Ah, tote bags—those quintessential catchalls that can keep you going from sun up until sundown. Their storage capacity often feels like Mary Poppins magic, with ample space for snacks, car keys, extra clothing, umbrellas, and more. But what happens when your bag of daily essentials becomes overwhelming? Have no fear! We’ve compiled some of our best tips for organizing your tote bag in 2021 and beyond.
First things first, your choice of tote bag matters! It’s a good idea to consider your tote bag needs before making any final decisions. Will you be using the bag on weekdays, weekends, or both? Will your tote bag take the place of a purse or wallet? Do you prefer built-in organizational tools, like zippered pockets or dividers? Will you use your bag on beach days and hiking trips?
Canvas tote bags are a classic for a reason. Durable, versatile, and easily customizable, canvas totes are great for morning commutes, trips to the gym, and Saturday errands around town. A simple open design means easy access to all of your essentials, while a zippered top delivers extra security. If you plan on using a tote bag as your only source of on-the-go storage, check out the Open or Zip Top Natural Canvas Tote Bag; internal pockets can hold a slim wallet, a cell phone and tablet, pens, lip gloss, and other small items that would otherwise end up in a jumble at the bottom of the bag. We all know that jumble all too well!
Our Travel Carry On Luggage Tote Bag is ready for day trips and extended vacays alike. Constructed with ultra-durable and water-resistant nylon fabric, this tote can handle trains, planes, and automobiles with ease. It’s also a must-have for days at the lake or the pool—the water-resistant outer shell will keep towels and extra clothes dry until you need them. For truly jam-packed days, try an extra-large canvas tote bag. Internal pockets will help keep your most important items secure, and the extra-large capacity can store the rest.
We’ve all been there: You reach into your tote at lunchtime and discover that your perfect PB&J has been crushed by your gym sneakers. Don’t let sad sandwiches ruin your workday! When packing your tote bag in the morning, be sure to start with the heaviest items like rain boots, umbrellas, books, electronics, etc.) and end with the lightest and most fragile (clothing, food items, papers). Heading to a wine and cheese party or outdoor picnic? Place heavy wine bottles or large food containers/boxes into your bag first.
To maximize space, use the rolling method with things like rain jackets, swimsuits and cover-ups, scarves, and beach towels. Fold as you normally would, and then roll each item up into a tube shape; these textile tubes can then be stacked upright in the main tote bag compartment to avoid disorganized, hard-to-reach layers from forming. This method will also help keep your clothes and accessories wrinkle-free.
When it comes to packing breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you may want to consider using a lunch box in addition to a tote. Insulated lunch boxes and bags will keep food fresh and deliver an extra layer of protection inside your larger tote bag. Not to mention, should that salad dressing container leak, the rest of your items will be spared a ranch catastrophe. Double bagging can be useful any time you’re hauling liquids or small items you want to keep contained.
We’re not saying that every item in your day-to-day tote bag needs to spark joy. Some necessities are just that—necessary. But we do recommend regularly cleaning out your tote to avoid accumulating that dreaded bottom layer of old receipts, pennies, granola bar crumbs, and pen caps. If you hit the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays, don’t lug around your gear on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If your thermos is empty, put it in the dishwasher. An organized tote is an efficient tote, and that means regularly sorting and removing items that aren’t needed all the time. And occasionally shaking out the crumbs.
No tote bag is going to prepare you for every possible contingency (unless you truly have some movie magic up your sleeve). But when it comes to stocking your tote for unexpected surprises, you can certainly be smart about it. So, what are the best “just in case” items to have on hand in 2021? Number one: A cardigan sweater. You never know when the air conditioning is going to kick in! Number two: a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Number three: an inexpensive pair of sunglasses. Number four: five or 10 dollars in cash. While we’ve mainly adapted to a cashless society, tucking a fiver into an inside pocket is never a bad idea. And number five: an extra phone charger. Consider it your “tote charger” and make sure it always gets put back into your tote bag after using it.
Once you start living the tote bag life, it’s hard to go back...and honestly, why should you? Totes deliver all-day storage and convenience, combining multiple carry-ons into one efficient bag. With proper organization, your tote can help keep your day smooth sailing.