I pride myself on being a light packer…when it comes to clothes. No matter how much I’ve been able to whittle down the number of dresses and tank tops I throw into my suitcase, there’s one thing that is a constant struggle for me when it comes to packing light: Shoes.
All Fashionista’s know that shoes can make or break an outfit (or a day walking around a city) and half the time I used to feel like my suitcase or backpack was half full of just shoes. I wanted to be prepared for any scenario that came up so in went seven to eight pair of shoes, of which I usually only wore two to three pairs. But I was prepared.
Then along came the airline’s checked baggage fees and I realized it was time for me to tackle my over packing shoe problem. I can now travel on most kinds of trips with just three pairs of shoes. Here’s what I recommend to travel light and have the right pairs of shoes with you.
A Backpacker Trip
The 3 Shoes: Hiking Boots, Walking Sandals, and Flip-Flops
Bring hiking boots for any planned or impromptu trekking, plus a pair of comfortable and secure sandals to walk around town in if there’s going to be warmer weather while you’re traveling. And flip-flops are always good to have for hostel bathrooms or for jaunts to the beach.
High-Heeled Caveat: I once dragged my fiancé around the entire Siam Paragon mall in Thailand because I didn’t pack any heels on a backpacking trip around the country and decided I had to have some for that night’s dinner splurge and trip to the dress-coded Sky Bar. (And shhh, don’t tell my fiancé, but it was also half an excuse just to be able to get a new pair of shoes.) It was our last night in Thailand and I wouldn’t have to lug them around anymore and I wanted my feet to look cute for Thailand’s nightlife.
A Tropical Cruise or Resort Trip
The 3 Shoes: Walking Shoes, Dancing Shoes, Pool/Beach Shoes
A comfy pair of shoes for days walking around cities in port or on excursions from your resort are key to enjoying your surroundings. At night, pack a pair of flirty shoes for dinner and to dance the night away afterward at the ship or resort’s main club or music venue. And of course, no tropical vacation is complete without some time spent by water – whether its salt or chlorine filled – so don’t forget a pair of easy to slip on and off flip-flops.
High-Heeled Caveat: Some cruise ships and resorts are huge so if you’re not a big high-heeled walker be prepared for a possibly long walk to and from your room to get to dinner or entertainment; you may want your night shoes to be low-heeled.
A Winter Wonderland Trip
The 3 Shoes: Boots, Boots, and Boots
Ok, and maybe a pair of flip-flops for the hot tub. Whether you’re traveling to Vail for a skip trip or Alaska to go dog-sledding and scale glaciers, any trip that involves a lot of snow needs boots to keep your feet warm and dry. And be practical – snow and ice covered sidewalks don’t bode well for stiletto, pointy-toed boots. Boots take up lots of suitcase room so to maximize packing space, wear your tall pair of boots on the plane and pack a pair of snow boots for trudging through all that white stuff and weather-proofed ankle boots for nights out at restaurants.
High-Heeled Caveat: Despite ice and snow being treacherous for heels, I still usually bring one pair of boots that has wide, two-inch heels on them – makes me feel more like a snow bunny as opposed to an abominable snowman.
A Trip Home
The 3 Shoes: Trendy Boots, Ballet Flats or Sandals, and a Killer Pair of Heels
Whenever I’m heading home to the town I grew up in, I always feel like I need to bring my A-game to make sure those that knew me in glasses, braces, and high water jeans (back when super flare jeans that practically hid your shoes were the thing) now see that I’m a confident, successful, not quite as nerdy adult. Therefore, whenever I travel home I am sure to pack my most sexy pair of heels for nights out, trendy boots for dinner, and depending on the season – cute ballet flats or sandals for running around town in or afternoon coffee meet-ups with old friends.
High-Heeled Caveat: My trip home is to the Midwest. However, I’ve been a SoCal girl for almost ten years and I tend to get anxiety if I don’t have a pair of flip-flops within my reach so I have been known to travel to the glorious Midwest and it’s most inglorious time – the middle of winter – with flip-flops packed in with my cutest shoes.
The Plane Ride
The “But I need them!” Shoes
Have a pair of shoes that you can’t quite justify packing, but can’t imagine leaving at home just in case you end up wanting them because they’re your favorite pair? Wear them on the plane. Then they’re not taking up room in your suitcase, you’ve actually worn them, and you’re showing them off.
High-Heeled Caveat: Do this within reason. A pair of 5-inch platform shoes are not going to be the most comfortable on a plane or for navigating an airport – but if it’s worth it to you, you can always bring a pair of foldable ballet flats to change into on the plane and tuck the platforms under your seat.
Next time you travel, lighten your backpack load by following these tips – and don’t forget the flip-flops; they always seem to come in handy.