Best Shoes for Travel

When packing for vacation, most people think of several essentials – hair items, toiletries, undergarments. Unfortunately, many people fail to put enough careful thought into the most important part of their travel wardrobe: shoes! For most people, it is a challenge to decide which shoes to pack that will provide both comfort and style. Being prepared with the best shoes for travel is crucial and can make the difference between a trip full of lovely strolls and a trip that left you with blisters and soreness as souvenirs.

Start your trip on the right foot: A guide for selecting the perfect shoes for your travels

happy senior couple on the beach vacation

What’s on the itinerary?

Before determining which shoes to pack for a trip, you should carefully consider what you hope to spend your time doing once you arrive. Thinking about this beforehand can save you time, money, and pain down the line. Some of the most common vacationer activities at any locale will likely include walking around in cities, hanging out at the beach, hiking, mountain climbing, or enjoying a night on the town.

In addition to the activities that a traveler may happen to find themselves enjoying, more people are adopting a focus on purposefully planning healthy vacations, which are trips that involve high levels of activity and movement for enjoyment with less indulgence in rich food or ample drink.

Whether you’re planning to travel for business, pleasure, or health, the purpose of your journey will determine your choice of footwear.

Pounding the pavement…

You will also want to consider what foundation your feet will face on your trip. It is a wise choice to carefully research and consider what sort of surfaces you will need to prepare your feet for once you arrive at your destination. The actual surface – whether that be city streets, sandy beaches, or rocky mountains – will help you decide which features of footwear are going to be the most important to you.

For example, in Europe, there are many older cities with uneven streets made of cobblestone.

best shoes for pounding the pavement

To safely and painlessly traverse those streets, you’ll likely want to pack a good, sturdy pair of walking shoes. On the other hand, in many Asian countries, you’ll likely take your shoes on and off many times throughout the day when visiting temples or private residences, so slip-on shoes or sandals are a popular choice for convenience.

Any trip that will require frequent or prolonged walking on concrete, a surface that causes your joints to face strong impact with each step, will require you to pack very well cushioned and supportive shoes. In contrast, if you predict you will spend time on grassy hills or paths during your trip, you won’t need to focus on protecting your foot joints from impact but may need to consider making sure you wear shoes with good grip for morning strolls when the grass is wet with dew and slippery.

Consider your climate.

Your shoe choice should also vary depending on if you’re travelling to a warm or cold climate.

For instance, people vacationing in a cold climate should consider flat boots to accommodate the natural swelling of feet during the day and a heeled ankle boot or low-heeled shoe for evenings.

close up of the puffy foot of a 35 weeks pregnant woman,

Travelers visiting warmer climate areas to consider bringing flat strap-on or sandal shoes for the day with heeled sandals or clogs for evenings. She reminds vacationers to pack sneakers for exploring the beach or the coast line to protect feet from cuts from shells or marine-related injuries.

As a result one of her best tips for travelers is to wear compression socks when traveling to minimize foot swelling during the day or when flying if the other shoes packed are snug. She warns that the foot will swell naturally during the day, especially on long plane rides or drives, so wearing the bulkiest pair of shoes that you plan to bring with you is a great way to save room in your luggage and accommodate any foot swelling. Wearing shoes with adjustable straps can also help to keep you comfortable as your feet swell throughout the day by allowing you to adjust closure as needed.

Pick a pair…or two!

Most veteran travelers recommend packing at least two pairs of shoes to take with you. Having a second pair of shoes will allow you to rotate your pairs of shoes, clean a pair and provide dry time if needed, and keep you prepared for any activity you may want to enjoy in the days and evenings, always maintaining great style and comfort. Having two pairs of shoes will also allow your foot to rest and readjust to different stances and foot positions, which may prevent the formation of blisters.

Your two pair choices can also provide you with more versatility than one alone in terms of style and outfit options depending on your plans. Many people suggest packing day shoes, such as athletic sneakers, for strenuous activities and evening shoes, such as sandals or flats, for evenings or locations that require convenient shoe removal. Some of the most popular shoe types for trips include boots, sneakers, flats, and sandals.

Boots

Because boots are so versatile in design and purpose, they may fit the needs of many travelers. You should carefully determine if they are necessary for your plans, however, and should then decide what kind of boots you need.Palladium Men’s Pampa Hi Canvas Boot Hiking boots are a great footwear choice if you anticipate facing harsh or rocky terrain. These shoes should be included if you’re considering a visit to a location that features mountains, trails, or any outdoor features that are available for public exploration. Hiking boots offer protection with their thick soles and tough exterior, but they also take up a great deal of luggage room and are generally very heavy. Other fashion boots are also generally heavy and, though they may be perfect for colder climates or rainy areas, keep the feet too warm for comfort in most destinations.

Athletic and Casual Sneakers

Many professional travelers insist that the sneaker is the must-bring shoe for anyone planning a trip. Athletic sneakers are necessary for trips that you anticipate will involve a great deal of physical activity, strenuous exercise, frequent movement, and prolonged standing or walking. Athletic shoes generally contain an outsole designed to absorb the impact of your steps, an insole constructed to provide support and cushion, and a material that promotes airflow while ensuring proper foot alignment. Casual sneakers, on the other hand, are similar in construction but provide less intensive support and ventilation to your foot as they are not necessarily designed for high-impact activities.

Visual appeal is a more important aspect that support and functionality in most casual sneakers, while athletic shoes focus on performance over appearance.

Flats

Because flats are so lightweight and versatile, they are often the first pair of shoes travelers throw into the suitcase. Unfortunately, flats are not the most protective of shoes and wearing them for too long or over rough, uneven terrain can cause blisters and soreness.

womens green flats

Though flats are an excellent choice to pack for evenings on the town or dinner out, they may need to be supplemented with an insole to provide the proper support and cushion if needed. You should also make sure that your flats will fit after a long day of travel or activities by trying them on before your trip after a long day of work.

Sandals

Sandals and flats are both some of the most convenient shoes to slip on and off, making them the most popular footwear choice for warmer climates and beach excursions. They are also usually made of washable materials that easily allow you to throw them in the washer or hose them off after enjoying a day on the sand. While sandals allow ventilation, they generally do not provide as much support as closed shoes, so they shouldn’t be worn for long periods of time and should only be worn on relatively gentle terrain.

Minimalist Shoes: Expanding Options

Minimalist Shoes: Expanding Options

Another vacation option is to plan to spend some time barefoot, which would mean you might not have to worry about sandals at all, or packing minimalist shoes. Minimalist shoes are footwear designed to allow your feet to be as close to barefoot as possible while still wearing shoes. These shoes are constructed to avoid “interference” between the natural foot and the ground and are known for being constructed to be flexible, light, and having a low heel to toe drop angle. These shoes are also generally devoid of any additional support or movement enhancing construction.

For travelers, these shoes are appealing because they are so lightweight and require very little luggage room. They can also be easily washed and dried overnight. It should be noted, however, that podiatrists and experts at the National Podiatric Medical Association (NPMA) warn potential minimalist footwear fans that unless you allow yourself with an adjustment period when first trying minimalist (or when deciding to go barefoot for long periods of time) footwear, you are at risk for injury and soreness. Though the human foot is naturally barefoot, the use of concrete and stone for walking foundations is not something our feet are naturally designed to tolerate.

The National Institute of Health warns that failing to allow yourself an adjustment period to minimalist footwear can potentially cause foot and ankle soreness, heel injuries, ankle injuries, muscle / tendon soreness and fatigue, blisters, and foot trauma.

An appropriate adjustment period will vary for each individual, but 6 – 12 months is generally a typical adjustment period. It is also recommended that before making such a drastic change to your footwear, you may consider consulting a medical professional.

If all else fails….

If you simply must travel with only one pair of shoes, many people recommend trail runners. Trail runners are a cross between running shoes and a boot, so they provide the support of boots with the lighter weight of running shoes. Though these shoes are generally not praised for great aesthetic appeal, they are very comfortable for most people and provide the proper support for walking around. You should ensure that your pair of trail runners also has optimal airflow to ensure foot health and prevent the formation of fungus or blisters.

There are many varieties of trail running shoes and some brands even provide a minimalist form of trail running shoes. This version, however, lacks the same level of support provided by most trail runners.

Think of the details when picking your travel shoes.

Remember to think of the details when you’re shopping for travel shoes. Because foot swelling is natural and increases throughout the day, shop for travel shoes after a long day of work so that you will know how the travel shoe will fit when your feet are swollen.

When picking your travel shoes, remember to consider your foot shape and arch height.

arch of foot set of flat foot, high arch rheumatoid

Healthy shoes are shaped like the human foot and bend where your foot naturally bends, so make sure to test the shoe in the store before you buy. Shoes with wide toe boxes, or space at the front of the foot for the toe, is also important to ensure that the shoe fits your natural foot shape. You should look for a spacious toe box that allows your toes to move without excessive constriction but doesn’t allow enough movement to cause blisters to form where your foot would be rubbing against the shoe.

If you require additional arch support

find a shoe that has good arch support or find insoles that can give your shoe the structure it needs to fit your foot. The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) encourages people to seek professional assistance when determining if additional arch support is needed. For people with flat feet or an extreme arch, additional support may be crucial to ensure proper foot alignment and function. However, if you use arch support that your foot doesn’t need, the additional support will contort your foot into an unnatural shape and angle, which can cause pain and long-term damage. Additionally, consider what kind of arch support and shoe cushion works best for you. It is generally recommended that you purchase a shoe with less support and cushion so that you can buy insoles that can be removed and replaced when worn out.

You should never plan to break in travel shoes when you’re already on vacation. This can cause pain and stress that may ruin your trip! Instead, if your shoes are a bit stiff, you should break them in before you leave. You should proceed with caution when breaking shoes in. Many experts suggest that if shoes must be broken in to avoid blisters and pain, you may be better off selecting different shoes.

Moisture-wicking socks are essential items packed by many veteran travelers. These socks are typically made of absorbent, well-ventilated material such as merino wool that allows for the quick drying of any sweat on the foot. Not only is the prevention of sweat build-up important in avoiding blisters and fungus growth, but having socks that allow your foot to breathe during the day can increase your comfort as you travel. There are also several brands of compression socks, designed to prevent or minimize foot swelling, that also have fast-dry qualities.

No matter where you go on a vacation or business trip, you’re going to go on your feet! The most important thing to prepare is your footwear. By carefully considering the purpose of your shoes, your destination, your plans, and what works for your needs and your style, you can start any trip on the right foot.

Best Shoes For Travel

1. Merrell Men’s Jungle Moc Slip-On Shoe

Merrell Men’s Jungle Moc Slip-On Shoe

Merrell Men’s Jungle Moc Slip-On Shoe

Pros

  • Perfect for hiking, camping and other outdoor activities
  • Made of soft leather that’s water resistant
  • There is an air compression midsole within the shoe for premium comfort

Cons

  • The slip on design may be a bit loose on some feet
  • Fits a bit wide
  • The outsole is not extremely slip resistant

Summary

If you’re in need of some great slip ons that you can wear while going camping, hiking, out fishing, etc. then these are great for that. The slip on is super easy to use – no more tying your shoelaces anymore. However, because the shoe fits slightly wide, you may experience the shoe sliding against your foot while walking. But, the shoe makes up for that minor detail in comfort – it has an air compression midsole that is incredibly comfortable for extended hours on your feet. And best of all, the leather design is very fashionable and simple, but also water resistant.

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2. Chaco Men’s Z1 Unaweep Sandal

Chaco Men’s Z1 Unaweep Sandal

Chaco Men’s Z1 Unaweep Sandal

Pros

  • The wrap around strap offers great security
  • The textured insole prevent slipping within the shoe
  • Ergonomically designed to align your entire foot from heel to toe

Cons

  • The wrap around strap may not be seen as fashionable
  • Lacking grip strength on the outsole
  • Expensive for sandals

Summary

If you’re looking for a pair of sandals that are casual yet functional, for spending days at the beach, out on the water, walking for extended periods, the Chaco Z1 Unaweep is a great option. It is very supportive, and your foot stays in place with the straps that wrap around as well as textured insole. However, some may not like this particular style as it’s not the classic sandal many men are accustomed to seeing and wearing.  Nonetheless, if you do like the unique strap style, it is highly recommended to pack this with you on your next trip!

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3. ECCO Men’s Cool Gore-Tex Walking Shoe

ECCO Men’s Cool Gore-Tex Walking Shoe

ECCO Men’s Cool Gore-Tex Walking Shoe

Pros

  • Specifically designed for walking
  • Made of genuine leather; high quality
  • Very strong grip to prevent slipping

Cons

  • Expensive price (cheapest shoe at $132)
  • Only two brown colors to choose from
  • Very specific, European style

Summary

If you’re looking for a brown, classic shoe that is very European in style, then this is it! That can be a drawback if you are looking for a more generic shoe, as the style is very particular. But overall it is designed really well and made of fine genuine leather, with insoles specifically designed for walking. The grip on the outsole is also very strong so you can walk effortlessly over slippery surface without feeling like you’ll tip over.

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4. Rockport Men’s World Tour Classic Walking Shoe

Rockport Men’s World Tour Classic Walking Shoe

Rockport Men’s World Tour Classic Walking Shoe

Pros

  • Lightweight while also being durable
  • Strong midsole and arch
  • Orthotic insole that reduces pain on feet, hips and knee

Cons

  • Unusually thick tongue can be uncomfortable
  • Not the most stylish option out there
  • Can become uncomfortable after walking long distances

Summary

The ultimate walking shoe. If you are incredibly selective about your waking shoe, then this shoe made by Rockport may be a great fit for you. Some claim that the tongue is too thick, while others find comfort and support in this thicker tongue. The show is super lightweight and durable, with a strong supportive midsole that gives you balance and stability while walking. Additionally, this shoe was designed with those with feet and joint problems as it reduces pain on the feet, hips and knees. They are slightly expensive, running over one hundred dollars, but they should be seen as an investment as they will likely last you hundreds of miles of walking.

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5. Cole Haan Men’s ZeroGrand Wingtip Canvas Fashion Sneaker

Cole Haan Men’s ZeroGrand Wingtip Canvas Fashion Sneaker

Cole Haan Men’s ZeroGrand Wingtip Canvas Fashion Sneaker

Pros

  • Unique outer edge of the outsole
  • Very trendy and well designed
  • Inspired by dress shoes, but are also functional casual shoes

Cons

  • Can run a little small and narrow
  • The sole does not have a good grip
  • Tight across the top of the foot

Summary

When travelling, it’s important to pack shoes and clothes that serve multiple functions so that it takes up less space. These shoes are perfect for that! You can go from a formal dinner party to exploring the town by foot to a business meeting, etc. without having to change shoes for the occasion. Some of the shoe wearers have found it to run a little narrow and be too tight on top of the foot. But overall, the design and excellent price makes up for the shoe running slightly small.

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6. Sanuk Men’s Beer Cozy Flip-Flop

 Sanuk Men’s Beer Cozy Flip-Flop

Sanuk Men’s Beer Cozy Flip-Flop

Pros

  • Sole made of a real yoga mat; very comfortable
  • Large variety of flip-flops to choose from
  • Smiley face, U-shaped outsole for extra grip

Cons

  • Fabric material between toes can chafe and cause blisters
  • The sole may be too thin
  • Arch in sole not suitable for flat feet

Summary

Sanuk is not only a brand that looks good, but also makes you feel good with it’s positive message and brand. The smiley faces on the tag and bottom of the shoe are an added bonus. It’s great at preventing slips and falls. The shoe itself is extremely comfortable, made from a real yoga mat. While the sole is comfortable for most, some with flat feet may not like the curve in it and find the sole to be too thin for long term use.

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7. Palladium Men’s Pampa Hi Canvas Boot

 

Palladium Men’s Pampa Hi Canvas Boot

Pros

  • Lightweight and fashionable for boot standards
  • Supportive and durable synthetic leather lining and sole
  • Made of canvas so much more comfortable than hard leather running up your feet and shins

Cons

  • Run small potentially for some feet
  • Hightop may rub on shins; cause excessive sweating
  • Lack of breathing; smothered foot

Summary

The palladium Pampa Hi Canvas Boot is great for both working out in the fields, farming, getting a little bit dirty, etc. and also for casual use as a normal walking shoe. What is so great about this shoe is that it acts as a boot and provides protection of the ankle and up to the shin, however it does this while being lightweight and not too bulky as it’s made of canvas rather than a thick leather as boots often are. Because it wraps and cover the entire foot and ankle, it may cause the feet to excessively sweat, however because it is made of canvas, an incredibly breathable material, you may not experience this problem. This shoe serves as an incredible stylish boot and has a great protective lining around the sole, adding another layer of protection around the shoe.

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8. KEEN Women’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe

KEEN Women’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe

KEEN Women’s Voyageur Hiking Shoe

Pros

  • Modern spin on the classic hiking boot
  • Nice curve that offers support in the sole
  • Incredibly lightweight

Cons

  • Breathable, but not as breathable as other options
  • Slightly difficult to get on, doesn’t just slip on
  • Lift in heel may be found to be uncomfortable when hiking for some

Summary

If you love spending time in the great outdoors, without jeopardizing your feet, then this shoe will be perfect for you. Specifically, if you love walking through trails, climbing mountains, this incredibly durable shoe will be there for you the entire way, as it is very supportive and lightweight so it doesn’t drag you down as your climbing to the top of the peak. It is a breathable shoe, however because of the minor slits of mesh that it has, the breathability is not optimal so you may find you feet to be a little damp after working up a sweat. But this is a minor concern, and ultimately this serves as a great hiking shoe for women with a modern twist.

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9. Clarks Women’s Cloud Steppers Sillian Tino Lace-Up Shoe

Clarks Women’s Cloud Steppers Sillian Tino Lace-Up Shoe

Clarks Women’s Cloud Steppers Sillian Tino Lace-Up Shoe

Pros

  • Can be found at a reasonable price for some select models (Only $20!)
  • Incredibly light; feels as if you’re walking in clouds
  • Modern design with a great aged leather look

Cons

  • Slightly too plain, nothing unique about the shoe
  • The leather bends easily in the toe area
  • Not a ton of lift in the shoe to add to your height

Summary

This shoe has been dubbed the “Cloud STepper” a sit feels like you’re walking on clouds with every step you take. This shoe is ultra modern and stylish, but it may be found to be too plain for some people. Regardless of your taste, this aged leather look is very neutral and can be used in a variety of settings. Additionally, it is fairly reasonable priced with some models, colors and sizes being just $20 – a steal for a pair of Clarks shoes!

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10. Birkenstock Women’s Gizeh Thong Sandal

Birkenstock Women’s Gizeh Thong Sandal

Birkenstock Women’s Gizeh Thong Sandal

Pros

  • Multiple colors and sheens to choose from
  • Modern design
  • Incredibly comfortable for sandals; cork insole and ergonomically designed

Cons

  • The cork material may be blackened by dirt of your feet
  • Not tons of support as there is just one strap
  • The material between the toes may cause blisters and be uncomfortable

Summary

If you are getting ready to pack up your bags and head to some exotic location where you can walk around in a comfortable pair of sandals all day, this pair is a great option. It has a highly fashionable modern design with the single strip running down the center of the foot. It does offer more security and support than a typical flip flop, but there is just one buckle for the strap to secure the foot and ankle so it is not the best if you are looking for something to stay comfortably on your foot. There are tons of great colors and options out there on the market, but it can be a bit expensive at $80 and up. Regardless, this shoe is incredibly comfortable and the cork material really adds to your walking experience.

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11. Naot Women’s Matai Mary Jane Flat

Naot Women’s Matai Mary Jane Flat

Naot Women’s Matai Mary Jane Flat

Pros

  • Great for people with narrow feet; high arches
  • Relieves pain in the hips and legs while walking
  • Extremely breathable with their open design

Cons

  • Several complaints of defective pairs on Amazon
  • Some were delivered used, worn shoes
  • The shiny black is more like suede with glitter

Summary

While these shoes have worked wonders for some, alleviating back, hip and leg pain, it is important to exercise caution when ordering these pairs of shoes. While they are designed well and look great, with a breezy top of the shoe, they are also reported to have been shipped as used pairs of shoes with scuff marks, stitching ripped off, etc. Ask questions before buying to the seller, and hopefully enjoy these shoes while walking around.

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12. Born – Womens – Julianne

Born – Womens – Julianne

Born – Womens – Julianne

Pros

  • Come in a large selection of colors and even metallics
  • Lightweight; can be packed up in a bg easily
  • Cushion and flexible platform from the sole

Cons

  • Extremely pricey for flats
  • The heel wears out after just a few months for some
  • Some developed blisters on their feet

Summary

If you need a pair of trendy shoes that are incredibly portable, then these flats are great for you! On the downside, they tend to be a little expensive, nearing $100, and additionally a few reviewers of the shoe report developing blisters. But on the other hand, they are incredibly comfortable for flats and provide a comfortable cushion that acts a s barrier between your feet and the ground. Additionally, there’s bound to be a style and color that you’ll love!

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13. Teva Women’s W Delavina Ankle Boot

Teva Women’s W Delavina Ankle Boot

Teva Women’s W Delavina Ankle Boot

Pros

  • Incredibly fashionable boots
  • Highly functional; can be used to walk for long times or while working
  • Earthy and neutral colors

Cons

  • Run small in size
  • Slightly narrow
  • No major arch support

Summary

If you are travelling somewhere with a colder climate, or perhaps will be out in nature for a bit, then these shoes will help you out! They are every fashionable boots that come in nice leather colors for you to choose from. They are incredibly comfortable and surprisingly lightweight for boots. However, be cautious when placing an order as many say they run slightly small and narrow, and don’t offer great arch support. Regardless, if you need a pair of mid-range boots, these are always a great option.

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14. Merrell Women’s All Out Bold Mary-Jane Slip-On Walking Shoe

Merrell Women’s All Out Bold Mary-Jane Slip-On Walking Shoe

Merrell Women’s All Out Bold Mary-Jane Slip-On Walking Shoe

Pros

  • Designed well; open top for breathability
  • Can be worn in the water; water resistant
  • Incredibly comfortable to avoid blisters

Cons

  • Lacking arch support
  • Fit a little too large
  • Not the best for extended walking periods

Summary

You can slip these unique looking shoes right on and feel that your feet are being supported. The model of this shoe also allows for heat and sweat to escape, avoiding bad odors and discomfort. Many people say they use these for long periods walking just fine, but others say it’s not great for walking more than a few miles as the insole lacks support and is rather flat. But, they are incredibly stylish and at a reasonable price, and can be worn in the water out at the beach, lake, etc.

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15. RYKA Women’s Devotion Walking Shoe

RYKA Women’s Devotion Walking Shoe

RYKA Women’s Devotion Walking Shoe

Pros

  • Padded tongue for added comfort
  • Full lace up to ensure foot stays in place
  • Colorful designs to choose from; fashionable

Cons

  • Slightly bulky
  • The outsoles grip could be improved
  • Round toe in the shoe’s fit may not be great for everyone

Summary

The Ryka Devotion walking shoe is an awesome addition to any woman’s closet – especially if you need a shoe that can come up with you while travelling. It has some really beautiful colorful design with nice schemes to them, and are incredibly comfortable. Many rave about how they can walk for miles despite their feet problems. Although, the toe are of the shoe is slightly rounded so it may be a little loose down there. And, the shoes have lots of padding, which can be comfortable, but looks bulky.

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