Do You Need To Take Another Bag? Totes.

Ha that title. Screw SEO, I like to be witty. If that hilarious blog title didn’t cover it, this post is about taking a tote bag on your travels.


When I’m writing this, I’m always fully aware that all I do is tell you to take more stuff, which is completely contradictory to every book, forum and travel expert that’s told you otherwise. I know, it sounds like a lot. I mean let’s see how many bags I’ve told you to take so far:

Badges and Tubing memorabilia on my toploader

  • Your Backpack – Obviously essential for carrying all of your worldly possessions between destinations. Also acts as a seat when waiting for a bus/train/boat.
  • Your Daypack – This is the rucksack you will be taking on adventures whilst your backpack is back at the hostel. This will carry your essentials whilst you’re trekking Machu Picchu, or cycling around Angkor Wat. It will also be your carry-on luggage on flights and most likely be strapped to your front when your backpack is on your back – it’s inevitable, I’m sorry.
  • Small Cross-Body Bag – This is probably the one you’ll use most often on a day-to-day basis – exploring a temple in Thailand or wandering around a medina in Morocco. It’s just big enough for your purse, sunglasses, room key, carmex and mosquito repellent; and harder to snatch if it’s cross-body.

So I totally hear you – Dude I’m taking 3 bags, why would I need a fourth?!

Ok, here goes.

I went travelling with those exact 3 bags, and quickly realised that I needed something between my rucksack and my cross-body bag. Mainly for the beach. Your beach stuff doesn’t fit in your everyday bag – you need your towel (in the form of a sarong), suncream, water, maybe a snack… you get the picture. Sure your rucksack can do this at first, even though it’s a little bulky. But a couple weeks into your trip when you get lazy at packing your stuff and you’ve bought a million souvenirs and you forgot to make some room in your backpack before you left… you’ll overflow into your rucksack. For sure. Of course once you’re at a hostel you can empty it out and use it, which is what you’ll do when you need it for day trips and active adventures. But it’s a pain.

With my toploader backpack in Singapore
With my toploader backpack in Singapore

Second scenario. You’re travelling between destinations so your rucksack is full of stuff. You’re getting on a night bus so you need your blanket (aka sarong), eye mask, valuables (so they don’t get stolen from under the bus – it happens), water, snacks (there’s a theme here)… It’s a lot of things.

Yes you can use your daypack for both of these, if you’re good at packing and don’t over-spend. That’s what I thought before I went. But it’s just easier when you could bring a foldaway shopper or canvas tote bag that folds up so small and makes both of these situations so much simpler!

What did I do on my trip?

At first I bought a cheap cotton sling bag from Thailand that did the trick but felt a bit unsafe – it was pretty low quality (pretty much a pillowcase) and could be cut and snatched so easily – but it did work for the beach.

Cotton Sling Bag
Cotton Sling Bag

Then I bought a tubing bag from Laos – a roll-top waterproof duffel bag that was perfect for when a longtail boat drops you off 5 metres from the shore and you have to wade in. Also perfect for the beach – everything stays dry. A bit awkward to use on overnight buses but still doable.

Yellow Drybag in Krabi
Yellow Drybag in Krabi

However, when I got to Australia I looked like a bit of a dick with my tubing bag at the beach.

Soon after, I took a trip to Dreamworld theme park on the Gold Coast and bought a canvas tote bag from their gift shop. All problems solved. Beach bag, travel bag and even a bag for carrying my lunch to work once I started earning my keep down under. Voila!

You can of course do this too – buy it out there. But they are super cute here and so cheap. And when they squish up super small and can fit in a small pocket in your backpack, why wouldn’t you?

Do you agree? Let me know!

Here’s some cute ones I’ve seen around – all added to my Pinterest boards here.

Shoppers Totes Bags

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