Deciding which shoes to bring on any trip can be a struggle, especially if you have many activities planned or will be traveling to multiple destinations. They take up extra space in your luggage and can be heavy and bulky to travel with. Taking the wrong shoes can lead to sore feet, back pain, and even injury so it’s important to bring the right ones – even if that means buying new ones.
Why You Should Buy Shoes for Travel
Most trips will take you away from your normal routine. The heels and dress shoes you wear to your office job will end up killing your feet if you try to wear them all day exploring a new destination and the tennis shoes you’ve had for a few years probably no longer have the support or cushioning they once did. Regardless of your destination, travel usually requires a lot of walking, if not hiking. Not packing the proper shoes, as I mentioned, can lead to all kinds of problems that can take fun away from your trip. To avoid those issues, it’s always a good idea to buy shoes specifically for travel. Below I’ve listed some of the best shoes for traveling as well as suggestions on how to choose the best travel shoes.
How To Choose the Best Shoes for Travel
Choosing the best pair of shoes for travel is a bit different than choosing which pair of shoes you want for everyday wear. The most important thing to do is consider your travel style – will you be wandering through the streets of a European city or hiking up a volcano? It would be silly to wear hiking boots while walking around Venice or Amsterdam, but you’d probably never make it up a mountain hike wearing sandals. If your trip is going to be a mixture of both, I recommend buying two pairs of shoes – one for every day travel and one for the more strenuous activities.
Once you’ve decided on a general type of shoe, make sure to read the reviews. All of the shoes on this list are high-quality and great for travel, but every foot is different and different brands have different sizing structures. Reading the reviews is a great way to see if you need to order up or down a size, something that’s important when shopping online.
Buy your shoes well before your trip – this gives you plenty of time to return or exchange them if they don’t fit properly. Most importantly, it allows you time to break in the shoe. Never, ever buy a shoe, especially hiking boots, and wear them for the first time on your trip. Take the time to wear them before your trip so they fit to your feet and are comfortable by the time you leave.
Best Shoes for Travel
I’ve broken down this list into a few different categories – flip-flops and sandals, walking shoes, hiking/trekking shoes, and hiking boots – with several different suggestions for each type, to help you find the right shoes for traveling.
1.) Flip-flops and Sandals
A good pair of flip-flops or sandals generally make the best travel shoes for most trips. They’re casual and work well with most outfits, for those who are concerned with staying stylish on the road. However, it’s usually not a good idea to take those $3 flip-flops from Old Navy that you live in during the summer. Wherever you travel, you will probably be walking and on your feet for a good portion of the day, which is why finding a high-quality pair of flip-flops or sandals for travel is essential.
Our Top Pick: KEEN Newport H2 Sandal
The Keen Newport H2 is the best travel shoes for both men and women who plan on doing a significant amount of walking and even minimal hiking. They offer a cushioned bottom with extra traction, making them an excellent option if you plan on doing minor hiking to waterfalls or other bodies of water.
Teva Mush II is the best travel shoe when style is as important as comfort. The Teva Mush II flip-flops have added stability and cushioning with a foot-forming sole and a wide strap. They are available in many colors and designs for both men and women. These flip-flops are ideal for everyday travel, especially in destinations like the United States and Europe.
Keen Whispers are the best travel shoes for women who are putting comfort first. They are one of the more supportive, but still stylish travel shoes on the market, with a cushioned bottom and adjustable elastic. They’re great if you plan on doing a lot of walking and can even be worn through the water for short periods of time.
Read Reviews: Women
Chaco ZX/2 Yampas make the best travel shoes for women who will be doing a fair amount of walking but want to stay stylish. Though they still provide support in the ankle and a cushioned sole, the design and color combos are much more pleasing to the eye. This makes them a good option when comfort and style are both priorities.
Read Reviews: Women
2.) Walking Shoes
If you need more comfort and support than offered by a travel sandal but still don’t anticipate any significant hiking, high-quality walking shoes are a happy medium. Traditional walking and running shoes fall into this category. There are many options out there, but I’ve narrowed it down to the three best walking shoes for travel.
Our Top Pick: Nike Free 5.0
Nike Free 5.0s are designed to give your feet as much freedom as possible. They are designed with runners in mind, so if you plan on getting some training in on your trip or already run at home, the Nike Free 5.0 are a good option for you. They’re light weight with minimal cushioning but once your feet are used to them, they provide ultra comfort. Just make sure to break them in before your trip!
The Nike Flex Experience 5 is a lightweight, athletic-style walking shoe. They’re easy to slip on and off and provide enough cushioning to stay comfortable after an entire day of walking around. Of the other walking shoes on the list, these are the most stylish and the best travel shoe option for those concerned with comfort and style.
If you need extra support for your feet, the ASICS Venture 5 will probably be the best travel shoe for you. Out of the other walking shoes on this list, the ASICS Venture 5 is the heavies, but will provide the most support. The outsole is designed for all terrains, making them a good option for minor hiking, without needing actual hiking shoes.
3.) Hiking/Trekking Shoes
If you have any hiking on your trip itinerary, a pair of good hiking or trekking shoes are essential. These make the best travel shoes for adventure travelers or those who enjoy getting beyond the hustle and bustle of metropolitan destinations and out into nature. The great thing about hiking shoes is that they take up significantly less space than their boot counterparts and work well for everything except the most strenuous hikes.
Our Top Pick: Columbia Redmond Trail Shoe
The Columbia Redmond Trekking Shoes are the best travel shoes for men and women looking to hike a few trails. They are made from a combination suede leather and mesh webbing to help with airflow and breathability. They also have traction rubber on the bottom to prevent slipping on wet surfaces.
The Merrell Moab Ventilator are the best travel shoes for travelers that anticipate a bit more intensive hiking, particularly on potentially wet or slick surfaces, as they offer extra anti-slip traction. The Merrell Moab Ventilator provides a bellows tongue to keep debris out as well as air cushioning to absorb shock and increase traction.
Another option for more intensive hiking is the Keen Voyageur. These hiking shoes are focused on all-around comfort, support, and stability with quick-dry moisture features as well as increased stability throughout the shoe. Support and stability are improved through a variety of features, but most importantly through the S3 heel, which helps reduce the risk of twisting an ankle.
If you’re heading somewhere hot to hike, the Merrell All Out Blaze Aero is probably the best travel shoe for you. The shoe is supportive in hot temperatures and water, perfect for those waterfall or volcano hikes in warm countries. The fit is tight for support and light for breathability.
4.) Hiking Boots
Most travelers, even ones who plan to do a bit of hiking, are fine with hiking or trekking shoes. However, if you planned your trip around some great hikes or are on an activity-based trip, like a gorilla trek, investing in hiking boots is a good idea. They may take up a bit more space in your luggage, but the extra support and stability during long, difficult hikes is more than worth it.
Our Top Pick: Timberland White Ledge
If you plan on hiking somewhere wet, then the Timberland White Ledge hiking boots will be the best travel shoes for you. They are made using waterproof leather with seam-sealed waterproof construction inside to ensure your feet stay dry. They also provide shock-absorbing cushioning and rubber outsoles for traction.
The Merrell Moab Mid are light hikers that are the best travel shoes for warm and wet outdoor adventures. They are lighter than the Timberland White Ledge and do not provide quite as much stability, but are still well-supported and cushioned shoes. There is an extra emphasis on breathability, which makes these great for hiking in hot climates.
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