Blog Debates

What Is the Perfect Travel Bag?

We took a trip with the kids and it got me wondering...

I started writing this post after our week-long adventure with the kids back in the middle of December, but soon after we came home from our trip, we all tested positive for COVID (be careful out there, things are pretty crazy, right now!). Our trip was the first flight we took as a family of four, and we started with a quick flight up to Atlanta, stayed there for a night, drove to Asheville for a few nights, and then drove to Charlotte for a couple more nights before we flew home. Traveling with kids is an entirely different setup than my travels pre-kids, which got me looking for the perfect carry-on and travel bag.

When I was packing for the trip, I had everything highly organized, but I kept feeling stumped on the last item to pack, which seems like it would be the easiest item to decide on: my daily bag for the trip. And it got me thinking; while I have a ton of bags, and I mean a ton, having the right bag for traveling seems to still be a bit of a unicorn in my bag collection.

What do I mean when I say the right bag? The right bag becomes highly specialized with kids, especially depending on the kids’ age. While neither of my kids is in diapers, I still travel with wipes, plus snacks, extra masks, sanitizer, medications, a couple toys, and then my items as well. This makes my bag fairly packed, but I still edit everything down so it’s not over-stuffed.

What makes the perfect travel bag and daily bag?

Here are the aspects that aren’t just wants, they are clear needs for the ideal travel bag that goes on to be a day excursion bag for me as well.

  • Compartment separation, ideally a center compartment and front and back area
  • Sturdy shoulder strap for hands-free use (adjustable is a plus)
  • Large enough to carry ample items without being too oversized
  • Room for expansion, meaning not an overly rigid bag
  • Not too heavy
  • Durable material

This seems like an easy feat to accomplish, but it actually isn’t. The bag I took on our trip is a long discontinued but favorite in my collection, the little-known Celine Triptyque (old Céline – you can read my 2011 Purseonals on the Triptyque here).

I purchased this bag for $2,300 in 2011, and while the Luggage Tote was taking over the bag world at that time, this bag somewhat flew under the radar. But if you ask me, it should have received far more praise. I’ve used this bag off and on for ten years, and while the smooth leather is showing wear on the corners, it has held up extremely well. The East/West shape and the three separate compartments work so well, and I found it to be the ideal bag in my collection for travel. I actually stood in my closet staring at all my other bags and mentally saying, nope, no, not that one, not a chance, before I landed on this decade-old bag.

The Celine Triptyque in Prague, Dec 2011. It’s traveled a lot with me.
Me and my Celine in Miami a few weeks ago.

The major design flaw of this bag for me is the shoulder strap and how it attaches to the bag. For starters, while there is a shoulder strap, I tend to have my bag that’s being highly utilized packed a bit heavy, and it looked like this was pulling on the shoulder strap quite a bit. The strap attaches to the bag by two leather loops with the hardware attachment and the leather loops are a bit dainty for a heavier bag.

However, I don’t have much to complain about aside from that. The interior is lined in cotton, which makes the bag light, and as it’s a lighter color cotton lining, I can find every item inside easily. This bag also expands, so it’s not rigid in shape, which is also a major plus. I can stuff different compartments a bit more, and the bag accommodates nicely. There are no protective feet on the bottom of the bag, so you can see scuffing and wear more, especially as this bag winds up having a lot of touchpoints with the way I use it.

However, overall, this is one of the best travel bags, and though I have an extensive collection, this is the bag I reached for on our last trip.

Zipper Detail from 2011, when the Triptyque was new.
Zipper Detail from 2011, when the Triptyque was new.

If you love the Triptyque, as much as I do, and it seems so many of our followers do, I’d love to be able to point you in the direction to nab one. But that feat seems pretty tricky, as very few are listed for sale whenever I look. There is one here in black for $999, and there’s also this Leopard Pony hair version, but the ask is higher at $1,650. But if you really want to score this bag at an insane price (FYI, I have not verified authenticity), this tan one is available for $225. Run!

When you need a functional travel bag or an everyday bag that truly needs to be highly functional, which one do you reach for? I need to hear because I am in the market!


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