How To Travel Stylishly – The Essentials – Part Two

Cross-body bag

I won’t go so far as to say that that travelling stylishly takes work. In fact, I’d argue that it can be incredibly easy. But elegant, graceful travel does require a strategy or two.

Last week we took a look at my first stylish travel essential – comfortable shoes.

This week, it’s time to explore my second stylish travel tip – the cross-body bag.

Travel Stylishly – With A Cross-Body Bag

A Stylish Size

I smiled recently when I overheard a friend commenting on how surprised she was about the usefulness of crossbody bags as a travel accessory. One of her colleagues had recommended she travel with one and she had seriously doubted the advice. After all, she – like many of us – lives out of a tote bag in her everyday life.

But when you are in vacation mode, your needs change. What works for the everyday doesn’t always translate for your holiday. The tote that sits under your desk all day can get heavy when you are lugging it around for hours on end. And sore shoulders rarely make for classy holidays.

Roomy enough (assuming you choose wisely) to hold a small wallet, your travel documents, sunglasses, phone, keys and your lipstick yet small enough to carry all day, a cross-body bag is ideal for when you are out and about. Furthermore, the ‘smaller than tote size’ allows you to more elegantly stow your bag when you stop at restaurant or bars. And it is also easier to hold on public transport without looking like you are peering over the top of a parapet.

Hands-Free Practicality

There is a lot to be said for keeping your hands free while you are on the move. Whether you are needing check your phone for messages or directions, navigate public transport or climb stairs to enjoy a special view, the cross-body bag allows you to do so with ease. No-one ever looks stylish when forced to juggle all of their belongings while they try to enjoy a new (or favourite) city.

The hands-free nature of these bags, coupled with their size, also means it is easy to find what you are looking for without too much digging, which is always a good thing. And personally, I always prefer styles that include an easy access outside pocket, where I can keep things like Metro tickets to save having to open the main compartment of the bag all the time.

Although it doesn’t come to my mind too often, as I read other travel blogs, I’m sometimes reminded that cross-body bags are good for keeping personal belongings safe while you are travelling. And when I do turn my mind to it, it’s something I’m quite grateful for. While you always have to keep your wits about you, a cross-body bag does reduce the need to worry about pick-pockets and the like.

Practical and stylish – you really can’t go wrong.

Versatile Style

One of the things that I love the most about cross-body styles is the ability to dress them up them up or down. I often find that larger totes or shoppers don’t always work with dressier outfits. And although elegant, shoulder bags sometimes look too formal for travelling outfits. The versatility of cross-body bags can easily take you from day to night, and casual to dressy, assuming you choose a relatively classic style.

When it comes to choosing a colour for your cross-body bag, you won’t go wrong with neutrals, especially if you are keen for your bag to work with a wide variety of outfits. Having said that, a colourful bag can be a true highlight, especially if you’ve built your travel wardrobe around a limited colour palette.

It’s also worth noting that fabric choices are also plentiful when it comes to cross-body styles. Whether you prefer leather, fabric, canvas or man-made options, you are sure to find something you love.

French Brands To Consider When Looking For A Stylish Cross-Body Bag

Lancaster Paris – while I don’t own a Lancaster Paris cross-body bag, I do have a couple of their bags and they are both very well made. They offer a large range of cross-body bags in a variety of colours and sizes.

Longchamp – again, a wide range available to choose from. I bought a fabric Longchamp cross-body bag on one of my very first trips to Paris and it is still going strong.

Louis Vuitton – while styles come and go, Louis Vuitton always have a range of durable cross-body bags on offer, although they do come at a relatively high price point. You can also find vintage versions if you are willing to do your research.

One Final Thought

I’ve long been a devotee of Vicki Archer’s two handbag rule.  When I’m travelling between countries or cities, I will use my large tote bag. It is simply more practical when it comes to carrying everything around. I’ll have my cross-body bag packed in my luggage and switch to it when I reach my destination. This strategy also means I have a larger bag handy, just in case I decide to head out for a spot of shopping on a trip.

If you are looking for more handbag tips, make sure you check out Five Key Elements Of The Perfect Handbag.

Are you a fan of the cross-body bag as a tool to travel stylishly? Do you have a favourite style of handbag or purse that you use while travelling? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.


Please note – this is an unsolicited post and no compensation of any kind has been received from any of the brands named.

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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7 thoughts on “How To Travel Stylishly – The Essentials – Part Two

  • Alisa

    Another great post! There are so many small wonderful handbag lines who are represented in Paris – the 6th arrondissement St Germain des Près is especially well populated with them. I always check to see what French women are doing about handbags and the cross-body is right up there with the ubiquitous Longchamp pliage. The advantage of the pliage is that is is extremely lightweight, can be packed without extra weight or bulk, and is pretty secure against light fingers: the zip, snap, and sturdily attached straps (that are extremely difficult to cut through) make it relatively anti-theft. I have a half dozen of the medium size with shoulder straps.
    Lancel has a bag that I think is very versatile: the Charlie. With its crossbody strap, it is casual/tailored, but it also has constructed handles that make it very ladylike when the shoulder strap is removed. A bit pricey (but much less than LV) and the buffalo leather will be beautiful for many years.

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks Alisa. You are so right about the Le Pliage…ages ago, I wrote that it definitely wins the popularity contest in the Parisian handbag stakes. I see it time and time again on Parisian streets (and I love mine). I use mine as a tote, and swap it out with my cross-body bag depending on my needs for the day.

      Thank you for the Charlie tip. I love leather bags that can do double duty while I’m travelling and the handles just add that extra something if you have a special event on the itinerary. That’s the great thing about cross-body bags – there is something to suit all tastes and price points.

  • Claire

    Couldn’t agree more.

    I have a small black cross body bag for daily use, but instead of a tote I have a tote sized zip up bag that matches my luggage.

    Crossbody bag is packed or in the hand luggage bag during travel.

    This makes things easier and so much safer when you are around a lot of people and easily distracted.

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks so much Claire. Thank you too for the reminder on ‘luggage range’ of totes. They are usually both stylish and sturdy and items that can do double duty while you are on the road are always welcome!!