PACKING LIGHT // In Search of the Perfect Travel Purse and Kwani Bags

Been coveting a @kwanibag for a while. Light, stylish, Korean designed/made and packs flat. #kwani #kwanibag #madeinkorea #inmybag #whatsinmybag #koreandesigner

^^ for daily use, I snap the bag’s sides closed and carry a few items + my cell phone ^^

^^ images from Kwani’s IG^^

^^ this is is an example of what the bag would look like if I were traveling and stuffed to the brim. I would most likely board the plane with these items packed away in my carry-on. One on the plane / train, I’ll take out the items I need and stow them in my Kwani for the duration of the trip. When I deboard, I’ll carry the Kwani messenger style along w/my carry-on until I get to a point where I can pack the things back into my main carry-on.  ^^

inside my kwani bag

I have been experimenting with ditching the camera bag in favor of camera wraps and camera inserts. Except for the super expensive ones (like ONA bags), I don’t like how most camera bags look. I like the flexibility of inserts and wraps because I can use any bag, purse or backpack. This Kwani big fits my camera insert exactly with room to spare for things like a phone and small accessories or fits my camera in a wrap with room for what you see above. Right now I’m using a wrap I bought off Amazon for about $10 and a Clik Elite camera capsule I bought on clearance from REI. PS: I probably would not pack a heavy guide book, this was just shown as an example of how much can fit inside one of these bags

rufie likes my bag

^^ rufie-approved ^^

One of my favorite ways of learning about a new city or place is through Instagram. In Korea, where google searching for cool things to do is nearly impossible unless you know Korean, I follow a few local trendy IGers that have great style and always seem to know the cutest boutiques and quaintest cafes. Which is how I found out about Kwani bags.

I enjoy fashion but I definitely wouldn’t consider myself fashionable. I don’t have any designer label purses except for a possibly fake vintage Chanel my mom found for me at an estate sale and that I love regardless of authenticity. However when I saw this bag pop up on my stylish Korean’s feed I thought to myself, “I NEED one of those.” Weeks of research later I dropped the not-so-subtle hint with Sly that a purse would make a good gift one of these days.

I have been looking for a medium sized light purse that is easy to travel with, can carry what I need on city excursions (but doesn’t look backpack-y), and will fit a good amount of stuff (like my huge full frame camera). Recently (and after dealing with China Air’s dumb rules) I have experimented with traveling with just one carry-on sized bag. Camera, purse, everything. One bag,: hands free travel. My problem is that when I arrive at my destination, I usually need something other than my duffle-backpack for sightseeing. Something that is big enough to carry my camera and a small water bottle without being too big, heavy or bulky. And something that will also function for going out to a nicer dinner.

When I finally dragged Sly to the Hyundai department store to “just look” at the newly opened Kwani shop I knew I was right about these purses. They were so light, packed flat, and sized perfectly. I spent way too long trying to figure out the best size, shape and color but in the end, with’s Sly’s help, picked a medium sized black and white imitation snakeskin print with no frilly flair like tassels or dangling design circles. Then I went home and stuffed it every way I could imagine, just to be sure. I’ve taken it around the city and so far, so good. But the real test will be in about a week when we fly to Japan.


KWANI // approx $65 – $100 // Kwani is new brand designed and made in Korea, which was yet another reason why the bag appealed to me. The material is a lightweight synthetic material that somehow manages not to look cheap. Another feature of these bags is the square cut out in the top allows you to reach into the bag, say for a cell phone or wallet, (there is a snap) without fulling having to open your bag. The most popular style is The Hornet with studs, which I didn’t think I would like until I saw it in person. I also really like the circle bag, though not very practical for travel. Kwani also sells accessories like a bow scarf (? I’m not sure I understand this one), tassels and other purse flair, purse rain covers, and my personal favorite: “Heavenly Jelly” shoes.  In Korea, these bags can be found at the Kwani store in Seoul and at select Hyundai stores — the Daegu Kwani just opened recently at Hyundai, 3rd floor.

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  • Kevin
    September 18, 2015 at 1:45 am

    I like wallets that have the little pockets inside of other pockets, so that when I lose something, I can blame the wallet.

    Keep Good Thoughts…

  • veronika
    September 20, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I’m a fan of a pouch within a pouch withing a pouch withing a purse within a bigger bag within an even bigger bag method of packing. The more compartments, the more organized, right?


  • Kevin
    September 20, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I find that it’s the little lies I tell myself that get me through the day…

  • elaine
    October 14, 2015 at 4:24 am

    Hi, I’m going to Seoul next month. Would you have the Kwani store address?

  • veronika
    October 14, 2015 at 9:14 am

    hi elaine,

    I don’t have their seoul address — sorry! — I bought my bag at a department store in daegu. Their website has their store address in Korean which may work? Or at least be good enough for a cab driver. Otherwise, it may be worth messaging them via facebook or instagram? I’m pretty sure someone speaks English (if needed) that would be able to help.