Mar 09, 2017

How to Choose and Pack Shoes

How to choose and pack shoes for travel. Tips and examples for different types of trips.

Packed for my trip to Paris: Veja Esplar Sneaker,  Alexander Wang Gabi Booties.

In all of my experience with travels and packing lists, there is one thing that stands out to me the most. Packing shoes is not easy. It’s never easy for any kind of trip, but especially not easy for trips with multiple activities and climates. Today I’m sharing some of my best tips for how to pack shoes, and how to choose your shoes for travel, along with sharing some examples of shoes you should pack for different kinds of trips.

How to choose and pack shoes for travel. Tips and examples for different types of trips.How to choose and pack shoes for travel. Tips and examples for different types of trips.

Baggu Zipper Bags are an absolute favorite for packing.

Limit how many pairs you pack.
Before you even think about where you’re going or what kind of shoes to pack, you need to set a hard limit in your head of two pairs of shoes, max. I promise there will be very, very rare situations where you ever need more than two. Depending on where you are going and what activities you will be doing, you will want one pair that is more flat or casual, and another that can be more dressy. Either way, you do not need more than two, including the pair you wear for travel. Wear one, pack one! I love these Baggu Zipper Bags to help keep the bottoms of the shoes from touching my other clothing.

Think about the planned activities and season.
Planning ahead is obviously a good skill to have for when you travel light, because if you know what the things you can predict are going to be (activities) you have less to worry about with what you can’t (weather). Try to figure out what kind of activities you will be doing on the trip. Are you hiking? Are you going to attend a wedding or fancy dinner? Do you need to work out? Can you do an alternate workout that doesn’t require a change of shoes while you’re away? My favorite is the Sculpt & Burn Ballet Beautiful workout. No running shoes required! It will also be good to know the season of where you’re going. I packed the shoes above for Winter in Paris (note I packed the two above, not three like is on the list!), but I might have packed different shoes in the Summer or if the weather was warmer.

Color coordinate with your other packed items.
Because I use my travel light grid system when I pack, I know what outfits I will wear ahead of time. I know which bags I’m packing, and for the most part, which clothing I’m packing. Try to pick your shoes based on what will go with the majority of your outfits. If you’re a bags and shoes must match sort of person, it’s pretty obvious that you shouldn’t pack a brown bag and black shoes.

How to choose and pack shoes for travel. Tips and examples for different types of trips.

Below I’ve put together some possible shoe combinations for different types of trips and climates. I hope you find the examples helpful, and remember that if you don’t own or want to buy the exact pairs of shoes, you can always find something similar in your own closet. I never advocate to shop for a single trip.

European City Winter
A pair for walking, and a fancier pair.

Warm Trip to Mexico
A pair near the pool, and a pair for walking.

Adventurous Trip to Iceland
A pair for hiking, and a pair for exploring cities.

Tropical Caribbean Escape
A casual sandal and a waterproof pair for those unexpected downpours.

Summer Glamping Trip
A pair for hiking, and a more campy pair

Winter Ski Trip
A pair for snow, and a pair for lounging.

Formal Spring Wedding

A nice pair for the wedding, and a pair you can actually walk in.

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Do you have any tips for packing shoes when you travel?

Expand Comments

the only I would add is that I always include a pair of lightweight flipflops (the day they make foldable ones I will be very happy) that can be used in showers, pools, beaches and lounging

Thanks for the tip! I did pack flip-flops for Iceland and didn’t end up using them at all, not even at the geothermal spas.

Ah shoe packing. It’s the hardest thing anyone will ever do. Even the best packer has a tough time with those things. Thanks for the tips!

These are great tips. I’m generally a good packer, but shoes are my nemesis.

These are some great choices! I also only take 2-3 pair and make sure they will go with most of the outfits!

At most, I pack only two shoes during travels because shoes are heavy and they take a relatively large part of the our baggage. Shoes though can make or break an outfit so you must choose which ones to bring wisely.

Those are great tips! I always take a shower/pool shoe, a sandal, a running shoe and a good pair of walking shoes!!

I agree that shoes are the worst when it comes to packing. They take up so much room and they are so heavy! The shoe bags seem like a perfect solution!

I generally stick to one color palette. I used to overpack shoes all the time, but I too also restrict myself to two pairs and am rarely bummed I don’t have the right shoe! I use hotel shower curtains to protect the rest of my suitcase from my shoes and that seems to work quite well. I also think of this as consolation, you can always buy more shoes at your new destination!

I have to admit, I am quite lazy when it comes to traveling and packing shoes away as I tend to wear one pair of trainers (or sneakers as they called over the pond). But on my last trip because I visited Beijing in the winter and Melbourne in the summer on the same trip and also did a race, hiking etc, I had a pair of everyday trainers, running shoes, hiking boots and flip flops! What the hell!! 😀 Anyway, I stop rabbiting and this shoe bags are a good idea for storage 🙂

I don’t own many pairs of shoes so picking isn’t really a problem, but I’ve never really known how best to pack them – those shoe bags look like such a great idea

– Natalie

I’ve never seen those shoe bags before but that’s exactly what I need! I hate it when my shoes get mixed in with my clothing. Great tips!

Shoes are always the hardest for me when it comes to packing because they never all fit in my suitcase. I have those sandals and I wear them all the time!

I have done them with shower caps on the bottom before! usually i just shove them where they fit 😉

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