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I need a bag that can keep up with my on-the-go lifestyle — and I may have just found it

It replaces my work bag, weekender tote and carry-on.
Courtesy Kamari Stewart

If there’s one thing to know about me, it's that I'm always on the go — so I have a travel bag fit for any occasion. Whether it be weekenders for short trips or a three-piece suitcase set for week-long vacations; you name it, I got it. With the wear and tear that comes with travel, I'm always on the hunt for the next best duffel, backpack, and tote bag that will meet my wanderlust needs and, most importantly, won't break the bank.

While preparing for my last trip (a bachelorette party in Disney World), the bride kept raving about a bag that she’d gotten from Target. After experiencing baggage issues on two international trips in the past year and insisting on only ever traveling with a carry-on in the future, she needed something big enough to fit absolutely everything. And according to her, she’d found the one.

In all of her excitement, she never told me the name of this magic bag, only explaining in length how much she loved it. I immediately scoured Target's travel section and came across the Commuter Backpack, which appeared to have all of the same amazing qualities my friend had been gushing about. I knew I had to try it.

Open Story Commuter Backpack

Although I later found out that I had purchased the wrong one (the much-talked-about bag was actually the Open Story Day Trip Backpack), my find ended up being more affordable and just as travel-friendly. And after using it almost every day for over a month, I can argue that it might just be even better.

Features and details

There's plenty of space. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was able to fit in the main compartment. Inside, I stashed away a pair of shoes, a backup outfit (just in case my checked bag got lost), a blanket, a laptop case with a charger and an additional phone charger. Even with all that, there was still room to fit more and the bag zipped up easily. (Plus, the fact that this backpack maintained its sleek appearance while filled to the brim was a major plus for me.)

Extra pockets equals extra storage. The backpack has five additional interior and exterior pockets for holding the essentials. I use the zippered inner pocket to store everything I want to keep safe and clean, like my passport, disposable masks and antibacterial wipes. The backpack also features a padded laptop sleeve for my computer as well as two smaller mesh compartments, a spacious front pocket and an expandable water bottle pocket.

Happiness guaranteed: The brand offers "hassle-free" returns within one year with the receipt. It also comes with a five-year limited warranty.

Courtesy Kamari Stewart

It's perfect for travel

Traveling is already stressful enough without trying to manage big and bulky bags, but having this backpack on hand made every step of the experience much easier. Thanks to a trolly strap, I was able to attach it to my suitcase and easily make my way through the crowded airport and check-in area.

When it was time to send off my luggage, I just popped the backpack off the handle and put it on. The padded straps ensured that, no matter how heavy it was, it wasn’t uncomfortable to wear. When I want to give my shoulders a rest, the top handles provide another way for me to hold onto it. They connect with a button strap, so I don't have to worry about them flopping around or getting in the way.

Even the security checkpoint was less of a hassle. Thanks to all of the pockets, my wallet and laptop were always easily accessible, which made getting through TSA a seamless process.

And a long commute, too!

Once I returned home, it was time to get back to the daily grind. For me, that means commuting for anywhere from one and a half to two hours to get to the office (and that's one-way) several days a week. Because of this, I’ve always gravitated toward larger bags that can hold everything I need for the planned day ahead and for anything that could potentially pop up. And as a result, I regularly looked like I was about to go backpacking through Europe with my giant bag. But not anymore.

I typically carry my laptop, charger case, portable charger, wallet, keys, mask holder, hand sanitizer, lotion, a makeup bag, a notebook, pens and a physical book or Kindle to read during my commute. While it’s definitely not as much as I packed for vacation, that’s still a decent amount of I carry daily — and now, very easily. Plus, the ample room leftover is great for fitting any additional goodies I pick up throughout the day.

I’m also not particularly gentle with my bags, often shoving them into whatever space I can and exposing them to the elements unshielded. So far, it’s held up very well in both extreme heat and rain. When I purchased the backpack in a light lilac shade, I was worried about how dirty it would get while traveling on public transportation; however, it exceeded my expectations in that department as well. I haven't seen a single stain, smudge or mark.

Overall, even though this wasn’t the exact bag my friend was raving about, I think the one I ended up with is even better. The sleek design and spacious compartments are ideal for someone who’s always on the go. It’s perfect for all of my travel needs, whether I’m catching a flight or just heading into the office.

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