Nothing stops you as quickly as an uncomfortable pair of shoes. When traveling, whether in the mountains, beaches, villages, cities or metropolises, our feet are what keep us going. It makes sense to find a pair of shoes that not only fit, but feel good, look good, last and — if we can help it — work well.
But where to start? Fit and comfort should be a top priority, says Dr. Christina Rowe-Bauer, a podiatrist at Penn State Health. In practice, this means shopping for new shoes well in advance of any planned trips.
“Don’t just go away and start wearing new shoes because they can irritate your feet,” says Rowe-Bauer. “Buy early and break in.” Even though they’re the most comfortable sneakers ever, they still take some time adapt.
But fit and comfort are fairly general terms that can easily vary from person to person. “Everyone and everyone is different,” says Rowe-Bauer, “so it’s helpful to start your search with something you know about yourself—for example, if you have high arches or flat feet, Google those terms and Anything else you’re looking for is in order.
Rowe-Bauer says that most trips usually require just three pairs of shoes: a pair of beach or warm-weather shoes (she always packs her Birkenstocks and has heard good things about Oofos sandals), a pair of sneakers (she likes her Hokas and Brooks) and a pair of dress shoes (she prefers J. Crew, since the store carries women’s shoes up to a size 12). While she does understand that style matters, especially when traveling, arch support is probably the most important aspect of a good pair of walking shoes.
“A firm and not too flexible shoe with good arch support, long and wide enough for the foot [best choice],” she says.
Our favorite travel walking shoes include a variety of features suitable for most vacations, such as comfortable insoles; durable — sometimes sustainable — materials; foot, heel, and ankle support technology; and styles for different occasions, climate and activities.
Clarks Footwear has nearly 200 years of shoemaking history, so when it comes to travel shoes, the company has a wide variety of styles to choose from, depending on the trip. But the Pure Belle flat from Clarks is the perfect versatile shoe. Wear them to a business dinner or party, museum or family gathering. Their sleek style and classic tuxedo slipper shape are perfect for it all.
The Women’s Fleece Running Shoes from Allbirds are the kind of shoes that get more comfortable with every wear. That’s impressive because from the first try they were very comfortable walking shoes. Wool Runners are made from sustainable and ethical ZQ Merino wool that is super soft, moisture wicking and naturally odor stable. (Come on, wear them with your bare socks!) Allbirds are machine washable and extremely durable, built to last.
The Cotu Classic sneaker from Superga is a classic in every way. For decades, the women’s basic white cotton sneaker has been a must-have for travel near and far. They go with just about any outfit and are low profile and light enough for most travel shoes. The insole is cushioned, the sneaker is made of rubber, and the outsole has a crepe texture for some traction and durability. They can be washed in the washing machine and air dried in about a day.
If you want to stay stylish and move around all day without blisters or sore feet, the Dr. Scholl’s Insane Loafers are for you. And because of Dr. Scholl’s supports sustainable manufacturing and production, and you’ll feel good for a number of reasons when you’re wearing these travel shoes; they feature a microsuede upper and 80% of the lining is made from recycled bottles. The loafer’s ‘be free energy technology’ insole has three distinct zones designed to create one of the most comfortable slip-ons ever: extra support under the toe box, high recovery foam in the ball and heel surrounding dense foam. The flexible sole provides room for your foot to breathe while still providing a sturdy footbed.
Finding a pair of flip flops that you can wear for hours on end is very difficult. But with companies like FitFlop finally discovering an untapped market, you have plenty of options. The FitFlop Iqushion is an ergonomic flip flop sandal with excellent arch support and a cushioning shock absorption system with a microfoam footbed. The thicker sole also provides more heel support. Trust us, you won’t be able to buy just one color.
Teva comes in many different styles besides the signature Velcro sandal, while the Anaya bootie is a great option for cruising around the city. Swag can be dressed up or down depending on the situation. TevaRapid seam-sealed construction keeps your toes dry in moderate rain, and even though these are boots, the heel is only 1.5 inches high, and they offer excellent arch support and polyurethane sockliner cushioning. “The first day I wore them, I walked around the city for hours and they were super comfortable,” said one Amazon reviewer.
Planning to spend the day traveling through a new city? These sneakers from footwear pros Merrell will keep you comfortable during all your sightseeing stops. The FloatPro midsole gives your feet plenty of cushioning, and they’re designed to withstand any type of terrain you’ll encounter, from pebbles to puddles, mud and more. Plus, we love that the sneakers feature a toggle lace-up closure for easy on and off—perfect for airport security.
The Keen Elle Backstrap Sandal is lightweight and stretchy for optimal comfort on toes that are exposed to the elements for much of the summer. Perfect for the beach or boating, dining or outings, the elastic straps are made from recycled plastic bottles, and the ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) footbed provides excellent arch support and midsole cushioning—a rarity in sandals. Additionally, the shoes are treated with an antimicrobial solution that helps eliminate odor-causing bacteria from the footwear. The rubber outsole is great for grip, and they don’t leave scuff marks on the boat either.
The Tieks Classic Ballet Flat is a sleek and stylish shoe with a clever split sole design that folds down compact enough to fit in a small purse. Heel support is above average for a flat thanks to the non-slip rubber outsole patch, but they leave something to be desired when it comes to arch support. Don’t be fooled by their refined manners, as ties are known for being comfortable all day long.One commenter said: “My […] Tieks have seen me travel the world, take trips to the grocery store, and even go through a rain shower without a single blister. “
Hylo Light is perfect for any occasion. As travel walking shoes, you should pack them every time you travel, as they can double as your workout/running shoes and sightseeing/regular shoes. Pair them with dresses or athletic gear—they all look great. They also feel good. They’re ultralight, breathable, machine washable, and made from all renewable or recycled materials, including corn!
Like all Allbirds footwear, the men’s Piper Mids are carbon-neutral and made from ZQ Merino wool – known by Allbirds for its exceptional moisture-wicking softness. While nearly all Allbirds styles are great touring walking shoes, these retro mid-range high tops really stand out in terms of style while also offering some ankle support. While Allbirds shoes don’t have built-in arch support, they’re designed to conform to your foot so they’ll provide some decent support over time. Reviewers also like their lightweight.
The Skechers Moreno Canvas Oxford is a great travel shoe for any climate. They’re lightweight and stylish, featuring a two-tone upper and leather-lined outsole. Many customers will buy a second pair in a different color. But their crowning achievement is the memory foam sole, which provides cloud-like cushioning while still offering support, especially in the arch.
You can’t go wrong with classic New Balance. The 515 V3 sneaker offers a durable rubber outsole with EVA foam cushioning in the midsole and heel. The suede and mesh upper give it a sleek spin, even if it’s a sneaker.
Finding sturdy and comfortable flip flops is no easy feat. The Vionic Unisex Wave Sandals were designed by podiatrists and carry the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance, so your feet will thank you when you wear these sandals. The biomechanically designed footbed provides plenty of support, and the durable rubber outsole keeps it sturdy without being overly bulky.
In Blundstone’s men’s section, there are dozens of styles of travel-friendly walking shoes to choose from, but the Original Low-Cut is a solid choice. Made with amazing shock absorption, a removable footbed, and waterproof premium leather, these shoes can take you up the mountain or into a museum. Blundstone’s heritage of durability makes them a durable choice for all your travel needs.
This shoe has a unique dual-purpose design and features that can take you from the boardroom to the foot of the mountain. Made of leather and Gore-Tex fabric for breathability and water resistance, it’s a workwear-inspired shoe that combines versatility and comfort. One reviewer said, “I’ve been wearing low top ECCO hiking boots as my daily wear for thirty years and I’ll never wear another brand of shoes again.”
In the Embark Mid Shield sneakers from Merrell, you can go hiking and grab a snack in the city without having to change out of these versatile sneakers. Plus, they’re water-resistant, so even if it rains while you’re hiking, your feet won’t get wet while eating. Their FloatPro foam midsole provides great stability, and they’re super stylish while still being low profile. If you’re packing these shoes on the go, you’ll only need one more pair to go with multiple looks.
The Sanuk Hi Bro Lite Hemp is stylish without being garish. Beach or bar ready, they’re super lightweight and feature an IMEVA sole that cushions and protects your feet all day long. “The shoes are so comfortable, I wear them every day,” said one reviewer who owns two pairs.
Hoka One One (pronounced “oh-nay”) is one of the newer athletic brands that has really made a name for itself, earning the APMA seal of approval. This everyday sneaker is engineered with more cushioning than traditional running shoes, along with a wider sole and lightweight materials with a rocker midsole. There are also many fun colors to choose from.
Hylo’s Corn Runners are so versatile, so from the gym to the museum to dinner, forget about your shoes. Proprietary Corn Spring technology in the midsole helps propel your feet forward with momentum and maximum energy return.
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