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The Leather Bag I’ve Traveled With Across the World

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A woman wearing a purple shirt, denim shorts, and carrying a brown leather tote.
The author with her tote.

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Right now, there's a $420 round-trip fare from Los Angeles to London floating around the internet. I’ll probably book the flight and then figure out the details of paying for it and getting time off from the new job I just started. The only thing I'm certain of right now is my luggage, specifically the tall brown leather Cuyana tote that I use as a carry-on.

Purchased five years ago, the tote began as a work bag, carrying last night’s leftovers for lunch, clothes for the gym, and books to read during my train commute. It soon morphed into my everyday bag, big enough to fit groceries and bottles of all-natural shampoo and conditioner from Target hauls. But after a bit of planning and a whole lot of saving, the Cuyana tote has most recently become my travel bag.

I use it because it’s sturdy and soft: It’s strong enough to weather the overhead bin and keep my belongings in tact, but malleable enough to be tucked under an airplane seat. But most of all, it’s versatile. It can fit my most basic travel necessities (wallet, phone, 10 lip glosses) and the most eclectic: Day of the Dead clay skulls collected from Mexico City street vendors, bottles of wine and wedges of cheese scoured from Paris markets, and beach towels full of Miami sand.

I can’t say what my Cuyana tote will morph into next. I’d rule out diaper bag, but hey — you never know.