Travel Tip: Save Space by Rolling Shoes and Bags

EllenToday’s guest post is by Ellen Topp, an expert in communications who has worked with numerous companies from major corporations to start-ups. Ellen is currently Director of Communications, Student Affairs, at UC Berkeley. When she’s not working, Ellen spends her time traveling the world to find the tastiest food and the most beautiful sites, or lounging around the house with her husband Erik and cat Gretchen.

Most people have heard about rolling shirts and pants to make the most of your suitcase. It really does work. You can fit so much more into your suitcase and it’s perfect for jeans, t-shirts and other casual items. Combined with a well-equipped hanging bag (see my previous post), it will let you make space for really important things, like shoes and handbags.

To make the most of the room you do have for shoes and handbags, make sure to apply those same rolling techniques.

For shoes, I typically bring three pairs of shoes. I like to bring an extremely comfortable shoe for daytime, a casual flat when I want to dress up a little and then a strappy heel for fancy nights out.

For comfortable shoes, I love my Ecco boots. They are great for museum hopping and even have a deep enough tread for some light hiking. You won’t be scaling Mount Everest, but they are more than enough for a nature walk in the Tuscan countryside. I typically wear these boots on the plane as they are easy to take on and off and they are the largest of the shoes I like to pack.

For my casual flats, I have Dr. Scholl’s flats. Tons of cushioning on the bottom and a flexible material allows it to move with you, and they come in some surprisingly cute styles. These work great when you wear a dress or a skirt or when paired with dark wash jeans and a dressy top. To help these take up the smallest amount of space possible in my suitcase, I apply a rolling technique. I lay them bottom to bottom and put them into a plastic shopping bag.


I then roll up the bag to press the shoes together and hold them tight. It helps compress the amount of space they take up and it helps ensure they don’t get anything else dirty.


For my strappy heels, I put them top to top in opposite directions and apply the same plastic shopping bag rolling technique. They end up taking up very little space so I never feel guilty bringing them.


For my purses, I always bring a small, hard-sided evening clutch for fancy nights out. Unfortunately, the hard sides limit your ability to compress them so I typically add something small, like a sock, to take advantage of every bit of space.

For day use, I like a nice cross body bag that is small enough to get past hyper-vigilant museum docents but large enough to carry a bottle of water, sunglasses, an umbrella and other essentials.


I then apply the same rolling technique to make it as small as possible.


By packing your dressier items in your hanging bag and rolling everything in your suitcase, you can pack a variety of outfits and accessories from dressy to casual to ensure you always look sharp.

What’s your favorite accessory to pack and how do you make room for it?

2 thoughts on “Travel Tip: Save Space by Rolling Shoes and Bags

  1. Bonnie Dewkett

    I’m on a trip right now and had to pack a lot! (Lots of climates, events and so on). I didn’t roll on the way down, but I will on the way home, when everything has mysteriously gotten bigger. We also packed two cases of water (road trip) and some cans of soda to have on the road, as well as SNACKS and a first aid kit…I always try to think about the things that would be expensive to buy on the road.


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