6 Bags Our Editors Would Never Wear to the Airport, and 4 They Definitely Would

It’s currently T-minus four weeks until I find myself back at the airport, jetting off to warmer pastures, and to say I’m excited is an understatement. As well as beginning packing my suitcase—yes, I am that person—I’ve also been spending more time than I’d care to admit thinking about my airport outfit. I’ve already bored my colleagues with chat about what the best shoes to wear to the airport are, and now I’m turning my attention to bags.

For me, choosing which bag I’m using to travel with is just as important as selecting the correct footwear or, indeed, trouser option. I like to think I’ve got travelling down to a bit of an art form and, over the years, have worked out the ideal formulas for both short- and long-haul flights. In doing so, I’ve definitely found bags styles I’d avoid wearing to the airport as well as options I know work well. So, let’s start with the former, shall we? Here are the bag styles I’d personally avoid using at the airport, before we get into the ones I rely on.

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  1. Tiny Bags: Unless you travel very, very lightly, I avoid “trendy” micro bags at all costs on practicality alone—you know you’ll just be hauling a tote along with you.
  2. Fancy Fabrics: You know your bag is going to probably have to sit on the floor at some point, so textiles that mark and stain easily—especially satins and silks—are best to avoid. I’d even go as far as to say that suede is good to veto on this principle, too.
  3. Extra Embellishment: Anything that can catch or pull on something is a no-no. Just imagine having to pick up the remnants of a beaded bag off of the floor at airport security.
  4. Top-Handle Bags: Between juggling passports to trying to board the aircraft carrying a decent coffee, you want to keep your hands as free as possible. Anything otherwise has to go.
  5. Light Colours: You’ve avoided fabrics that mark easily but what about colours? Personally I’d always go for a darker colour at risk of something white or light beige being marked.
  6. Large Basket Bags: As much as I love a basket bag, I tend to avoid using them at the airport, especially if they are made from especially rigid straw. They take up so much space under the seat in front of you, and we all know that maximising your leg room is key to a comfortable flight.

And Now, the Best Bags to Use at the Airport, According to a Fashion Editor

1. Sling Bags

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Style Notes: Keep your bag close and your valuables even closer with a sling-style bag. Lauren might be wearing hers on her shoulder here, but I tend to wear my sling bag security across the chest when I’m at the airport. This is also one of the best bags to wear when you’re out and about, too, as it’s harder to pick-pocket.


2. Expandable Bags

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Style Notes: I tend to avoid large bags with too much structure as you may find you have to contort them to fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartments—bags that are more mailable are a better solution. I love travelling with my Dragon Diffusion bag as it expands to fir more than you might think. I would, however, recommend stashing your personal items and valuables into a zip-up pouch to keep them safe if you opt for a bag style with an open top.


3. Crossbody Bags

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Style Notes: Ideal for keeping your hands free, I always use a crossbody bag at the airport if I’m travelling with a hand-luggage case. I always look for styles with a secure flap to keep my valuables safe. Bonus points if you find one with an internal zip, too.


4. Weekenders with Straps

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Style Notes: When I’m travelling greater distances, I always use a large weekender bag to house all of my essentials (read: my laptop, skincare, books and travel pillow) for the hours that lay ahead. Over the years, I’ve learnt to use styles with various strap options (both hand-held and shoulder is my preference) so you can better distribute the weight.