop, water bottle, and all other plane accessories inside. For others, an easy-to-fold cotton option might be the item you break out mid-trip for a visit to the beach or farmer's market.
Whatever your style, a tote bag you love is a must-have piece of luggage, but the right one can be hard to find. Below, we've pulled together the best tote bags to travel with—from value buys to investment bags you'll get compliments on for years to come—starting with the ones Condé Nast Traveler editors and contributors are carrying these days.
This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.
Pond LA Transform tote
“This is by far the most functional tote bag I’ve ever used. Whether I’m commuting to the office, heading on a day trip, or going to the airport, I never worry about fitting everything I need (and more). The Transform tote keeps my 15" laptop secure in its own compartment, fits my large reusable water bottle in a side pocket, has protective feet at the bottom so my bag doesn’t touch the ground, and has multiple other pockets for keeping small essentials like my sunglasses, wallet, and earbuds organized. The feature that really sets this tote bag apart from others I’ve used in the past? It can be easily adjusted and worn four different ways depending on what’s on your travel itinerary: It can be worn as a shoulder bag using its handles, as a classic tote bag using the longer adjustable strap, or as a backpack; plus, it fits right on top of your luggage, thanks to the trolley sleeve.” —Meaghan Kenny, associate commerce editor
Vince Camuto Orla canvas tote
“This is my go-to statement tote. Vince Camuto’s bags have special, unique patterns that make them the ultimate statement piece. I usually gravitate toward this one on weekends when I know I’ll be moving around the city and can’t pinpoint one specific atmosphere. The open design allows me to fit my laptop, a change of shoes, a small toiletry bag, and my wallet with ease. Even better, with a flat bottom, I never have to worry about my belongings toppling out, no matter if my bag is filled to the brim or light as a feather.” —Paris Wilson, commerce producer
Lux & Nyx Origami large tote
“Lux & Nyx is a small, woman-owned business that makes a range of stylish and functional bags (backpacks, crossbody, clutches), but it’s the Origami Tote that’s the clear winner for travelers. It comes in three different sizes, and the large (15"L x 11.5”H x 6.5”W) is the perfect personal item companion for frequent fliers. The bag is roomy, and the interior construction makes organization easy. The padded laptop sleeve fits my 13-inch computer as well as my 11-inch iPad and even a paperback book. On the opposite side of the bag, two interior pockets are great for smaller items like keys, a portable charger, or a wallet—things you don’t want getting lost in the deep main compartment. There’s another small interior side pocket for your water bottle, too. Both sides of the exterior have a crossed, origami design (hence the name!), and the bottom of one pocket can be unzipped to convert into a trolley sleeve. The bag only comes in one color, black, but there is an option to select silver or gold hardware.” —Patrice J. Williams, contributor
Madewell Medium Transport Tote
“Madewell's classic leather tote bag is one of the brand's bestsellers—and it's easy to see why. The thin but sturdy body is made of leather with a lightly waxed finish, so the bag can both fold beneath the seat in front of you and stand up on its own. It has top handles as well as an adjustable shoulder strap. This tote doesn't have a zip closure along the top, but there is an inner pocket perfect for storing valuables (and the large outer pocket is perfect for items you want to take in and out often, like sunglasses). The bag comes in several sizes, but I love how the medium easily converts from a work bag (most laptops can fit inside) to a casual purse you can use every day.” —Megan Spurrell, senior editor
Rothy's The Essential Tote
“As with all Rothy's products, this tote is made out of sustainable materials (in this case, recycled water bottles and marine plastic) that have been turned into a durable, high-quality knit fabric. The shoulder tote is your classic drop-everything-in-and-go bag—though be careful, as it is easy to overload it. The top zips closed, which is nice if you're taking it on a flight or tossing it in the backseat and don't want to worry about items spilling out. There's an interior zipper pocket too, where I'll stash my wallet, keys, and earphones, and room for up to a 15” laptop in the main compartment.” —Madison Flager, senior commerce editor
Baggu Cloud bag
“Baggu owns the tote game: Whether you're looking for a classic canvas bag or a nylon pick for your groceries, they've got it all. The spacious Cloud bag is a great tote to travel with, though, because it's lightweight, machine washable, and comes in cool colors like lentil and honey leopard. Even better, the packable bag is just over $50; but, trust us, it'll hold up trip after trip, whether you're using it as a personal item or an overnighter.” —M.S.
Standard Baggu tote
“I use this Baggu tote all the time—it's often smushed into my purse or fanny pack when running errands in New York City, and gets tossed into my suitcase on nearly every vacation. It folds up into roughly the size of a deck of cards, but when unfolded, holds a ton; you could put a new stack of books in there or a small load of groceries from a local farmers market. It's great for a day at the beach too, since the material dries quickly and won't be ruined by a wet bathing suit and towel.” —M.F.
MZ Wallace Medium Metro Tote Deluxe
There are a lot of MZ Wallace fans in the Traveler office—we can't get enough of the brand's quilted bags. One of our favorites is the Metro tote, which is arguably the chicest bag you'll find in a lightweight nylon. It's nice and roomy, meaning you can fit all your essentials including a laptop inside, plus it has a smart zipper along the top so your belongings won't fall out in the overhead bin or backseat. For the most type A among us, there are six interior pockets, plus a phone pocket and key ring strap to stay organized. Best of all, the bag—which is offered in over a dozen colors and prints, like magnet gray and peony pearl—can fold up into a little pouch when you don't need it.
Cuyana Classic Structured leather tote
Cuyana's ethos centers on owning fewer, more high quality things, and this pebbled leather bag is the perfect example of the only tote you'll ever need. Another go-to of Meaghan Kenny's, it's made of beautiful Italian leather with a microsuede interior, and comes in a handful of neutrals that'll go with everything. The brand makes both a slouchy and structured version of the classic tote, but we love the latter for easy access on the go: It holds its shape enough for when you're fishing for your passport at the check-in counter, but is still soft and malleable when you need it to be. And though the bag comes with just one interior pocket, the brand sells an organization insert that has four pockets, and will ensure you can always find what you need, right when you need it.
More tote bags we recommend
Rag & Bone Logan leather tote
Rag & Bone creates timeless pieces that are built to last, and this Logan leather tote is no exception. Made from imported pebbled leather, the bag is incredibly soft and spacious, with a height of 15 inches and a width of 22 inches. Although roomy, the size doesn’t limit its versatility—the bag is equipped with two sets of handles so it can be carried both over the shoulder or on your forearm.
Bellroy Tokyo tote
Finally, everything has a place. With this Bellroy tote, you can avoid the dreaded rummaging around moments by utilizing all six pockets and the laptop sleeve found inside. The water-resistant, woven material folds up easily too, making this space saver a travel essential.
The North Face Borealis tote
With the option of being carried as a backpack or tote, the Borealis tote is a go-to for outdoor adventures. The interior houses a laptop sleeve while the exterior offers two deep water bottle pockets; store drinks, umbrellas, or even a small tripod in there. The durable, water-repellent finish seals the deal for this tote.
Delsey Chatelet Air 2.0 tote bag
Renowned French brand Delsey made this tote with travelers in mind. It can easily be folded up in your suitcase or carry-on, so won’t have to limit the number of souvenirs you bring back. Made from recycled water bottles and vegan leather, this bag will come with you on vacation for years to come.
Lululemon 18L Side-Cinch Shopper Bag
Sporty and spacious, this do-it-all tote from Lululemon features a cinchable opening and snap closure. There's both an interior pocket and an exterior one, and the fabric is water-resistant. The oversized tote is just what you need for an overnight getaway. Shop it in black or pastel pink.
Cuyana System tote
This gorgeous tote is made of pebbled Italian leather—the kind you just want to run your hand over again and again. It’s got several compartments and pockets, snaps closed, and has lateral ties for additional security. It comes in five core colors, plus rotating seasonal hues. In addition to choosing your color, you can also choose between two sizes so you get the bag that best suits your needs. As for the name, the tote is called the “system” tote because it's made to pair with Cuyana's add-on accessories, including interior flap bags, additional inserts, and a laptop sleeve. These add-on components can be used interchangeably with other Cuyana bags, including satchels, crossbodies, and more.
Street Level reversible faux leather tote and wristlet
If you ask us, this reversible pebbled leather tote is a must-have travel bag. You get two totes in one, which saves valuable packing space. Whether you're sporting an all-black ensemble or going for something that will look better with cognac accessories, this bag can do both. Slightly slouchy, well-made, and spacious, buying this large tote bag is a no-brainer.
L.L. Bean Boat and Tote
Most people who grew up on the East Coast know the Boat and Tote—it's an L.L. Bean classic that's been around for decades. (Some have even described it as more of a household object than a bag, noting how much of a mainstay its become, and not just with the boat-loving crowd it was initially geared toward.) And what's not to like? These totes are spacious, the design is classic, and they start at $25, maxing out at $40, depending on which size you go for. The open-top option is great for day trips when you might have beach towels poking out the top, but the zip-top version will hold up best on longer hauls (or if you're traveling with kids who might be prone to tipping the whole thing over). This tote comes in a natural canvas color, with the option to monogram and customize the color on the straps.
Longchamp Large Le Pliage tote
Some of the best tote bags serve as a solid backup when you don't want to use your everyday purse or backpack. This minimalist leather and nylon tote from Longchamp comes in several neutral colors. Since it's water-resistant, it's a great bag to bring along if you suspect inclement weather. But the best part about this bag? You can fold it up into a tiny square and snap it closed, making it an easy choice to toss into your checked luggage.
Béis x Elsa Hosk The Tote
Created by Béis in collaboration with model Elsa Hosk, this bag is designed as “a tote that functions like a diaper bag but doesn't look like a diaper bag.” It has all the usual tote bag bells and whistles—trolley sleeve, key leash, top zip closure—plus smart details geared toward parents, like insulated pockets for snacks and milk and a changing pad pocket. The padded handles and splashy design are other pros.
Leatherology Uptown vertical Tote
For straightforward, luxurious leather pieces—all of which you can customize with monogramming and a hearty selection of color options—Leatherology is the place to go. Though the brand makes several larger totes (including zippered options), the vertical bag is a standout. The full-grain leather tote is incredibly versatile so you can use it from day to night. Plus, it's perfect for those who want something more compact: It'll fit your laptop, but maybe not your reusable water bottle, umbrella, and stack of in-flight reading materials.
Leatherology Kress XL tote
This sleek, sophisticated tote bag has plenty of room, with a deep, wide interior and side gussets that give you even more interior space. The bottom of the bag is outfitted with metal feet, allowing the bag to stand on its own and keep the fine leather surface protected. Want to customize it? Leatherology will monogram the bag, if you like. Seen here in camel, the classic tote is also available in versatile neutrals including dawn, navy blue, and black onyx.
Will & Atlas Paris stripe jute tote
This extra-large tote is big enough to house all your daily essentials and then some. The handmade bag features a cotton lining, one zipped pocket, and one wall pocket, which makes it easy to organize your belongings within. The bag, which is handmade in Bangladesh, is Fair Trade-Certified, too.
Tory Burch Perry leather tote
Say hello to your new business trip tote. This elegant bag is made of leather with a fully lined interior. There are two open compartments and one zip compartment. And if you're looking for both function and form, know that the contrasting luggage tag is an eye-catching addition. Shop the tote in black, tan, gray heron, calendula, shell pink, and brilliant red. (And, if you prefer a more petite bag, the Perry tote comes in a smaller version, as well.)
Marc Jacobs The Tote Bag
This capacious cotton canvas tote bag folds up with ease, which is essential when you're packing it up for a trip. The interior has three storage compartments, and a full zipper to secure all your odds and ends. It's plenty big enough for a laptop, so you can also use it as a work tote if you like. Shop the bag in black, beige, blue shadow, slate green, and sweet pea.
BTB straw tote
This lightweight, airy beach tote is made with woven paper straw and features bamboo-inspired handles. It's perfect for any tropical vacation or trip to the shore. Seen here in cream, the bag is also available in refreshing shades like pink, periwinkle, and mint.
Kate Spade New York reusable shopping tote
Whether you're headed to the south of France for a beach trip or are on a long weekend in New York City, a reusable lightweight tote is sure to come in handy. We love this eco-friendly, nylon pick from Kate Spade (it rolls up easily and self-ties neatly). Whether you end up purchasing fruit in the local market, want to avoid using a plastic bag for souvenirs, or need a cute beach bag, these totes always get the job done—and they look good doing it.
Gucci Ophidia GG tote
Looking for an investment tote to splurge on? As far as designer tote bags go, we highly recommend this leather tote from Gucci. The subdued shades of the brand's signature hues create a statement piece that will last season after season. It’s got a roomy interior which is lined with a suede-like microfiber, a duo of leather handles, and comes with a matching pouch for storing smaller items.