Closet 101 Style Travel

Traveling with Luxury Bags

Today I want to talk a little about traveling with luxury bags. I like to travel, I like nice things, so it stands that I’d like to combine them, right? Traveling however, poses many hazards to luxury items and bags especially, (as silly as that may sound) and I wanted to share some of my tips for traveling with them as it’s also a topic that I’ve received a few questions on.

First things first – depending on the destination, I may not even choose to bring any of my more expensive or well known name brand bags. If it’s a work conference, I don’t bring anything too flashy, and if I’m traveling somewhere where an obvious luxury item would bring unwanted attention or cause me to stand out among locals, I don’t bring those items out either. Safety first people!

Okay, now that that’s covered…

To me, airports and train stations are the most dangerous places of all for luxury items! Consider the obstacle course of:

The security check in line. I’m an admitted germaphobe and don’t like putting my items with all the various evil bacterium that I’m sure are just floating around at the bottom of those bins, waiting to latch on. There are also certain airports which I believe are staffed by security agents whose levels of rough treatment of your items is directly inversely related to how much you appear to care about them.

Takeoff and landing. I totally understand why airlines want belongings secured  (if you were a stewardess you wouldn’t want 20 pound bags flinging at your face during turbulence either), but I have to say, the underside of seats are always gross. Always. Plus if you put your handbag up in overhead space, inevitably some super late passenger will come storming through last minute and shove their giant Tumi above your bag.

Checked baggage. Big luxury bags are heavy and large, and sometimes it may be tempting to place them in checked baggage. But with all the theft, damage and loss that can happen, there’s definitely risk involved.

With all that being said – here are some of my tricks to keeping my bags as safe as possible while traveling.

1. The reusable grocery bag. Small, handy, light – I always have at least one in all my bags because our area no longer has plastic grocery bags. My favorites are from Envirosax but they’re available everywhere.

These bags serve many purposes, and are also super handy for when you have to put your handbag in icky situations – like security lines or underneath airline seats! Here a 30cm Birkin fits handily – Kelly bags up to size 32cm,  Chanel flaps of all sizes, etc also fit very well. If you don’t mind getting an occasional weird look, these bags work great and even have shoulder straps so you can carry a heavy bag on your shoulder for traveling.

Another option besides an Envirosax are Longchamp/Herve Chaplier totes – you can see how I use my Longchamp as an alterate carry all, here.

2. Cocooning bags. I’m the type of person who will always carry one bag on a trip while having packed away another two at the very least. Since bags of course take space, I usually will carry on one big handbag (for me it’s my 35 Birkin), and then stack some smaller bags inside of it. Here you can see my Birkin fits a Chanel flap and a Chanel wallet on chain clutch, with room to spare.

Cocooning bags also helps with another travel rule I have, which is:

3. Never storing within checked baggage anything you really care about….ever. I know that checked baggage horror stories abound so I’ll keep it short and just say that on most trips, I try not to check anything at all. I always have one large tote, a roller trolley that’s carry on size, and that’s it. Here’s my typical travel duo.

On a final note, since I’ve recieved this question a few times, here are the typical bags I’ll take with me on a trip. A big tote (in this case the Garden Party on the left), a shoulder bag comfortable for walking around (the black Bolide on the right), and a clutch.

I hope this was helpful for some of you out there! Do you travel with your luxury bags – and what are some of your tips?

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  • Lindsay @ A Walk in the Closet
    October 26, 2012 at 7:03 am

    The Longchamp is one of my favourites as an “overbag” as it’s chic enough on its own, can be used as an overbag (for travel AND unexpected rain!), AND foldable. Pretty much as versatile for travel as it gets!

    • Monica Chang
      October 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm

      yes, i totally agree with “Longchamp” size and what convenient about except for its underneath four corners, so easy to be broken when the rest of the parts of the bag are still in perfect condition. ( i always take good care of my bags and always put it on chair and table)

      • Katherine
        October 28, 2012 at 9:46 am

        Yes the four corners do get a little wear – mine have it too, though no holes yet!

  • Julie & Lauren
    October 26, 2012 at 7:25 am

    The Longchamp is my carry-on essential! X

  • adele
    October 26, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Useful tips!
    Have a fab weekend Hun xoxo

  • couturecoco
    October 26, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Thank you for putting this together in a nutshell! I learnt through trial and error, travelling with small kids and alone. It was about 4 or 5 years ago that I met someone who just brought in the Envirosax and I ordered literally dozens that year for family and friends and as far as I know they all love them still – I have 2 in my bag at any one time. They are just perfect to pop over the bags as soon as I leave home as I can’t bear the knocks they get even en route to the airport or station – I know at bit extreme lol!

    I tend to have one handbag such as a CC jumbo or Lindy 30 (usually can’t manage a full tote) plus my cabin bag on wheels containing my other bags/jewels/accessories/leads for various electronic devices. Check in luggage just has clothes for long haul trips but I do without this it’s a short trip.

    • Katherine
      October 26, 2012 at 10:37 am

      I LOVE Envirosax too! They’re also one of my favorite little gifts to give :_

      • couturecoco
        October 27, 2012 at 7:30 am

        🙂 was interested to know what leather is your gold (?) Birkin please? Thanks!

  • Tabitha
    October 26, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I’m a wimp, very rarely as I hate when I sit any of them upright to go through security and then I see them manhandling it and lying it on its side, I always want to scream like harridan!

  • Phoebe
    October 26, 2012 at 8:47 am

    This is such a helpful post! Thanks for the tips! 😀 Usually I don’t travel with luxury items, If it’s irreplaceable or if I will be heartbroken if I lose it, I don’t take it with me when I travel. Most of the time when I travel I carry my longchamp purse and a small cross body (with removable straps) since they are small and versatile 🙂 ~ Phoebe

  • Phoebe
    October 26, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Thanks for the tips! I usually travel with a Longchamp bag and a cross body purse (with removable strap) since they are versatile and compact. I usually avoid traveling with items I adore since I would be heartbroken if I lose or damage them. Thought I’d spare myself the misery. 🙂 xoxo, Phoebe

  • Marlene @ chocolatecookiesandcandies
    October 26, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Gosh, Katherine, your traveling gear are impressive. I usually don’t bother to bring designer bags on my travel especially when I’m traveling with a young child. I do bring my Kelly which I pop into my large Longchamp Le Pliage shopper tote. I bought a large LV Speedy Bandouliere just for traveling because it’s canvas and I can just use baby wipe to get rid of any dirt. These are great tips, Katherine!

    • Katherine
      October 26, 2012 at 10:37 am

      Ooh I’ve been eyeing that speedy! Is is the perfect travel companion?

  • Elle
    October 26, 2012 at 10:35 am

    This is a terrific post, Kat. I already follow some of these guidelines when I travel but will definitely re-visit this post if I need to travel with my more expensive bags in the future. 🙂

  • Amy
    October 26, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I wish I consulted you before my trip to China, Katherine! I packed an additional carry-on suitcase that included any valuable items and my handbags, and basically anything else I had to have in case my checked-in luggage ended up in a destination. I’ve gone through many horror stories as well, so minimizing any risks was really important.

    I also pack extra grocery and garment bags to protect my items, or I just wrap my sweaters and scarves around my purses.

  • Cassie
    October 26, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Great post! I’m definitely keeping your tips in mind when I get my first designer bag.

  • Whitney Worthington
    October 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    So great to know I am not the only one who cocoons her purses. I do that with the one Chanel flap I take on extended trips. I only take one of my Chanels at a time! And you are right – still plenty of room for my iPad, maybe a hardcover book or magazine or three, water bottle, etc.

  • Anouka
    October 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I travel with luxury bags. They deserve to see the world too 😉


  • DSK Steph
    October 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I don’t think I’ve seen your WOC! The color is very pretty. 🙂

  • Jody Brettkelly
    October 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I would love to, but we end up carrying stained shabby bags with our names sharpied onto them. We are a mess. The upside is; noone would ever steal them….

    • Katherine
      October 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      That’s the best way to travel Jody, incognito 🙂

  • Pauline
    October 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Thank you for the tips; this was extremely useful! I’m traveling to study abroad in Japan (if I get accepted) in January and I’ve never traveled before, so was wondering how to pack my stuff if I go. I’m going to make sure I re-read this post and your Japan posts before I go if I get accepted. 🙂

  • Shan
    October 26, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Kat, what do you use to carry your B35? I find environsax too small and right now I am carrying a ratty reusable grocery bag for now. The smallest longchamp I could find that fit doesn’t fold easily.

    • Katherine
      October 27, 2012 at 9:37 am

      Hi Shan, the best tip I’ve heard is to use a Lululemon shopping bag – those big reusable ones! It fits a B35 perfectly 🙂

  • audrinajulia
    October 26, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Great tips Katherine. I will keep this all in mind for future use. LongChamp is my favorite travel companion and a cross body to add on it as I have a toddler to look up to.I wish I ended with the speedy Bandouliere for this reason. Have a great weekend!

  • Vicky
    October 27, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Thank you so much for this post, Katherine. I studied it word by word, along with your other post too, which I missed before. 🙂 I don’t travel that much, but when I do, I keep my luxury bags at home, especially when my activities involve water. I would like to enjoy my vacations rather than spending energy on keeping my bags safe. For work, I take my WOC, and a laptop backpack. WOC is convenient for me because that way I can always keep my belongings with me no matter where I am.
    One question I have for you is – if you take multiple luxury bags with you, do you keep the uncarried ones in the hotel room? Or do you request a safe?

    • Katherine
      October 27, 2012 at 9:37 am

      I just leave the uncarried ones in the hotel – maybe put them in my luggage or in a carrier bag in the closet but have never had an issue. Everything small though like jewelry, etc goes in the safe.

  • Eva
    October 27, 2012 at 8:40 am

    I too love to travel and also love nice bags so your tips are quite helpful, especially the one about cocooning bags. It has never crossed my mind!

    May I add some tips of my own? 🙂

    1) Avoid wearing loads of jewlery – especially pricey ones. At security, they make you get everything metallic off and it’s very time-consuming. That’s why I only wear my watch while I’m travelling and put some jewelry (only a few) inside a small jewelry box that I stuff inside my travel bag. I usually take with me two pairs of earrings (one to wear during the day while sight-seeing etc and one more “fancy” for night outings) and a statement bracelet.

    2) As far as clothes are concerned, pack only the basics: a pair of jeans, a pair of black pants and a black dress. Add some t-shirts / shirts / blouses / pull-overs (depending on the season) and you’re ready to go! I also take two or three scarves with me because a) they don’t take much space and b) they can spice up both day and night outfits.

    • Katherine
      October 27, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Eva these are wonderful, thank you! I wore my Hermes CDC through security accidentally the other day and yup, set off security lines! I also traded in my Love bracelet for a cuff for the same reason, it always was setting off security.

      • jenn
        October 31, 2012 at 11:21 am

        This was such a great post! Thank you Katherine! I am always icked out by planes and travel. I have traveled with grocery bags for smaller handbags for years. I also cocoon my bags for longer trips inside my Louis Vuitton Large Neverfull. It’s a great airplane bag! Also when I received my Love bracelet as a gift from the boyfriend I was worried about airline travel. I read on a blog to walk through the metal detectors with your arm held out like Frankenstein and it works like a charm! I look like a huge dork but it works! Thanks again for this post!


        • Katherine
          October 31, 2012 at 11:33 am

          LOL I love that tip about the Love bracelet! That issue with airport security is why I got rid of mine and got a cuff, now I wish I had kept it, just to do the Frankenstein walk!

  • Sam
    October 27, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Great post! I tend to change outfits quite often on vacation and like to bring as many options as possible. But the thought of some of my favorite luggage and accessories having to go through the airport and all that entails gives me anxiety. I’ve learned to save my nice luggage for road trips, it’s just not worth the stress! I really love the idea of concealing your bag in a reusable grocery bag, I’m definately going to try it on my next trip! Thanks for the tip!

  • Diva In Me
    October 27, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Yes! It is definitely useful especially now I find that recycle bag really useful. I’ve been carrying mine all the time but had never thought about using it for this purpose. Now I know.
    Also, if you are travelling to most Asian countries, bringing/checking-in your big expensive or branded luggage is a NO-NO! Yes, this come from an Asian from Asia =)

  • plasticdoughnut
    October 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Wonderful tips! I am super guilty of #2. I think once I stuffed two clutches inside of a Jumbo flap, then the Jumbo flap inside of a 35B, along with three wallets (in my defense, it was a long trip!). It’s amazing how much you can fit into a Jumbo flap. Thanks for the eye candy too. I just LOVE your Bolide, she’s such a classic lady, like her mom 🙂

    • Katherine
      October 28, 2012 at 9:50 am

      Yes I love the clutch + jumbo + 35 combo! Though my husband does complain that it gets heavy. Can’t wait to see what Bolide you decide on!

  • hera
    October 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing!! I do the same too! I put my birkin inside a plastic bag and then inside a shoulder bag so that it looks less valuable. One time I just carry my birkin and the security ladies were looking at my bag, took it out from the tray and played with it..T-T!!

    I don’t wear any diamonds and anything over like $100 to dangerous places where I feel I might get robbed and that really saved me a lot of troubles! One time I brought a Versace canvas hand painted bag that people thought I drew it myself, lol that worked, and a kello kitty wallet!!

    I don’t use any expensive and designer luggage. That’s like attention right there, I sometimes don’t understand why people would buy an LV suitcase and check that in. They only compensate you that much it won’t worth the risk to show it off, unless you have a servant that carries your stuff and haul all that goodies.

    • Katherine
      October 28, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Yes I would never check LV luggage….I always see it come out on the conveyor belt and am surprised!

  • Sonita Lontoh
    October 28, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Great post, Katherine!

    I very seldom travel with my expensive bags (except the one I’m wearing in person), but will apply your methods next time.

    Also, I’ve found traveling without real fine jewelry better for my piece of mind. There’re many excellent “fashion” or “custom” jewelry that look classic and real for travel purposes.

    Last, depending on the destination, I always lock my checked-in luggage. Even then, I’ve found nice leather nametags, etc. missing from the luggage 🙁

    Happy travels!

  • Donna
    October 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Where is your trolley case from?

    • Katherine
      October 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      Hi Donna! It’s from Globetrotter 🙂

      • Donna
        October 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

        It’s gorgeous. I didn’t know I could have luggage envy but now I do.

  • kaloka
    October 30, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Never ever check in the stuff that means to you. On a trip from LA to Singapore my friend put her LV Neverfull, a Gucci bag and 2 Coach bags in a check in luggage and et viola…the luggage is still there minus the bags.

    • Katherine
      October 30, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Agh, what a horrible story! Your poor friend 🙁

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living
    October 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    One note if you happen to forget/ruin your grocery bag – grab a laundry bag from the hotel. They are always available and if we don’t bring one, we use it for our worn clothing or to hold other things!

    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

  • Linda
    October 31, 2012 at 9:03 am

    GREAT post. I couldn’t agree with your tips more. My longchamp bag comes with me wherever I go–so much so that the corners of the bag have started to tear minutely. Depending on which country I travel to, I never bring obvious luxury bags since I don’t want to be targeted by pick pocketers! I think I’ve sort of mastered the art of packing things in on a carry on luggage when traveling overseas because I am so paranoid that my checked luggage will be rummaged through/stolen when flying international (this is usually for a 10 day trip though). While on the subject of travel, do you have any suggestions for chic passport covers?

    • Katherine
      October 31, 2012 at 9:56 am

      Thanks Linda! I am also a carry on semi expert (still learning 🙂 )

      I don’t use a passport cover though I should – have you seen the ones from Smythson?

  • keodi
    May 23, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I love the roller trolley! where did you purchase?

    • Katherine
      May 23, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      Globe Trotter 🙂

  • How I Pack for Travel » Feather Factor
    May 27, 2013 at 10:46 am

    […] onto the plane. You can read more about my favorite handbags to travel with (and how I pack them), here. I do use my Birkin quite a bit as my carry on bag, though I have to say that sometimes I miss […]

  • Amy
    April 17, 2015 at 8:57 am

    I use my LV Neverfull (biggest size) as my travel bag. I put my Chanel flap inside of it, and store the whole thing in a reusable tote under the plane seat. Works like a charm! And of course, NEVER check anything you would be sorry not to get back!

    • Katherine
      April 18, 2015 at 5:15 pm

      Great tips – I love the NF for traveling!