20 Essential Items Every Woman MUST Have In Her Handbag!

Are there any must-haves for you in your handbag, things that you personally can’t do without?

Are there any must-haves for you in your handbag, things that you personally can’t do without?

Ever wondered about the amount of things that you carry in your handbag every day? Is everything functional in there, or is there something which is not so useful and can be replaced.

In our attempt to get organized, ‘feel’ prepared for every  situation/eventuality, we stuff everything in our handbags. Things that we need, and things that we don’t really need! In this process of lugging around non-essentials, we sometimes forget to put in essential items and then miss them in desperate times.

Whether you are a college student, a working woman, intending to travel, or simply stepping out for a while, below is a list of all things fundamental and essential, that I think every woman must have in her handbag, at all times.

Mobile phone

Now this is pretty fundamental, but stepping out with an adequately charged mobile phone, along with ample mobile data is an absolute must, at all times. It puts you in touch with anyone in an instant. You also remain available on call, in case of an emergency at home. Having the GPS tracker on your device as well as your family member’s devices, keeps you traceable, in case you get into any sort of trouble.

Along with your phone, don’t forget your phone charger, and a charged phone bank, that will charge your phone battery a couple of times.


The easiest way to sip enough water is to carry it at all times. Preferably a steel/ copper bottle, that fits into your bag – to remain hydrated, flush out toxins from your body, the bacteria from your bladder, and give you healthier skin. Not to mention other benefits like maintaining electrolyte balance, preventing headaches, constipation, taking your medications when required , and even to ease  a sudden cough attack.

Emergency medications

Medical emergencies like asthma, or serious allergic reactions can happen suddenly, within minutes. Things like inhalers, EpiPen injections (you / your child’s) MUST be on you wherever you go.  Do ensure that you don’t leave home without it, or leave it behind in your car.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

If you’re on medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, or other medical problems, you should have at least a day’s supply of medication with you, to take them on time. More so, if you get stranded somewhere, in a traffic jam/remote place, and are unable to find a pharmacy.

Paracetamol – A special mention for paracetamol, as this over-the-counter drug is helpful not just to reduce fever, but effective for treating mild/ moderate pain- headache, toothache, sprains, muscle aches. A strip of paracetamol in your medicine pouch should be at the top of your list, at all times.

In fact, I always make it a point to keep all emergency medications (including anti vomit, diarrhoea,throat lozenges etc) even when not travelling. You just never know when it might be needed, or lend it to someone around you who needs it.

Put all the medicines together in a compact, dedicated medicine pouch (even a zip-lock bag would do)

Sanitary napkin

Always keep one or two sanitary napkins, in a clean pouch, in the innermost zipper section of your bag (periods do have a way of coming unannounced!) Don’t forget to carry a thin disposable bag/sheet of newspaper for convenient disposal.

A packet of tissues

Definitely useful for spillage of any kind, is also useful in case of a dire emergency, to make a DIY sanitary pad (use layers of it) or where there is no toilet paper  to use in the washroom.


A strip of band aid, not just covers accidental cuts and scrapes, it even rescues your toes from painful shoe bites. For those wearing nail polish, they can be used to hide a chipped nail/nail polish, to save embarrassment, especially on occasions like having to attend an interview/ social function.

Healthy snacks

Carry at least one healthy, on-the- go snack, preferably a protein snack, for instant energy. A banana or two, a bar of chocolate, granola / energy bar, miniature packets of crunchy chikki, or a little box of assorted nuts of your choice like peanuts/ chana, dried fruit such as dates/ raisins – to give instant energy boost, and satisfy hunger as well.

Snacks come extremely handy to munch on, especially while waiting for transport, standing in queues, when sudden hunger pangs strike, or it’s getting past your meal time- to help avoid low blood sugar, getting dizzy. It’s such a satisfying feeling to have some kind of filling snack in your bag.


To protect your hair from harmful sun’s rays, dust, pollution, to arrive cleaner/ fresher to your destination.


An absolute must as they reduce squinting which causes wrinkling, prevent freckles or spots around eyes. They even protect your eyes from harmful UV damage, dust, debris, insects etc.

A self-defense tool

Being a victim of сrimе саn hарреn to аnуоnе, anywhere, аnуtime, and it’s better to be prepared, isn’t it ?

If you don’t feel confident to be able to physically take on a potential attacker, do carry at least one self-defense tool like a pepper spray, in your bag. Just make sure you know how to put it to use effectively. And, if you aren’t comfortable with the idea of a pepper spray, even a deodorant spray/ perfume/ disinfectant spray would do. Any spray when sprayed liberally into the attacker’s eyes, would irritate the eyes and distract the attacker, giving you time to escape.

A self-defense tool will give you some sort of confidence to face threat, avoid any untoward/ unfortunate incident, particularly if you travel late or drive/ walk home alone.

Other self- defense tools- Items found in your own handbag when used correctly, can turn into self- defense weapons, like- an umbrella, water bottle, hair clips, pencil/pen, car keys, your own scarf/ dupatta, or even your handbag can come to your rescue- to swing, hit, throw or punch an attacker.

Safety pins

These can literally be your lifesavers in an unforeseen situation like a bra hook/ strap breaking off, a shirt button or a seam popping off, or your chappal strap breaking apart. They could also come useful as your emergency safety tool.

Hand/ face wipes

While nothing can replace soap and water as first choice for hand hygiene, especially when there is obvious dirt on your hand, my next personal favourite is definitely hand wipes, as the combination of moisture and tissue gives a cleaner finish to your hands. They are so convenient to pull, to wipe all sorts of surfaces. When you quickly want to freshen-up your face, face wipes are great, to clean out the sweat, dust, pollution and grime, particularly in summers.

Hand sanitizer

Given the times we are living in now, with so many attacking germs and viruses around, hand sanitizer is an absolute must have- while using public transport, after handling currency, after touching common public surfaces.

Opt for something with vitamin E or a moisturizing agent, so your hands don’t feel dried out. It is important to use hand sanitizer liberally ensuring it covers all hand surfaces, crevices, when you rub your hands together.

A little address and telephone diary

This handbag item cannot be underestimated! In the event where you’ve misplaced/lost your phone, the phone gets discharged or ruined; you will thank yourself for carrying a telephone diary, for it would at least help make an urgent call from a public booth or by borrowing somebody else’s phone.

Pen and writing/scribble pad

To fill out forms, quickly jot down a telephone number, location, contact /address details or scribble anything for that matter.

Cash wallet/ coin pouch

It’s always important to carry some cash/coins (as many denominations as possible) to make payments to people/ in places/ situations, where card payments are not accepted/ online transactions cannot be made or when there is a need for a quick purchase/payment.

Then there are times when change may not be available, and you need to hand out the exact amount, for e.g. while splitting a bill, tipping at a restaurant, filling air in the car tires, while using public transport like a bus, an auto, etc.

Disposable underwear

Someone suggested me to include this, as a handbag must-have. It didn’t sound very appealing to start with, but after much thought, I now find it to be such a fantastic suggestion! Disposable underwear’s are very practical, and convenient to have. They can be worn and thrown, and are an extremely essential handbag item, that too in so many situations like-

  1. In emergencies– like periods leaks, periods along with long days at work/ outdoors, then for those suffering from urinary incontinence, in a dire emergency like diarrhoea, or when there is a need to attend a party/ function after work, and you want to arrive smelling fresh( just toss out the worn one and get changed into a new one)
  2. While travelling– as they are lightweight, compact, can be discarded, thereby reducing space/ weight of your bag.  During travel or camping trips, they save the time and trouble of washing your regular underwear, and then finding a space in the hotel room to dry them out. Especially when travelling during winters and rainy days, clothes do take longer to dry( which just means carrying around damp/smelly underwear)
  3. During hospitalization– for an illness, post-maternity, when you’ve just had a baby, are bleeding, or right after a surgery; in situations where it’s impossible, inconvenient, or impractical to wash underwear – they come very handy.

While at a spa, while getting a body massage , disposable briefs saving your daily underwear from getting ruined(oil stains are difficult to washout)

A personal identity card

With your full name, residential address, names/ telephone numbers of your emergency contacts, basic health information like your blood group, or if you have any specific allergies/ health conditions, name of any medication that you are on, etc.

Spare mask

To replace a dirty mask with a clean one (or if the strap of your face mask breaks apart!) A spare, clean mask or two, put neatly inside a zip-lock pouch and you’re good to go.

As a practice, if you have to remove your face mask to eat/ drink/ otherwise, first sanitize your hands, both before, and  after touching/removing your  face mask. Remove the mask without letting the outside of it touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. A disposable face masks needs to go straight into the bin. If it’s a washable one, keep it inside a plastic bag, wash as soon as you get home!

Mint/ Gum

Bad breath is a turn-off in any situation. Always keep sugar free gum or mints with you.

These are all the common essentials of every handbag that I could think of. Things that should go into your handbag. Apart from these, are there any other things that you think can be listed as handbag essentials?

Are there any must-have for you in your handbag, things that you personally can’t do without? For instance, a make-up pouch, lip balm, comb, cream, concealer, sunscreen, hand mirror, EarPods, book to read, etc. It should be interesting to know ‘What’s in your handbag?’ Do comment, and let me know!


About the Author

39 Posts | 175,532 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

All Categories