Big Shoes, Small Bag: The Secret to Effortless Light Packing!

big shoes small bag - how to pack minimal and smart

“Big-foot friends, this post is for you!

If your shoes take up

half of your luggage space every time,

know that I share the pain with you!” 

I’ve been a backpacker for a decade.

I’ve taken over 200 flights in the past 10 years, before building a van and start traveling the world with it!

The further I traveled, the more I discovered how little I truly needed for traveling and be happy.

Year after year, I started embracing more and more the minimalist travel philosophy and valuing experiences over possessions.

Towels: I’ll find them in my hostel!

Clothes? I can bring a few and wash them more often!

Trousers? A couple of shorts, a couple of longs, and ready to go!


Minimalist travel, as it’s aptly named, it’s a philosophy of deliberately choosing to travel light, both in terms of physical baggage and the clutter of unnecessary belongings, allowing us to savor every step unburdened by the weight of possessions. 


An old proverb says “travel light, travel far“, and I couldn’t agree more: the less you have, the fewer burdens you have to take care of, the more distance you can walk, and more time you can dedicate to what’s outside 😀

As a seasoned traveler who has roamed the globe in search of adventure and enlightenment, I’ve come to understand that in the world of minimalist travel, less is indeed more.

It’s a way of travel that champions liberation from the constraints of overpacking and the tyranny of material possessions.

It’s about curating your journey with purpose and mindfulness, making each moment count.

So… pack light, pack smart. Easy no?

Every time I pack my suitcase, I focus to leave aside everything I don’t need and everything that takes up too much space!

Normally all goes smoothly and easy: I select my pieces of clothing, I fold them most efficiently, I cram them to use as little space as possible, I almost complete the luggage… and then once I am almost finished I remember shoes.

I look at my feet, I sigh, and to my mind immediately comes the fateful thought “Here we go again… “.

Having a 46EU of shoes (12US, 11UK), packing light has always been for years a true nightmare!

Imagine that a Ryanair hand luggage allowance is 40cm, and my shoes are 30cm long! 

My girlfriend wears a 37, and she can cram 3 pairs of shoes in the space I pack one!

Big feet lead to big shoes, and big shoes take up so much space, and it’s damn annoying!

Maybe it’s only me feeling the uncomfortable pain of having to pack big shoes, or most probably it’s a common problem nobody between us big-foot people talks about.

Anyway, today I will try to analyze the problem a bit more in-depth, and share my solution about how I embraced a minimalist approach on travels and how I choose to fit big shoes in small luggage! 😀

Let’s dive right in!


Let’s get started!

1. The Problem: Shoes are a Necessity,

and ff you have big feet,

they take up lot of storage space!

big shoes problems when packing light

When you’re on the road, your feet are your most reliable companions, and the condition of your feet can significantly impact the quality of your journey.

Every step, whether it’s strolling through cobblestone streets in historic cities, conquering rugged trails in nature’s finest landscapes, or navigating unfamiliar terrain, becomes a testament to the importance of the right pair of shoes.

And here we come to the point: you need shoes! 

Shoes are a necessity you cannot do without while traveling!

When the travel gets longer, you might need different shoes too: a bit more elegant for attending events, hiking shoes for conquering nature, gymnastic shoes if you plan to practice sports, sandals for summer, warm shoes for winter, etc. etc., etc.

For big-foot people like us, 2 pairs already take up a lot of space, and for sure we cannot “travel light” if we carry 5 pairs of giant-foot-friendly shoes with us! ;D

Because of that, shoes (our elephant in the suitcase) demand thoughtful consideration.

They’re not just an accessory; they’re the foundation of our mobility and comfort and in the same way, the most bulky item we are likely to carry with us! So, we need a solution to optimize the deal!


2. How to Pack Shoes in a Smarter Way?

Versatility is the Ultimate Game Changer!

versatile shoes help to reduce space in the luggage

For the minimalist traveler, versatility is the ultimate game-changer when it comes to selecting the right shoes.

The first thing first, is to accept that 6-7 pairs of shoes won’t fit in a small backpack or light suitcase (they might fit in a campervan, but there might be more important things too! ) ;D

Because of that, my tip for big-foot like me would be to carry no more than 3 pairs of shoes (ideally two: the ones you’ll be wearing and one pair in your luggage!) 🙂

Once, you’ll have your mind set on that objective, the next step will be to find the right shoes that will accompany you on your planned journey! 


Here you find some food for thought that might help you to choose the right shoes for you:

  • Choose footwear that can effortlessly transition from casual to formal settings, enabling you to adapt to ever-changing environments without the need for extra pairs.

After all, who wants to be weighed down by a suitcase filled with an array of shoes for every occasion?

  • Comfort is another non-negotiable criterion.

Minimalist travelers understand that they’re likely to be on their feet exploring for hours on end, and uncomfortable shoes can quickly turn a pleasurable journey into a painful ordeal.

  • Durability is also key.

Our shoes must withstand the rigors of travel, from navigating uneven terrains to braving unpredictable weather.

It’s the fusion of style, comfort, and durability that results in a versatile shoe, one that doesn’t just accompany you but enhances your journey.

These multifaceted shoes should be the cornerstone of our minimalist packing strategy, allowing us to step out with confidence and adaptability while packing lighter! 😉


3. The Unsung Heroes: Multi-Purpose Shoes

nilaveli beach in sri lanka

Elegant sneakers? Gym-hiking shoes? Ergonomic sandals for a long walk?

 In our world of big-footed minimalist travelers, multi-purpose shoes are the unsung heroes.

By “multi-purpose shoes” I mean shoes that seamlessly bridge the gap between versatility and functionality.

Consider, for instance, a stylish pair of sneakers.

These shoes can effortlessly transition from urban companions, ideal for exploring bustling city streets and fashionable cafes, to sturdy allies for light hiking adventures in scenic landscapes.

These chameleonic shoes exemplify the minimalist’s dream, reducing the need for multiple pairs while amplifying packing efficiency.

They epitomize adaptability, allowing us to pivot from cultural immersion to outdoor escapades without missing a beat.

Prioritizing these adaptable options not only simplifies our packing but also maximizes our experiences while minimizing our luggage.

Multi-purpose shoes are those shoes designed with the modern traveler in mind, offering a harmonious blend of aesthetics and practicality.

They are not easy to find as normal shoes, but also not impossible to find at all: they just require some research from your side to find what truly fits your taste and travel priorities!

When searching for the right multi-purpose shoes for your needs, search for versatile, lightweight, and comfortable pairs, value efficiency without compromising your favorite style! 

A common pitfall I was often falling into, was just getting the first pair of shoes available in front of me (I hate shopping, and I can’t stay in physical shops for more than 5 minutes without starting itching eheh). After some years, with light packing in mind, I started seeing the value in taking a little extra time to research and make better purchasing decisions :)


4. Remember the Climate:

Ideas for choosing the Right Shoes for Every Season

shoes in the snow - adapt to every climate - multi purpose


The climate of your travel destination plays a pivotal role in guiding your footwear choices for a comfortable and enjoyable journey.

Because of that it’s essential to consider and research the weather conditions you’re likely to encounter during your travels, as this will greatly influence the type of multi-purpose shoes you’ll need: what to pack for a holiday in Mallorca, will be dramatically different from what to pack for an African Safari, a journey through the Brunei jungle or a posh getaway in Paris.


For summer escapes to warm locales, lightweight sneakers with an all-mesh upper are a go-to choice.

These breathable and airy shoes keep your feet cool and comfortable while exploring sandy beaches or strolling through sweltering city streets.

Their versatility means they can effortlessly transition from daytime exploration to evening dining, making them a valuable addition to your travel wardrobe.

Add some comfy hiking sandals or a fashionable pair of flip-flops and you’re ready to go!

For summer, also consider that summer shoes/sandals are usually less expensive than winter shoes, so if all goes wrong and a pair breaks, the expense to replace it won’t be as bad!



On the flip side, for winter getaways or destinations with colder climates, versatilesneaker boots become indispensable.

These shoes combine the style of sneakers with the functionality of boots, providing the warmth and traction needed to navigate snowy or cold, wet conditions.

With sneaker boots, you can stay stylish while keeping your feet cozy and dry, no matter where your wanderlust takes you.

Choosing the right footwear for the climate not only ensures your comfort but also allows you to fully enjoy your travel experiences without worrying about the discomfort that can come with inappropriate shoes.



5. Foot Health: the Traveler’s Priority

big smart shoes for clever packing

If you’re a dedicated traveler too, you probably understand that foot health is of paramount importance when you’re on the move.

That’s why I believe that it’s better to reduce the number of shoe pairs you bring with you, rather than the QUALITY!

Comfortable shoes play a crucial role in preventing blisters and foot fatigue, especially when exploring new places on foot.

Travel often involves extensive walking, navigating diverse terrains, and facing varying weather conditions.

Ill-fitting footwear can quickly turn a pleasurable journey into a painful ordeal.

Properly selected shoes provide support, cushioning, and breathability, minimizing friction and pressure points to prevent blisters.

They also reduce foot fatigue, allowing for longer, more enjoyable exploration.

Good foot health enhances the travel experience, ensuring you can fully engage with local culture and activities without the distraction of painful foot issues.

During my 20s, I widely underestimated the importance of foot health, and I was wearing every time the cheapest shoes I could buy! I bought dozens, I don’t even remember how many pairs of shoes I changed! 

Now, in my 30’s, I have come to embrace the philosophy of “buy good, buy once”, which I believe in the long term benefits both my feet (I wear the right shoes for my needs!) and my wallet (I don’t have to buy shoes 4 times a year!).

It’s 2 years since I have not buying any shoes anymore, and with my girlfriend, we traveled to over 20 countries in the past year alone! 🙂

All in all, Investing in high-quality, comfortable shoes is not only just a matter of convenience but a commitment to enjoying your travels to the fullest.

It’s about prioritizing your well-being and ensuring that every step you take is a step toward enriching your travel experiences.

6. Interesting Models and Combinations

smart shoe models for lightweight prepare luggage

Here after, I thought of inserting few example of multi-purpose shoes I consider adapt to different types of travels.

Of course, know that the world is full of shoes, and no traveler has the same preference as another (as all humans 😉 ), so know that for choosing the best shoes for you, all starts from the time you put into researching them! 😀

Said that here we go:

  • ECCO Soft 7 Sneaker – FOR CITY ESCAPES

Features: Exceptional comfort and style, great arch support, durable leather construction. ECCO is renowned for its craftsmanship and commitment to producing shoes that marry form and function.

  • Skechers Go Walk Collection – FOR EVERYTHING

Features: Lightweight design, memory foam insoles, various styles for versatility. Skechers has become synonymous with comfort and casual elegance, making it a favorite among travelers.

I personally own two pairs of Sketchers, one winter-hiking pair and a gym-walking pair, comfort is great! 😀

  • Merrell Moab 2 – FOR TREKKING/HIKING

Features: Superior traction, waterproof options, excellent durability for outdoor exploration. Merrell is a trusted brand for outdoor enthusiasts, offering footwear that can withstand the toughest terrains.

My choice for hiking is the Dolomites, which don’t shine fluo like most hiking shoes but does an awesome job in keeping traction at all times 🙂

  • Teva Original Universal Sandals – FOR WARM TRAVELS

Features: Comfortable, good arch support, water-resistant, ideal for warm-weather travel. Teva’s sandals have become a staple for travelers seeking comfort and adaptability in hot climates.

  • Allbirds Wool Runners – FOR SPORTS

Features: Eco-friendly materials, lightweight breathability, stylish comfort. Allbirds has disrupted the footwear industry with its sustainable approach and dedication to providing travelers with comfortable and fashionable options.

These are just a few examples of the diverse range of travel-friendly shoes available to minimalist travelers.

Each brand brings its unique blend of style, comfort, and durability to the table, catering to the diverse needs and preferences of modern explorers.



And here we are, at the end of this long article.

In conclusion, my fellow travel aficionados and big-foot friends too, minimalist travel is not merely a trend but a philosophy that can profoundly enhance your travel experiences. In this post, I shared with you some considerations to choose the right shoes for your travel and save space in your luggage!

If you want to save space in your luggage, everything starts with a thoughtful step – the choice of your travel items and course, the right shoes too!

I am a strong believer that to travel far you don’t need much, but you need “smart”. 

In the same way, I believe for working remotely I need to invest in a powerful laptop, the same goes for the very few items I need for traveling: few things, but quality things! 😀

Before going I’d like to ask you what you think about this article.

  • Did you enjoy the read?
  • Have you ever had problems packing your shoes?
  • Do you have other shoe models/tips / ideas for helping other readers pack light?

If yes, then let us know in the comments below! (we always like chatting and meeting new people!).

Thanks for reading, and I wish you a happy life!

See you in the next article 🙂



P.S. Bigfoot friends, just remember that we can fit the world in our shoes, also when we are packing a suitcase. I

In my case, for example, my girlfriend’s shoes are fitting just fine into mine and that saves us space ahah 😉 Happy travels! 😀


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