Travel Bags

Last fall, my friend Megan turned me onto Cuyana, a brand of beautiful leather bags and accessories based in San Francisco. So when Cuyana asked if I’d like to share their products on the blog, I said a quick and enthusiastic yes! Here’s the set of bags I carry…

Cuyana is based on the philosophy of having fewer, better things. The founders, Karla and Shilpa, believe in buying only what you love. “We want to love and wear every item in our closets,” they say. “We strive to live a life of inspired simplicity.”

I like that philosophy of keeping and wearing timeless, quality pieces over and over, don’t you? Their handcrafted leather totes are beautiful and sturdy for everyday adventures, and they come in a bunch of colors—I chose the stone, but the cherry and caramel are also lovely—and you can get them monogrammed, which feels really personal and grown-up.

Along with the tote, Cuyana also has a travel case set—with a large case for toiletries, and a small case for cosmetics and jewelry. In the past, I would just toss shampoo and lotions directly into my suitcase (with inevitable spills), while my cosmetics jumbled around in my handbag. But this set makes traveling so much cleaner and more organized—and is one of those little luxuries that is so nice to have as an adult.

Here’s what I pack (including some trusty dry shampoo!)

The larger case is roomy enough for toiletries, like shampoo, face wash and toothpaste…

…and the smaller case holds makeup, and you can take it in your carry-on bag.

Thoughts? Which colors do you like? Looking forward to summer adventures:) See their full shop here, if you’d like.

P.S. Spring nail polish.

(Photos by Julia Robbs for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Cuyana, an emerging brand whose products and mission I adore. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Cup of Jo possible.)

  1. Rachael says...

    I travel with Longchamp’s backpack or large tote depending on the type of trip Im taking. The large tote is very similar to your’s but is waterproof which is great for laptops and school papers. The backpack is great because it can deceptively carry A TON of stuff and is pretty much theft proof because of the zipper and snap. I carried it across Europe for 3 weeks and fit picnic lunches, souvenirs, a sweater for the evening, and all my travel documents with room to spare.

  2. These bags look like they are great for traveling! very stylish and can hold a lot of necessities. The small matching makeup bag is a great feature as well. Although does the bag have pockets inside? sometimes with large totes it can be easy for everything to get jumbled up and often hard to find things!

  3. Obsessed with this! So cool!

  4. Lynn says...

    I am sorry but where is it possible to buy such tote bag? I absolutely love it! I live in Moscow and tote bags buying seems to be a problem. You can shop either haute couture or junk:) would appreciate your advice of a site where I could look for something similar. Thanks!

  5. What a beautiful bag! I really like Cuyana’s mission of less is more. Thank you for sharing

  6. Hi! Is the bag pictured the original or the tall tote? I want to use it as my school bag (I’m a teacher) for my laptop. Thanks! Xo

  7. Joanna, many thanks for sharing Cuyana with us! I received my very own monogrammed tote last week, and I’ve been using it every day. I love it! I may have to order an additional color :)

  8. Um, while I didn’t think Jenny or the other reader’s comments were out of line, weird-code-name-person was. : You’re a WONDERFUL mom.

    Anyway, yeah, there are a lot of sponsored posts, and no, I would never buy a $90 shirt, but I ain’t mad atcha! :D If they’re a good company, they’re a good company, and I think this bag is awesome! Stone (looks like the perfect greige) or Caramel?! Both, you say? Great idea! :D

  9. Figured out which one you have. Just bought it, so excited for it to come! Thank you for putting me on :-)


  10. Hi Joanna,

    I want to buy this bag. Would you mind telling me whether it’s the tall version or the regular.


  11. Love you Jo!

  12. I’ve started reading this blog only recenly though I’ve been following Joanna on Pinterest for a while now — this is a lovely blog, thank you, Joanna! Cuyana bags are beautiful, I’m considering ordering a regular tote in caramel. As far as the comparison with the Madewell transport tote, the transport tote’s strap is tight. I like wearing my bags on the shoulder comfortably, so I cannot consider the Madewell one. And I like the posts about nail polish, and would like to buy one polish, too.

  13. I really like this blog. I love checking in on it after a long day with my little one, it’s a treat! I actually like the escape of looking at pretty things and not costing them out for real life, though I certainly don’t begrudge anyone who can afford them. I think Joanna strikes a lovely balance of commercial and personal content and I’ve gleaned lots of great advice from fellow readers in these comments sections too, especially concerning motherhood. Keep up the great work, Joanna!

  14. I feel the need to comment again. What the heck is wrong with some lighthearted posts every now and then? I like nail polish posts! I like handbag posts! If this blog was Motherhood Mondays every day I would stop reading. The variety is nice. Some people need to lighten up.. this is a lifestyle blog which is not meant to be serious all the time. I like coming here for the less serious side of life.

  15. HI Joanne beautiful bag i have been looking for this for a long time just wanted to ask you if you find it big enough with everything you need being a busy mummy with two kiddies??? as i too have two little ones

  16. I, sadly, have to agree with Jenny and the “trolls” here – those sentiments have actually been floating around in my head as well and this ridiculously empty post and unintelligible backlash to fair criticism has cemented my decision to stop reading. Nail polish, old links, and sponsored content in particular have been my exact triggers. Joanna, this blog has brought me much enjoyment in the past and I wish you best of luck in the future. Cheers to more soulful writing.

  17. Wow, such carry a lot! I always curious of what people carry on their bags, beauty product they use. No need to spy. :)Timeless look and lovely photos by the way.

  18. Yeah, I agree with Wafello and Amber. I feel like the inability of readers to accept a difference in opinion, however harsh, or engage in an open dialogue is probably a reflection of the fact that I should just stop reading this blog. If they’re content with it, then go with God. I think I need to spend this time reading a real newspaper or a publication with slightly more stimulating content (even say, Refinery 29).

  19. Great post, Joanna, and I absolutely love your ring: the setting of diamonds and saphires: spectacular!

  20. And PS–I agree that Jen’s sour snark is petty and ridiculous. Day job? Yeah…I’m sure this site just flings itself together while the kids are eating breakfast. Joanna does an amazing job, IMO, of balancing the personal narrative and the aggregated style content and it’s very clear to me that she only does sponsored content that really fits into her aesthetic and lifestyle. If suddenly she started saying “Anton just loves these Strawberry Fruit Gushers!” or “This Juicy sweatsuit is just so darling!” then that’d be another story, but I’ve never seen that here, ever. Totally consistent, trustworthy, and awesome–keep it up, mama!

  21. Sarah (the other Sarah!)–I’ve had this same dilemma looking for bike-friendly bags but I mostly rely on an old-fashioned “rat-trap” rack on the back of my bike where I can happily squish my bag (which is about the shape and size of these). Velo Orange makes good racks or of course there’s always the good old-fashioned wicker or slat basket–unbeatable for just tossing in bag, flowers, small dog, etc. :-)

  22. I bought this tote as a bday present for myself last year and while I love the style, it hasn’t worn as well as I would have hoped for the price. The body of the bag gets scratched easily (I actually sort of like that, it gives it character) and the straps have gotten sort of “pinched” and haven’t maintained their shape. I still love the bag, just thought I’d throw that out there for people asking about this bag vs. the Madewell one. The Madewell one is a bit more structured and wears better, from what I’ve seen.

  23. These are so, so gorgeous. I want something like this to hold all the baby stuff for our little one who’s due in October. I’m yet to find a baby bag that I really love.

    Gorgeous pictures x

  24. Amber – people are writing rude comments back because she was being rude and judgmental, and yes, mean. She didn’t use any tact whatsoever. For example, saying there is no original content on here is hurtful and uncalled for… it’s simply not true. I don’t enjoy all the sponsored posts either, but I also understand that if this was a magazine there would be ads to flip through as well. At least she tries to make the posts likeable. If I see a sponsored post that I have no interest in, I simply skip over it. I happened to enjoy this particular post because I like good quality handbags and the photos were lovely. I certainly don’t think all comments should be sugar-coated (and I have said a few not so nice ones of my own on here before)… but I think it’s important to try to get your point across without being hurtful. Methinks Jenny is envious of the fact that Joanna is able to make good money by not doing a mundane 9-5 job. Not many things make me more angry than people who resent others for their success. Joanna earned it. If that means some readers have to skip over a few sponsored posts, then so be it. She should proudly continue to rock her $90 striped shirts!

  25. While I agree that the first sentence of Jenny’s comment wasn’t full of hearts and flowers, it’s the responses to Jenny that I find fascinating. Instead of identifying her perspective (although perhaps different than your own) as a piece of feedback (a “critical friend” if you will), she is instead instantly labeled a “mean girl” and her perspective is deemed invalid. I am fascinated by instances in which women believe that instantly invalidating the other’s voice is the appropriate response.

  26. Hi! I was thinking about the Jenny’s comments, and didn;t see it as a rude one, rather criticism that doesn’t necessarily mean hate. The obvious option is to stop reading a blog when you don’t like it as much as you did, but it’s ok to express the disappointment at the lower quality of the sites like that, too.

    I used to LOVE Joanna’s blog and still find interesting content here, yet I noticed more pointless posts, eg. about nail polish (too often, too boring), and too many sponsor post to make this blog credible. I hope some more energy from Caroline will give it some new air, but there’s no need to attack one person who expressed (rather mild) discontent with this site.

  27. What BEAUTIFUL bags!! I love them! “Inspired simplicity”… that is just perfection.

  28. just what i was looking for!! I need this in my life!!! thanks for sharing.

  29. JW says...

    So happy you did this post! I love Cuyana and have the same tote (different initials)! For a while I got caught up in the uber expensive bags, but my Cuyana bag was a fraction of the cost, great quality, and is my now absolute favorite, go-to bag. Perfect for work, or any occasion, really. The stone color goes with everything. Can you tell I love my bag???

  30. 1)Love these bags – def. going on my wish list (I’m a sucker for monograms also – and like another poster, now am nosily curious about your middle name)
    2) You look amazing (and yes – given the recent shots of your mom, I get that genetics are at play here, but would be curious to know your beauty regime and your fitness regime – I wasn’t kidding on another comment – you have legs.for.days.
    3) While I would love to see your thoughts on the whole mean girl issue, I think Jenny is just a troll, which thankfully, is not common on your site, so please just try to ignore the jealousy which is seeping out of her comment and driving her to put the most outrageous thing she can so somebody, somewhere will pay her some attention (though, I guess I just did)

  31. I wonder how much you get paid to advertise these products on your site.
    I enjoy your blog but I think I am veering more towards blogs that don’t push specific products.
    While it is nice to get exposure, I think you should give full upfront disclosure. Otherwise, lovely blog.

  32. Now I’m curious what your middle name is ;)

  33. LP says...

    There are no compartments for organizing things. I can’t imagine travelling with toiletries all in one heap. I like my things neat and orderly and easy to find.

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. I absolutely aspire to inspired simplicity! (Which is why I wear a few things over… And over and over again). Thanks for this tip! I’ve got my eye out for a great leather tote.

  36. Joanna, you might not love this question, but I’m curious about your shoe size? I’m a tall girl with, um, larger-than-average feet (size 10!) and sometimes I feel self-conscious about them. Is it just me? (Sorry to say this, but it kind of looks like you and I may have this in common). No one else seems to think my feet look awkwardly big, but maybe my friends are just being nice!

  37. Nice pic.’s…I love the makeup bag it’s just the right pop of color! Thanks for the info on the company, I typically go for high quality but simple design.

  38. This bag is beautiful. I love the little pouches too.

  39. These bags are lovely and would be perfect to use as a med student for all my studying materials– :) Will there by any sort of promotion for Cup of Jo readers (as I am also on a med student budget)? :D

  40. Well, I know what’s on my wishlist for my birthday this year!

  41. They don’t ship to uk 😞😞😞😞

  42. Joanna- would you be willing to do a post of your “go-to” beauty products/makeup? I would love to see it if you did.
    Thanks for another great post!

  43. Joanna – would you be willing to do a post of your “go-to” beauty items/makeup? Would love to see it if you did!
    Thanks for another great post.

  44. I have a similar big bag that I cart everywhere. The “never full” does get full. I use it in place of the diaper bag to hold everything! Diapers and wipes, snacks and sippy cups. In there you will find my wallet and sunglasses for the entire gang and sweaters for cooler park afternoons! (Gotta love SoCal!) But I like to carry it with me to help me be a bit less frumpy and tad bit more stylish! Thanks for the post.

  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

  46. Yes! You broke their site! Way to go! Seriously, I hope they are enjoying the visits!

  47. Damn, girl! You look striking! New hair cut or something? You’re totally glowing, gorgeous (with or without the bag:)!

  48. Hi Joanna! Absolutely beautiful photographs!! And I love getting a peek into your bags ~ it’s always so fun to see the products other gals choose. And those bags are gorgeous! The monogram is just perfect; elegant and grown up. Love it. Thanks for sharing xo

  49. I love big bags that can hold all my stuff. Thanks for sharing this gorgeous bag. I love it and everything in it.

  50. I thought carry on toiletry bags had to be clear?

  51. Jo – I’ve been reading for the past six months or so, but this is my first time commenting. I love these bags! I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect leather tote for what seems like forever, and had never heard of this brand. I have to admit, the prices are a bit steep for my current budget and I was really hoping for a discount code at the bottom of the post, but alas, they are lovely.

    And to the very rude Jenny complaining about Jo affording her stylish clothes despite “not having a day job”… seriously? I feel like there are a thousand questions that could be asked about your reason for attack, but the most prominent one is, why? Why attack this woman that DOES have a job, constantly creating content that we all read and learn from and use to decompress? Why slam her for making a living the way she is when it doesn’t cost you a dime to read her blog? Isn’t it actually amazing and AWESOME that she can buy clothes that make her happy and keep her family fed by running Cup of Jo? Would it make you happy if, instead, the world punished her by shutting down her blog and forcing her to take up a drab 9-5? What compels you to shame a woman just because she chooses to make her living in a different (maybe more fun) way than you do? Seems like it might be because you’re jealous and wish you could do the same. In any event: not nice. I’m so sick of seeing women be so nasty and mean to one another, when we should in fact be supporting, celebrating, and lifting one another up.

    And now bringing this all full-circle… Jo, maybe you could write a post on mean girls :) Like, why/ how girls are raised to be women that are catty and mean to one another. This is a trait that is encouraged in us as women, but not in men. If you’ve never seen the film Miss Representation, it’s on Netflix instant watch and is a great place to start. :)

  52. Hi everyone! This is Shilpa writing, one of the co-founders of Cuyana. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Beautiful post Joanna!

    I’m really sorry for the site issues this morning. Things have been resolved now. And @13bees, we’re listening! We definitely have just the grey in mind…

    Please feel free to contact us at and we can also process orders over the phone if needed. The site is back though. Sorry about the problems again.


  53. B. says...

    Wow! This is a gorgeous, timeless photo! You look great! :)

  54. I discovered Cuyana sometime in the winter and been obsessed with the company ever since. Almost every product that they make is on my wish list. I just ordered one of their wonderful capes, which is coming on Friday. I can’t wait!

  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. your jeans are exactly what I’m looking for. I see you mention they’re Hudson; do you know the exact style, by chance?

    lovely bag and you look amazing!

  57. thanks for your questions! i have the regular leather tote (NOT the tall one), and it does have a zipped pocket inside. the small travel case doesn’t have a inner pocket, but the large one does. lmk if you have any other questions, thank you!

  58. I have their weekender bag in black, and it is amazing! Such a great brand, and their customer service is fantastic. When the weekender was sold out, they actually called me on the phone when it came back in. Nicest people ever.

  59. I like the travel set but I can’t help but think that the tote bag would be a disaster to find anything in.

  60. These are absolutely chic and I totally agree about appreciating the little luxuries like fine leather goods as you become an adult! The monogramming adds a nice touch.

  61. hahaha @rona mitchell that was exactly my thought: where are joanna’s converse?! :)
    i wish cuyana would ship internationally, but they don’t. So I settled for a Madewell Transport tote via shopbop as they have a very similar look. However, I am still dreaming about the more colourful (AND nonetheless monogramed) Cuyana bags. Maybe one day their newsletter will tell me that they ship internationally.
    Joanna, did you check out their Panama hats too? They look fabulous!!

  62. those bags are absolutely gorgeous! so glad to know about this brand – thank you for the introduction!

  63. I love any of the colors as long as a monogram is involved! All three of those pieces are to die for!

  64. I have a Cuyana bag and love it! Their motto is my motto and their gift packaging is a treat in itself!

  65. Do Cuyana supply Madewell with their transport totes? I have the Madewell leather tote in black and brown, as I love it so much, and exactly for the same reasons as this bag – minimal yet stylish and will last for ever, if not get better with age. And I’m totally on board with having smaller bags inside your big bag with all your bits and bobs in, saves them all hiding at the bottom of your bag in a big mess! Love the monograming too! :)

  66. Love the toiletry and make up bags. So cute with the gold monogram too. I just sent the link to my husband and told him I’d love those for Mother’s Day. Makes his job easy and makes me happy! You look adorable and chic carrying that bag.

  67. Jenny, no need to be nasty! If you don’t like the posts, don’t read them. Simples.

    Joanna, I love your blog. And re: having anxiety issues, here is a quote from an old friend of mine: “Don’t let the muggles get you down”. xo

  68. You look stunning!

  69. I want to know what the products IN your bag were! There was a little bottle of something that I was very curious about, but couldn’t quite read the label.

  70. 1. Lovely bag! I love the fewer-but-better approach and try to shop with that in mind whenever possible.

    2. Cycling: I adore my collapsible Wald baskets. I attached them right to my rear rack,and then I can use any bag I want, from my leather work tote, to my canvas choir bag, to my roll-up grocery bags. Linus also makes gorgeous waxed-canvas bags (water resistant with rack clips), and I believe Ortlieb makes a roll-up waterproof bike bag.

    3. That is a beautiful bicycle!

  71. how would you compare it with the madewell transport tote? i’d love to hear what you think because im torn between the two!

  72. OH NO!! I just discovered this bag online yesterday. I spent the night ruminating over black or brown. Tried to order today, and suspect your post has caused overwhelming response and now their website won’t load! boo hoo! I always seem to be “a day late” as they say.

  73. Those bags are gorgeous. You look amazing carrying it too – with your striped shirt and cute jeans. Love love.

  74. Joanna, will you do a beauty post of your own? I love to read about people’s favorite products, and you just piqued my interest with yours above! :)

  75. You look so lovely. I really like these bags, especially the make-up ones.

  76. Their website still isnt working :(
    How does shipping work for their products?

  77. “Making Cup of Jo” possible = keeping me in my $90 striped tees without having to hold down a day job. It honestly seems like your blog is overwhelmingly sponsored posts and it’s on a free platform. It’s not like you’re doing exciting original coverage or ideas. The posts that aren’t sponsored are usually videos that have been circulating in my Facebook newsfeed for two weeks.

  78. Woe is me! You must be a magician, how do you bike with a tote like that? I have a large tote that I try to bike with, but it just doesn’t work, always falls off my shoulder.
    I am constantly on the hunt for a stylish and functional (see: waterproof) bicycling bag. There are some options out there, but nothing that truly adapts seamlessly to being hooked onto a rear rack AND looks good.
    Don’t get me wrong, a leather tote always looks great with a vintage bicycle, but practical? The jury is out.

  79. I’ve been on the hunt for great toiletries and cosmetics bags! These just might be it.

  80. These look great- they remind me of Baggu bags, which I love. Also, you look sooooo pretty, Joanna! And is that the Madewell dress you were scoping out? I love the pattern!

  81. Hi Joanna. These bags are sooo gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.

    P.S. Love your jeans! Where are they from?

  82. I actually bookmarked them whenever you posted about Cuyana last year and finally pulled the trigger to replace my beloved old tote this week. I ordered my first cuyana bag a couple days ago and can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  83. my shirt is from chance, and my jeans are hudson jeans. thanks for asking!

  84. oh yes! my shoes are from madewell—they’re from a past season, unfortunately!

  85. these are gorgeous – as are your photos. the cityscape behind you … these need to be printed and kept, joanna!

  86. NICE! aren’t they great? mine’s black, but would love another in grey for the spring. cuyana girls, are you listening? ;) xo m.

  87. OMG I need that bag, in that color in my life! Never heard of this shop before. Thanks for sharing :)

  88. I see you’re wearing the New York outfit! haha you look beautiful, and I love this philosophy!

  89. Can you please share here are your shoes from? thank you

  90. Are there pockets inside the bag? Would also like to know what size bag you have.

  91. Are there pockets inside the bag? Would also like to know what size bag you have.

  92. Are there pockets inside the bag? Would also like to know what size bag you have.

  93. Is this the brand that sells them at Madewell? My leather tote from Madewell almost looks identical.

  94. These pictures are so lovely and very New York (says the native Californian)!

    Gorgeous bags too. I love the caramel one.


  95. Very nice. I have the same philosophy (especially w. bags)… I splurge a little on pieces that will last me years.

  96. can you share what jeans/shirt you are wearing? I’ve had a caramel tote from them for 6 months or so and I love it. Going to check out the travel cases.

  97. Super cute!

  98. Which specific size/style tote are you holding in the photos? I’m navigating the Cuyana website and trying to figure it out…Thank you!

  99. hannah, that sometimes happens right after a post goes up because of readers going over to a site at the same time—so sorry about that!!! try again in about 15 minutes and i think you might have more luck? apologies!

  100. samantha, you are so sweet! i’d love to do one, even though i don’t have too many exciting tricks:) thank you for asking!

  101. These are awesome and so effortless. Definitely agree that simplicity of the monogram is such a subtle and wonderful touch.

  102. Joanna, I love that bags. But I would love even more to see a post about all the amazing beauty products you use! Are you planning on joining in on the Beauty Uniform series?

  103. oh no, their website won’t let you shop. It keeps crashing and photos aren’t loading for me.

  104. Joanna, where are your converse shoes? Apart from that, you seem to embrace the NYC Uniform perfectly! Thanks for sharing– the smaller bags are too cute :)

  105. These bags are beautiful! They remind me of a suede bag I purchased from my friend’s company Nisolo. Nisolo, a socially-responsible company, makes beautiful, high-quality leather shoes (for men & women) and accessories, all while creating jobs for men and women in Peru. Check out their site!

    *I think you would like their sandals! : )

  106. I love these pictures! The cityscape behind you looks just like a painting… (the bags are pretty great too, of course!)