Travel gear: How to pack a pair of shoes without a plastic bag

I’m a germaphobe who cringes at the idea of packing my shoes anywhere near my clothes. But travel requires you to get a little dirty, so I tell myself that a plastic bag has to be enough to keep the germs from contaminating the rest of my stuff.

But a funny thing happened while I was packing for a recent trip to Houston: I actually ran out of plastic bags. (Guess my effort to be green and use eco-friendly totes has finally paid off). I knew there were other packing shortcuts, but it felt wasteful to use a clean gallon-size Ziploc bag for my dirty shoes. Wrapping my shoes in something flimsy like tissue paper just wasn’t going to cut it, and the idea of putting my shoes in a New York Times plastic sleeve (that was just outside on the sidewalk) didn’t help the germaphobia.

Enter the Shoefly ($19.95), a machine-washable tote that protects your purse or suitcase from your dirty shoes. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the streets of New York City aren’t exactly clean. The bag, which has a drawstring closure, is large enough for a pair of sneakers, and it can easily stretch to fit a pair of heels. The bag’s material (a blend of polyester and Lycra) feels like velour, lending a glam touch to an otherwise pretty filthy function.

Granted, it does feel a little indulgent to justify buying a bag for your shoes when a plastic grocery bag is about as budget-friendly as you can get. But when it comes to measuring other things — the environment, perhaps? — I’m happy to run out of plastic bags. Plus, I love the idea of being able to launder the Shoefly bag when it gets dirty (both on the inside and out). If I were at all crafty (and had a sewing machine), this is the kind of thing that I’d love to make by the dozen.

All too often, travel gear is something that I pull out a few times a year but then put away until the next vacation. Luckily, the Shoefly is versatile enough for daily use, such as for changing into work shoes once I get to the office.

Where to Buy:
The Shoefly bag is currently only available online at for $19.95. Add $2.95 for shipping.