Good shoes are essential for travel. The term ‘good shoes’ is extremely subjective because it really depends on your taste and needs. Whenever traveling, I always take two pairs of shoes with me: closed toe shoes and slippers/sandals. This time I’m only covering the closed toe shoes, but I travel with my Adidas slides as well.
It would be nice to bring more than two pairs of shoes, but I have to be conscious about the amount of stuff that I bring because everything that I buy will have to fit in my backpack. Another pair of shoes would literally weigh me down.
Here are my tips for choosing the right shoes for travel:
Plan for your activities
The first part to choosing the right closed toe shoe for traveling is knowing what you are going to do while traveling. If you are traveling short term and know that you are not doing anything too active, then you could travel with just a pair of casual shoes.
Our family has a strange dilemma because we tend to do just about everything. One day we might go to a fancy restaurant, others we would go trekking or something like that. Since we are long term traveling, it’s not really possible to plan for everything, so my solution is to buy shoes that are acceptable for everything.
The Type of Shoe
Once again, this depends on what you are going to do. If you are planning on walking, then get walking or running shoes. If hiking, get some hiking boots. It’s obvious – unless you are doing activities that vary. Running shoes are great even if you don’t run because they are usually really lightweight and comfortable.
Cushioning and Comfort
Comfort is the most important aspect for a travel shoe. This subjective, but I find running shoes to be the most comfortable.
Cushioning can be helpful when walking, and can make your traveling more comfortable. Recently, I’ve been opting for less cushioning, instead wearing ‘barefoot’ shoes. Barefoot minimalist shoes give your feet a more natural feel as if walking barefoot. Apparently this has many health benefits and I’ve felt better while running and traveling with barefoot shoes.
This one is all up to you. If you want to stand out, then go ahead and buy neon shoes. If you are like me and would rather stay low profile, go with black. Plus, black shoes match with pretty much everything. I’ve worn a pair of neutral colored trail running shoes to the world famous Francis Mallman 1884 restaurant in Mendoza, Argentina. It was dim, so my shoes didn’t stick out like a sore thumb.
In my opinion, durability is the most important factor in a shoe after comfort. My old Merrell Barefoot Gloves had a hole in the toe box after less than a year, but I can’t blame it because I had worn it almost every day in a row. Whenever looking for travel shoes, I try to find something that’s lightweight yet durable. I always shop for shoes online, so it’s a bit difficult to actually know if the product is durable. That’s when I rely on reviews.
Before we started our RTW, I had this idea that I needed to get waterproof shoes. So, I got a pair of shoes with Gore-Tex. Water couldn’t go into the shoes from the side, but every time I attempted to do something crazy and stupid involving water, like jumping across slimy rocks in a lake in Bariloche, Argentina, water would get in over my ankles. 8 months into our round the world trip, I came to the conclusion that waterproof shoes are useless if they aren’t above the ankle. I also noticed that waterproof shoes tend to get really stinky. Overall, I wouldn’t get a pair of waterproof shoes just because I find them unnecessary (and overpriced).
Of course, this is my personal opinion and is based on what I did while traveling. If you walk in the rain a lot, you may want a pair of waterproof shoes, but then again you could just wear sandals.
There are thousands if not millions of shoes that I could take to travel; however I almost always try to buy trail running shoes. In my opinion, trail running shoes are the best for traveling because they have the best of both worlds. They have the benefits of being a cross between running and hiking shoes. I specifically buy minimalist trail running shoes, since I like the minimalist feel and the weight. Minimalist, or barefoot shoes can promote more natural strides as well. If you are looking for a all rounder travel shoe, I would strongly recommend buying trail running shoes. Here’s why:
Trail Running Shoes
- Aren’t bulky like hiking boots
- Usually comfortable and flexible like running shoes
- Have good traction
- Durable with beefed up soles while not being like boots
- Relatively presentable in formal occasions
This is my current pair of shoes, the Vivobarefoot Neo Trail (review coming soon):
What type of shoes do you wear for traveling? Leave a comment below.