It sounds pretty straightforward right? Just throw your shoes in with your other belongings and count on them arriving like the rest of your stuff? WRONG.

Shoes are heavy, bulky, awkward, and usually dirty. So packing them correctly is recommended. By packing them efficiently, you can hopefully save yourself money avoiding extra bags that airlines love to charge for. There is also the damage side of things. Your suitcase is going to take a beating, you don’t want your footwear damaged before arrival. 

Here is are list of tips and tricks on how to pack shoes for travel:

1) Avoidance: Wear your biggest bulkiest pair. 

It should go without saying, but packing efficiently and logically doesn’t always go hand in hand. Travelers are often stressed about the upcoming trip, all while scrambling at the last minute with preparations. If you have a bulky set of running shoes, wear them on the airplane. Pack those sandals or slip ons to save you precious packing space.

2) Do not pack more footwear than you will need.

Make do with limited footwear. If you are going away for a weekend, there should be no reason to pack more than 2 pieces of footwear. If it’s a week-long cruise, maybe a pair of beach sandals, one comfy pair of sneakers for walking and sightseeing, and one pair for formal nights. If you are backpacking Europe for 2 months, you would be surprised with how little you need. Can you double up a pair of hiking shoes for sightseeing and trekking? A pair of sandals for evening relaxation and train travel?

3) Clean them first.

Even a cursory once over. Wipe them down, maybe apply some air freshener, but you will feel better about the end result. Footwear is awkward and bulky for cleaning, and there usually is no convenient time to do so. By doing this before your trip, you will have them readily available for use. 

4) Are your shoes suitcase bound? 

It happens, sometimes we just run out of space. If you have no pockets left in your suitcase that can fit your shoes, then wrap them in a small plastic bag, either together or separate bags. This will keep them from stinking up your clothes and keeping any dirt or grime from transferring to other belongings. It’s recommended to start with an empty suitcase, and put your footwear in first. It will be more challenging to fit them in when your suitcase is near capacity. Keep in mind if you pack them at the bottom and need them upon arrival, you will have to do some digging!

5) Fill em up!

Shoes have space, use that space for an extra pair of socks, belts or even underwear. Just make sure to use a small plastic bag for whatever you stuff in your shoes. No one wants shoe smelling underwear that was clean and fresh before the trip started. 

6) Worried about squishing or scuffing your precious footwear?

No one wants to arrive with a squished or scuffed up pair of dress shoes. Filling the insides with whatever you can fit should prevent them from getting squished. Rolled up socks, underwear, or small t-shirts should do the job. By putting them inside a small bag you should prevent them from getting scuffed. 

 

7) High Heels or Wedges?

These can be tough to pack. They are likely more valuable than most of your other clothes, so treating these with a little TLC is a good idea. First, pack them in the upper top half of the suitcase, this way they will take a little less weight than if packed at the bottom. Second, roll some t-shirts or underwear around the heel part. The point is to provide some support so the heel portion won’t snap off if under any pressure.  

 

 8) Try to use a designated pocket in your suitcase.

Depending on how large your footwear is, sandals or flip flops usually fit great in an exterior pocket. This of course applies to soft side luggage, as hardside luggage rarely has outer pockets. This also makes for a convenient change over if you decide you’re ready for sandals you won’t have to dig through your luggage to find them. 

 

 9) Avoid packing expensive footwear

You likely don’t want to pack expensive jewelry or clothes, so try to avoid taking expensive footwear on your trip. Unless you’re going to an important business meeting or wedding, it’s not worth it. Expensive footwear can draw unwanted attention. I promise you will be less upset about a $30 lost, damaged or stolen set of sneakers than you will be about a $500 pair of leather boots.

 

 10) Use a designated shoe bag

They are inexpensive and convenient. Simply slip your footwear into the bag, and pack accordingly. They will keep your shoes together and  prevent them from dirtying your other belongings. We still recommend filling your shoes with items to prevent them from getting squished down. 

Trip Time?

It’s always a case of problem-solving and creativity when it comes to smart packing. Footwear is generally large and inflexible, however they can be packaged efficiently with a bit of planning.

In the end, the most important thing you need to remember is to keep your shoes in such a way that you’re leaving room for your other items. How to pack shoes in a suitcase can largely depend on your packing methods, luggage size, and length of trip. Think twice if you really need that footwear while abroad, and if the answer is yes, then pack it accordingly.

 Safe travels!