4 Things Travel Shoes Must Be

When you talk about shoes for travel, you’ve hit a hot spot for most of us.  We have our favorites, and we’re sticking with them.  Or we have our list of the worst shoes we’ve ever owned that we will never travel with again.  But what constitutes a great travel shoe?  In our travels around the globe, and here at home, we’ve broken it down to four things:

  1. Comfort

    (of course)  Those shoes have to mold to your feet, to become part of you, to feel good even after 12 hours on a plane and 2 hours walking around until your hotel room is ready.  Luckily, modern shoes have enlisted technology to give us the best fit, the most lasting comfort ever.  Many like Skechers have gel-like comfort foam insoles that keep your feet from getting sore, for longer periods of time.  And no longer are the soles made of hard materials (if yours are, you’re in the wrong shoe).  These days even heels are rubber, shock absorbing marvels.  And in terms of comfort, those shoes had better be breathable, or your feet will cook, and the air will fill with an aroma that should not be part of travel.

  2. Lightweight   

    In days gone by, many of us suffered through heavy hiking boots or leather walking shoes when traveling.  With no give, and lots of weight, those were bad choices.  But in our defense, in those days good choices for travel did not abound.  The technology was just not there.  And if they were actually made to be light and comfortable, the price was out of our reach.  But no longer.  Most manufacturers are using synthetic materials in both the uppers and soles that are light, durable, and comfortable to boot. (to boot…get it?)  Now, you can still travel with a heavy, leather, out of date hiking shoe or boot, but why would you?  Remember, while traveling you lift your feet quite literally thousands of times a day.  Those extra ounces (or pounds) multiplied by thousands of repetitions each day, mean that you will wear out sooner, have less fun, be more grumpy, and likely have very sore legs and feet while the rest of us are out for drinks.  Why do it?

  3. Fashionable

    Yes, yes we know, this is important too.  Not just gals but guys want something great looking on their feet.  After all, what good is it to arrive at your favorite Cajun restaurant on St. Charles in New Orleans, the Left Bank in Paris, or Union Street in San Francisco if you look and feel frumpy?  That just won’t do.  But the amazing news is that these days you don’t have to sacrifice good looks for comfort. Those synthetics I mentioned earlier are being shaped into all kinds of fashionable, pleasing choices.  And, when the high-tech synthetic parts are combined with touches of leather and canvas (for example), the result is a shoe you can walk in all day, and take to dinner at a four star restaurant (OK, the five-star may require a footwear change).

  4. Reasonably Priced  

    What’s the fun of wearing shoes if with every step you’re looking to avoid any hazard that could harm them. We’re of the opinion that shoes should be faithful warriors, doing all of the things down there (you know, at pavement level) that we ask them to, without complaint.  And then come back for more.  The trouble with overpriced shoes is that you’re worrying about them all of the time.  And that’s just not necessary.  Some of the most comfortable shoes out there are also the most affordable.  You don’t have to shell out the big bucks for a great, comfortable pair of shoes, then worry about ruining them.  Instead, purchase a few and let them do their jobs.  Without complaint, and without worry on your part.


Of course, there are always times that you will feel you need a specialty shoe, even while traveling.  Many women will want a leather high heel for special nights out.  I know Michon does.  And sometimes men will free up luggage space for a pair of dress shoes.  And, if this is true for you, by all means go for it. But this discussion is all about the shoes we live in each day, that take us to adventure and back again.  And often times, can fill in nicely on that night out.

So, with all of this said, we arrive at our choices for the best footwear lines for travel.  This is all very unscientific of course, but travel in general and footwear in particular tend to be quite subjective anyway.  And these choices have the distinction of having all been battle tested and approved for long distance walking by myself, Michon and/or our traveling friends.  Enjoy!


  • Skechers Relaxed Fit with Memory Foam

OK, this is one great shoe line.  Lightweight, synthetics mixed with natural materials, and that Memory Foam!   For long days on your feet, these shoes embody the qualities that we’ve been talking about.  They are very light.  This will be appreciated at the end of a long travel day.  They have a foam inner lining that not only absorbs shocks, but cradles your foot, filling the spaces under your foot with support.  A great choice and very fashionable as they are available in many styles and colors for both men and women.  I favor the ones with canvas uppers, but there are others that also look good, and breathe a bit better.  (I am a slave to fashion alas)  Michon loves the air cooled uppers. Whatever you do, find a Skechers outlet and get the second pair for half off. These shoes run about $40-$65.

  • Keds Comfort Collection

Keds have come a long way from those flat canvas sneakers that many of us wore as kids.  Sure, they still have those basic styles, but their comfort collection really embodies all of the qualities that we’ve been talking about.  Light, check. Comfortable, yes, with their own version of memory foam, they certainly are.  Fashionable?  Of course, this is subjective, but we’d say yes.  There are lots of colors and styles.  And affordable?  Absolutely.  Online deals start at $35 and you can get a great pair for an average of $50.  After all, they are still Keds.  But one caveat.  This line is for women.  Men will need to look elsewhere.

  • Reebok and Clark’s

Modern athletic shoemaker Reebok, and old time English shoemaker Clarks round out our recommendations.  Why?  Both have enlisted new, hybrid synthetic materials and cushioning technology to offer a line of walking and comfort shoes in tune with modern travelers.  And each offers enough choices to entice both men and women.  For men especially, Clark’s has combined fashion forward styling with enough modern comforts (think gel or foam insoles and softer outsoles) to keep us interested.  And Michon has a pair of Clark’s women’s sandals that she swears by, and wears everywhere. And while Reebok will probably never be considered high fashion by women, their walking shoes for both men and women are first rate.  So, they get our nod as a very good line indeed for the fashionable traveler.  And both Reebok and Clark’s can be had for $50-$100 for a very good pair of shoes.

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