two woman wearing colorful socks with heels

How To Pack Shoes & Save Space In Your Suitcase

A pair of chic Chelsea boots for your trip to London, some studded stilettos for a night out in Milan, and a comfortable set of leather slides for a stroll through the Moroccan medinas. Any savvy traveler knows that packing the proper footwear for a trip is a cocktail consisting of equal parts fashion and functionality. 

But, unlike bikinis and bike shorts, you can’t roll them up like clothing cannolis and stuff them into the tiniest nooks and crannies of your suitcase. Figuring out how to pack shoes into your already limited luggage space requires a bit more finesse, especially if you’re only bringing carry-on luggage. But even with check-in luggage and storage-conscious collapsable luggage, you can find yourself sitting on your suitcase five minutes before you need to leave.

Fret not, fashionista. 

Here we’ve got several space-saving tips that’ll help you comfortably fit your running shoes, ankle boots, formal shoes, and everything in-between without having to risk bursting your travel duffel bag at the seams. This article has all the Tetris-style tips you need to know when packing shoes for travel.

Don’t Overpack

This suggestion might seem a little counterintuitive in an article about the best way to pack shoes for travel. But the number one way to save space in your luggage and make sure you’re packing efficiently is to only bring the items you need.

“But I need them all,” you say. 

We know it can be hard to distinguish the essentials from the extras, so here are some tips on how to pack efficiently to help you edit your list and save space:1

  • Don’t pack last minute – Frantically packing often results in bringing things you don’t need—and sometimes forgetting the most important items. Instead of packing the night before, try making a list a week in advance and trimming it down as you plan. That way, you have a streamlined idea of what to pack that doesn’t include unnecessary outfits or items you’ll never use.
  • Set a space limit – When packing, try not to envision yourself filling your suitcase to the zip-breaking brim. Instead, plan to leave a little extra room at the top and evaluate whether or not you need to pack that second bottle of shampoo. (Hint: You probably don’t.) This trick ensures you’ll always have a little extra space for your shoe collection.
  • Keep your destination in mind – When you research a bit about where you’re going, you can avoid packing extra stuff you might not need. If you’re going on a weekend trip to your mom’s house, do you really need five outfits with coordinated jewelry and shoes? Knowing your destination—and packing accordingly—can save you space in your suitcase, leaving more room for a little retail therapy while traveling.

These tips will help start you on your journey to suitcase organization by giving you less to pack. But bringing less isn’t the end-all-be-all when it comes to saving space in your bag. How you pack your clothes also has a lot to do with space efficiency.

shop luggage

Utilize a Packing Technique

If you were to ask an expert packer how to pack shoes for travel, they’d tell you to find a space-saving method that works for you. Casually folding your clothes is okay when you’re putting laundry away. But if you think about packing clothes in your suitcase the same way, you might not be doing yourself any favors when it comes to efficiency.

There are many popular packing techniques to pack shoes and save space. As long as it’s helping you be more efficient, no one method is better than the other, and you should choose the one you prefer. Below you’ll find a couple of common techniques to help you learn how to pack shoes in a suitcase.  

Soles to the Side

This method involves lining the sides of your suitcase with shoes and leaving the space in the middle free to pack your other must-haves. To use this technique, you need to:

  • Put your shoes in your empty bag before anything else
  • Take a pair of shoes and arrange them with the soles touching the outer walls of the bag
  • Lay them toe-to-toe to save space and fit more pairs
  • Fill the rest of the bag to stop your shoes from shifting
  • When done right, you should have empty space in the middle for packing

By using this technique, you should be able to fit about two pairs of shoes on each side since even small suitcases can fit four shoes along the edges. But the bigger the suitcase, the more shoes you can squeeze in along the perimeter.

Shoes on the Bottom

If your suitcase or bag isn’t big enough for the above method, you can also try the space-saving trick of packing your shoes along the bottom of the suitcase. Laying your shoes flat on the bottom may not seem different than throwing them on the top, but it’s actually more space-efficient because:

  • It lets you close your suitcase – Putting your shoes on the bottom of your suitcase stops the top from becoming lumpy, stuffed, and hard to zip because of the overfill. If you can’t remember the last time you closed your suitcase without help, this tip will solve your woes.
  • You can fill space between the shoes – Being truly space-savvy means using every inch of room in your suitcase. Packing shoes on the bottom allows you to do that by filling gaps between the shoes with small items that would otherwise need to go elsewhere.

Trust us—using one of these packing systems for your shows will completely change how you think about organizing your suitcase for the better.

white shoes on the floor

Fill the Gaps Inside Your Shoes

The best packers know how to find space you wouldn’t have ever realized you could use to store your belongings. One of those magical packing spaces? The empty, cavernous spaces inside your favorite pair of sneakers. While we wouldn’t recommend putting anything loose like jewelry inside your shoes, you can pack lots of other small items inside them, such as:

  • Rolled socks
  • Belts
  • Bags of travel-sized toiletries
  • Sunglasses (when in a protective case)

Securing small items and storing them inside your shoes is an excellent way to save space these items would have otherwise needed and use room in your suitcase you’d have left empty. Genius? We think so. 

One thing you don’t want to shove in the small crevices of your suitcase is your nice suit. Learning how to pack a suit properly is not as challenging as shoes, but it does take some research. 

Carry On or Wear Your Heavy Shoes

It’s easy to focus on space-saving as a big-picture task that’s impossible to accomplish without completely rethinking how you pack. While those kinds of adjustments might be necessary at times, space-saving can also be an accumulation of small, carefully considered decisions.

Deciding to wear your heaviest shoes while you travel—or carry them on if your method of transportation allows for that—is one of those small decisions that can have a big impact. By doing so, you:

  • Take the biggest, bulkiest pair of shoes out of your bag
  • Cut down on how much your bag weighs, which can be crucial at airports

This change isn’t a big one, and it might not be enough on its own if you’re looking to completely overhaul the way you pack. But, if you only need to fit in your favorite blouses or that one pair of jeans you can’t leave home without, then taking out your largest shoes might free up precisely the amount of space you’ll need.

Wrap Shoes to Protect Your Other Clothes

While one goal of packing is to make sure you can fit all the belongings you need for your trip, another is to ensure they all arrive safely and in good condition. While you need to fit all your shoes into your suitcase, you also need to protect your other clothes from damage.

The easiest way to do this is by wrapping your shoes before you pack them. The wrapped shoe method, using a plastic bag, shoe bag, or specialty packing cubes will cover up your shoes and ensure:

  • Your clothes stay fresh and don’t wind up with dirt on them
  • Your favorite shirt avoids a mishap with your pointy heels
  • Your shoes don’t share any odors with the rest of your wardrobe

You don’t want to start your vacation by doing laundry or repairing torn clothes because they got too close to an unsecured heel. That’s why securing your shoes is a vital step in the packing process, even if it doesn’t save you space, it keeps your shoes and clothes in good condition.

How To Pack Shoes

Pack Better with BÉIS

While vacations are supposed to be a fun break, sometimes the reality of packing makes them feel as though it’s more work than it’s worth. Instead of giving up and resigning yourself to a fight with your suitcase, you can rethink how you pack your shoes by referring back to these tips and tricks.

No matter how you decide to pack more efficiently, you’ll need a bag that’s made to help you— not stress you out. That’s where BÉIS comes in. Our roller suitcases are designed to make both your packing and your travel experience as easy and effortless as sipping down a fruity umbrella drink. 

With their roomy interiors and oodles of pockets, our roller luggage basically packs itself. Plus, these bags come with a built-in laundry section to separate your clean clothes from your sand-covered sarong.

Need a bag you can carry over your shoulder that still offers space and organization? Check out our weekender bags that are designed with a separate compartment to pack your shoes without limiting space for your other packing essentials.

If you’re ready to start packing better—and to look fabulous while doing so—try BÉIS and go on your next trip in style. 


Sources: 

  1. Rodgers, Greg. “10 Simple Ways to Avoid Overpacking for Long Trips.” TripSavvy, TripSavvy, 26 June 2019, https://www.tripsavvy.com/how-to-avoid-overpacking-1458602

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