A Traveler’s Complete Guide on How to Pack Shoes for Travel + Tips!
Properly packing shoes for travel is not often talked about but it’s actually an underrated packing skill that every traveler must know. Besides, the fate of your other travel essentials, such as your clean clothes and undies, rests on the way you’ll pack your shoes inside the suitcase. If you don’t pack your shoes the right way, a single pair can stink up your entire bag and that’s not something you’d be very happy about.
Don’t worry, we’re not gonna let that happen. We’re going to show you the many different and creative ways of perfectly organizing your shoes into your backpack, suitcase, and duffel bag so you can pack like a pro. We’ve also got some useful tips and tricks for choosing and cleaning your shoes before packing them for travel so we best get started!
Different Effective Ways of Packing Travel Shoes
As much as we love a good pair of shoes, we admit, it can be quite tricky to pack them for travel. So we're going to show you the different ways of packing your shoes inside your suitcase so you’ll be more organized and also prevent any scuffing or scratching in your favorite pair of heels. These methods will not only protect your shoes but also your clean clothes and other travel items inside your suitcase.
1. Keep it simple with a Travel Shoe Bag (our favorite!)
This is perhaps the best way to pack shoes in a suitcase or any other bags for travel! It works both ways; it protects your shoes from scrapes and scratches, and it keeps your clean clothes safe from the dirt and germs on your shoes. This drawstring Travel Shoe Bag is the perfect pouch for all your footwear. It’s durable, lightweight, and super cute! It also folds really small so you can easily store it when not in use. It’s machine washable as well so you can reuse it again for your next adventure!
Watch this video to see us using the Shoe Bag to pack our shoes in our suitcase:
2. Reuse your shower caps
If you want a budget-friendly way of packing your shoes, you can use shower caps. Just use it as a cover of your shoes’ soles and pack it right at the bottom of your suitcase or bag. Still, make sure that your shoes are clean before packing. If you don't use shower caps at home, start collecting the free ones you get from hotel rooms or you can buy cheap ones.
3. Keep the stinky smell out using packing paper & dryer sheets
Wrap each shoe using a packing paper and put dryer sheets inside to prevent the foul smell from getting into your suitcase. This will also help prevent scuffing on your shoes. If you don’t want to cram your socks or undies inside your shoes, you can also crush the paper and get stuffin’ like it’s Thanksgiving then wrap them like Christmas presents after. This will help your shoes keep its form and avoid being crushed or deformed when in transit. You can also roll both shoes together in one packing paper and tape them into a firm bundle. But for larger boots and dress shoes, it’s better to wrap them individually.
4. Grab a grocery bag or two
The cheapest, most effortless way of packing your shoes will be by using the plastic bags that you get when going grocery shopping. You can pack your shoes in these bags individually instead of pairs so it will be easier to put your shoes in the small places in your suitcase. But if you’ve got bigger plastic bags, you can easily put 2 or 3 pairs in and pack them strategically instead in your suitcase or bag.
5. Or just reuse your newspaper plastic bags
Start keeping the plastic that comes with your daily newspaper and reuse them for packing your shoes. You can fit one shoe in each plastic or a pair of flip flops or any flat shoes. Make sure to let out any air inside and compress so you can save space and easily pack them in your bag. Don’t forget to stuff smaller items of clothing inside your shoes to keep their shape during the entire trip.
How to Pack Each Type of Shoe for Travel
When it comes to packing shoes for travel, one size doesn’t really fit all. Since there are different shoe types, there are also specific ways of packing these shoes, considering the difference in their shape, weight, and use. Want to know how to pack yours? Let’s find out.
Step 1 - Clean your boots, especially if you've used them frequently outdoors. Make sure the soles and heels are clear of dirt or mud and the inside is free of any bad odor.
Step 2 - Don't worry about the height and bulkiness of your boots. You can use that space to store your socks or other smaller clothing items so they won’t get squished or crushed inside your bag.
Step 3 - Store your boots in a travel shoe bag, or any other way you prefer. Use the heel-toe, heel-toe method.
Step 4 - Since boots are heavier and larger than most shoes, pack them at the bottom of your suitcase to stabilize the weight. This will decrease the chances of your bag tipping over. If you're using a backpack or duffel bag, refer to #5 of the Tips for Packing Shoes for Travel below.
✔️ Heels & Wedges
Step 1 - Use a shoe disinfectant, sanitizer, or a shoe cleaner kit to clean your shoes thoroughly. Never, we mean ever, pack a pair of dirty shoes in your suitcase without cleaning or washing them first.
Step 2 - Roll socks, undies, or other small items of clothing and stuff them inside your shoes to help maintain their shape.
Step 3 - Put your heels or wedges inside a travel shoe bag, or whatever effective way you prefer, and close it firmly but not too tightly.
Step 4 - Make sure that when you put the shoes inside the bag, they're laying down facing alternate positions - heel-toe, toe-heel - so they won't bulk up and take up a lot of space.
Step 5 - Pack your shoes that are in the shoe bag according to the kind of bag that you will be using for travel. See #5 of Tips for Packing Shoes for Travel.
Step 1 - As with the other shoes, the first step is always to clean your shoes inside out. Eliminate any bad smell that lingers inside and outside your shoes.
Step 2 - Again, fill each sneaker with socks, undies, or other smaller items that you can stuff inside the shoes, especially the top part of the sneakers which can be squished easily.
Step 3 - Put your sneakers in a travel shoe bag, or again, any other means you prefer. Make sure they're facing heel-toe, heel-toe as well.
Step 4 - Pack them in your bag or suitcase surrounded by lighter clothes that will serve as a barrier of protection.
✔️ Flip Flops and Sandals
Step 1 - Brush and wash them clean so they look new when you wear them at your destination.
Step 2 - You can't stuff these with socks or undies, so just place one on top of the other using the same technique - heel-toe, heel toe - when placing them in a travel shoe bag. Make sure that both soles face outward.
Step 3 - Since flip flops and sandals are flat and compact, you can easily slide them into any mesh or side pockets that you have in your suitcase or a pocket in your backpack or duffel bag that's big enough to store them.
Step 4 - If not, you can simply pack them on top of your other travel essentials so you can easily access and wear them when you get to your destination.
✔️ Dress Shoes
Step 1 - Make sure your dress shoes are squeaky clean inside and out before packing them. Don’t forget to bring your shoe cleaning kit on the trip with you to keep your shoes polished wherever you go.
Step 2 - Let’s not stuff your dress shoes with socks and undies but let’s make use of shoe trees instead. These will help hold the shape of your dress shoes when packed inside your bag, therefore preserving its new-like appearance even after many uses.
Step 3 - Use shoe bags in order to prevent any scuffing or scratching on your dearest formal shoes.
Step 4 - Store your dress shoes towards the bottom, away from any hard travel items that might scratch or scrape them. Place soft clothing items around your leather shoes so it will serve as extra cushion protection just in case something happens to your suitcase.
Tips for Packing Shoes for Travel
Before you walk a mile in those shoes, let us tell you a few important things that you must remember when packing your footwear for travel. After reading this post, you will know how to pack shoes in a suitcase, backpack, duffel bag, and more! Consider these things before you go:
1. Choose the right travel shoes for your trip
Get yourself some comfortable, versatile footwear; something that you can wear for a long walk in the morning and to a nice restaurant at night. Color is also a very important factor to consider. Don't pack light colored shoes; it'll be really difficult to keep them clean.
2. Pick and pack your ‘Golden Trio’
Take three pairs of shoes with you on your trip and you’re good to go. You can modify this according to the kind of trip you’re on but generally, a comfortable pair of slip-on flats for getting through security easily, a pair of versatile heels that can be paired with any outfits, and a pair of super comfortable walking shoes for long walks, like a pair of sneakers, is the best rule of thumb to swear by.
3. Know which pair to pack and which pair to wear
The best shoes to pack are those that don’t take up a lot of space in your luggage, like flats, boat shoes, espadrilles, low-rise converse, sandals, and flip flops. As for your boots and other bulky pairs, just wear them in transit. But make sure they’re easy to take off and put on so you won’t take time at the security checkpoint.
4. Use shoe space to save luggage space
Utilize the space inside your shoes by packing your socks, undies, or any other small items in it. Make sure the soles of your shoes are clean before doing so or else it’s going to stink up the things you put inside.
5. Pack your shoes strategically
Aside from knowing how to pack shoes in a suitcase for travel, you must also know the right way to pack them in different travel bags. You can’t just stuff your shoes right into your luggage; you must learn the proper and better way of packing them. Here’s how you can pack your shoes in the most common travel bags:
Wear your heaviest shoes, like sneakers or boots, and pack the lighter pair inside. Place the packed pair vertically in the middle of your bag as close to your body as possible. Stuff socks or belts in your shoes and wrap them up so they won't dirty your clothes.
When packing shoes in a suitcase, place them at the bottom of the luggage closest to the wheels. This is important because it prevents your heavy items from shifting to the bottom of the luggage when your luggage is upright and rolling through the airport.
✔️ Duffel Bag
There are three different ways of packing your shoes in a duffel bag. The first way is to put them in your duffel bag (right in the middle to help with the balance and weight distribution) with the treads down so you don't get anything else dirty. Make sure the soles of your shoes are clean before doing so. Then you can go ahead and continue to pack what needs to go inside your duffel bag.
The second way is to put each shoe to the side of your duffel bag or on the ends, with the treads facing away from the clothing and other essentials.
And the last way is to put them in a travel shoe bag and put them right on top of all your other travel items.
6. Pack soft items around your shoes.
Soft items, such as your t-shirts, leggings, and other clothing items, will serve as extra protection around your shoes so they don’t get damaged. Harder travel items such as toiletries or makeup items must be packed away from your shoes just to prevent any risk of those hard items from damaging your shoes or vice versa.
7. Pack travel cleaning wipes.
It’s not only for wiping surfaces or handles before touching them but also for cleaning your shoes before packing them. If you know how to pack shoes in your luggage, you must also know how to clean them before and after use.
8. Use insoles for your travel shoes to keep them fresh.
Buy those cheap ones that you can simply throw away after your trip. These things will take up any loose space if your shoe is a little bit big for you. They will also absorb the oil, dirt, and sweat from your shoes if you do not want to wear socks. Using these will help preserve the insoles of your shoes so that they still look nice even after many uses.
9. Use the inside of your shoes to hide valuable items.
Aside from stuffing your shoes with socks and undies, you can also make use of the extra space as a secret lair for your jewelry, extra cash, or other valuable items that you want to take with you on the trip. That way, you won’t worry about losing them while you’re traveling.
10. Pack short boots when traveling in the winter or fall season.
Cut down your luggage or backpack weight by avoiding heavy, bulky boots. Save some baggage space when you travel in the winter or fall season by bringing short boots instead. But if you want, you can also wear them as a part of your travel outfit.
In a nutshell, you only really need to consider three important things when packing shoes for travel. First, saving space by getting organized; second, preventing any deformation or any scuffs and scratches on your shoes; and lastly, protecting your clean clothing items and the inside of your suitcase from germs and stinky smell.
And the greatest way to make sure you accomplish all three is to use a travel shoe bag. There are many different ways to pack your shoes, but a travel shoe bag takes the first prize.
Where are your shoes taking on your trip? Let us know in the comments below!