We’ve talked a lot about the commute to work over the years, but we just got a great question about how many bags you should bring to work — specifically, how many do you carry, how large, what stuff do you bring to work, and WHICH bags. Reader A literally just wrote in to ask this question, wondering how many bags you should bring to work, but it’s such a good one that I can’t wait to hear what the readers say: what DOES your schlep look like, what do you bring to work each day, and do you bring one large bag or several smaller ones?
Are the days of taking a work bag (lady briefcase type thing) + handbag over? I’m about to become a fully admitted lawyer and my totes just aren’t working – plus it’s a lot to take with me for client meetings! in my mind, two smaller bags is easier than a giant overstuffed one, and it does make it easy for spontaneous lunch and drinks plans, plus can be a little trendier. I want to invest in something really nice but am I missing something?
Such an interesting question, and I think this is going to vary HUGELY based on what everyone’s commutes look like — and what your jobs look like. How many bags should you bring to work? When chiming in, please share a little about what your commute looks like:
(Pictured above: yeah, not like that. Photo credit: Stencil.)
- how do you USUALLY get to and from work — drive? subway? taxi/Uber/Lyft? walk?
- do you have a lot of meetings or other events that require travel during the day?
- on a USUAL day how many bags do you carry with you — and what do you bring?
- what does an unusual day look like for you — e.g., what bags do you take with you for court appearances or big presentations, or how do you bring bags to or from work if you’re planning for, say, a long weekend at home with a lot of work?
- what bags do you keep at the office for “last minute” things, either from a “last minute drinks!” perspective or a “yay I have to take home these three binders and review them asap tonight” perspective
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Psst: some of our favorite roomy totes!
For my $.02, going on my BigLaw days in NYC, here are my thoughts on how many bags you should bring to work:
- My usual commute was a taxi to work in the mornings (definitely not great for the budget) or, weather and time permitting, a walk to work, followed by my working late enough at work to get the complimentary car home. (I usually considered my quitting time to be around 10:30 pm unless I really needed to stay later, so the “you can bill your client for a car home after 8 PM” deadline wasn’t a problem.)
- I rarely left the office during the day for client meetings or court appearances or things like that — almost everything was onsite, in which case I would leave my bag in my office and carry a padfolio or binder to the meeting or have documents sent to the conference room ahead of time.
Psst: Check out some of our latest favorite office padfolios as of 2023, below! If you want something monogrammed, check out Leatherology, Levenger, or (for a splurge), Smythson. (Slightly different, but similar: This gusseted document and laptop holder from Leatherology is also lovely!)
- I usually just carried a hobo or shoulder bag because when I was taking work home with me it was often because I just couldn’t stand to be at work any more and needed to take boxes of docs or huge binders home with me, in which case a little tote bag would not have been of any help. (And if I did bring papers home it was usually things that didn’t need to look presentable for anyone but me, such as Westlaw printouts for review or a draft of a memo or brief for my markup — so I would just fold them or roll them and stick them in my bag.) Every so often I would toss a sandwich, yogurt, or other food for work in my bag (string cheese, whatever) but they went right into the fridge once I got to work so I didn’t really feel like they needed a special lunch bag.
- An “unusual” day for me either looked like getting out of work early enough for a night out with friends or a date — if I was single and going out with girlfriends, or in a relationship with a guy, I might bring a second outfit to change into (a lower cut top, dangly earrings, cuter shoes, jeans, whatever) in a tote bag — but if it was a first date or an impromptu night out with friends I just wore whatever I had worn to work. Another unusual day for me: finishing work early enough that there was no point staying to get the car home, in which case I would usually walk home, weather permitting. (I remember figuring out once that a subway ride took 20 minutes, a taxi ride took 30 minutes, and a walk home took 40 minutes — so wherever possible I opted for the exercise and fresh air instead!)
- Bags I kept at the office: so many! I kept a fully-packed gym bag, a few very large tote bags (like my Longchamp or the tote bags you get at conferences), as well as a tiny “lunch money” bag where I kept all of my customer reward cards for local restaurants, some cash and change, as well as having space for a credit card and my building ID.
I can definitely see how someone who drives to and from work regularly would have different needs — as well as someone who, say, is pumping breastmilk or has to carry a firm-sanctioned laptop to and from work, or a working parent who has a hard deadline to get out of the office because of daycare pickup or whatnot but plans to sign back on after 8:00.
Readers, how many bags do you carry to work? What’s your advice for Reader A on how many bags she should bring to work?