The Best Bag for a NYC Trip

When you’re visiting New York City, picking the right bag is essential for comfort, convenience, and safety.

Tip: Make sure to check our 5 Must-Know Tips for Choosing the Perfect NYC Bag at the end of the article!

Choosing the right bag for your NYC trip involves balancing convenience, comfort, safety, and fashion. Whether you opt for a crossbody bag, small bag or a backpack, we got you covered with tips from locals and experienced NYC travelers:​

Opinion #1 | Small Shoulder Bag

Bestseller No. 1
lapsting Shoulder Bag for Women Small Y2K Bags Clutch 90S Purse Crossbody Purses...
  • Comes with a detachable handle and shoulder strap. Can be used as a mini shoulder bag or as a crossbody bag
Bestseller No. 2
CLUCI Small Shoulder Bags,Crossbody Purses for Women Vegan Leather Handbag...
  • 【Size】10'' W × 3.3'' D × 5'' H,Handle drop length (adjustable):10'' - 22'' .This black purse can be used as a...
Bestseller No. 3
Montana West Cute Shoulder Hobo Bags for Women Trendy Mini Purses Leather Clutch...
  • 【Material】The small tote purse is made of high-quality vegan leather with gold hardware. It is soft and...

I found a small shoulder bag ideal for NYC. It comfortably held a wallet, a phone with a good camera, disinfectant wipes, and hand lotion. Wearing it across my body made it more secure against theft, and I felt quite safe, even more so than in cities closer to my home.

Bestseller No. 1
CYHTWSDJ Shoulder Bags for Women, Cute Hobo Tote Handbag Mini Clutch Purse with...
  • MATERIAL: High quality PU Leather fabric and polyester lined make the hand feel more comfortable, smooth metal...
SaleBestseller No. 3
VODIU Clutch Tote Handbags with 2 Removable Straps and Zipper Closure Crossbody...
  • MATERIAL:Made of High-grade PU leather which is relatively soft and more comfortable.This shoulder purse clutch...

On some trips, I tried larger bags but soon found them clunky. With a metro pass and a conveniently located hotel, we realized we didn’t need to carry much. We also used the need for a drink as an excuse to explore shops or enjoy coffee with a great ‘NYC donut’.

Opinion #2 | Backpack

Bestseller No. 1
School Backpack for Teens Large Corduroy Bookbag Lightweight 17 inch Laptop Bag...
  • Great backpack for school has enough room for college student class essentials. Perfect size large corduroy...
Bestseller No. 3
JanSport SuperBreak One Backpacks, Black - Durable, Lightweight Bookbag with 1...
  • Your Forever Pack: Always be ready with the JanSport SuperBreak Backpack. The perfect size for all your essentials...

When exploring NYC for a day, I always use a backpack, which is incredibly practical. It’s great for storing purchases, water, and extra clothing like a hat or gloves. Regarding safety, I’ve never encountered pickpocketing issues.

Being alert seems to be enough for protection. However, some feel safer with an anti-theft bag. Totally understandable.

Although a backpack might seem touristy, it’s a common choice even for city residents, especially useful for grocery shopping without a car.

Tip: If you use a backpack on the subway and get on a crowded train, it is best to take it off and hold it by the strap as you would a shopping bag. Otherwise, it gets annoying for other passengers.

Ultimately, the best choice is whatever you’re most comfortable with here.

Opinion #3 | Small Backpack

SaleBestseller No. 1
JanSport Half Pint Mini Backpack, Black, 10.2 L - Durable Mini Bag Purse with...
  • READY FOR ADVENTURE: Always be ready for grab-and-go adventures with the Half Pint Mini Backpack from Jansport!...
Bestseller No. 2
Carhartt Classic Mini Backpack, Durable, Water-Resistant Backpack with...
  • Carhartt Mini Backpack. When you don’t need to carry a lot, but you need your pack to be durable enough to take...
Bestseller No. 3
G4Free 10L/15L Hiking Backpack Lightweight Packable Hiking Daypack Small Travel...
  • FOLDABLE: This backpack is easy to fold up into its pocket (Not included extra pouch. Just its own inner pocket to...

Most of the time I visit NYC, I use a small backpack. I have had no problems in the past with a backpack, and it is excellent for carrying everything you need.

It is also nice when you can put one or two shopping items in the backpack so you don’t have to carry them around. I would never visit NYC without a backpack, and I find it very convenient.

Opinion #4 | Shoulder Purse

Bestseller No. 1
lola mae Quilted Crossbody Bag, Trendy Design Shoulder Purse (Black)
  • Right Size - This small crossbody bag is 8.5"x2"x6", fits iphone plus and wallet, big enough to carry everything...
SaleBestseller No. 2
Crossbody Bags for Women Leather Cross Body Purses Cute Color-Block Designer...
  • 🌈 TRENDY & FASHION DESGIN - Color-block faux-leather crossbody bag looks chic with any outfit. Exquisite...
Bestseller No. 3
CYHTWSDJ Shoulder Bags for Women, Cute Hobo Tote Handbag Mini Clutch Purse with...
  • MATERIAL: High quality PU Leather fabric and polyester lined make the hand feel more comfortable, smooth metal...

It’s all about personal preferences and what makes you feel at ease. Often, I only carry a tiny purse, essentially a wallet on a strap with room for sunglasses and keys.

Last time in NYC, I decided to carry a larger bag with a zipper and anti-theft features! It’s big enough to fit my wallet, keys, glasses, camera, phone, water, smaller purchases, etc. The straps were hardly long enough to fit over my shoulder but set very comfortably. It was also comfortable enough to carry by the straps if my shoulder got tired.

Bestseller No. 1
Unisex Small Crossbody Bag, Anti-Theft Side Shoulder Bag with RFID and Zipper...
  • 【High-Quality Material】 QiDi crossbody bag is made of 600D Oxford fabric material, which is water-resistant,...
SaleBestseller No. 2
WATERFLY Small Crossbody Sling Backpack Anti Theft Backpack for Traveling Chest...
  • Extra Mini Size: 13.4 x 6.3 x 2.7 inches (L x W x H), which means so tiny and slim, ideal for your usual carries....
Bestseller No. 3
Mizeer 2 Size Zipper Clip Theft Deterrent - Anti Theft Zipper Clips Keep The...
  • Double Opening Spring Clip Design: The dual-ended opening zipper pull can be used to either replace a lost or...

Not as spacious as a backpack, but big enough to fit all my essentials. I got a leather one, so it looks very nice with casual daytime outfits or more dressy clothing for the evenings.

I also use small sling-bag or city pouch:

Bestseller No. 1
Black Sling Crossbody Bag for Men Women, Tactical Backpack Shoulder Daypack Mini...
  • ✅【Small Size, Large Capacity】The SEAFEW crossbody bag is lightweight and very durable and sturdy! It's small...
Bestseller No. 2
tomtoc Compact EDC Sling Bag, 4L Minimalist Chest Shoulder Backpack Crossbody...
  • [Lightweight and Stylish] External Dimensions:12.20" x 5.90" x 2.95"; This compact sling bag is not only a fashion...
Bestseller No. 3
Mum's memory Small travel purse Black Women Crossbody purse Long Starpe...
  • 👛 Stylish Design: The golden metal zipper and soft waterproof nylon fabric of this women's crossbody handbag add...

I find backpacks inconvenient because I have to take them off to unzip them and get what I need, which can be a hassle. On the other hand, handbags are easier to open even if I have one strap or both on my shoulder. The leather material of handbags provides a slightly firmer structure, making them more convenient to use.

Opinion #5 | Backpack

SaleBestseller No. 1
ZOMAKE Ultra Lightweight Hiking Backpack 20L - Packable Small Backpacks Water...
  • 👜【0.5 POUNDS OF PORTABLE ULTRA LIGHTWEIGHT PACKABLE BACKPACK】The size of the travel backpack packable is...
SaleBestseller No. 2
LIGHT FLIGHT Travel Backpack for Women, 15.6 Inch Anti Theft Laptop Backpack...
  • Large Capacity: The separate laptop compartment fits up to a 15.6'' laptop. The large main compartment is roomy for...
SaleBestseller No. 3
MULISOFT Women's Purple 30L Compact Foldable Backpack, Water Resistant &...
  • Magic Sizing, Compact Design - Our packable hiking backpack has an unfolded size of 18.3x12x7.08...

When I carry my daypack in New York City, the strap is on one shoulder so that the bag is essentially beneath my elbow and not behind me where someone could reach into the outer pockets.  If I have to keep it on my back, I’m aware of the people around me. However, I usually take it off in a crowded subway.

My wallet is nowhere where anyone can access it easily.

Tip from a local: Daypacks don’t make you look like a tourist! So many commuters on the subway use one. The only way to make you look like a tourist is if you wear it on your chest.

Ok, after these tips and opinions, let’s get back to the basics:

Bring a Good Bag for Your NYC Trip | 3 Reasons

1. Practical Storage

In New York City, a bag is essential for practical storage on your trip. It’s perfect for carrying items like your smartphone, wallet, sunglasses, camera, maps, and snacks, especially in a city where you might be on the go for hours.

A well-organized bag ensures everything is easily accessible, saving you from the hassle of rummaging through pockets or a cluttered backpack. This convenience is crucial in the fast-paced environment of NYC.

2. Safety

In NYC, safety is a key factor when choosing a bag. It’s vital to keep your valuables secure from theft. Bags with zippers or other closures add an extra layer of security.

Crossbody bags, worn close to the body, are particularly effective against pickpockets. These bags are less likely to be snatched, providing peace of mind as you navigate the city’s busy streets.

3. Comfort

Comfort is crucial when exploring NYC, as you’ll walk a lot! A well-designed bag ensures you can carry essentials like a guidebook or water bottle ergonomically, keeping your hands free to enjoy the city’s sights.

Opt for bags with adjustable straps for a custom fit, enhancing your comfort as you navigate the bustling streets and landmarks.

Summary | Which Bag to Choose

Crossbody Bags and Purses

Pros:

  • Offers better security as they can be kept in sight.
  • Convenient for carrying essentials like wallets, water, and tickets.
  • Often lightweight and waterproof.

Cons:

  • Limited in size, may not fit larger items.
Backpacks

Pros:

  • Good for carrying several items.
  • Can be comfortable to wear for longer periods.

Cons:

  • Can be cumbersome in crowded places like subways.
  • Backpacks are easy targets for theft.
  • Not allowed in some museums and attractions.
Tips for Backpack Usage
  • Remove backpacks before boarding the subway to avoid bumping into other passengers.
  • Hold them between your calves or hand carry them on public transport.
  • Choose lighter, more secure options like nylon crossbody bags for safety and convenience.

5 Must-Know Tips for Choosing the Perfect NYC Bag

  1. Avoid bags with open tops; choose those with secure closures.
  2. Be mindful of the bag’s size and how it might affect others, especially in crowded areas.
  3. Consider bags that are durable and comfortable for long walks and varying weather conditions.
  4. Avoid fanny packs as they are generally seen as unfashionable and can immediately mark you as a tourist.
  5. It can rain quite a bit in New York during the fall, winter, and spring. Choose a water-resistant bag!
More Bags From Amazon:
Bestseller No. 1
CYHTWSDJ Shoulder Bags for Women, Cute Hobo Tote Handbag Mini Clutch Purse with...
  • MATERIAL: High quality PU Leather fabric and polyester lined make the hand feel more comfortable, smooth metal...
SaleBestseller No. 3
VODIU Clutch Tote Handbags with 2 Removable Straps and Zipper Closure Crossbody...
  • MATERIAL:Made of High-grade PU leather which is relatively soft and more comfortable.This shoulder purse clutch...

 

General Tips for Choosing the Perfect Bag

  • Bring a bag large enough to carry all your essential items, but not too big to be clunky while traveling.
  • Consider a bag with multiple compartments or pockets to keep your belongings organized.
  • Choose durable materials that can resist the wear and tear of travel, the sometimes harsh NYC weather, and ‘dirt’ and are easy to clean.
  • If you are worried, choosing a bag with safety features such as hidden compartments or anti-theft designs is better.
  • Match the color and design of the bag to your personal style and the activities you plan to do during your NYC trip.

 

 

Choosing the right bag for your NYC trip involves balancing convenience, comfort, safety, and fashion. Whether you opt for a small wheeled luggage, a crossbody bag, or a backpack, ensure it suits your travel needs and helps you enjoy the city hassle-free​

Save the 3 Best Activities