I love bags – from handbags to totes, I always switch up what I carry depending on the occasion. When I first received a sling bag as a Disney Cruise Line Castaway Club gift, I wasn’t sure how I would use it. Then, on a solo Disney World trip, I decided that it would be the perfect bag for my trip.
Since then, I’ve tried several sling bags and have figured out what I think is the best sling bag for travel. There are two great options that we recommend, and I recommend having one for vacations. While it’s not a bag I use on every trip, there are definitely some occasions where having it is helpful.
In addition, we also have some belt bag recommendations. While they aren’t the same as sling bags, they do serve a similar purpose and are fantastic for theme park days.
It’s also a convenient bag to have for day trips. Some parents like using one as a small diaper bag – the hand-free wearability really makes it convenient for a lot of purposes.
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Finding the Best Sling Bag for Travel
What is a Sling Bag?
A sling bag is a cross between a messenger bag and a small backpack. It’s a compact bag with a single strap that goes around your body, which is great for hands-free carrying. It can also be worn on either the front or the back of your body providing some versatility.
For my trip, I found that it was a great option due to the hands-free wearing, in addition to the size of the bag. When I travel to Walt Disney World (or anywhere where I’ll do a lot of walking), I like to travel light, but I also typically have quite a few things to carry around.
Like regular backpacks, a sling bag also distributes weight across your body, unlike a shoulder bag. So it doesn’t feel too heavy even if you have it loaded with stuff. I also find that it’s better than a backpack in warm weather because it doesn’t cover you up as a backpack does.
Because of its shape, a sling bag doesn’t work well as a laptop bag. Some may hold a tablet or a camera, but they are generally not great for a laptop. They are better as day bags when you are walking around a theme park or a city, and not as a carry-on bag or a work bag.
What Features To Look For in A Sling Bag
There are some features you’ll want to have in any sling bag you choose to purchase. First, you’ll want to find one with an adjustable shoulder strap so that it fits you comfortably. As a bonus, try to find one with some padding on the strap so it will be comfortable when you wear it for hours. Some sling bags also have a zipper pocket on the strap for easy access to important items like credit cards, a cell phone, and keys.
You’ll also want a bag that has enough room to hold the items you’ll need for the day. This includes your phone, wallet, sunglasses with a carrying case, light snacks, a portable charger, a water bottle, and maybe a light sweater/sweatshirt. However, you don’t want something so large that it looks like a regular backpack, or too small that it looks like a fanny pack.
While some sling bags are mainly one big pocket, try to find one that has several interior pockets to hold smaller items. Exterior small pockets are also a nice idea for things that you’ll need throughout the day.
Most sling bags do not have separate pockets for water bottles, but several do have exterior mesh pockets. I drink so much water throughout the day, so I do like to have exterior pockets for at least one water bottle.
If you are going to be in a city, you may also want to find a bag with anti-theft features. In that case, you’ll also probably want to carry the bag in front of you, rather than behind you so you can keep track of it. The great thing is that you can wear it either way, depending on the situation, so one bag will service multiple purposes.
The Best Sling Bags For Travel
I’ve tested out two separate sling bags that are great options for travel. They are similar, with different features, and available in varying colors. Both are available on Amazon.com. Here are our two top picks:
The AMJ Sling Bag Shoulder Backpack
This bag is available in several different colors, including black, gray, coral, purple, and red. I have the purple one, and it has a stylish black trim across the bag. The lightly padded adjustable strap is easy to wear and comfortable.
Features include a slot for USB charging (insert your portable charger in the bag, and slide the cord through the slot), one large pocket with a zipper closure, and two pockets within that large main compartment. There are also two smaller exterior pockets that can hold important things within easy reach. In addition, there’s another open pouch that stays closed with a snap clip.
This bag is pretty small, so it’s a nice lightweight small sling bag. However, that means that it won’t hold a ton of things. It definitely won’t fit a large tablet, but a mini and/or an e-reader would probably tuck into the large compartment. If you wanted to carry an umbrella, you’d need a compact one that folds really small.
This is a cute and stylish sling bag option if you aren’t carrying too many things on your day trip. It’s a good choice, a small size, and is a very reasonable price. You can purchase it and see the different colors on Amazon.com.
Waterfly Sling Backpack
The Waterfly Sling Backpack is a good option if you are looking for something a little larger than the AMJ. This one also comes in a variety of colors, including black, gray, yellow, blue, green, and teal. It also has an adjustable strap, but this bag’s strap also has a small pouch on it for quick access to small items on the go.
The bag has a large compartment with two smaller pockets inside – plenty of space for your belongings. In addition, there’s a center zip pocket for personal items, a center pocket, and a mesh pocket on each side. These two side pockets can be used for a small bottle or a small umbrella (or both)!
Although this bag is bigger than the one mentioned above, it’s still not large enough for a big tablet or a laptop. It could, however, fit a smaller tablet. There’s also a slot for wired headphones at the top of the main pocket.
This bag is more of an oval shape and definitely will fit a lot. Just keep in mind that the more you add, the heavier the bag will be so you don’t want to add too much weight. This one also has a padded back panel for more comfort. You can see all of the colors and purchase it on Amazon.com.
While these are not sling bags, belt bags can be a great option for a theme park day or for travel. As they’ve grown in popularity, I’ve seen them used in airports, theme parks, and city vacations. While a belt bag can be a convenient option when flying, keep in mind that it will need to be tucked into one of your other bags, or it will count as a personal item. You may consider an anti theft fanny pack if you are traveling somewhere where you’ll want that extra protection.
The most popular belt bag is the ubiquitous Lululemon belt bag. These have been so popular in the past year that they’ve been difficult to find in stock. Luckily, that situation has been resolved and they are now much easier to find, in a variety of colors.
Lululemon belt bags won’t hold as much as a sling bag, but can still carry essentials, like your wallet, lip balm, hand sanitizer, keys, etc. They also come in a larger size that can hold even more. The adjustable strap works for both a belt bag and a crossbody bag.
Another favorite is the Telena Sling Bag. This is less of a belt bag in style, but it does hold less than a traditional sling bag. I’ve used it for trips to Disneyland in the past, and it was comfortable and convenient. It’s made of vegan leather and comes in a variety of colors. My favorite is the pink.
More Packing Tips Resources: Looking for more packing tips and recommendations? Here are all of our posts including packing lists, product recommendations, and ideas for specific trips.