Our Favorite Travel Companion + a Giveaway!

Once the initial day-to-day planning of our Route 66 trip was set in place, we assumed the hard part was over – that is, until we spent a good handful of weeks going over the logistics of packing. We’d be gone for 2 weeks, we’d be flying home (and no one hates checking a bag more than these two!), and we knew we’d need a system for music, podcasts and, most importantly, a way to easily haul our camera across the country.

This might be a little strange to say (although not surprising?), but I love my camera so much. I’ve always loved photography, and Scott frequently comments that it’s as if he can see me instantly relax and be myself with my camera in hand! That said, my camera + lens is heavy, and I knew we’d need a sturdy and safe way to carry that little burrito from town to town, state to state, from Chicago to the Pacific Ocean. A camera backpack seemed like the best bet (rather than stuffing it in an oversized purse amongst my sunglasses, notepads, and bubble gum; um, as I’ve been known to do), and then it was all heart-eyed emojis the moment I landed on the Bellbrook backpack from Jo Totes:


This backpack never, ever left our side. The size was compact yet roomy, with a place for everything and everything in its place. It doesn’t look like a camera bag, and yet the best part (my absolutely favorite part!) is that you access the camera from a side pocket:


The inside is lined and padded, with an adjustable top pouch and removable liners to fit every need. Before we left, I invested in a handsome new-to-me zoom lens (I now consider him my fifth child), which prevented the need for us to bring multiple lenses. As a result, we were able to use that extra space to hold everything from our instant camera, extra film, a mini tripod, battery charger and card reader. A zippered front pouch held onto lip balms, cell phones and snacks, and in the very back, it held our laptop for the plane ride home. In the meantime, the back liner pulled double duty for brochures and maps we collected along the way!


The waxed canvas finish was a champion, taking the beating during the Grand Canyon hail storm. Afterwards, we were so relieved when we took a peek inside and saw that everything stayed dry and safe, nestled into their individual compartments.


So the best part about Jo Totes? They have a whole collection of practical and pretty camera bags that, well, don’t look like camera bags! It’s always surprisingly difficult to track down simple design, but Jo Totes nails it. But, okay, really the very, very best part is that they want to spread the love to you, too! And so together with Jo Totes, we’ll be giving away $200 towards the camera bag (or bags!) of your choice! Using the Rafflecopter widget below, enter as many ways as you’d like. This giveaway is eligible for anyone in the world and runs through Friday, October 2nd until 5pm CST. The winner will be announced within this post and contacted directly. Good luck and happy entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is in partnership with Jo Totes. We were gifted the Bellbrook Backpack in black. As always, thank you for supporting those that support us!

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  • Kay9.29.15 - 6:34 AM

    *LOVED* reading about your trip and thanks so much for the camera bag rec! I have tried 3 different bags now, and am disappointed by them all! Fingers crossed to win the giveaway!ReplyCancel

  • Elaine9.29.15 - 7:21 AM

    The Pacific Ocean, right? There wasn’t another road trip that you’ve kept secret from us?ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.29.15 - 7:54 AM

      Ahh, good catch, thank you! Updated! I’m the worst with geography, like, the WORST. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Sarah9.29.15 - 7:25 AM

    I would love a new camera bag! My MIL gave us an awesome camera for Christmas last year as well as the ugliest camera bag ever. I can’t bring myself to use it so the camera usually gets thrown into the diaper bag that I also don’t love, haha. Not ideal!ReplyCancel

  • Haley9.29.15 - 7:36 AM

    Loving the Bellbrook backpack in gray or the Missy Black.ReplyCancel

  • katie9.29.15 - 7:42 AM

    thanks for the recommendation! i’ve been looking for a new camera bag as well, and hadn’t considered the backpack idea… but this could be a good option! love the waxed canvas!ReplyCancel

  • Megan Beecroft9.29.15 - 7:51 AM

    So hard to choose!!! I love the Gracie Marsala and the Missy Chocolate. They are beautiful bags!ReplyCancel

  • Lynn9.29.15 - 8:00 AM

    The Betsy Black is Beautiful! I love that it can be worn cross-body, love the shape, the space, the pockets…and the silver-coloured hardware! Super!ReplyCancel

  • Liz Michaud9.29.15 - 8:17 AM

    I love the backpack idea. This way my husband might carry it too. I like the purse styles they have but then it would be all on me :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.29.15 - 8:27 AM

      So true, Liz! Scott carried the bag almost exclusively, and I reached into the zippered camera pocket when we wanted to grab a photo. It worked perfectly!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah9.29.15 - 8:21 AM

    the sienna is so pretty! I love the long shoulder strap.ReplyCancel

  • CC9.29.15 - 8:28 AM

    I really like the Missy Mint! I would totally use that as my regular purse too!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica A9.29.15 - 8:42 AM

    Love the betsy!ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany M9.29.15 - 8:43 AM

    I’m torn between the Abby Lilac and the Allison Mint- great colors and perfect bags that can be used day to day as your regular bag. Great bags! I’ve been looking for a nice camera bag lately also.ReplyCancel

  • Kristen9.29.15 - 8:46 AM

    I have been shopping for a new and fashionable camera bag. I use a LowePro Photo Sport pack for hiking every weekend, and I love how it just puts up to a beating. Now I want a fashionable bag that I can use on portrait sessions that can put up to the same beating–this looks like the bag! I love how the Bellbrooke has pockets for both DSLR and small manual cameras (or your cute little Polaroid).

    Thank you so much for having this giveaway. My fingers are crossed. :)ReplyCancel

  • Tommy V.9.29.15 - 8:47 AM

    That Hanover looks pretty nice.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle9.29.15 - 8:52 AM

    I love the Betsy chocolate bag!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah9.29.15 - 9:05 AM

    What a great bag! Didn’t enter because I still need a camera before getting a nice bag. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kelly9.29.15 - 9:05 AM

    i love the Betsy blackReplyCancel

  • Caila9.29.15 - 9:11 AM

    *SWOON*! So many great choices – toss up between the Siena and Bellbrook.ReplyCancel

  • lindsay9.29.15 - 9:12 AM

    oooh, Granada in black is super cute. I would have never guessed that was a camera bagReplyCancel

  • Leah9.29.15 - 9:20 AM

    i love love the bellbrook bag you have! What a perfectly understated and nice looking camera bag–that is hard to find!ReplyCancel

  • Dani Perkins9.29.15 - 9:21 AM

    I would also go for the Bellbrook Backpack – Black! I love it when everything has a place!ReplyCancel

  • Alex9.29.15 - 9:29 AM

    I love the Missy Mint and the Allison Mint!!ReplyCancel

  • Carley M9.29.15 - 9:30 AM

    So fun! I’m glad your bag held up so well in the GC storm :)ReplyCancel

  • I love the Granada. I am a big believer in the power of the crossbody bag.ReplyCancel

  • Kristy9.29.15 - 9:42 AM

    they are all gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Jen9.29.15 - 9:46 AM

    These are so nice!ReplyCancel

  • Mikayla9.29.15 - 9:51 AM

    That bag looks so sleek! I think the Sienna is my favourite.ReplyCancel

  • Kristin9.29.15 - 9:51 AM

    I love the side pocket – I’d get the very same one you have. Perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Katie9.29.15 - 9:59 AM

    I’ve been admiring these for a while! I don’t know which I would choose…maybe the Abby? Or perhaps just give the gift card to my Mum who is always lugging an obnoxious camera bag around!!!ReplyCancel

  • Katie from Australia9.29.15 - 10:01 AM

    Heart stopping being caught out in a hail storm..

    Some great choices in bags! Thanks for the giveaway.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel9.29.15 - 10:02 AM

    Bellbrook looks great and would work for both of us! I love Granada too!ReplyCancel

  • wendy9.29.15 - 10:03 AM

    I’m still crushing over all your amazing pics of your trip. I did the route 66 trip with my parents when I was in college, though we drove all the way back (hitting Redwoods, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, and more). Those camera totes are perfect and maybe make me bring my camera along more!ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.29.15 - 10:18 AM

      Awesome! Wish we could have had more time to do the drive home!ReplyCancel

  • Steph M.9.29.15 - 10:07 AM

    I LOVE the backpack, but I’ve also been eyeing the Gracie in black for years! I love Jo Totes! I have the Betsy in the Mustard color for a few years, and it still looks amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Judy9.29.15 - 10:10 AM

    I’m torn between the Allison and Missy – they’re both lovely!ReplyCancel

  • Kristin Mansky9.29.15 - 10:29 AM

    You know, a good quality, good looking camera is NOT easy to find & I so appreciate brands like Jo Totes for accomplishing both of those tasks in one!!ReplyCancel

  • Colleen Clark9.29.15 - 10:37 AM

    That Bellbrook backpack is the winner fo sho!ReplyCancel

  • Jen N.9.29.15 - 11:02 AM

    I would LOVE to get something like this. The Georgia Nautical is beyond adorable.ReplyCancel

  • kelly rae9.29.15 - 11:23 AM
  • Jody9.29.15 - 11:32 AM

    Love the Somerset bag!!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole C9.29.15 - 11:39 AM

    I’m glad you guys partnered up for this post – Jo Toes has some fantastic bags! I really like to classic look of the Siena bag and the edgier/cooler look of Betsy black. Nice!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer S9.29.15 - 11:41 AM

    i love the Siena, but also Missy, Gracie, ….ReplyCancel

  • Jamie9.29.15 - 11:54 AM

    My mom and sister in law invested in a Jo Totes bag a few years back and I have been jealous ever since! I love the casual look of the Grenada bag.ReplyCancel

  • Jen9.29.15 - 11:58 AM

    Love the Gracie and Abby in Marsala! I don’t normally do “color” but I really like the depth of color in those bags! I’ve loved following along on your trip through instagram! So fun!!ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Flasche9.29.15 - 12:08 PM

    I really liked the BETSY BLACK, it’s so organized.ReplyCancel

  • Kerry9.29.15 - 12:18 PM

    I’ve had my eye on the nautical bag for ages but I just saw the Siena bag and I LOVE IT. I also love the Gracie Butterscotch. So gorgeous both of them!ReplyCancel

  • Molly W9.29.15 - 12:37 PM

    Sweet bag!ReplyCancel

  • alex9.29.15 - 12:45 PM

    i would love the bellbrook backpack in black!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis9.29.15 - 12:47 PM

    What a great give-away!ReplyCancel

  • kelly9.29.15 - 1:10 PM

    The backpack you have is gorgeous! I think I would have to pick the Sienna. Love the color!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah R9.29.15 - 1:19 PM

    that backpack is pretty great. so is the gracie!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny9.29.15 - 1:22 PM

    I also love my camera! I purchased a camera backpack years ago and never regretted it. It’s so handy to be able to distribute the weight across your back instead of one shoulder and love that with the backpack I’m not fighting to keep the bag on one shoulder while using my camera. Looks like it might be time to update my backpack! Love this one!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer9.29.15 - 1:28 PM

    I love the purse style, but after having just lugged my camera and 2 lenses around Europe for 12+ hours a day for 2.5 weeks in a giant pink purse with no help from my husband, I’d have to go for a backpack style so he can share the duties.ReplyCancel

  • Gillian9.29.15 - 1:55 PM

    I’ve been looking at the Ona Roma for a long time, and am so excited to find other excellent possibilities for a camera bag! Thank you for introducing us to this wonderful company. I love the Abby Black and the Bellbrook Black :)ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey Hammer9.29.15 - 2:01 PM

    I would love me a Gray Bellbrook! Ah so stylish and love the backpack idea to have those hands free to get great shots!ReplyCancel

  • Brooke9.29.15 - 2:02 PM

    I love Jo Totes! I have a cross body but have been looking for a great backpack for my own cross country road trip!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda9.29.15 - 2:43 PM

    Looks awesome! I love how it’s not too girly so my partner and I can switch off wearing it–and the laptop sleeve is a feature I haven’t seen much elsewhere.ReplyCancel

  • lisa9.29.15 - 2:46 PM

    The Bellbrook! It’s lovely.ReplyCancel

  • allison9.29.15 - 3:05 PM

    i absolutely love your photographty! all of your travel pictures are amazing. i was wondering how you were toting your camera around on your journey! what a handsome bag! thanks for the giveaway Jo Totes!ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.1.15 - 5:00 PM

      Right?! Cameras can be such a burden without the right bag. We were so happy with our Bellbrook backpack!ReplyCancel

  • kribss9.29.15 - 3:07 PM

    The backpack is looking awesome to me. Love being able to keep my hands free and grab the camera with no problems is a win.ReplyCancel

  • Cristin9.29.15 - 3:24 PM

    I’ve been coveting a JoTotes bag! This one looks awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole Malcolm9.29.15 - 3:33 PM

    I seriously just told my hubby that I would like a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag for X-mas! Loving the Backback or the Granada in black/white!ReplyCancel

  • Leyla Forbes9.29.15 - 3:48 PM

    Oh my goodness – what an awesome selections of bags. Love that the backpack meant Scott carried it!

    I am totally looking to replace my handbag anyway so something that does double duty would be amazing! The Betsy Black looks absolutely perfect!ReplyCancel

  • Simone9.29.15 - 4:04 PM

    I love all the Jo Totes bags, but would definitely go for the backpack. No hands! Thanks for the giveaway! Love your blog!ReplyCancel

  • Emily9.29.15 - 4:57 PM

    I’m torn between the Betsy Black and the Allison Mint… I want both!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly9.29.15 - 5:02 PM

    That is the sweetest camera-pack ever! So great the waxed canvas saved your precious gear from the storm. I tend to do the camera in purse method too, not the best plan for such expensive cargo!ReplyCancel

  • Jill9.29.15 - 5:21 PM

    The Grenada or the Betsy Black are calling out to me.ReplyCancel

  • Kristin9.29.15 - 5:31 PM

    I like the Betsy!ReplyCancel

  • Bridget P.9.29.15 - 6:21 PM

    That’s a really pretty camera bag!ReplyCancel

  • Kameha9.29.15 - 6:59 PM

    I would actually do the Bellbrook backpack in black as well. The other bags are cute, but I have a thing for backpacks. They’re just so easy to carry and you don’t have to worry about the strap sliding off your shoulder. I love them! So Bellbrook backpack it would be!ReplyCancel

  • jan9.29.15 - 7:08 PM

    I’m loving the Betsy chocolate bagReplyCancel

  • Kate9.29.15 - 7:09 PM

    Granada – black & white *swooooon*ReplyCancel

  • Kaleigh9.29.15 - 9:20 PM

    i am still so jealous of your road trip! There is nothing like a road trip!! But back to the task at hand, my sweet friend is a photographer and has been searching for the perfect bag! I couldn’t not enter this giveaway! It would make her year if I won it for her!!ReplyCancel

  • sarah r9.29.15 - 9:44 PM

    hard to pick… but maybe the allison mint?ReplyCancel

  • Kate S.9.29.15 - 11:29 PM

    Thank you so much for this post! I just returned home from a trip with my husband. We like to bike on our vacations and we were just discussing the need for a backpack/camera bag hybrid. This bag is something like what I imagined, but maybe better! I am so excited to find it. Here’s hoping I win!!ReplyCancel

  • AnnMarie9.29.15 - 11:47 PM

    I’m still very much a photography newbie, but it’s a hobby I would love to explore!ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Oberst9.30.15 - 12:25 AM

    I love the Siena bag in that beautiful camel color!ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin9.30.15 - 3:48 AM

    So many great options!! I hate carrying around our cera bag on trips… Way too bulky. These are all great alternatives!ReplyCancel

  • Peggy Johnson9.30.15 - 8:00 AM

    I think I like the Gracie the best, but there are some others I like as well…hard choiceReplyCancel

  • Rachel9.30.15 - 8:24 AM

    What a great find! I think the Bellbrook backpack in gray…thanks for sharing your trip! I’m about to leave for a trip to the Grand Canyon and it’s great to see these pictures.ReplyCancel

  • Ella9.30.15 - 9:08 AM

    I would love one of those bags!ReplyCancel

  • Debra9.30.15 - 10:01 AM

    Well, I’m going to try to leave a comment…
    That tote looks so perfect. I’m going to check those out.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie9.30.15 - 11:59 AM

    The Bellbrook in grey or the somerset. Tough call. These look amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Renee D.9.30.15 - 12:14 PM

    Gracie Mint bag looks ADORABLE! I would also think about getting the Bellbrook backpack because it’s looks comfortable.ReplyCancel

  • Josh | The Kentucky Gent9.30.15 - 12:33 PM

    Now bags like these could make me actually consider getting a camera bag.

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent

  • Mirela9.30.15 - 1:50 PM

    These look nothing like the usual camera bags – georgeus!
    I can not decide between the Bellbrook Backpack in grey and the small Granada bag in black and white!!! This would be perfect for my birthday in a few days…fingers crossed!ReplyCancel

  • Kristi9.30.15 - 2:09 PM

    I love the idea of using a backpack to carry my gear. Looks like an awesome bag!ReplyCancel

  • Marlene9.30.15 - 2:32 PM

    I love the Bellbrook and would gift it to my adventure-seeking photographer daughter!

  • Emily9.30.15 - 3:24 PM

    Ooh, I have an ONA bag, but a backpack would be fantastic for when my husband carries the camera, or for hiking. I hadn’t heard of Jo Totes before, I’m excited to check out more of their bags!ReplyCancel

  • Haley9.30.15 - 3:43 PM

    Ooooo The Sienna, gorgeous!!ReplyCancel

  • Miranda Glaeser9.30.15 - 4:10 PM

    loving the classic look of the Sienna, than you for the chance!ReplyCancel

  • Haley9.30.15 - 4:59 PM

    The Rose Marigold is beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • DJ9.30.15 - 7:10 PM

    I love the MISSY MINT.ReplyCancel

  • chistine B9.30.15 - 11:04 PM

    Loving the bellbrook, black or grey!!ReplyCancel

  • Kala10.1.15 - 1:49 AM

    I like the Betsy and the Bellbrook. Thanks for the chance to win!ReplyCancel

  • Jennai10.1.15 - 2:00 AM

    Hard choice, but I think I would pick the Gracie Black, or may the Gracie MarsalaReplyCancel

  • H Tran10.1.15 - 3:35 AM

    Love that black BellBrook backpack!ReplyCancel

  • gyl10.1.15 - 4:59 AM

    it’s fashion and ergonomic bag, wanna have one Bellbrook backpack in’d be so coolReplyCancel

  • Kyley10.1.15 - 7:50 AM

    love the backpack in grey & also the Hanover. So fun!ReplyCancel

  • Megan S.10.1.15 - 9:12 AM

    I love the Bellbrook Backpack but who can pass up that boxy Siena? Swoon!ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl10.1.15 - 10:34 AM

    Oh holy wow, I love the Siena! It is similar to the Lo and Sons Claremont but for WAY less. And just so pretty.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Haile Bagge10.1.15 - 10:37 AM

    I’ve always wanted one of these camera bags! Crossing my fingers and tootsies ;)ReplyCancel

  • Maria10.1.15 - 11:03 AM

    I’ve loved reading about your Route 66 trip! These bags are great — if I had to choose one, I think I would pick the Georgia Nautical, because stripes.ReplyCancel

  • Trude10.1.15 - 11:43 AM

    I’ve tried a couple different camera purses but never Jo Totes. I’ve had my eye on the Granada for a while now, so cute! But that backpack looks pretty awesome too…ReplyCancel

  • Trude10.1.15 - 11:44 AM

    P.S. I also got to experience a hail storm with thunder and lightning at the Grand Canyon too, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! Thunder echoing through there was unbelievable and totally worth getting soaked. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Lynn in Michigan10.1.15 - 11:47 AM

    LOVE the Bellbrook. I’ve had my eye on it for some time now. BTW, what type of zoom lens did you purchase?ReplyCancel

  • Brynne@TheGatheredHome10.1.15 - 1:13 PM

    Oh my! There are too many choices – but I’m quite smitten with the Georgia Nautical bag! Maybe a cute bag would encourage me to tote my camera around more frequently? :)ReplyCancel

  • Leila10.1.15 - 3:38 PM

    This bag would be a great xmas present for my hubby!ReplyCancel

  • Kristin10.1.15 - 3:45 PM

    The Bellbrook Backpack is just what we need for our upcoming SE Asia Trip! It is so hard to find a simple, stylish camera bag that my husband and I can both wear.ReplyCancel

  • Kris T10.1.15 - 3:58 PM

    I have been looking for a great bag that can hold our camera too. Plus one that my husband can tote around too is a plus! Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Audrey10.1.15 - 9:37 PM

    Love the nautical one!ReplyCancel

  • Carolsue10.2.15 - 3:06 AM

    I like the Gracie Black — the other colors in that style are nice, too.ReplyCancel

  • Denise10.2.15 - 11:06 AM

    BELLBROOK BACKPACK – BLACK! Looks fantastic!! And happy its gender neutral!ReplyCancel

  • Trilby C.10.2.15 - 12:32 PM

    Oooooh – the girly girl in me loves the Missy Mint – those curves – that color!! Buuuuut, I’m also drawn to the Gracie Butterscotch – dare I say it may be gender neutral enough that I could get the husband to carry it around?ReplyCancel

  • Laura10.2.15 - 3:53 PM

    What an amazing trip! This totally inspired me to do something similar for my next vacation. The Jo Toes Siena bag is AMAZING. That leather, that shape. LOVE! The Bellbrook backpack is also beautiful and totally would fit all my extra lens and equipment!ReplyCancel

  • Elena10.24.18 - 3:05 PM

    I am considering this backpack, and I’m wondering if your Nikon D800 fits into the side picket easily? It looks great in your photo, but I heard the pocket opening is pretty small, so I’m just wondering how it is for you?
    Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Kim10.24.18 - 3:16 PM

      It’s a snug fit, but honestly, I like that because the camera isn’t bouncing around. It’s still easy enough to grab and go though! That was important for me. :)ReplyCancel


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