Shoes to pack when you travel: Three pairs and considerations

When you travel the last thing you want is a blister or aching feet. But what shoes should you pack?

Ultimately the shoes you pack should meet most (if not all) of these considerations:

  1. All weather. It’s not the time to pack suede shoes if you’re going anywhere that rains at all. Your shoes should be able to get wet, dirty, muddy, dusty, etc.
  2. Comfortable as can be. You should be able to walk miles in these shoes without aches or blisters. This requires significant breaking in.
  3. Versatile for all outfits. Your shoes should work with every outfit you pack. You won’t want to wear the same shoes day after day. Get shoes that work with jeans, khakis, pants, capris, shorts, and bonus points if it works with skirts and dresses.

Below are my go-to shoes for traveling as well as recommendations from my well-traveled friends.


Me, my husband, and my friend Kerry all swear by Merrells. The best thing about these shoes is that technically it’s a sneaker, but it doesn’t look like a sneaker. Too many jokes have been made at the expense of white-sneaker sporting American tourists, but at the end of the day a good pair of sneakers is what you should wear when you’re walking 10-12 miles a day. The three of us have gray-colored Merrells, which like Dr. House proved, we can make look as sporty, casual, or nice as we want.

Sperry Boat Shoes

I love my Sperry boat shoes. The moment it climbs past 65 degrees in the Spring until it falls below 60 in the Fall, I’m in my boat shoes about 75% of the time. In addition to being comfortable, boat shoes look nicer than sneakers (even Merrells). If we’re traveling in any season other than winter, my boat shoes are in my bag.

Nice walk along the river/creek.

Sperrys in Wales.

A pair of strappy flat sandals

In Louisiana we use the term “lagniappe,” which means a little something extra. If we’re traveling in the summer I’ll throw a pair of flat sandals in my bag as lagniappe. These are nice for the beach or to wear with a sundress to look a wee bit dressier than my other shoes. I wouldn’t spend the day walking in sandals, but it’s nice to have the option to dress up. My favorite sandals have been from J Crew and Madewell – they only last a couple of years, but I don’t spend a lot on them. These look very similar to a pair I bought a couple of years ago and I just bought these, but haven’t worn them yet, so can’t say if they are comfy.

Flat sandals at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain

A few more ideas

My friend Melissa says that her Converse all stars work well for long days of walking while traveling. Kerry’s husband and family members love the brand OluKai for comfortable all-day walking shoes, which was new to me. After spending 15 minutes on the OluKai website I’m ready to buy all of the shoes.

What are your go-to shoes for traveling?

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About Stephanie Y.

I'm a professional news writer in Frederick, Maryland. I blog at S.Y. Ciphers.

5 responses to “Shoes to pack when you travel: Three pairs and considerations”

  1. candice says :

    I second the OluKai suggestion! I have a pair of their shoes and Marc has a pair of the sandals. We’re big fans. They are one of the 3 pairs of shoes I brought to Haiti with me. 🙂

    • Stephanie Y. says :

      Hey, Candice! 🙂 Good to know about OluKai. I went to our trail shop this weekend to try on a pair but they only had flip flops in store. Do you have a pair where the heels go flat? Is that comfy???

      • candice says :

        I do! I typically don’t wear them like that, especially when walking for a long time, but they are definitely comfortable both ways.

  2. Kerry M says :

    I caved and bought a pair of Olukais at If the Shoe Fits last week on super-sale, and wore them for a whole day of travel, a whole day walking around at Book Expo, and a whole day wandering around Minnesota, and they are just as amazing as my family members claimed they are.

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