Favorite Small Carry-On Personal Item That Replaces the Diaper Bag

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Part of what makes family travel easier is simply having the right gear. Having all the right gear in the world doesn’t guarantee a smooth trip, but it sure does help streamline the logistics so you can focus on your kiddos and getting everyone where they need to be with as little stress as possible. One key piece of family travel gear for young families is a fully stocked diaper bag, large purse, or backpack that has diapers, wipes, extra clothes, snacks, sippies, bottles, and more at the ready. Not only does it need to be big enough for all those essentials, but it needs to have nooks and crannies where you can quickly and reliably find things like your keys and your phone without digging around like a maniac.

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One of my favorite days with both kids was actually the day we moved out of the diaper bag and into a large purse that could still hold some of those things but not look hideous or diaper-bag-esque in the process. No offense to the diaper bag, but after 12 – 18 months, it can be pretty exciting to graduate to something else! 

Favorite new small travel bag

This time around once we were passed the phase where we needed a true diaper bag, I wanted something that was durable, affordable, could wipe clean, hold toddler stuff + a laptop, but that did not at all resemble a diaper bag. At all. I found the Sole Society Winged Faux Leather Tote during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale last summer and it checked all those boxes and then some. I stashed it in the closet until Christmas as a gift to myself (anyone else do that?!), but after using it for the first time on a trip last week (and getting lots of questions on my Instagram Story about the bag in the process), I can say that I 100% recommend this as a post-diaper bag purchase for traveling families, or even for those who just want a bag that holds a bunch of stuff.

Sole Society Winged Faux Leather Tote

First things first, the bag cost me about $40 during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale last summer, but the normal price is $69.95. It looks like Nordstrom is currently sold out of the black color that I have, but they do have Taupe currently on sale for $40.17 or Oxblood or Mushroom at the regular $69.95.

You can find the black at full price directly from Sole Society, plus I think you can get a 15% off coupon if you are new to Sole Society.

I obviously love that the bag can hold a ton without looking like a diaper bag, but it is very functional for travel. There are two small side pockets that are the right size for a phone and keys, as well as a small side inner pouch that zips shut so you can stash things you don’t want to move around in your purse.

The bag can then zip all the way closed on top which is very handy when sending it through security, putting it under the seat in front of you, or just when you are on the go and want some barrier between your stuff and the outside world. You can carry it by the two smaller handles or by using the larger cross-strap. I typically put the handles over my arm, but having a larger strap is nice when your arms are totally full.

Bag that holds everything while still being Spirit Airlines approved

The Sole Society Winged Faux Leather Tote is large enough to hold my wallet, keys, phone, laptop, a pouch with diapers and wipes (I use a medium sized Makeup Junkie Bag for that purpose), a change of clothes for me + the toddler, a sippy cup, snacks and still have plenty of room for whatever else needs to be stuffed in at the last minute such as toys or a blanket. It expands as needed, but is soft sided enough that it isn’t huge when you don’t need all the potential space. If you wanted to use this bag as an overnight bag for yourself, it would probably work just fine. It is just the right size to be big enough, but not too huge at 18″W x 12″H x 6″D.

In fact, when I fly Spirit Airlines next week I will probably use this bag to pack myself for the night as my free personal carry-on item. The maximum dimensions for a free Spirit personal item are 18 x 14 x 8, so this bag meets the criteria with a little bit of room to spare.

I’ve taken a lot of flights both with and without kids and have had small carry-on personal items that were too big, too small, too easy to damage, or without enough compartments, but this one seems to be just right. If you are in the market for the perfect small carry-on item that can fit under the seat in front of you but hold a ton of stuff while looking stylish, this may be it.

What is your favorite go-to small travel bag once you have graduated from the diaper bag, but still need to hold a bunch of things for your family?

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      • Ha ha – for sure. Queenie, I would love to share some similar info for the guys, but I just haven’t come across the perfect male equivalent bag yet. My husband is happy in a junkie old backpack (and he doesn’t carry the kid’s stuff for the most part). I would love suggestions though if you or anyone has one!

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