How to Pack Shoes – The Ultimate Guide!

From work boots to three-inch heels, packing shoes is always a bit complicated. Whether you’re headed abroad for a jaunt through Europe or wondering how to pack shoes for moving, it’s important to set time aside to take care of your precious investments. The last thing you want is to squash and deform a favorite pair of flats because they jammed up in your suitcase or somehow ended up in the appliance box.

Your footwear’s varying shapes, sizes and material mean that there is no one-size-fits-all to keep shoes safe when packing them away. Knowing exactly how to pack shoes for travel and transport not only makes them easy to move, but also protects their structure, appearance and longevity.

There are several options for how to pack shoes depending on how much space you have in your luggage and the distance of your trek. Let’s go through all the do’s and don’ts to find the best ways to pack shoes while keeping them safe, accessible and out of the way.

There’s nothing better than arriving at a new home already tidy and organized. Packing shoes for moving should protect the condition of your shoes while simultaneously making the unpacking process easier. You’re dealing with some of the most sensitive fabrics you wear all day — leather, suede and all the delicate hand-sewn details, studs and sequins as well. Packing shoes for moving day takes a little more prep than other parts of your wardrobe and is well worth the energy.

1. Start with a Shoe Purge

Donating unused items is an excellent place to begin when deciding what to pack first when moving. Allocate an hour of packing to gather all your shoes in one place. If you haven’t worn a pair in the past year, send it to the donate or throw-away pile. Many local charities accept new or like-new footwear depending on how they use the donations. This process both pares down your shoe collection for the big move and gets all your shoes for packing in one centralized place.

You can also take this moment to dust or wipe off any shoes that need cleaning. With all their daily travels, you want to make sure they’re free of dirt or grass before spending a week in a box together.

2. Create Shoe Packing Piles

Once you have your finalists, separate your shoes out into several piles.

  • Everyday shoes: shoes you will need during or just after the move with ultimate accessibility.
  • Delicate shoes, boots, heels and anything that requires special attention
  • Work boots, athletic shoes and older sneakers

3. Pair Them Up

No matter the pile, attach each pair of shoes to one another to make packing as streamlined as possible. It’s always best to lay flats, heels and sneakers on top of its pair, with the heel and toe meeting on both sides — just like they arrived in their box when you both them. Boots are best laid flat on their sides. Set any tricky shoes to the sides such as sharp stilettoes or those with delicate decor.

4. Keep Them Safe

For tougher footwear like running shoes and flip flops, attach pairs to one another with a rubber band and wrap with clear packing plastic or packing paper. Avoid using newspaper as the ink can bleed onto shoes during the move. Wrapping each pair of individually keeps these more-casual shoes from passing any dirt onto their neighbors.

All of your favorite patent leather, velvet or studded pairs need a little more TLC. Stuff the inside of each shoe with paper, packing materials or even socks to maintain their shape. Packing shoes for moving means that they could get bumped and stacked during the quick transition, so extra attention goes a long way.

Fabric drawstring bags are very helpful for packing shoes for travel, though clear packing plastic does make them easier to locate once you arrive in your new space.

Packing Heels for Moving

Shoes like stilettos and cleats need personal protection as well as a barrier from poking those around them. Wrap sharper heels and shoes with bubble wrap to keep them safe in their bags and boxes during the move.

Shoes Boxes and Bins for Moving

These oddly-shaped wardrobe items can be a pain to pack simply because of their clunky size. Because of this, consider using plastic shoe bins made for storage to move your shoes. This method ensures that shoes are easy to find, safe from getting jostled and scuffed in traditional cardboard boxes and can act as immediate storage when you arrive.

How to Pack Shoe Boxes

You can also use your original shoe boxes to keep them safe and separate. Fit each individual box into a larger packing box to streamline your moving day. Fill the empty space between boxes with packing paper to keep them from shifting around when lifted.

Day-Of Shoe Basket

Always pack a separate day-of bin or basket with everything you’ll need to wear on the day of the move itself. You don’t want to dig through boxes on the morning on your move or have extra pairs hanging around to get in the way of emptying your home. A duffel bag, overnight backpack or even plastic bin for the car is ideal for important moving shoes.

How to Pack Shoes for Travel

If you’re headed off for an adventure, how to pack shoes in a suitcase is a big conundrum — especially if you’re flying. Shoes take up precious luggage space, can get squished and dented and don’t play well with everything around them. So, how do you packing shoes in luggage without frustration? Take the same step-by-step approach as you did with moving:

Consider What you Really Need

Yes, bringing as many shoe options as possible is ideal when you have endless luggage space. However, simplifying your suitcase is always the best bet whenever possible. If you’re completely on the fence between two pairs, go with the option that is lighter, more durable and less likely to catch on surrounding clothing.

Protect and Prep

When packing shoes in a suitcase or carry-on bag, place all your shoes into a separate cloth bag. This keeps them from flopping around your suitcase, allows for easy unpacking and makes them easier to find at airport security when necessary. Within the bag, wrap delicate pairs in individual cloth shoe bags or protect with plastic wrap.

Packing and Placement

Packing shoes in a suitcase are always best when sitting on top of your clothing, right near the opening of the case. This makes them easy to grab when you arrive and is best for TSA in case they need to inspect your packed shoe in a carry-on suitcase.

If you’re packing shoes in a backpack — especially a hiking backpack — the trick comes down to weight distribution. Heavier items should live in the center of your pack, sandwiched between lighter items like clothing on the top and bottom.

As mentioned above, keep your shoes accessible for airport security if hopping on a plane. This should be a bit easier in this case as your backpack will hold less than packing shoes in a suitcase. Still, by using packing separators to keep different items contained, you can easily reach for your shoes without giving up comfortable weight distribution.

Review: How to Pack Shoes Like a Pro

Packing shoes for moving or a weekend away is a necessary skill. You’ve spent good money on these crucial parts of your wardrobe and transport shouldn’t put them at risk. In a nutshell, you always want to remember the following tips for properly packing shoes in luggage, boxes or backpacks:

  • Keep pairs together with rubber bands, fabric shoe bags or individual shoe boxes
  • Lay boots flat to back and stack others heel to toe on top of one another
  • Wrap with clear bubble wrap or plan packing paper — newspaper can stain
  • Pack shoes on the top of your suitcase for easy TSA access
  • Store in plastic shoe bins when packing shoes for moving for fastest transition
  • Pack in the center of your backpack for weight distribution
  • Create a day-of basket for packing shoes for moving


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