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Curious to know how to pack shoes in a suitcase for travel to help you save both space and time? You are not alone!
Shoes are one of the most awkward parts of your attire to pack. They don’t fold, are oddly shaped, and under too much weight, will easily deform and lose shape.
Fortunately, there are several simple tricks and methods you can use to pack a range of your shoes. Together, we’re going to explore these methods.
Looking to pack a certain type of shoe? Use our quick picks in the table of contents to skip to specific parts of the article. Otherwise, let’s dive in from the beginning!
Please note: For all images, shoes have been photographed without being wrapped in bags, so that you can see everything clearly.
Let’s start with one of the classiest pair of shoes many travelers pack: wedges or heels.
It’s always great to pack a pair of shoes for fancier evenings or nights out. Whether it be a fancy restaurant or a glitzy cocktail bar, a pair of wedges or heels will assure you look the part.
However, heels and wedges have one of the most awkward packing shapes. Plus, they are often the most expensive shoes in your suitcase. Damaging them is not an option.
So, let’s break down how to pack both wedges and heels in the right way.
Packing heels or wedges is like playing Tetris or Candy Crush. The goal is to minimize the space they take and to fill the gaps with other clothing.
While boots are heavy shoes, their strength and bulk mean, if packed in the right way, they can take more luggage weight than heels, sneakers, and sandals.
If you’re traveling to a place with rugged terrain, cold weather, and outdoor activities, your trusted boots will be going with you.
Here’s how to pack boots effectively, saving you space and time.
If your vacation involves some hiking, or you like to work out while traveling, you’ll want to pack a trusted pair of sneakers.
Sneakers fall somewhat in the middle of our packed shoe selection. Sneakers are bulkier than heels and sandals, hence can hold more weight.
However, they are not as strong or rigid as boots. There are a couple of ways to effectively pack sneakers in your suitcase.
Sneakers are also ideal to wear while traveling. They are comfortable, easy to slide off on a plane, and by wearing them you can free up your suitcase for heavier, less practical shoes.
Flips flops and sandals are without a doubt the easiest shoes to pack for travel. With much less height than heels or sneakers, they require much less space.
Often, their structure is far less rigid. This means it’s much harder for them to lose their shape. Some people don’t mind them being packed down and squished.
That being said, there are still a few expert ways to pack them to save space and time.
All of the methods we look at try to pack shoes in a way that minimizes stress on the parts of the shoe that need to stay in shape.
For a good guide across all types of shoes, try to pack with the following points in mind.
If you’re traveling light but still need an additional pair of shoes, you could pack them in your backpack.
The space available to you naturally will change depending on the size of your shoes. If you can, try to wear your heavier, bulkier pair, and pack your lighter pair.
Shoes such as sneakers and flip flops will be easier to pack this way, but you can try this method with any spare pair of shoes.
It’s good to bear in mind that you should only pack shoes in your backpack if it makes sense to do that.
By packing them in your backpack, even the smallest of shoes will still take up a sizeable amount of room.
The great thing about a duffel bag is the depth and volume is much greater than a backpack. Hence, you don’t need to get too innovative with your packing.
With your shoe’s soles facing outwards, the softer structure of the shoe is more protected. Plus, with the lighter clothes on top, they won’t be squished or deformed.
Of all the bags and cases we’ve looked at, a garment bag is actually one of the easier bags to stow shoes inside.
This is because most garment bags have a pocket or zippered section at the bottom specifically to hold shoes.
If you’re traveling with a suit, you’re most likely going to be traveling with polished, classy shoes too. Hence the garment bag has you covered.
However, there are still a few tips you can use to pack your shoes well, without fuss.
All shoes can quickly house unpleasant odors. While it’s worth cleaning your shoes, doing it all the time is simply not practical.
Shoes take much longer to clean and dry. As you’ll be wearing them most days, you’ll need them readily available.
It’s a good idea to travel with a shoe freshener or spray. Spray them once a day, and spray generously a day or two before stuffing them with socks and smaller clothing items.
We’ve talked about the stuffing technique for smaller clothing items and socks. But shoes can also be perfect for protecting smaller, valuable items.
Things such as earrings, necklaces, other jewelry, memory cards, and spare cash can all be kept inside shoes if the shoes are in your carry-on or backpack, and not in a checked suitcase.
Put such items in small packaging or bubble wrap, then stow them inside the socks and smaller clothing items you stuff into the shoes. Just be sure to only pack valuables in your carry-on, and not in your checked suitcase.
Now, your shoes will keep their shape, and their rigid exterior can protect your small and delicate items.
If you’re traveling with expensive tech, such as DSLR cameras and drones, be wary of packing them next to your shoes.
Do your best to create layers of clothes between the two items. Or protect your tech with bags, bubble wrap, and packaging.
The soles and heels of your shoes are very rigid. If your luggage is not packed tightly and there’s a shuffle, the hard heel could hit or press against your equipment.
If you can, resist the urge to just pack as many things as you can before traveling. If you plan, you can save a lot of space and stress.
Most people when traveling opt for three pairs of shoes. These are commonly a casual pair of shoes, a dressier pair, and then a pair suitable for the climate of their destination.
This could be flip flops or sandals for a beach holiday or heavy boots for hiking and adventure holidays.
Before you pack, ask yourself if you really think you’ll need those shoes. If you rarely workout out, the chances of you doing so on holiday are even less. Hence, you could easily do without your sneakers.
Aim for three pairs of shoes, one of which you’ll be wearing, and two packing. That way, you’ll have more space and luggage weight to work with.
Smart packing is always a case of problem-solving and innovative thinking. Shoes may be bulky and rigid, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be packed well.
Heels, boots, sneakers, sandals, and all types of shoes can be packed using the methods we’ve looked at in this article.
Remember to clean and stuff your shoes, use them to stabilize your suitcase, and pack them carefully with plenty of clothing layers.
Let squished, damaged shoes be a thing of the past when traveling. Use our 8 packing tips and techniques to pack faster and smarter.
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Author: Dale Johnson is a content creator and strategist from the UK. He has been a full-time digital nomad since 2016 and writes on a number of travel-themed topics, including smarter travel and the latest gear.
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