The Best Bags to Give the Travel Lover in Your Life

Jet lag and flight delays are never fun, but one day of a great vacation will make you forget them. One travel trouble that does have the power to ruin your trip? Being targeted by pickpockets. A stolen wallet or snatched bag can—just like that—turn a dream vacation into a nightmarish ordeal. Thieves have plagued travelers forever, but increasingly, travelers have fought back with ever-smarter gear, like anti-theft travel bags to safeguard valuables.

Theft-proof bags aren’t traditionally the most stylish travel accessory, but San Francisco start-up Arden Cove has changed that with its line of attractive anti-theft designs. Its waterproof bags feature a complete array of anti-theft details—RFID protection, cut-proof straps, locking zippers, slash-proof lining—all in a fashionable package that doesn’t scream: “This is an anti-theft travel bag!”

Arden’s Cove’s structured, vegan bags are as theft-proof as it gets, all without sacrificing style or quality. Below you can find our favorite Arden Cove pieces for traveling with confidence. About the only thing they can’t protect you from is jet lag.

Full Crossbody with Faux Leather Strap + Full Crossbody with Chain Strap

Arden cove cross body bag on a model

Anti-theft bags are the answer to traveling without fear of getting robbed on the road. The problem is that most anti-theft bags are clunky, utilitarian-looking to a fault, and not the sort of thing you want to bring with you to, say, Paris or Barcelona. Enter: Arden Cove. Case in point? Its signature full-size crossbody bag, available with either a vegan leather or gold-metal chain strap. Both options have an attractive, structured design that looks chic enough for any metropolis.

Like all Arden Cove bags, the crossbodies have all manner of anti-theft features, including RFID blocking, lockable zippers, and slash-proof lining. Whereas some anti-theft bags feature this only on the bottom or side, Arden Cove’s bags are fully lined in slash-proof material. A built-in RFID wallet has a total of nine dedicated slots for cards and cash, while the main compartment has three additional pockets (two slips and one zippered) and can easily stash a phone, tablet or ebook, hand cream, and other daily necessities. Arden Cove’s crossbody bags are cool enough to wear to a trendy cocktail bar and versatile enough to wear back at home as an everyday purse. For more details, check out this video from Arden Cove.

Convertible Backpack

Arden cove backpack on a model

For the traveler who likes to be prepared—and who likes options—there’s Arden Cove’s brilliant Carmel bag. With three types of detachable straps, the versatile theft-proof piece can be sported as a backpack, shoulder bag, handbag, or crossbody. No matter how the ultra-convertible Carmel is worn, it’s always keeping your stuff safe with RFID-blocking pockets, locking zippers, and anti-slash material lining the whole thing. (The adjustable straps that convert the bag from a backpack to shoulder bag are cut-proof, too.) The Carmel will not only keep your valuables safe from pickpockets but also unexpected rain, as the exterior and zippers are fully waterproof. The main compartment has three interior pockets—one zipper, two slip—and the exterior compartment contains a built-in wallet. Both compartments are protected by zippers that lock via lobster claps.

Convertible Belt Bag/Wallet

Arden cove mini belt bag close up

Arden Cove’s minimalist two-in-one belt bag/wallet is one of the smartest pieces of travel gear you can buy. The waterproof item serves as a travel wallet extraordinaire, with four distinct interior sections, a zipper compartment, and a dozen slots to keep all types of travel must-haves—cash, plastic, passports, business cards, tickets, receipts, confirmation emails, boarding passes, car rental agreements, you name it—neat and organized. A detachable keychain fastens to an interior D-ring, so your keys will stay put, too.

When worn as an anti-theft purse or belt bag (thanks to an adjustable cut-resistant strap), the functional bag’s compact size will allow you to pack all your essentials (phone, lip balm, hand sanitizer, ear buds) and nothing extra to weigh you down throughout the day. And while most RFID-blocking bags are conspicuously unattractive, this one’s sleek and streamlined design is perfect for a day of gallery hopping followed by drinks at an elegant hotel bar. Want to see it in action? Check out the video.

By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: The Trtl Pillow. It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto: Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Aisle all the way.

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