As a traveler, I believe that there are two things that you should never cheap out on: a proper travel backpack and properly fitted comfortable travel shoes. In fact, appropriate footwear is one of the essential packing items that can make or break your trip overseas. Shoes that give you blisters or make your feet hurt will make your miserable and their subsequent recover time can make you miss out on some great travel adventures. That is why it is so important to find sandals and boots that are compatible with your feet.
When I go traveling I bring four different types of shoes:
– Flip Flops
– Sports Sandals
– Hiking shoes or Trail Shoes
– Going-out Shoes
1. FLIP FLOPS & CROCS
Many people have the mistaken belief that flip flops can be used as sightseeing/walking shoes. Unfortunately their flat design means that they lack the support your foot needs which can lead to painful feet after several hours of walking. I always bring a pair of flips flops when I go backpacking to use primarily as shower shoes in hostels. They can also be used for short walks and/or trips to the beach. Nowadays Crocs are a great alternative to flip flops because they have the added heel strap that keeps them firmly on your foot. Also, Crocs were originally designed for boat lovers, so they are not only comfortable and light-weight but they are slip proof.
2. SPORT SANDALS
Sport Sandals are made in a way to help your feet withstand the above normal activity, mostly walking, that you perform when you are traveling. They are made in a way to not only be sturdy but soft and comfortable so that even if you have been walking for miles, it feels like you are walking on clouds. My personal collection of sport sandals include: Mephisto, Teva and Birkenstocks.
– Teva and Chaco: these are two very well known brands as their sandals are highly versatile and can be used as water shoes [they are water resistant], hiking sandals [adjustable straps that keep them firmly in place] and come in a variety of styles and colors.
– Birkenstock: I am personally a Birkenstock-lover as I took a pair toChile and wore them every single day. I could walk hours in them and I never had aches or pains.
– Mephisto: Although my new of Mephisto sandals fit exactly like my Birkenstocks, I am extremely disappointed that the inside of the strap dies my feet brown when they perspire. I am in the process of contacting the company about this product flaw.
– Keen: this company also has some great travel footwear, but my favorite is their large selection of sandal shoes that are cut like a sandal with the addition of a toe guard for extra protection [breath-ability and functionality combined]. I still have a pair of these tucked in my closet from my trip to Egypt in 2003.
3. HIKING SHOES & BOOTS
Even though you may be spending most of your time on beaches or in hotter climates, I still recommend packing a pair of closed toe shoes. I personally took a pair of Josef Seibel shoes [known as the “European Comfort shoe”] and I had no problems. I would recommend scanning your itinerary to figure out the type of shoe(s) you will need. If you plan on going hiking in the mountains, then a good pair of Asos or Scarpa hiking/backpacking boots might be perfect for you. I would recommend visiting an outdoor store to see their selection of trail and/or hiking shoes/boots.
Furthermore I understand that companies like Aerosoles and/or Clarks manufacture extremely comfortable shoes, but they might not be compatible with your travel plans. Merrell, Columbia, Patagonia [their products are made from environmental friendly materials] and Saloman all design their products to fit the needs of outdoorsy and active individuals. This means that these shoes may have extra features in them to make sure your feet are comfortable – it is especially important to have “breathable” mesh inserts if you plan on spending time in abnormally hot climates like in the Amazon [it’s also important to have the right pair of socks!]
4. Go Out Shoes
This section is traveler’s choice. I personally brought my Steve Madden [HUGE] black wedges overseas and after falling off a stage and eating pavement on the street multiple times, I switched to black flats. I would recommend bringing a black or navy blue of shoes as these colors mesh well with other colors and leave your sky-high hells at home. Modest wedges or flats will do just fine.
– Leave your espadrilles and/or any closed-toe fabric shoe at home [this includes TOMS]. These shoes do not breathe and will make your feet sweat. As most individuals don’t wear socks with these types of shoes, the sweat [and smell] that is being emitted by your feet is therefore being absorbed by the fabric. No one likes stinky shoes. If you can’t part with your beloved TOMS, then read THIS article explaining why TOMS are horrible traveling companions.
Tattered TOMS shoes – photographic evidence that TOMS are not durable
– Break in ALL your shoes before you go traveling by wearing them in your house, on short walks around your neighborhood and/or day trips. I once bought a great pair of Clarks shoes that I took traveling. I did not break them in and they gave me blisters. Needless to say I did not wear them once on my five month trip overseas.