Powder Is For Babies (or How I Keep My Only Pair Of Shoes From Smelling Like Boiled Rat Piss On Extended Trips)


“Those are rank!”


“Your shoes man!”

“Oh, right.”

Here’s the thing: if you only take 1 pair of shoes on a long trip and wear them for 12-18 hours/day they’re going to smell.

Really. Badly.

In an effort to pack light, taking the bare minimum of what I need, and find multiple uses for every item, I never bothered with shoe deodorizer.

I mean, come on.

How could I possibly tell people I pack light if I’m traveling with freakin’ SHOE DEODORIZER?

But I had to do something.  Even I was embarrassed by the smell emanating from my shoes.  That’s coming from a guy who once wore the same 2 shirts, 2 socks, and 2 underwear for 8 days in Germany without washing them. (haha, gross!)

Dr Scholl’s wasn’t going to do it for me.  Although it does work well, it’s a single use product.

Same with Febreze.  I’ll use the stuff in my home, car, or shoes when I’m not traveling.  But taking a bottle of Febreze on the road just isn’t practical.  I’d go so far as to say it’s outright stupid.

TSA Agent: “Sir, why do you have a bottle of Febreze in your backpack?”

ME: “My shoes smell.”

TSA: “Sir, this is no time for jokes.”

ME: “Seriously, smell ’em!”

TSA: “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to follow me.”

In an effort to keep myself from backroom strong-arming and demoralizing cavity searches I settled on a travel sized bottle of baby powder.

Baby powder is just talc and fragrance.

But what’s important is that it’s a drying/deodorizing agent. In other words, it soaks up foot sweat and stink.

That sounds all well and good but here’s what I’ve also found: if I load up my shoes with baby powder and put them on, my feet start to feel “weird” after a while.

Is that the talc eating away at me? (Could be, supposedly talc causes cancer!)

So if you’re going to follow my lead then do what I do (hmm, that’s the definition of “following my lead,” huh?):

Toss the baby powder in your shoes at night before going to sleep. Really coat the insides of your shoes. Be sure to sprinkle some on your shoe laces because they absorb odors too.

When you wake up get rid of the excess powder.

What I’m saying is, don’t dump a bunch of baby powder in your shoes, then put them on and go on with your day.  Or do it and then come back here and tell me I was right and your feet feel “weird and cancerous.”

In a pinch baby powder can be used for deodorant, a quick dry for clammy hands, or countless other awesome uses.  (Good, there’s my multiple use requirement taken care of.)

Yes, yes I did just spend a whole RidiculouslyExtraordinary.com article writing about baby powder.  You’re welcome. ;)  And…

Here’s to no more traveler’s stink!


  1. So, are you going to tell us what kind of shoes you wear that serve every purpose while traveling? And, if you can travel for 8 days in Germany on two changes of clothes, it seems to me you should be posting some “minimalist traveler” tips! :-)

    I travel a lot for my job, and ALWAYS seem to over pack despite my ongoing attempts to simplify. Typical trips for me are no more than 2-3 days, and I’d love to be able to carry nothing more than my backpack. Since I need to dress business casual (dockers and nice company polo) for work, I can’t seem to fit everything I need in a backpack. Of course, my backpack already contains my laptop, and other required tech gear, along with some paperwork.


    • Hi Dave,

      Thank you for posting! Since I don’t travel for business I don’t have to take dress shoes or business casual clothes so I can’t comment on that.

      In Germany I wore a pair of jeans and Adidas. It was actually a 15 day trip which included Canada and Germany, but I washed my clothes in Canada. :) When I go to Australia I will take a pair of convertible pants (if I can find some! it hasn’t been easy), my Adidas, and a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. As for laptop, it’s an Asus 1000HE. My backpack to Canada/Germany was a 28L school backpack (really old and uncomfortable), but to Australia I have a 32L pack. I will have a full post about my gear around the time I actually leave for Australia.

  2. Thanks for the additional info Karol. I guess I need to just keep working at simplifying the packing process. I thought about looking for some of those convertible pants because I probably could actually wear them with a nice polo for my job. Then zip off the legs and wear them as shorts in the evenings.

    I’ve also been seeing some shoes that could easily serve double-duty, and they would probably be comfortable enough for walking through airports, or just beating around town and site-seeing.

    Considering who I work for, I was a little disappointed to read you’re carrying a Asus 1000HE. Would have much rather seen you with a Dell Mini 10! ;-)

    • Hey Dave,

      The ASUS 1000HE battery life is just unbeatable. Necessary for long flights and general travel. But have Dell send me a Mini 10 and I’ll take a look. ;)

      As far as shoes: you can use the Vibram Five Fingers for almost anything that’s not for business. And they pack small and light.

      I’ll have more about packing really light in about 5-6 weeks. Complete with video. :)

  3. @Karol: I love the conversation you portrayed above lol….sir I’m gonna have to ask yuo to follow me lol

  4. I got a pair of keen newport sandals. They are really tough, great in water and best of all they can be thrown in the washer so they don’t stink.

    • Thanks Jason! Personally, sandals are uncomfortable, but I know a lot of travelers use them for the exact reasons you described.

  5. Dude, Febreze?

    C’mon you gotta be kidding me.

    You really wanna inhale that crap all the time?

    Open a window, buy some flowers, burn some insense but stop using chemicals to mask odours.

    I can see the force is strong in this one but more training he still needs.

    • I never said I was anti-chemical. ;) Febreze does the job, simple as that. Open windows, flowers and incense do not make smelly shoes (or couches, or cars) smell better. They very temporarily mask the odor, if they do anything at all.

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