Perfect Bag for Europe Trip

I have an upcoming conference in London coming up. I have a bazillion miles so I'm bringing hubby along on miles. The last month I have been obsessively making travel plans using a combination of Rick Steve's and Michelin guidebooks, Tripadvisor.com, a selection of travel blogs, Expedia and Lonely Planet.

I'll have to do a separate post on my search for the ultimate carry-on travel bag and walking (but cute) shoes. Today I'll focus on day bags. I want something about the size of a large purse or tote that zips at the top or is otherwise secure. I love messenger bags, but I don't want something somebody can just slip their hand into after lifting the flap. It can't be just a shoulder bag as I want a cross-body bag that can leave my hands free when necessary and be easy to keep nearby on trains. It must be able to hold water bottles for the two of us, our guidebook, camera, iPod, a sweater for myself and any other stuff we need for a day. A plus would be holding a days worth of clothes so I don't have to dig into my larger bag after a night on a train.

I searched for like a week obsessively before buying this bag:

The Silverlake Canvas Flap from The Sak. "Casual, cool, and very functional; this Scotch-Guarded canvas flap is a real cutie! Clever zippered pocket inside the flap makes it easy to organize all your essentials. The lining is our exclusive print created by Parisian graffiti artist Gilles Jourdan. Contrasting leather trim and Shiny Nickel hardware. Shoulder strap adjusts up to 22 inches. Zippered main compartment and exterior front pockets. Interior features 2 open pockets and a back wall zippered pocket. Dimensions: 15.00" long, 3.50" wide, 9.00" high. 22.00" strap drop. " $99.00

Somehow I thought it has a zipper under the flap, but it doesn't, you just lift up a lightly magnetic flap and reach right in. It is totally cute, extends to be a cross-body bag and would definitely hold all of our stuff for the day. The scotch-guard is an awesome feature considering our tendency to spill and it also comes in other colors although I ordered the one shown. When it came and I realized it didn't have a zipper I felt torn between keeping it because its cute or returning it because it didn't meet all of my requirements. I still haven't decided what to do with it, but I'm still looking for a bag.

Also under consideration is the Keen Irvington bag ($75.00 from eBags, also at REI). It comes in 5 colors, including the standard laptop looking black, girly pink, an awesome green and grey and the red above. Hubby actually picked the red color for me and I trust his judgement. An interior light turns on when bag opens, off when closed, helping you locate items with ease. The neat thing about this bag is that the flap folds up and functions as a roomy tote as well. It's large enough for my laptop so it is versatile enough that I could get a lot of use out of it.

Next up is the cheapest option ($29.99 on sale at GAP). It is cute cute cute, but very very basic. It is a cross-body bag, no zipper on top, but the right size. I'm thinking of buying it anyway, just because it's so cute and then bringing it along as a tote to through souvenirs in as we go. It comes in khaki, green, and black.

Diva in a carry-on recommends this messenger bag with a rave reviews...touted as 'the perfect messenger bag', it's now just $99! Originally $179.00 USD and available through eBags on sale. It was cute, but again no top zipper. Good for smaller laptops, but it didn't strike me the right way. The price is definitely right. Tumi is a good quality bag company and their stuff lasts forever.

I also strongly considered these bags by Tom Bihn, Sherpani, Crescent Moon, REI, and hundreds of different Etsy stores but was too lazy to do separate descriptions of them.