If there’s one thing you can’t leave for your next vacation without — it’s travel shoes. And given that, when traveling, you probably walk a good deal more than usual, it’s critical to have the best travel shoes and travel sandals. So, we’ve compiled a list of what to look for in the best travel shoes so you know which traveling shoes to pack.
Best Travel Shoes – Travel Sandals, Walking Shoes, and Hiking Boots
photo credit: veggiefrog
Best Travel Sandals: Best Walking Sandals
There are three reasons you might need travel sandals when traveling (and they might overlap):
You’re hosteling and want shower shoes
You’re heading to a beach
You’re headed someplace warm
For 1) and 2), you may be fine with a pair of flip flops. Flip flops are easy to transport and relatively inexpensive making for great shower and beach shoes. I usually get mine for less than $5 at Target or Old Navy, but I have friends who really like:
For 2) (beach, if lots of walking) and 3) (someplace warm), you’ll want a comfy pair of walking sandals. Walking sandals with wrap around straps (forcing your foot to press against your foot, unlike a flip flop) are a better choice. Depending on your dress style you may want something fancy in travel sandals. Here are the best sandals for walking that we’ve found:
In terms of brands, I used to recommend Birkenstocks but have had some terrible quality and customer service issues. I had the strap fail and separate from the sandal after just 6 months of light wear…I do not recommend anymore; and Kimberly prefers Tevas and Chaco sandals, which are known for their durability and comfort. If I were going to buy a pair of walking sandals today it would be either Chacos or one of the following brands: Keen, Clarks, Born, Mephisto, Uggs and Hush Puppies all have good comfortable dress sandals that will also be good for walking.
Best Travel Walking Shoes
If your destination isn’t 90 degrees and hot, you’d probably prefer a pair of close toed extra comfortable travel walking shoes like the fun Vasque Rift. Depending on your travel plans and amount of luggage, you may want walking shoes that double as hiking boots or travel walking shoes that double as dress shoes. That said, your best best might be to invest in a good pair of hiking boots (like the Patagonia Drifter) and a small pair of flats (like the Bloch Arabian Ballerina III) that don’t take up much room in your suitcase.
Best Travel Shoes: Hiking and Walking Shoes for Traveling
If you’re looking for walking shoes that double as hiking boots, look for a pair of low cut hiking boots. For Argentina I purchased these Merrills (the Moab Ventilator) and love them. Kimberly bought some Keens and loved those. We wore these shoes regularly for both hiking and city walking. There are a number of great brands of hiking/walking shoes, the trick is to find a pair that fit well.
Best Travel Shoes: Walking and Dress Shoes
If you want travel walking shoes that can double as dress shoes, there are a few brands that turn up comfortable walking shoes that look nice enough for a fancy restaurant. Check out: Ecco, Mephisto, New Balance, Rockport (men) as they all get good reviews for fancy, yet comfortable, walking shoes. I’ve been wearing my Keen Women’s Shoes (Mary Janes) and they are perfect for this.
Travel Hiking Boots
How much hiking you’ll be doing should influence what kind of hiking boots you’ll need. If you’re doing day trips or low-intensity overnight trips you might be able to get away with a pair of low cut hiking boots that can double as your walking shoes. This is what we did in Argentina and it worked out very well. Plus, it saved a lot of space in our luggage. If you’re planning on a lot of hiking, you’ll want the best hiking boots money can buy – with plenty of ankle support. These boots will be taller and bulkier, but the last thing you want is a twisted ankle, 3 days trekking into the Alaskan wilderness. Try on many pairs of tall hiking boots to find a pair that fits well. (Potomac Appalachian Trail Club has a great resource about finding hiking boots that fit.)
Buying Travel Shoes Online: Zappos Review
Shoes are difficult to buy online because you can’t try them on. But, you can get better prices. There are a lot of reasons to buy shoes online and a lot of reasons not to. But if you do decide to buy online I highly recommend buying through Zappos. Here’s an experience I had trying to buy hiking shoes just a week before we left for Argentina. (A previously written but unpublished post).
I knew I had a pair of hiking boots. Somewhere. They served me well during a 3-week backpacking trip in Poland years ago. After digging around for them, i found my trusty Merrells tucked away in my parents’ garage. A few seeds in them. And what else… chewed up padding. Apparently a mouse had found the hiking boots before me.
With only 3 weeks til departure (and 1.5 until the move) and 45 minutes from the nearest REI I knew I had to act fast. After pouring through hiking boot reviews online I still couldn’t decide which pair to buy.
I knew I wanted Marrells. Mostly because I knew what size I wore in them.
But there are probably 50+ Merrell hiking boot options. So I slowly but surely narrowed the choices down.
Then I had a brilliant idea — why not order all three and return the two that I don’t like as much.
While this takes its toll on the environment because of shipping, the stress is saves me (plus the long drive to REI) certainly pays off. But then there’s the problem of costs. Shipping costs a lot of money.
Thank goodness for Zappos. I ordered all three pairs of shoes on Tuesday. Free 4-6day shipping was inlcuded. Lucky for me they upgraded me to free overnight shipping. Woo-hoo!
Wednesday I received all three pairs. I tried them on.
The $90 pair slipped off my feet. They were sort of elasticy.
The $115 pair was really heavy. Plus they are made of Goretex which, for environmental reasons, I’m on the fence about.
The $80 are very comfortable. They are soft to the step. Plus I think they are the best color.
I’d heard good things about Zappos (like this story about Zappos sending someone flowers)
But now I’ve experienced it for myself. I will definitely shop there again since it makes my life so much easier.
So there you have it. Everything you needed to know (and more) about the best travel shoes, travel sandals, walking shoes, and hiking boots, plus where to buy them online. Update: I have also heard good things about Endless, which also offers free shipping.