The Quest to Find the Perfect Travel Shoes (2020)

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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.

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

So many factors go into choosing the perfect travel shoes 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?

If you, too, are looking for the best shoes for travel, check out my tips for women below!

The Best Travel Shoes in 2020

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

My current favorite shoes for travel

SUAVS Zilker knit

Amanda wearing SUAVS in Portugal
Me and my pink SUAVS in Braga, Portugal

Why I love my SUAVS: These shoes are amazing for travel. They fit your feet like socks, are super light and breathable, and take up virtually no space in a suitcase. They're also machine washable, which means I'm not scared to take lighter colors with me on my travels. I currently have the classic Zilker knits in pink and gray, and the Zilker gums in white. These shoes have been everywhere with me, from Morocco to Kenya to Puerto Rico.

Trips they're good for: These are best for warmer seasons since they're so light and breathable. I wouldn't wear these in super wet or cold conditions, though of course you can always throw on a pair of socks to make them a little warmer.

*Note: These don't have much arch support, though the insoles are removable if you wanted to swap them out. I actually don't mind how flat these are, and have walked miles in mine.

Buy them from SUAVS

The best sandals for travel

1. Teva Verra

Sandals in Morocco
My Tevas in Morocco

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.)

2. 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

1. Crocs flats

Amanda wearing Crocs in Zanzibar
Crocs are great beach shoes!
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.

My favorite Adrina flats are sadly not made any longer. They've been replaced by the Isabella flats (pictured here), which are just as cute and comfy.

Buy them on Amazon

2. Allbirds Tree Breezers

Allbirds Tree Breezers

Why I love my Allbirds flats: These flats are made from a comfy and breathable eucalyptus tree fiber, with a cushy insole covered in merino wool – meaning they're breathable, eco-friendly, and won't get smelly if you wear them barefoot. They form to your foot and are less rigid than many other flats I've tried.

Trips they're great for: These are great for trips to warm and dry destinations. They let your feet breathe, but they have fiber uppers, meaning they're definitely not waterproof.

Buy them from Allbirds

The best boots for travel

1. Kodiak Surrey II

Kodiak Surrey II boots
My Kodiaks out in the wild in Ohio
Kodiak Surrey boots

Why I love the Kodiak Surrey II: These boots are good for hiking, but are also fashionable enough to wear with normal outfits, too – which is super important in a travel shoe. They're made well, and have so far traveled with me to places like Iceland, Scotland, and Morocco.

Trips they're great for: They're good for trips where you might be doing some hiking, or trips in cooler weather.

Buy them on Zappos | Buy them on Amazon

2. Naturalizer Cycle Boot

Amanda in Wales
Wearing my Naturalizers in Wales
Naturalizer 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

3. Merrell Moab

Merrell Moabs in Utah
Hiking in my Moabs in Utah

Why I love the Merrell Moab: If you're in the market for serious 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 real hiking. I've worn my Moabs for hiking in New Zealand, Utah, and even Ohio.

Buy them from Zappos | Buy them on Amazon

The best winter boots for travel

1. Columbia Minx Mid boots

Amanda in Ann Arbor in winter
Wearing my Columbia boots in Michigan in winter

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 a full size in order to accommodate thicker socks.

Buy them from Zappos | Buy them from Columbia

Other travel shoe essentials

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

For summer or hiking trips, you'll want some good hiking socks.

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!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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47 Comments on “The Quest to Find the Perfect Travel Shoes (2020)

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  1. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I used to be SO against Crocs, but now I can’t travel without mine!

    I always have a difficult time finding the perfect pair of travelling shoes – thank you for this!

      Hopefully this post gave you a few ideas!

    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.

      Happy to be able to help, Laurel! And thanks for reading. ๐Ÿ™‚

    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! ๐Ÿ™‚ I have super high arches so it is a struggle but these are some great places to start! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Hopefully you’re able to find some that work for you! Having a good pair of travel shoes is definitely important.

    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.”

      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!

    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!

      They really are great – comfy AND kinda cute!

    Most importantly is the comfort level of the shoe and the weight of it as I’ll be walking throughout the day. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Well I can personally attest to all of these being very comfy! (It’s my chief concern too!)

    Great list. I bought Teva Verra for my last trip. Very comfortable sandals, perfect for walking on the beach and around the vacation

      They’re some of my favorites, too!

    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!

      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!

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

      Great to hear! Those are definitely my favorite hiking boots. ๐Ÿ™‚

    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! ๐Ÿ™‚

    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!

      Whatever works for you! I like shoes, but I tend to think about usefulness before I buy any new ones!

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

      I definitely couldn’t travel without good shoes! My feet KILL me after a day of sightseeing if I don’t have good footwear!

    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. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m going to have to check out a couple of these myself!

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