The Quest to Find the Perfect Travel Shoe

The best travel shoes

After you've booked your flight, scoped out hotel rooms, and maybe bought a guidebook or two, it's time to tackle another potentially-stressful part of planning a trip: deciding what to pack!

I've already detailed my favorite luggage and bags for travel, but what you put IN that luggage is perhaps even more important.

And the part of packing that's always the most difficult (for me, at least) is deciding what sort of footwear to bring.

So many factors go into choosing the perfect travel shoe for any trip. What will the weather be like? What sort of activities are you planning? Will the shoes you need match the outfits you want to pack?

Add to that the fact that I have very bad feet that require my shoes to provide lots of support, and I've basically been on an ongoing quest to find the best travel shoes for any destination.

The Best Travel Shoes

After years of traveling around the world, here are my favorite travel shoes for a variety of destinations and styles of trip.

(Note: There are affiliate links in this post.)

The best sandals for travel

Teva Verra

Why I love the Teva Verra: These sandals are lightweight and easy to pack, and have really great support for people like me who need it. I like the minimal straps on these, too – you can get away with wearing them with just about any outfit, especially if you buy them in a neutral color.

Trips they're great for: These sandals are perfect for spring and summer travel, and could even be suitable for traveling to warmer places in the autumn. I've worn them on cruises, to amusement parks, and even for hiking on established trails.

Buy them from Zappos | Buy them on Amazon

(And if you like this sandal style but prefer even more straps? Check out the Teva Tirra, which were my go-to travel sandal until Teva released the Verra.)

Keen Whisper

Why I love the Keen Whisper: This is a great sandal for hiking or water sports because of the closed-toe design. These sandals aren't exactly the most fashion-forward, but they are definitely functional and comfortable. They are a great alternative to sneakers in warmer climates.

Trips they're great for: If you're headed into the great outdoors in spring, summer, or even fall, these sandals will serve you well. I've worn these white water rafting, while volunteering with elephants in Thailand, and while walking around cities in Asia.

The only place I do NOT recommend wearing these is the beach. Sand/rocks can get inside very easily and be tough to get out without taking the sandals off completely.

Buy them from Zappos | Buy them on Amazon

The best ballet flats for travel

Crocs flats

Why I love my Crocs flats: I used to swear that I would NEVER own a pair of Crocs. But that was before they started making cute and comfy flats that don't *look* like Crocs. These days, I can't imagine traveling without these lightweight rubbery Crocs Adrina flats. Not only are they super comfortable, but they are incredibly easy to clean – not to mention quick to dry if/when they get wet!

Trips they're great for: Just about any trip that doesn't involve snow! I've worn these flat to walk around cities, to go to the ballet, and even to weddings.

The original Adrina flats that I own and love so much aren't made any longer (though you can still find a few odd colors for sale on Amazon). They've been replaced by the Crocs Isabella, which are just as cute and comfy.

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The best boots for travel

Merrell Eventyr

Why I love the Merrell Eventyr: I bought these boots last year for a fall trip in which I was going to be hiking in Scotland and then going on a river cruise in Russia. I wanted boots that would give me support and be waterproof, but that wouldn't scream “hiking boots” so I could wear them as everyday shoes, too. These ended up being perfect!

Trips they're great for: They work for just about any trip, any time of year. Because they don't *look* like regular hiking boots, you can wear them in all sort of situations. I've worn them all over Europe so far, including in Scotland, Latvia, and Russia.

Buy them on Amazon

Merrell Moab

Why I love the Merrell Moab: If you're in the market for hiking boots, I highly recommend Merrell's Moab Mid Waterproof boots. They're supportive and comfortable, but aren't heavy or clunky.

Trips they're great for: Any trip where you plan to do some hiking. I've worn my Moabs for hiking in New Zealand, Utah, and even Ohio.

Buy them from Zappos | Buy them on Amazon

Naturalizer Cycle Boot

Why I love this boot: I'm a big fan of short boots for travel, mostly because they're easier to pack than calf- or knee-high boots. I got a pair of Naturalizer Cycle Boots last year for a fall trip to Europe. I was drawn to their classic design paired with a little extra support (which I need for walking around cities!). I actually got a pair of dark red suede ones, which I ended up wearing all season!

Trips they're great for: Fall trips especially, though you could also make these work in winter or spring depending on the destination and the color you choose. I've worn mine all over Europe and the US so far.

Buy them on Amazon

The best winter boots for travel

Columbia Minx Mid boots

Why I love this Columbia boot: Not only is this boot super warm due to its Omni-Heat technology, but it's also incredibly lightweight and dare I say cute? I have these boots in white, which go with any winter outfit I could possibly come up with. These have traveled with me to Iceland and Norway, and have kept my feet toasty at home in Ohio, too.

Trips they're great for: Winter trips where you want to keep your feet warm, but where you don't plan to do a lot of trekking over ice or snow.

*Note: I had to size up in these in order to accommodate thicker socks.

Buy them from Zappos | Buy them on Amazon

Merrell Polarand boots

Why I love the Merrell Polarand: Sometimes you just need something beefier than a fashionable winter boot. In those cases, I pack my Merrell winter hiking boots. They're great for when you need the warmth of winter boots AND the support of hiking boots.

Trips they're great for: Any serious winter trips. I've worn these in Canada, Iceland, and Norway.

Buy them on Amazon

(You can find a similar pair of Merrell boots on Zappos.)

Other shoe essentials

For winter travel, I recommend picking up some Heat Holders socks (seriously the WARMEST socks I own!).

And for long flights, you can never go wrong with a good pair of compression socks to help prevent blood clots and combat swelling.

Do YOU have a favorite pair of travel shoes? I'd love to hear your recommendations, too!

 

The best travel shoes

 

*Note: This post does contain some affiliate links, which means if you purchase something after clicking on one of them, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you, of course!).

 

32 Comments

  • Shannon says:

    Awesome post! I’m not a shoe girl, but when I find a favorite pair, I buy several in that style. I have those Teva sandals and used them hiking through Vietnam and Cambodia. They really are stylish enough to wear with a dress for nice dinners out and rugged enough to scamper around the temples.
    For rubber slippers, nothing is more comfortable or thinner than the Reef Stargazer. The grey go with everything. Blu Kicks is a small company out of San Francisco that make slip on loafers with great colors and really cool bottoms, you can get them wet, throw them through the washer and dryer and they donate a portion of every sale to charity.
    My FAVORITE shoe of all time,, especially for Europe is the Cole Haan penny loafer with Nike Air soles. You get these elegant looking shoes that are perfect for any restaurant, church, museum, cafe, etc…but they basically are tennis shoes so walking ten miles is no problem. And, you can slip them on and off easily on airplanes. 🙂

  • Emma says:

    Very helpful post – I have a serious lack of good walking shoes I need to rectify as soon as possible!

  • Cheryl says:

    Thanks for the tips. I don’t consider myself a shoe person and my closet in no way resembles Imelda Marcos’, but when it comes to packing those shoes are a tough decision. They add extra weight. You have to keep in mind the activities you might be doing or the weather and be prepared. Lately I’m more inclined to travel wearing a comfortable pair of cowboy boots, and pack sneakers and sandals. You never know when a horseback riding adventure might come up!
    Cheryl recently posted..Potato Salad for One

  • Esther Diaz says:

    This is so cool. My boyfriend is into travelling especially hiking. So I’m new to this and I want to make sure I’m wearing the appropriate outfit at the same time it comforts me. Even though, I have not been in snowy places but I really want to buy one they look awesome and hopefully I can use them soon, since we are planning already. Anyways, thank you for sharing this informative article, it really helped me what to buy next. Keep it up! 🙂

  • Thanks for reminding me. I really need to get myself a Keen Whisper, a perfect cross between a comfortable sandal and a sturdy shoes.
    Vidyut – Writer, The Himalyan Tsunami recently posted..Travel Guide to Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

  • Thanks for a great list! I’m heading to Yosemite next week and I now have my eye on the Merrell Moab. Perfect timing!

  • Ijana Loss says:

    You’re right, shoes are one of the hardest things to decide whether or not to pack! I’m not at all a big shoe person; the number of shoes I own barely outnumbers the number of shoes I travel with. But it’s so hard because on every trip I want to hike, I want to walk around the city, I want to go to a CrossFit gym, and I want to shower. Unfortunately, none of those shoes really overlap xD The CrossFit shoes are minimalist so they hurt after awhile if I walk around in them, so sometimes I’ll wear my hiking shoes to walk but they’re a pain to take on and off. But basically I’m stuck bringing 4 pairs of shoes most of the time. At least flip flops barely take up any space! I find it super easy to travel with minimal clothes but I’m not sure why shoes are so hard to cut down on!

    • Amanda says:

      It’s so difficult because, like you pointed out, we have special shoes for different activities, and they usually don’t overlap as easily as clothing items do!

  • Chau says:

    Great list. I bought Teva Verra for my last trip. Very comfortable sandals, perfect for walking on the beach and around the vacation
    Chau recently posted..60 Short and Funny Inspirational Workout Quotes to Live By (Images)

  • Tab says:

    Most importantly is the comfort level of the shoe and the weight of it as I’ll be walking throughout the day. 🙂
    Tab recently posted..Hello world!

  • Amy says:

    Great list! I have a couple of those Crocs flats and they’re fantastic! They’re so comfortable to walk around in and aren’t bad looking too!

  • A very useful post Amanda!

    I am a shoe person and when I travel, I tend to take a pair of “nice” leather boots such as “Vagabond” – a Swedish shoe company, a pair of Birkenstocks (‘cos I need good support for my feet too ;)), and a pair of hiking shoes from “The North Face” or “Jack Wolfskin.”
    Victoria @The British Berliner recently posted..‘Just because I don’t drink coffee. ‘Doesn’t mean I can’t have coffee culture with hot chocolate, in Vienna!

    • Amanda says:

      I have yet to find a pair of leather boots that are both cute AND supportive enough for my awful feet – but I’m always on the lookout!

  • Awesome post-I’m not much of a fashion person but on my recent trip to Scotland I realized I need to get some comfortable, solid shoes that aren’t completely ugly! 🙂 I have super high arches so it is a struggle but these are some great places to start! 🙂

  • Been following your blog for quite some time now and I love all your posts. This is another great article. Thank you for giving us all a thorough guide when it comes to choosing the perfect shoes.

  • Jennifer says:

    I always have a difficult time finding the perfect pair of travelling shoes – thank you for this!
    Jennifer recently posted..Hiking to Wedgemount Lake in Whistler, British Columbia

  • Gracie says:

    Thanks for this! I’m always on the lookout for comfortable shoes because I have such a hard time finding ones that fit me right and are supportive enough, so I love hearing recommendations. Also, I second Crocs! I got the Kadee flat which I wore around Spain recently. They were pretty comfortable and lightweight too.

    PS. I just found your blog recently and I LOVE the Tolkien inspiration. 🙂

  • Shannon says:

    Ok, after all this talk of crocs I might actually go check them out. 😊
    Thanks guys
    PS I love it when people engage like this in the comments and we all discover something new.

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