Europe is one of the most popular destinations for women all over the world to explore. Its diversity of food, culture, architecture and natural beauty are unmatched. But to explore it properly you’re going to need a good bag. And while my husband would politely suggest just using a f’ing backpack, the girls in our family thankfully have a little more fashion sense. We love purses and have unabashedly acquired quite a few. And we are generally pretty good about sharing them with each other. But we know that many of you are wondering what your best bag plan is for your next trip to Europe, so we put our heads together to come up with this list which is comprised of both purses we have and purses we want. Our discussion got a little heated which is why there are 11 best European travel purses instead of 10. You may also want to check out a couple of other posts, our travel essentials checklist for women, and 7 best neck wallets if you’re looking for extra security.

travel bag

When making the list we had to remind ourselves that functionality was at least as important as fashion. We know how a bag looks tends to be what women focus on the most, but you really should keep some practical things in mind, including:

  • You should prioritize finding a comfortable bag if you’re planning for longs days and/or lots of walking.

  • Make sure your handbag is roomy enough to accommodate your passport, money, phone, and camera.

  • For European trips, cross-body bags are great for their portability, ease of use, and minimalist look.

  • Choose a sling bag or fanny pack if you want to have your necessities close at hand, such as your wallet, phone, keys, and lip balm.

  • Many women prefer storing their belongings in secure, anti-theft handbags with RFID technology when traveling.

  • Money belts, neck wallets, and secret bra stashes are other options (albeit less fashionable ones). But no matter where you go in Europe, you should keep an eye open for pickpockets.

European Travel Purse Comparison Chart


Bag Type Description
Crossbody Purse If you’re planning a trip to Europe, a crossbody handbag is a terrific option since it’s lightweight, simple to carry, and perfect for museum visits.
Backpack Purse Perfect for long days and moms with more stuff.
Anti-Theft Bags More peace of minid with an uncuttable strap and RFID protection.
Travel Totes Practical and stylish concealed carry-on. Big but so lightweight, folds small, and isn’t cumbersome to carry about.
Sling Bag Perfect fit and super easy.
Travel Clutch Best to hold your passport & essentials within quick reach.
Secret Bra Stash To keep travel funds, passports, bank cards, and other valuables out of the hands of would-be thieves.


Best Travel Purses and Bags For Europe

travel tote

The Best Crossbody Travel Purse

Rebecca Minkoff Crossbody Purse

Size and comfort are two of the best reasons to choose a crossbody purse. They tend to have more volume than other travel purses but the weight distribution helps them still be comfortable.  One of our top picks is the sophisticated Rebecca Minkoff crossbody bag. We love the combination of black leather, chain, and chevrons. It is stunning, functional, and perfect for a European vacation. Rebecca Minkoff’s designs usually combine classic femininity with a little edge without looking like they’re trying too hard. It works well with pretty much any fit, and works for both day and night.

Baggallini Calais Crossbody Bag for Women

The stylish Calais Crossbody by Baggallini has an RFID protector and an easy-access wallet to keep your valuables secure while on the go. It has decent overall volume, handy separate pouches, and a classic look that is super versatile. We also appreciate the detachable strap.


Best Backpack Purse

Telena Backpack Purse for Women

The Women’s Telena Backpack Purse is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a fashionable and practical backpack bag to use while exploring.  It has plenty of space which many moms and students will appreciate but without looking like a mom bag. It works great for daily use anywhere, even when you’re not on vacation. We like the water bottle holders and the fact that it has a laptop sleeve for a 13 inch laptop makes it great. It also has an anti-theft rear zipper. My oldest uses this one for trips back and forth from Spain to her university in France.

Rebecca Minkoff Julian Backpack

Another smaller, but perhaps a little more stylish backpack option, is the Julian backpack purse by our friend Rebecca Minkoff. It’s a nice size, with the interior being large enough to hold your wallet, small cosmetics bag, sunglasses case, a large water bottle, and room to spare for small additional items. The central zipper opening is a little challenging to pull items in and out of the bag, but unclipping the clasp at the bottom makes it more accessible. The leather is very soft and nicely textured, and the navy blue looks great with gold hardware.  The zippered pockets on the side are pretty small, just large enough to hold a small item or a set of keys. A zippered pocket is also on the backside, but the pocket depth is a little shallow. But overall we love it.


Best Anti-Theft Bags

Travelon Heritage – Anti-Theft Tour Bag 

We mostly included this to make my husband happy. What it lacks in style, it makes up for in utility. The Travelon Theft-resistant Heritage Tour Pack is a good choice if you want a good looking and secure traditional backpack for your trips. This bag has a classic style with traditional cotton canvas construction, suede accents, splash resistant exterior, and an anti-theft design.   The tethered key clip with an LED light can help you locate your keys when the lights go out. It’s 9 x 11.5 x 3 which means it’s got all the room you need.

Pacsafe Citysafe Cx Anti Theft Convertible Crossbody

Small, stylish, and well-crafted, this crossbody bag is a great day bag. It’s made of water-resistant eco-nylon from repurposed fishing nets and other ocean waste. It has high-quality construction, turn-lock brass hook hardware, and slash guard wire making it cut-resistant. It has a roomy inside and a handy phone pocket. But we mostly like the chunky zipper.


Best Travel Totes

TUMI Just In Case Tote

There are some really great travel totes out there that can also serve as a carry-on for your European vacation, These totes also collapse down to nothing when not in use. The Just In Case Tote by Tumi has elegant lines and we love the sleek look. It unfolds into a roomy, long-lasting tote with solid straps. It’s a little on the pricey side, but the construction and design are worth it.

Best sling bag

Triple Zip Bag with Wallet

Choose a sling bag or fanny pack if you want to have your necessities close to hand, such as your mobile device, money, keys, and lip gloss.  Because of their small size and adaptability, these bags are typically worn on the waist or the shoulders. Moreover, they are very lightweight and comfortable to carry all day.  Please look at the Triple Zip with its ideal size for hands-free operation while on the go. It is essential for maximizing both the ordinary and the spectacular.  You can use the Triple Zip as a pouch, crossbody, or belt bag thanks to its convertible design and built-in, quick-access wallet, which makes organizing a snap.

LATMAP Sling Bag For Women

The Sling bag was my entry because it’s less expensive really practical. It has several pockets that help with the organization of travel necessities such as a passport, phone, and other valuables, and the anti-theft design keeps your belongings safe from thieves. This bag complements any vacation ensemble because of its modern and chic imitation leather texture.


Best travel clutch

Befen Genuine Leather Wallet Purse

This wristlet is great. The inside of the wallet has two long open compartments that can hold unfolded currency and it allows you to keep smaller bills separate from larger ones.  There are a few card slots on each side. For added security, there is a zippered compartment in the middle, additional open pockets on either side, and a flat zipped pocket on the back wall. It’s small and thoughtfully made, and can accommodate your phone.  The zippers are solid and the texture of the leather feels higher-end than it is.


Best Secret Bra Stash

Pacsafe Coversafe S25 Undercover Travel Bra Pouch

We keep stuff in our bras sometimes. There I said it. I only recently started put the stuff in one of these and its much less sticky and way more comfortable. I have the coversafe S25 secret bra pouch which is discrete, concealed, and comfortable. This lingerie-style approach is perfect for layering beneath clothes since it is breathable, machine washable, and snug fitting. The delicate, adjustable elastic strap attaches to the front or side of a swimsuit or bra easily.  The snap-button flap closing and enough space inside make it ideal for carrying cash and credit cards.  Pacsafe also has a variety of great travel bags, many of which are designed around theft prevention..


Frequently Asked Questions

Does a purse count as a carry-one an airplane?

A handbag is usually considered a personal item rather than a carry-on while traveling. Most airlines let passengers bring one carry-on bag along with one personal item. But keep in mind that different airlines will have various size regulations.

What is the recommended size of a purse for a trip to Europe?

Well, while some fantastic little purses are available, the ideal option is a medium-sized bag that will accommodate your basics (passport, phone, camera, wallet, stuff.) without being too heavy. One that can transition between day and night is ideal.


Wrap Up

We hope this list was helpful and at least gives you some food for thought in terms of what bag(s) to bring on your next European adventure. Just remember to force yourself to think practically, at least to some extent, because you’ll thank yourself later! And please let us know if there are great travel purses we should add to the list!

If you’re looking for great walking shoes for Europe check out our favorite travel shoes here.

And if you are traveling alone, check out our tips for solo female travelers here.

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