I Take the Train to Work, So My Chock-Full Bag Is My Lifeline

by Daniela Galvez

I Take the Train to Work, So My Chock-Full Bag Is My Lifeline

From setting powder to keep my oily skin at bay to my Kindle for my daily dose of reading, everything that’s in my bag is essential for my commuter lifestyle.

Aside from my phone, which is on me all hours of the day, my handbag is my life. Every day, I take the Path train from my home in New Jersey to my office in New York, so everything I keep inside my purse has a specific need. For starters, it holds all my essentials, such as my wallet, headphones, and house keys, of course. And while life is full of surprises, my handbag and its contents help me stay prepared for whatever this commuter life throws at me — from a broken down train to lunch meetings to after-work drinks in the city.


For the past year, my Louis Vuitton Neverfull has been my go-to everyday bag to hold all my essentials. I know what you’re thinking: Why on earth would you spend more than $1,000 on a tote bag? Well, after working at a luxury consignment, I quickly learned how much value designer bags hold over time and decided to invest in a piece myself. While there were many designer totes I considered purchasing, the LV caught my attention because of the spacious main compartment that was roomy enough for carrying my work laptop and an interior zippered pocket that I could conveniently keep my train pass without taking out my entire wallet.

Of course, you don’t have to go out and spend that much to get a good tote bag. There are a lot of options that are just as spacious and functional for much less, like Meghan Markle’s favorite carry-all bag from Everlane, The Day Market Tote, or this perforated leather tote from Kate Spade. No matter what tote bag you end up choosing for everyday use, I recommend buying a bag organizer insert to keep all your loose goodies in place.


Hands down one of my most used items in my bag is my Amazon Kindle. With a train commute to and from work every day, I’ve got to keep myself entertained, and because there’s no WiFi, a book is a must. While I used to carry paperbacks, I found that my e-reader was a bulk-free way to carry all of my favorite reads. Quick tip! If you’re in college and hate carrying all those heavy textbooks on your back, you can buy the digital versions of your books and upload it to your device. Currently, I’ve been obsessing over Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None.


I love to get my daily read on during my commute but once I arrive to the city, I put away my e-Reader and whip out those sunnies. My favorite pair at the moment are the Quay sunglasses in the style In Control. They not only protect my peepers from the sun’s harmful UV rays, they also look great whether I’m dressed down in a classic tee and jean or dressed up in a casual maxi dress.

I have a fifteen minute walk from the train station to the office, so I always use this time to catch up on any breaking news. Because reading and walking in a crowded New York City is quite impossible, I choose to listen to news through my favorite podcast The Daily with my rose gold Beats headphones. These wireless headphones are great because they sync to my phone with ease and I don’t have to worry about untangling them every time I take them out of my bag.

As a firm believer in the power of crystals, I always like to keep crystals in my tote to aid me with any emotional healing on-the-go. The first thing I do once I get to the office is place my amethyst and pyrite gemstones next to my workspace. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or anxious at work, I hold my amethyst crystal to help relieve me from stress and anxiety. I also keep pyrite at arm’s reach because its known to help steer you in the right direction to achieve your dreams. If I feel discouraged or lost, this crystal encourages me to think more positively and have confidence in my work.


Of course, my handbag would not be complete without my emergency makeup bag. Because I live so far from my office, I can’t pop back home to get ready for after-work drinks in New York or touch up before a meeting with fashion and beauty brands for my job. Instead, my on-the-go pouch is packed with all the beauty essentials I need at any given moment. While there are a variety of cosmetic bags in the market, my favorite is this Sonia Kashuk Overnighter bag. Don’t be fooled by its size; the makeup bag has one main section with five interior pockets and an exterior zippered compartment to fit all my beauty goodies.

From the wind-chilled air from my office’s HVAC system to the moisture-sucking liquid lipsticks, there are many culprits to my dry, chapped lips. To give my lips a quick pick-me-up, I turn to my trusty Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask. Though the product is designed to be an overnight lip mask, I enjoy using it in the daytime because its instantly smoothes and moisturizes. Once my lips feel and look visibly hydrated, I wipe any excess product and perfect my pout with my lip product of choice. At the moment, I’m alternating between e.l.f. Cosmetics High Shine Liquid Lip Gloss in Naked Nude, Kat Von D Studded Kiss Creme Lipstick (our senior editor’s fave) in Bow N Arrow, and Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro in 200.

While my lips can be on the drier side, my skin is quite the opposite. Despite using a mattifying primer and foundation, by mid day I tend to look like a total greaseball. To rid my skin from excess shine, the cult-favorite Laura Mercier Translucent powder really comes in handy. Because of this excess oil buildup, my eye makeup also occasionally needs touch-ups. I don’t weigh down my bag with a collection of makeup brushes because I do a lot of walking, so I enjoy brush-free eye products like ColourPop Super Shock Shadows. These cream shadows add a nice pop to your lids with just one finger swipe. After applying some color to the eyes, I also like to redo by feline flick with the Kat Von D Dagger Tattoo Liner. While everyone loves the OG Tattoo Liner, I prefer the slanted edge on Dagger version because it helps me create a cat eye with ease.

Aside from beauty products that make me look great, I keep a few that make me feel great as well. I’m super self-conscious when it comes to body odor, so I carry my Donna Karen Cashmere Mist Deodorant in my bag at all times. Even though $27 for a deodorant sounds a bit steep, this bad boy lasted me around six months compared to one month with the drugstore brands. As an editor, I never know when I’m meeting up with a publicist or attending an event, so my travel-size Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium often comes in handy for all those moments I want to freshen up.


While my handbag can sometimes be packed with crumbled up receipts, these essentials can always be found inside at all times. Scroll through to shop some of my favorite items I keep in my tote.

The Top 5 Must-Haves that Are Always in My Bag


1. Beats Solo³ Wireless Headphones



Get It! Beats Solo³ Wireless Headphones, $225; Amazon

2. Donna Karen Cashmere Mist Deodorant Antiperspirant Stick



Get It! Donna Karen Cashmere Mist Deodorant Antiperspirant Stick, $27; Nordstrom

3. Kindle Paperweight E-Reader



Get It! Kindle Paperweight E-Reader, $90; Amazon

4. Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder



Get It! Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $39; Sephora

5. Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask



Get It! Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask, $26; Sephora