The Surprising Reason You Should Always Pack an Extra Pair of Shoes

Throw another pair of shoes in the bag. Here’s why.

If you’ve committed to bringing just one pair of shoes on your trip, we salute you. You’re an expert packer for sure, and you’re probably bringing just one carry-on bag that weighs as much as a Chinese Crested.

But maybe you should change your mind. Throw another pair of shoes into the bag. They can be similar shoes: two pairs of flats will work, or two pairs of sneakers will do just fine. This isn’t a style suggestion. We really don’t care if you have one pair of “business casual” shoes and one pair of Jordan VIIIs; that’s beside the point. You should pack an extra pair of shoes for hygiene reasons.

Related: 11 Must-Haves for Your Carry-on Bag

Spend a few days in the same pair of shoes and your feet will probably start to smell. This is because you’re not giving your shoes enough time to air out and dry. Instead, you’re pressing your hot, sweaty feet into an enclosed space day after day, allowing naturally occurring odor-causing bacteria to accumulate. You’re just asking for a case of foot odor. Even with socks, it’s a risk. Travel tends to necessitate lots of walking, so your feet and shoes really will be put to the test on the road.

One could always pack some washable shoes like Crocs and leave them to dry overnight. But I don’t recommend forcing yourself into a situation in which you don’t have access to clean, dry shoes. (And I don’t recommend wearing Crocs.) What if there’s an emergency and you need to get out of your room fast? Wet shoes won’t do.

Those desperate to pack light should opt for some featherweight travel shoes or barefoot-style sneakers. I travel with Inov-8 BARE-XF 210 shoes, which weigh a mere 6 ounces. Or try a pair of lightweight foldable flats like Tieks.

How many pairs of shoes do you usually travel with?

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(Photo: Getty Images/D-BASE)

By Caroline Costello

Caroline Costello's travel accomplishments include surviving a 2 a.m. whitewater rafting excursion in the Canadian wilderness, successfully biking from Dusseldorf to Cologne without a map, and gaining access to a covert pizza speakeasy in New Orleans.

Caroline is an active member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). Her work has appeared on USA Today, the Boston Globe,,, ABC News, TODAY Travel, and, among other publications.

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