How To Pack Shoes to Travel Like a Pro

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Last Updated: February 27, 2024

Packing smart is an art form. Knowing how to pack effectively in an organized fashion with only the essentials can be difficult, but not impossible. Trying to limit what is in your suitcase can be much easier when you know how to pack certain items. When it comes to packing shoes in a suitcase, there are some tips to make it much easier.

Shoes are one of those things that can be difficult to pack. It can also be hard to determine what types of shoes you’ll need. They are bulky, heavy, and can take up a lot of space in your suitcase. What’s more, when you go to pack your luggage for your journey home, your shoes can make your other items dirty if you’re not careful.

Regardless of what type of vacation you are going on, there are failsafe tips you can follow to be sure you have shoes for any occasion. Furthermore, you can ensure your shoes won’t fill your entire suitcase or ruin the rest of your items. It will take some planning and some work, but the following tips are very easy to follow before you begin jet setting.

Knowing Which Shoes To Bring

Since shoes can fill up a suitcase quickly, you want to be strategic with the ones you select for your trip. Of course, you must consider the activities you’ll be partaking in before packing. If it’s a business trip, chances are you’ll need a dressy pair of shoes. If you’ll be walking a lot, a good pair of sneakers is a must.

A good rule of thumb is to try and narrow down your shoe selection to three options. A comfortable pair of sneakers or walking shoes in a neutral color can be styled with almost any outfit. These are also important if you’ll be on your feet a lot, since the last thing you want is your trip to be hampered by foot or back pain.

You also want a pair that is suitable for the weather you’ll be traveling in. If you’re going somewhere tropical or warm, you’ll want a comfortable pair of sandals. If you’re going somewhere with a lot of hiking or snow, you want a strong pair of durable boots.

Lastly, you want the option to pack a dressier pair of shoes if you will be going for dinners or have meetings to attend. This could be a pair of flats or a nice pair of heels. If your trip is more active, having a spare pair of running shoes that can also be used casually would be ideal. This last pair can really be tailored to your specific trip.

Tips On Saving Space When Packing Shoes

1. Pack them individually

You’ll want to pack your shoes individually with the soles pushed to the edges of your suitcase. You will be able to pull out your shoes quite easily. You will also leave a lot of room to pack your luggage full with other items. Be sure to pack each shoe separately against the edges for optimal space-saving.

2. Stuff smaller items in

Before wrapping up and packing your shoes, see if you can stuff smaller items into your shoes to save space. This could include things like socks, belts, jewelry, or even small toiletries. Be sure to wrap anything that could spill inside your shoes.

3. Pack shoes at the bottom

Pack your shoes at the bottom of the suitcase. This will help distribute the weight in your bag so that it doesn’t topple over. With your shoes stuffed and by filling in the gaps between your shoes, you will have more than enough room for your outfits and other essentials.

Other Options For Packing Your Shoes

The above is not the only way to pack your shoes while saving space. If you only have a couple pairs of less bulky shoes, you may be able to pack them in a zippered compartment if you have one. This definitely works best if you want to sneak an extra pair of sandals or flip-flops in your luggage.

You can also use the method of packing your shoes against the edges of your suitcase at the bottom, but lay them together. One shoe will have its sole facing the edge, and the other will be placed heel to toe against the other shoe. This will only work if they are smaller or less bulky.

How To Pack Different Styles Of Shoes 



If you have to pack a pair of heels, you will want to pack them toe to heel to create a rectangle of sorts. If you can pack other items within the shoes and wrap them in some sort of protective layer, that would optimize space as well. Sticking with a neutral pair will help you dress up easily and efficiently.

You can then pack other items between the two shoes and around them. You will want to pack your heels in the centre of your suitcase towards the top. This will help balance it out while leaving room for the rest of your belongings. Your goal is to have your heels cuddled within other items so they stay put and protected. Use the same technique for packing wedges.


If you have to pack boots, they will of course be quite bulky and heavy. Once again, stuff them with other items after they have been cleaned, and wrap them individually in some type of bag. Pack your boots at the bottom of the suitcase to avoid tipping. If you can, try to wear your boots on the place to save the space in your luggage.

However, if they need to be packed, be sure to pack one boot with the sole facing the edge, and the other with the ankle touching the toe. If there is any space between the two, you can roll up a shirt or other item and stuff it between them.


With sneakers, you will do the same; clean them, stuff them, and wrap them individually. Place each shoe against the edge of the suitcase, with the soles touching the edge.


With sandals, they are pretty flat, so they are easy to pack. It would still be a good idea to clean them and wrap them, but they can be wrapped together if you like. You can either stuff them into a pocket of your suitcase, or lay them on top of your other items.

Protecting Other Items From Your Shoes

Take the time to thoroughly clean your shoes before packing them. Wipe them down to get any dirt and debris off the outside. You may also want to spray them with a deodorizer spray before placing them in the suitcase.

It would also be wise to put your shoes in a bag or in packing cubes. This can help keep them in place, and also help you avoid getting any dirt or scuffs on your other items. Your luggage can get tossed around when you’re travelling, and you don’t want to arrive at your destination only to find that your shoes have broken something or soiled your clothing.

Additionally, you also want to try and pack breakables as far away from your shoes as possible. You can easily cushion your more delicate items around your clothing to offer it a little more of a buffer from your shoes.

Preventing Shoe Odor From Stinking Up Your Suitcase

Since you’ll probably be rotating between your few pairs of shoes throughout your trip, there’s a good chance they will get sweaty and start to smell. This can cause your shoes to stink up the rest of your luggage. Similarly, if you’re packing shoes you’ve worn a few times, they may have a bit of a smell.

Avoid this by having some type of deodorizer on hand. This could even be fabric softener sheets that you stuff within the shoes. Having them packed in a sealed plastic bag can also help mitigate some of the stench.

How Do You Pack Shoes in a Suitcase Without Creasing It?

If you have a fabric suitcase, you may be concerned that a stuffed suitcase with shoes inside could end up creasing it. However, if you pack your shoes smartly by keeping them at the bottom and stuck to the edges, this shouldn’t happen.

You also want to avoid overstuffing, which will push the shoes into the edges and cause creasing. When your shoes are packed well, you can roll your clothing within the empty nooks to fill them up and keep everything in place. This will also help protect your items and your suitcase when it gets pulled in and out of the plane.

How Do You Pack Shoes Without Squishing Them?

If you ensure that you pack those smaller items within your shoes, like socks and underwear, for example, this will easily help you avoid your shoes getting squished in your suitcase. Packing your shoes in a container, while excellent for protection, will take up way too much space.

Once your suitcase is packed, there will also be less of a chance of your shoes getting squished because your clothing and other items will cushion them from rigorous activity.

How to Pack Shoes in a Backpack

A good tip is to make sure that you are wearing your heaviest or bulkiest shoes when boarding your plane. This ensures you are able to bring them along with you, but they also won’t take up too much space in your bag or backpack.

If you need to pack a pair of shoes in your backpack, you will want to pack them similarly to a suitcase. Make sure they are clean, stuff them with small items like socks, and wrap them up.

Pack some of your lighter items at the bottom first, then shoes in the middle. This will help balance the weight of your backpack. You can then pack more on top of your shoes.

How to Pack Shoes in a Carry-On or Duffle Bag

It’s a smart idea to pack a spare pair of shoes in your carry-on. Unfortunately, sometimes luggage gets lost or goes to the wrong place, so having the basic necessities in your carry-on is the best way to ensure you’re prepared for anything in this scenario.

Your best bet is packing a casual, neutral pair of walking shoes, or a comfortable pair of canvas shoes that will go with any outfit. You can also opt for a comfortable pair of flats. Go for a small pair that won’t take up too much room in your carry-on.

If you are packing shoes in a duffel bag to store under your seat you will pack them similarly to a suitcase. Wrap them up after placing small items inside the shoes, and pack them heel to toe at the bottom of the bag. Try to pack the shoes in the center of your duffel bag so they even the weight out.

Other Considerations When Packing Shoes

If you are packing a pair of shoes in your carry-on or duffel bag, you can use them to store delicate items that you don’t want to lose. This could include cash, jewelry, keys, or other tiny items. Be sure to wrap any jewelry before putting them in your shoes so nothing gets damaged.

You also want to ensure you don’t pack them beside anything breakable. While the wrapping and your clothing will create a cushioned barrier between the two items, this may not be enough if your luggage gets knocked around.

Final Thoughts

The main takeaways are to ensure you utilize the limited space you have in your suitcase by narrowing down your shoe choices. You want to use your shoes as extra storage for small items, and keep them clean and protected.

You don’t need as many pairs of shoes as you might think to enjoy your vacation in comfort and style.