The Best Travel Shoes
Whatever type of traveler you are, make sure you buy the perfect shoes for your next trip.
No matter how big your luggage is, there's never enough room for every pair of travel shoes that you want to bring. Even after listing the pros and cons of your favorite pairs, you may still have trouble deciding between, say, comfortable shoes and great-looking shoes. So which are the best shoes for travel? And how should you carry your travel shoes to make sure you don’t contaminate the rest of your bag with muddy boots or sandy flip flops.
How to Pack Your Travel Shoes
First up is picking the right luggage for your type of trip. If you have an active adventure planned, then chances are that you’ll need to pack your shoes between adventures while they’re still wet, muddy, sandy, or all of the above.
Pick luggage with a completely separate zip compartment that stores your shoes away from the rest of your clothes. It’s ideal if this compartment is waterproof, but either way it will contain the mess.
And no matter which bag you pack, throw in at least one shoe sac. This lightweight shoe sac works well for packing carry-on in a small bag, or go with a breathable shoe cube, which can fit multiple shoes and offers breathability while still keeping the mess contained.
Now you’re ready to pick out a great travel shoe! This list will make your decision much easier, because it breaks down which pairs of travel shoes are musts for men and women, depending on what kind of traveler you are.
Shoes for Hikers
Does “active leisure” describe your trip? Then sturdy hiking boots belong in your backpack. To cut down on your pack weight, choose sleek hiking boots that can be worn to a post-hike meal. Made for hiking, but designed with style in mind, The North Face’s Ultra 111 WP for men and Timberlands Mt. Maddsen Waterproof for women ($120 and $115 respectively) fit the bill.
Shoes for Casual Beach Combers
The trails ahead are beachside boardwalks, and feeling the sand beneath your toes is the top priority. So stick with waterproof travel shoes that are as close to barefoot as possible—flip-flops. The Vans Soft Top( $28) is ideal for women, and men will like the Vans Nexpa Synthetic ($32)—both feature super soft molded UltraCush footbeds with anatomical arch support.
Shoes for Walk-'Til-You-Drop Tourists
If you’re not likely to step foot inside a vehicle during most or all of your trip, the best shoes for travel are comfortable ones that fit well and are made for walking. Walking, after all, is the best way to take in any destination. For long walks that take you from trails to cafés, slip into Altra’s ultra comfortable Wahweap slip-on shoes for men and women ($100), which feature sustainable hemp uppers and are ready to tackle any travel adventure you throw their way. .
Shoes for Urban Dwellers
When a global metropolis is your favorite place to visit, sneakers or hiking boots just won’t do. You'll need something that's the perfect mix of comfortable and trendy. Vans offers fashion-forward and classically retro Era mens and womens shoes in a variety of seasonal prints ($60 and $50, respectively). . They are the best shoes for travel, because they’re comfortable and stylish so you can move from your daytime jaunts to your evenings out.
Shoes for Comfort Seekers
Traveling in style is one thing, but for you, traveling in comfort is a much higher priority. This may be especially critical if you have (or recently had) an injury. You’ll need the enhanced comfort features offered on Vans’ Ultrarange Exo shoes, offered for both men and women styles ($90). If you're going somewhere that's a little chilly or downright cold, opt for stylish, waterproof Chukka hiking boots from Timberland in men’s and women’s fit, both of which feature anti-fatigue footbeds ($135).
Whichever pair of travel shoes suits your needs best, don't forget to break them in by wearing the pair around the house before you embark on your journey. (Nothing ruins a trip quite like a blister on your heel!) When packing, stow the pair away from your clean clothing in a shoe sac.
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By Caila Ball-Dionne on February 3, 2020
Caila Ball-Dionne is a freelance writer and full-time travel enthusiast. You can find more of her writing at CailaBall.com.