Shoes It or Lose It: A Guide to Packing for Cape Town

Heather O’Keeffe is a student at Case Western Reserve University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Heather is currently studying abroad with ISA in Cape Town, South Africa.

My artillery of footwear, ready to be criticized and scrutinized
My artillery of footwear, ready to be criticized and scrutinized


Nobody ever said packing for a year-long trip abroad would be easy. After spending the last few days sorting through my belongings, I’ve concluded that shoe analysis is the epitome of packing shrewdness. In an effort to dwindle, I assembled all of my shoes and tried, as rationally as possible, to consolidate. A list helps to think rationally; so here is my list of shoes and thoughts on each one.

  1. Brand new running shoes, with the right cushion and fit to make running semi-comfortable — yeah, they’re coming. I’ll have to make time for running and the gym to be fit enough to do all the crazy stuff on my to-do list.
  2. For me, these gold sandals are the nicest shoes in my suitcase. They seem versatile enough and are nice but not too fancy. Pack ‘em!
  3. These shoes are super-duper comfy and they have put in a lot of miles, but it’s beginning to show. It seems silly to bring them along just for the seams to bust in a month. Nope.
  4. Rainboots? No way. Winters are rainy in Cape Town, but these boots are too clunky and heavy to pack. Oh, and they are held together by duct tape.
  5. These shoes are cute, but if you don’t wear them at home, they’ll only collect dust in the closet abroad. Enjoy the USA!
  6. Comfy, cute and wintry enough for the only slightly cold winter in Cape Town. That’s a yes.
  7. I love sports! I will definitely need these cleats at least a zillion times. No brainer.
  8. I bought these boots while traveling and boy, have they proven to be all-purpose. Whatever the weather, whatever the occasion, these are definitely joining the entourage.
  9. These are great gladiator sandals; I even wore them to my junior prom. But I replaced them with the gold ones and it’s just silly to bring two stones for one bird.
  10. Fancy, shmancy. Remember number two when I talked about not being too fancy?.
  11. New colorful shoes for a new adventure in the Rainbow Nation? I’d call that a match made in heaven.
  12. These gems are all-purpose. They’re meant for sight seeing, non-grass sports, hiking, sprinting through airports, at the beach after swimming and virtually everything else imaginable. If I could only pack one pair, these would be it.
  13. Do these shoes look sad? They can keep looking sad in storage.
  14. If I needed to bring a second pair of shoes after terrific number twelve, these go-getter sandals would sport the silver medal. Bring, brang, brought!
  15. More sport shoes for the sports I love. Tennis, basketball, and netball appropriate, oh my! Make room!
  16. Three dollar shower shoes from Target — I’ll save the suitcase space and risk it in Cape Town.
  17. Cute boots, but number eight more than covers the bases. Again, two stones for one bird is bird cruelty.
  18. I love these guys, but this exercise was about being rational and it seems much too gluttonous to pack this pair. Sorry, you blue beauties but the tribe has spoken.
  19. Shoes with individual toe compartments! How could you not? I’ll use them for white water rafting and great white shark diving and all other aqua terra adventures.

There you have it: my list. If you’ve done the math and it seems I’ve packed too much, don’t worry. My mind wandered the same path. But guess what? 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15 and 19 all fit no problem! So they’re all coming with, because my feet have one year of spontaneous adventures and irreplaceable opportunities to trample, and a blister is last thing this girl needs while experiencing life in South Africa!

Leave a Reply