Updated May 15, 2017
As the travel season picks up, the “battle over the bags” of what to take and what to leave at home continues. Add to that, airline fees soar while carry-on space still shrinks. Here are our 5 single traveler tips to win the battle of the bulge when it comes to how to see the world, bags in tow.
The hardest part of packing may be separating a fashionista from her favorite Bruno Maglis or strappy sandals. However, here is the unfortunate truth. These mischievous beasts are real space-stealers. If you want to travel light with only one carry-on bag, you will have to leave most of them behind.
Early this year, I made my sixth trip to Quebec City. It is still one of my top choices of solo travel destinations. I came back with some new lessons learned when it comes to packing shoes.
How to pack light with shoes?
5 Single Traveler Tips, Part 2 Packing Shoes: Tip 1:
Give up the idea of matching/coordinating shoe color and type to each outfit. Pick a metallic gold or silver tone that goes with everything.
5 Single Traveler Tips, Part 2 Packing Shoes: Tip 2:
Unless you have real issues of comfort, ditch those klunky sneakers for simple flats for sightseeing and to go from day into evening. I have even worn mine to the gym while on travel. For city visits to museums and galleries abroad, athletic shoes can really look out of place. However, there is one caveat: Flats seldom come with thick soles and non-stick surfaces. In Lisbon, on a rainy day I discovered this when the cobblestone streets and sidewalks were so slick at every step I felt like I was climbing Pike’s Peak! An unattractive but practical solution: Duck into a mini-mart and buy a stick of chewing gum. You will be amazed at the traction this adds.
5 Single Traveler Tips, Part 2 Packing Shoes: Tip 3:
To make up for some of the lost space, put lingerie, bathing suits or other small items in sandwich bags and tuck them into the toe of each shoe.
5 Single Traveler Tips, Part 2 Packing Shoes: Tip 4:
If your favorite shoes are accustomed to nestling in a designer shoe bag, be sure to separate them out to pack them flat. By placing each in a separate container, if nothing else, a plastic grocery bag, you save much needed space. Then insert them vertically with one on each side of your suitcase. I discovered this even works for packing ski boots!
5 Single Traveler Tips, Part 2 Packing Shoes: Tip 5:
A pair and a spare! Always wear on travel the hardest ones to pack but be sure you have a second pair in your bag. I was surprised on just an overnight business trip to have my low-heel snapped off one shoe on a moving staircase in the enormous Atlanta airport. I limped all the way to the hotel but was fortunate I could walk to the neighboring mall and buy a new pair.
As an emergency backup, invest $10-$20 in an inexpensive fold-up ballet slipper with a carrying case. On a number of occasions, I have been really glad to have brought mine along. Do remember the more intricate the shoe or strappy sandals, the more likely it is to break just when you least expect it.
When you pack a back up pair, think about the time of year and weather. In my last trip to Quebec, I planned for ice and snow by takings crampons for slick streets and walkways. I did not think about slush. My snow boots leaked all the way through. That left me my first night shopping for a water proof pair.
Considering the challenges with our women’s shoes, it beats the alternative: On a trip to an uninhabited Pacific atoll, I found that going barefoot may not always be liberating. While languidly strolling across the pristine beach, I soon discovered that I had stepped on top of someone’s lightly covered barbeque pit! The result? I ended up flying barefoot back to neighboring Rarotonga. The lesson learned: Pack your shoes carefully and carry flip-flops for the beach! Check out our 5 Single Traveler Tips, Part 2 Packing Shoes, and send us your tips!