What is a Tote Bag Used For? 20 Uses Explained

What is a Tote Bag Used For? 20 Uses Explained

There are so many ways to use a canvas tote. Sure, they're great for bumming around on the weekends and taking stuff to the office, but you can use them in many other ways, too. To keep all of your odds and ends organized, look for one with internal and external pockets, as well as a clip for your keys. Here are our favorite tote bag uses.

Cold Weather Survival Kit

A rugged canvas tote is a perfect place to store emergency items in your car. Fill one with everything needed to make it through a breakdown in the middle of winter and you can rest assured that you'll be prepared for the worst. It should contain things like jumper cables, a portable cellphone charger, a folding shovel, and a first aid kit. Always keep it in the same place and make sure every driver in your family knows where it is.

Storing Out-of-Season Clothes

When the seasons change and it's time to put away the bulky sweaters or flouncy summer tops until next year, don't shove them in the back of your closet. Instead, fold everything up and stash it in a tote. Purchase a tote in one color for pants, another shade for shirts, and so on, which makes it easy to know what everything is. You can also organize by a family member if it's easiest.

Perfect for Picnics

There's nothing like a picnic in the summer, so skip the bulky basket and stash your tasty snacks and drinks in an insulated canvas tote bag. It will keep everything nice and cool and you can just throw it over your shoulder while you look for a beautiful place to spread out your blanket and dig in.

A Cool Carry-On

If you're a frequent flier, you need carry-on luggage that can hold your essentials and stand up to the stress of air travel. A tote made of rugged canvas will do the job nicely – they're big enough for a laptop, but easy to get things in and out of when you're going through security. Try to get one with a zippered inner pocket so you have someplace safe to keep your passport.

Holding Your Yoga Gear

Get a sturdy tote that matches your favorite yoga pants and you'll be ready to do downward dog in style. An insulated bag will keep your water and healthy post-class snack fresh and cool. Look for one with little pockets for things like your hair ties and earrings and make sure it has room for your street clothes, too.

Organizing Your Footwear

Has your closet been taken over by shoes? Order some tote bags and use them to keep your footwear in check. Stash all of your flats in one, and your sneakers in another. When it's too cold for sandals and flip-flops, put 'em in a tote until the next summer and they won't get in your way during the winter.

Ready for an Emergency

Life can change in the blink of an eye, and you should always be prepared for whatever comes your way. Create go-bags using a large canvas tote for each member of your family. Think hard about what it should contain – perhaps some bottled water, a toothbrush, a change of clothes and basic medicines. Your go-bags will vary depending on where you live and what kind of emergency you're likely to encounter. And don't forget to keep them somewhere that's easy to reach so everyone can grab their bag and head out the door in an instant.

A Super Sleepover Bag

Little girls love sleepovers and yours will probably hit an age when the invitations start piling up. Instead of emptying out her schoolbag every time she's going to a slumber party (and losing her homework in the process) get her a tote of her own. You can pack it with her jammies, hairbrush, a change of clothes and anything else she'll need. Just leave room for a present if she's celebrating a friend's birthday.

Great for Gifts

Gift bags are a wonderful way to say thank you to friends who help you move house, the gal pals who serve as your bridesmaids or even the woman who delivers your mail. Instead of using a disposable paper or plastic bag, give them a reusable tote filled with treats, like gourmet coffee, luxury bath products or cozy jammies and slippers.

Splish Splash

Take a tote along on your next trip to the beach or pool. You can toss in your swimsuit, shades and sunblock, along with a good book and some snacks. Make sure your tote has a water-resistant base and trim though, or your stuff might get soaked if you accidentally set your bag down in a puddle.

Nice for Knitters

A shoulder tote makes for a great knitting bag. Fill it up with your favorite yarns and needles and you'll be ready to work on that new scarf or hat wherever you go. Smaller items, like scissors, stitch markers and a measuring tape, can go in the bag's pockets. If it doesn't have any, consider buying a little zippered pouch for odds and ends.

Freelancing On The Go

Do you regularly head to your favorite coffee shop to work on freelance assignments? Slip your laptop in a tote to keep it safe. You'll also have extra room for all the little things you need, like a notebook, pens and your phone. Don't forget to bring a cardigan and your charger along, too.

Dealing with Diapers

If you can't find a diaper bag you like, try using an zip-top canvas tote instead. You'll have plenty of space for clean diapers, wipes, baby powder and everything else you need to keep your little one clean and happy. There's even room for some bottles and a couple of their favorite toys.

Hauling Groceries

Help protect the environment by saying no to plastic grocery bags and getting some totes you can use over and over again. Best of all, a tough tote is strong enough to hold heavy things, like a gallon of milk, without tearing. Look for one with handles long enough to slip over your shoulder, as they're easier to carry when packed full of stuff.

Heading to the Hospital

If you, or a loved one, will be spending a night in the hospital, fill a natural canvas tote with some items to make your stay a little nicer. Add eye drops, lip balm, and moisturizer to protect against dry hospital air and a bed jacket for warmth. Some puzzle books and a tablet computer will keep you occupied and don't forget toiletries, too. Dry shampoo is another nice item, especially if you have long hair.

Storing Old Media

Is your house filled with old DVDs, videos and CDs you aren't ready to get rid of? Instead of letting them consume every inch of available space, keep them in your tote bags. That way, you can put them in the garage or an empty closet for easy retrieval when you feel like watching an old home movie or listening to your favorite album from freshman year.

Toss in the Toys

Kid's toys can take over your house if you're not careful, turning your living room into a menagerie of dolls, race cars and other odds and ends. Keep things neat and tidy by using zippered totes as storage bags. It will prevent things from being lost (or stepped on) and you can even remind your kids that anything they don't put back in the tote goes into the charity donation pile.

A Big Beauty Bag

Turn a women's tote bag into your one-stop beauty kit. Fill it up with all of your makeup and skincare items, including foundation and facewash, along with your brushes and sponges. If there's room, add your hairdryer, styling products, and curling iron. At long last, you'll have some extra space in your bathroom!

Just for Teacher

Let your child's teacher know how much you care by giving them a monogrammed tote packed with treats they'll enjoy. Gourmet coffee and fine wine are always well-received, and who doesn't love some nice chocolates? A few items to use around the classroom, like disinfectant wipes, pencils and crayons are always appreciated. If you really want to spoil them, toss in a gift certificate for a local restaurant or salon.

Heading to the Laundromat

Does doing laundry require a trip to the laundromat? If so, use an extra-large canvas tote bag for your dirty clothes instead of a flimsy drawstring sack. The sturdy handles make it easier to transport and the thick canvas material will keep things dry if you get caught in a shower. Put some quarters into one of the small pockets along with a baggie of detergent and some dryer sheets.


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