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Top Tips For Picking The Perfect Travel Shoes and How to Pack Them

Updated: May 1, 2023

A variety of comfortable and stylish travel shoes

Selecting Travel Footwear: Balancing Comfort, Style & Practicality

When it comes to picking shoes for travel, there are a few key factors to consider to ensure that you choose footwear that is comfortable, practical, and versatile:

Comfort: Look for shoes with cushioned soles, arch support, and a comfortable fit. For travel days, slip-ons can make passing through security easier, and closed-toe shoes can offer protection when maneuvering heavy, wheeled luggage in confined spaces. If your feet swell during flight, pick a roomier style with stretch.

Practicality: Consider the activities you'll be doing on your trip and choose shoes appropriate for the terrain and climate.

  • You'll want shoes with good traction and ankle support for uneven surfaces or hiking

  • If you are visiting a hot climate, you may want shoes that are breathable and lightweight.

  • Consider waterproof shoes from brands like Blondo, Vessi, and La Canadienne for wet climates.

  • Pack flip-flops and water shoes for beach destinations and water sports like snorkeling and kayaking.

> Top Picks for Weatherproof Options: Blondo, Vessi, La Canadienne

Versatility: To minimize the number of shoes you need to pack, choose neutral colors that can be worn with multiple outfits and dressed up or down for various activities.

Durability: Look for shoes that are well-made and durable that will hold up to lots of walking. Pick materials like leather, suede, or canvas that are easy to wipe clean or washable options such as Rothy's, Allbirds, and Vivaia.

Packability: If you're packing light, consider shoes that are easy to pack and don't take up too much room in your luggage. Foldable flats, lightweight sneakers, or sandals that can be rolled up are good options. Wear the bulkiest pair on the plane and pack the others.

Style: For sightseeing, casual lunches, and museums, go for comfort! Consider dressier styles made of leather or fabric for nicer restaurants, events in more formal settings, or special occasions. If you plan to wear heels, consider a block heel for more stability on cobblestones and uneven surfaces. Fine dining restaurants may have a dress code prohibiting athletic shoes and flip-flops. In some destinations, flip-flops are considered pool shoes, and you won't see many on the street.

Whichever shoes you choose, take the time to break them in well before you depart. There's nothing worse than blisters on day two from spiffy new shoes that rub the wrong way.

Packing Tips for Footwear

  • Bring just two pairs of shoes if you’re traveling without checked baggage and packing light. Pack the least bulky pair, and wear the other pair on the plane. For longer trips, special occasions, or seasonal weather, you may need to sacrifice some suitcase space for additional pairs.

  • Invest in reusable shoe bags or use plastic shopping bags to cover shoes in your suitcase. Doing so will protect your shoes and keep dirt and odors from your other clothing.

  • Pack a shoe sponge and small microfiber or cotton cloth in a Ziploc bag to clean your shoes as needed. Save space by tucking your shoe care kit inside your packed shoes.

  • Save the cardboard or plastic inserts that come with new shoes to help them keep their shape inside your luggage. In a pinch, you can fill the toe box with tissue paper, bubble wrap, or rolled-up socks inside a Ziploc bag to prevent shoes from getting squished.

  • To keep shoe odors at bay, consider packing NonScents shoe deodorizers.

Hezelf Shoe Storage Pouch

Footwear Accessories


  • Most 5-star properties will provide robes and slippers in guest rooms. For 4-star properties or apartment rentals, consider packing your own.

  • Pack a pair of flip-flops for visits to hotel pools.

  • Most hotel spas will provide spa shoes or slippers during your visit.


  • Socks can provide warmth and moisture control, prevent blisters, and minimize odors.

  • Choose high-quality socks made with natural fibers such as cotton or wool that won’t wear through easily with lots of walking.

  • Pack socks that work well with your selected shoes, such as loafers or no-show socks for lower-cut shoes. Avoid white athletic or crew socks.

  • Consider compression socks for long-haul flights.


Insoles and orthotics can improve shoe comfort by providing additional cushioning, arch support, and stability which can reduce pain and discomfort during prolonged periods of standing or walking.

Various insoles are available, including foam, gel, and custom-made orthotics. Foam insoles are the most affordable and provide moderate cushioning. Gel insoles offer superior shock absorption and are ideal for higher-impact activities.

Custom-made orthotics are designed to fit the unique shape of your foot and provide targeted support and cushioning where needed. They are ideal for people with severe foot conditions or chronic pain.

For travel, choose lightweight and compact insoles that don't take up too much space in your luggage. Memory foam insoles are a popular choice for travel as they can be easily compressed and fit snugly in your shoes.

Foot Care While Traveling

  • Be proactive about blisters. Always carry bandaids or blister care and apply them as soon as you notice a sore spot.

  • Keep your feet clean and dry and minimize friction with moisture-wicking socks. Trim toenails short to avoid discomfort.

  • Pack a blister care kit with antibacterial ointment, bandages, and a pain reliever to reduce swelling.


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