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Tips for Picking and Packing the Best Travel Shoes

Best Travel Shoes
Allianz - Best Travel Shoes

You pack three sets of high heels for a business trip — and then your client suggests you take a tour of the office and then walk half a mile to lunch.

You pack rugged sandals and sneakers for your European tour — and then find out you'll be visiting Michelin-starred restaurants.

You can't win. How do you choose the best travel shoes for your next trip? Here are some suggestions for dressy, athletic and walking shoes for women travelers.

Tips for Packing the Best Travel Shoes

  • Pack no more than three pairs. The pros say two should do, but for a longer trip, or one with variable weather, you can choose three. Travel blogger Hitha On The Go has created a fun grid of travel shoe combinations for various situations. For a wedding weekend: metallic or nude heels + flats for the airport + neutral oxfords.
  • Pick a travel palette. The easiest way to pack a versatile travel wardrobe is to choose an accent color and a base of neutrals. Use the same palette when packing your shoes. Go for the ruby or kelly-green flats — just make sure you can wear them with multiple outfits.
  • Don't lie about working out. You tell yourself you'll take full advantage of the hotel's gym, but deep down you know you won't. Don't waste suitcase space with bulky athletic shoes. If you're committed to your workout regimen, pack lightweight athletic shoes (see below).
  • Wear your biggest shoes. Need to bring snow boots or sneakers? Wear them on the plane to save room in your suitcase.
  • Don't pack brand-new shoes. While some travelers say they can wear high-quality walking shoes right out of the box without any problems, it's not wise to risk it. Break in your new walking shoes a few weeks before your trip.
  • Invest in good socks. Wearing cheap, thin socks negates the benefits of high-quality walking shoes.The Savvy Backpacker recommends SmartWool, Thorlo and Darn Tough socks.
  • Pack first aid for your feet. Moleskine (fuzzy adhesive strips) can help prevent blisters from forming, while a Spenco 2nd Skin Blister Kit heals raw spots on your feet.

Best Travel Walking Shoes for Women

Your favorite neon-colored sneakers aren't necessarily the best travel shoes if you're headed overseas. They scream "American tourist!" when you'd prefer to blend in — and you may be better off with a shoe designed exclusively for walking.

Merrell makes classic walking shoes for women that are waterproof and breathable. The soles are designed to grip slippery terrain, whether cobblestoned streets or mountain trails in spring rains.

With a chunky, wedge-shaped rubber heel and lace-up leather uppers, the Fly London Ylva sandal isn't for everyone. Women who own them say they're some of the best walking shoes for travel, however, because the laces make the shoe adjustable for wider or swollen feet. One fan wore them for 16 hours while exploring London.1 The laceless Fly London Yala is just as comfortable but a little dressier.

If you don't mind a more athletic look, try KEEN sandals and athletic shoes. With rugged construction and oversized toe bumpers, they're designed for comfort over style, but they're hugely popular among travelers. The washable, strappy Rose sandal comes up again and again as one of the best travel shoes to wear everywhere.

Best Travel Shoes for Working Out

If you're committed to running, wherever you are in the world, invest in a pair of ultra-lightweight athletic shoes that pack easily. 

Hand-crafted Soft Star RunAmoc running moccasins are ultra-light and easy to stuff in a suitcase. Other running shoes for travel include the Under Armour Speedform Apollo, Reebok ZQUICK or the super-light (but SCUBA-bootie looking) ZEMgear 360 Ninja Split Toe.2

Best Travel Shoes that Can Dress Up or Dress Down

When you're packing for an overseas trip, you want your walking shoes to be comfortable enough for a full day of exploring but chic enough to wear to dinner. Here are a few of these all-purpose, all-star travel shoes.

French company Mephisto makes high-quality walking shoes for women that are dressy enough for business wear. Its Soft-Air midsole reduces foot fatigue even after a day of walking. While some Mephisto models look a little too sensible, the City line works for a night out.

Dansko is synonymous with clunky clogs, but some of their styles are polished and chic — not to mention ridiculously comfortable. Flight attendants say Dansko does wonders to prevent foot and back pain.3

Travelers are freaks for Tieks. These Italian leather flats are flexible enough to fold and stash in your purse (in the included pouch). But they're also substantial enough — with a non-skid rubber split sole and a cushy instep — to wear on an all-day walking tour of Barcelona. The vegan version is made of durable fabric.

In the same vein, Ahnu's Karma slip-on is a cute leather flat with crossed straps and a rubber toe kick. "They feel like slippers!" one traveler raves. Remember that it's important to keep your feet happy while traveling, so great travel shoes are a worthwhile investment.

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