What Do Designer Handbags and Travel Have in Common?

A woman in magenta booties and a pinstripe suit lounges in a chair while an embroidered designer bag sits on the table next to her.

It may not seem like there’s a lot of overlap between designer goods like handbags and travel—after all, aren’t experience-seeking travelers and retail-loving maximalistas basically opposites?

It turns out, however, that the psychology behind booking a trip and buying a luxury handbag is more similar than you’d think. Here’s why:

They both showcase your personality and style

In the same way that the handbag you choose to buy and carry says something about your personality to everyone who sees it, the trips you take make a statement about who you are.

An eco-trip to Chi Phat, Cambodia to trek the jungle while bolstering the community’s conservation efforts with tourist dollars paints a pretty clear picture of what you value in the same way that buying a small batch, fair trade, sustainably-made vegan handbag does. Same goes for a stay at an ultra-luxe, internationally-acclaimed resort and a flashy, high-end designer bag with an immediately recognizable logo.

No judgment here—valuing luxury and caring about the environment are not mutually exclusive. Much like you switch out your handbag depending on your mood or needs, the trip you choose to take this month might look a lot different from your next (hey, people are complex!).

Each one is a fresh start

Ladies, be honest: does your purse look like an episode of Hoarders collided with a Sephora display at high speed? We’ve all been that person standing in front of the cashier, rooting around the bottom of our bag through half-empty packs of gum, old receipts, scrunchies, and tubes of lip gloss, swearing our debit card is in there somewhere.

Life can get likewise cluttered—with work, social commitments, digital noise, errands, and obligations. Travel gives us the chance to get away and leave all that behind for a bit, a sort of spiritual blank slate on which we can write a new version of ourselves. Travel-you doesn’t have groceries to buy and project deadlines looming; travel-you drinks rum out of coconuts and goes snorkeling and dances at salsa bars.

Making a habit of freeing up space in our lives and our handbags is a good thing. As Alexandra Shulman writes over at The Business of Fashion, “Free of the general clutter that seems to unavoidably collect at the bottom of bags — pen lids, loose coins, elastic hair bands, coat check tickets, contact lenses (or is this just me?) — a new bag is virgin territory that allows you to become the best and most efficient version of yourself.”

We can all use a reset every now and again.

Both are great equalizers

Unlike nearly every other aspect of fashion, handbags don’t discriminate based on gender, appearance, or size. There isn’t a plus-size version that inexplicably comes in uglier colors. Men and women can rock the same sleek satchel without being judged. With designer bags, it’s not a question of “Does this suit me?” but of “Is this what I want?”

And guess what? Travel is the same. Hitting the road and exploring this big, beautiful world of ours isn’t something that belongs to just one type of person—anyone can be a traveler! People save for months or even years to afford the designer bag they want just like they save up for their next trip. That passion and desire for new experiences is the thing that unites travelers of all shapes, colors, and ages.

Longevity matters

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: experiences trump stuff every time. 

Why? Because (like a quality handbag!) they have lasting value. Studies have shown over and over that the happiness we gain from buying material goods is short-lived while the happiness we gain from our experiences stays with us through the years in the form of rosy memories.

In the same way that a well-made luxury bag retains its shape and value over time, the memories of that group getaway to the Greek isles, your perfect Caribbean honeymoon, or that summer you spent traveling solo through Southeast Asia never depreciate—you can look back on them decades from now and feel the same thrill and happiness you do now.

Longevity matters when it comes to choosing what to invest your time and money into, which is why the experience economy isn’t showing signs of slowing anytime soon and why modern consumers are willing to shell out for quality.

Authenticity is key

Okay, granted, “authenticity” means different things when we’re talking about designer bags than when we’re talking about a vacation, but the principal’s the same! Traveling somewhere and only experiencing the watered-down, touristy side of the destination is a lot like buying a knock-off Louis Vuitton—sure, it kind of looks like the real thing and you like it well enough, but you can’t help feeling like you’re missing out on something even better.

Modern travelers aren’t satisfied with surface-level encounters and tourist traps. They want cultural deep dives, real interactions, and authentic experiences. In many ways, authenticity IS the new luxury—something worth saving for and splurging on. 

Whether we’re talking travel or luxury goods, the real deal holds a kind of sentimentality that attracts us. Vanessa Page nails it: “Simply put, treating yourself to fake Louboutins would be like not having treated yourself at all.”


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