Organizing Tip: How to Select a Bag for a New York City Commute

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A couple of months ago I wrote a post on how to pack a bag for a commute. Image of woman carrying a bag on the way to work, photography by R. Isip

Packing a bag for a commute is one thing; selecting the proper bag to use is yet another piece of the commuting puzzle!

Today’s post delves into how to select a bag for a commute to help keep your belongings organized and safe. Before we begin, thanks to N.S.I. for suggesting this blog topic.

In my opinion, there are three main factors to consider when selecting a bag for a commute, whether you live in New York City or any other bustling metropolis:

Safety – You want to have a bag whose contents can be properly secured against thieves and pickpockets.

Function – You want to have a bag that is functional and tough. The bag doesn’t have to be built to survive an intense explosion or anything, but it should be of sturdy construction to withstand daily wear and tear.

Comfort – You want to have a bag that is comfortable to use on a regular basis.

Keeping the above factors in mind, here are a couple of tips to help you select a bag worthy enough of a daily commute:

Conduct a weight load test.

A heavy, empty bag will feel even heavier once you place your personal belongings inside of it! Do yourself a favor and select a bag that is on the lighter side. When in doubt of how heavy something feels, remember that you will be adding even more items to the bag during your commute and will be carrying the bag around with you for a good period of time at least two times during the day (AM and PM rush hours), five times a week. While you’re at it, make sure the bag is of sturdy construction and will be able to hold whatever it is you put inside without the bag ripping or tearing at the seams.

Consider carrying straps and/or handles.

You’ll want to keep your back, shoulders and arms happy throughout the day, so consider the shape, cut and feel of a bag’s straps and/or handles. If it’s uncomfortable picking up, carrying or wearing a bag in the store, you can bet it will be even more uncomfortable on a daily commute! There are lots of bag types from which to choose: small bags carried by hand, messenger bags, backpacks, briefcases, soft cases, or even those mini-roller bags that resemble airplane carry-ons.

Compare and contrast compartments.

Built-in compartments can be a major draw in selecting a bag. Look not only for large interior compartments in which to store larger items such as papers, files, magazines and so forth, but for small, convenient, easy-access compartments as well. These smaller compartments can make it easy to store on the go items such as tissues, pens, lip balm and the like, as well as travel passes, bus fare, or pocket-money for small purchases. You can simply retrieve items from these smaller compartments without having to fish around inside your bag.

Select a bag that can be securely fastened.

Avoid bags with drawstring tops, or easy to open magnet clasps or fold-over flaps. Instead opt for bags with zippers or other secure fasteners, such as clicking clasps, hooks. You’ll want as much protection as possible to guard those compartments where you will you store valuables such as wallet, cell phone, keys and so on.

Now to you…what factors rank highly in your selection of bags, whether for work or recreation? Leave a comment below and join in the conversation!

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.