Last Updated: February 28, 2023

How To Pack Shoes In A Suitcase (Sneakers, Boots, High Heels)

Need some tips on packing shoes and making the most of limited luggage space? That’s great because that is exactly what I’m talking about in this post!

A couple days ago I was talking about packing with friends, and I realized that most of them just stack their shoes on top of each other and pack them together. And that works, but it is seriously inefficient – they don’t even realize how much space they are wasting.

And so I decided to share all the tips that I have, which can help you start packing your shoes like a pro and really utilizing all of the space in your suitcase.

Naturally, I will talk about packing different types of shoes (boots, sneakers, flip flops, heels etc.) in this helpful guide!

How To Pack Shoes In General

Placing Sneakers

Shoes wrapped and packed in a suitcase

  1. Clean your shoes first
  2. Store extra items inside to maximize space
  3. Wrap each shoe separately
  4. Place each shoe sole against any available side of the case
  5. Fill the rest of the case as you normally would

This method is particularly useful if you’re packing bulky shoes. You can then pack your clothes around them, which helps you utilize every single inch of free space in your luggage.

You can also place your shoes between the metal rods of the wheel handle, if they protrude into the main compartment. This particular space is always a bit nasty to pack properly, and I find that sneakers (and flats) utilize this part of the suitcase best.

How To Pack Boots In A Suitcase

Packing longer boots is a little more tricky than standard size shoes like sneakers, or walking shoes. They are longer and harder to pack effectively. So, here is how you pack boots in a suitcase:

  1. Make sure that they can fit in your suitcase without bending
  2. Fill the boots with any smaller items like socks
  3. Wrap the whole boot or at least the sole in a plastic bag or paper
  4. Lie them flat, against opposite ends of a suitcase (see image).
  5. Fill the center of the suitcase accordingly
Packing Boots

Boots on either end of a suitcase

If you’re packing shorter boots, you should definitely fill them in first, and then lie them flat against the walls of the suitcase. And when you’ve filled up the space in between the boots, make sure to add stuff in all the little nooks and crannies that are left  – you can put your jewellery in a bag and squeeze it in an empty space, or even fit in a pair of leggings or a tie.

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Packing Hacks & Tips

Cleaning Your Suitcase

How To Pack High Heels In A Suitcase

Heels are bulky footwear, so they’re always a bit difficult to pack. You should always pack them at the bottom of your suitcase, and you should always separate them.

Here is the method I use to pack high heels:

  1. Fill up stilettos or high heels with underwear and socks so that they don’t lose their shape
  2. Protect the heel by placing it in a shower cap or a plastic bag, and then on a t-shirt or a towel
  3. Roll the garment around the high heel tightly
Packing Heels in a suitcase

Fill high heels to keep their shape in suitcases

Protecting Heels

Wrap high heels in plastic to further protect them

When it comes to packing wedges, the best piece of advice I can give you is just don’t. They are bulky and they are going to take up half of your suitcase no matter what you do with them. Well, the really tall ones are – shorter wedges are a bit easier to pack, but they still tend to take up a lot of space.

Packing Wedges

I recommend packing these first – place them against the wall of the suitcase or in the corners. If you’re packing ankle-boot-wedges or any type of closed wedge, you should fill them up with smaller items before placing them in the suitcase.

How To Pack Flip Flops And Sandals

Packing flip flops or sandals is perhaps the easiest of all because they are thin and easy to arrange in your suitcase.

Here is the method I use to oack flip flops or sandals:

  1. Ensure your flip flops or sandals are clean
  2. Place flip flops and sandals on top of everything else in your suitcase
  3. Alternatively, squeeze them on the sides,  in a pocket or in the lining

My best tip to you, when it comes to packing flip flops, is that you don’t need more than one pair. If you own a pair that is comfortable to walk in and that doesn’t cause your feet to blister, pack those and enjoy them. In case they fall apart or break, you can always buy a new pair for very little money.

Packing Flip Flops

Pack flip flops on top of everyting in your suitcase

You can see in the photo that I just placed the flip flops on top, and there were really no issues with closing the suitcase. I also have a pair of sneakers in this compartment (with four pairs of socks in each sneaker), six pairs of shorts and eight or nine t-shirts. It’s not the most neatly packed suitcase, but you get the gist.

It’s pretty much the same with sandals, depending on how bulky they are. Wrap each shoe in a shower cap or a plastic bag, and then place them at the top of your suitcase or squeeze them between the clothes and the walls if there is any room.

The reason why I recommend packing sandals and flip flops last is because they are very thin and lightweight. You will usually find that, even if your suitcase is entirely full, you will be able to zip it up when you place a pair of flip flops or sandals on top of your clothes.

Packing Shoes In Other Types Of Luggage

Most of the tips I’ve shared so far with you are about packing shoes in a suitcase. But what do you do if you want to pack shoes in a backpack or a duffel bag? Pretty much the same thing, really.

Shoes In Duffel Bag

You should still fill up any shoes that you can, and wrap it in a shower cap or a plastic bag. The one difference with packing shoes in a backpack, duffel or a tote is that you can place them together. Just put them at the bottom of the bag – the soles will lie flat against the soft material of the bag, and you can’t really utilize the bottom of the bag better.

Of course, you can also separate them and place them at the sides – and this is what you should do if you’re packing some really bulky shoes in a travel bag.

Utilizing The Space In Your Suitcase

If you really want to make the most of the space in your suitcase, you should treat your shoes like little packing cubes. Especially if you’re packing sneakers or fancy formal shoes, which can easily lose shape when they get flattened by everything else in your suitcase.

Filling Sneakers

Packing Sneakers

I usually pack underwear and socks in my shoes – you want to roll up your underwear and socks, and then place them in a plastic bag, which you will then stuff inside your shoes.

This is a useful trick to really utilize the space in your luggage, because it frees up the other pockets. Plus, you can also stuff toiletries inside your shoes; just make sure that all the bottles are sealed tightly and that the plastic bag is completely closed. You don’t want to unpack your suitcase only to find a shampoo explosion in your favorite pair of sneakers.

Another way to make sure that you’re making the most of your suitcase is to fill up all the little nooks and crannies. So, you’ve packed the shoes and the clothes, and you’ll spot a tiny little space somewhere? Fill it up with whatever you haven’t packed yet – a pair of socks you forgot to roll up or a swimsuit could easily fit in there. 

Always Protect Your Shoes

You should always put your shoes in a plastic bag or at least a shower cap. This will protect them from the other contents of your luggage – maybe there’s a rogue zipper or a rivet that can scratch your shiny formal shoes.

In addition to that, this ensures that none of your other clothes get dirty because of your shoes. And when you arrive to your destination, you will have a bunch of small plastic bags for trash and dirty clothes!

Other Tips For Efficiently Packing Shoes In A Suitcase

I have a couple of other tips that can help you really pack your shoes like a pro and make the most of your suitcase.

  • Think about your outfits and choose shoes that you can wear with everything. If you’re going on a vacation, you usually need one casual pair of shoes (a sandal or a sneaker), one formal pair of shoes and flip-flops or slides to wear to the beach and around the house. By choosing shoes that go with most of your clothes, you won’t really have to think too much about what you are going to wear. And you will have more space in your luggage for other things.
  • Always wear the bulkiest shoes while you’re travelling. This is pretty self-explanatory – wear the bulkiest shoes during your flight or ride, and you will have more space in your suitcase for clothes and other stuff.
  • Pack versatile shoes. Ballet flats, sandals, dress sneakers and espadrilles can all be casual and formal shoes. A really sturdy pair of sneakers will come in handy if the weather shifts unexpectedly, or if you decide to go on an impromptu hike. Don’t pack any shoes that you think you might wear; only pack shoes that you are positive you are going to wear!
  • Consider how you pack your clothes. This is an entirely different topic, but it is an important part of really utilizing the space in your luggage. I like to either roll my clothes, or fold them the KonMari method.

The latter is the method of Marie Kondo, the famous Japanese organizing consultant, and it including folding each garment so that it can stand upright. You then put the garments next to one another (like in the photos, but a little neater).

As you can see in the images, I managed to fit at least six different outfits and two pairs of shoes in a single packing compartment using this method, with some space left.

Just don’t stack garments on top of one another – this is definitely the least efficient way of packing a suitcase.


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Learn how to pack your shoes like a pro. Anything from boots, sneakers, heels and more.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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