“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” – Marilyn Monroe
There were a few things that I researched far and wide before starting my adventures around the world. I truly wanted to find the perfect backpack (which was no small task) and the perfect shoes for my year abroad. Hours were spent searching many blog posts, but found that few gave me good advice for my style of travel. I knew I would be gone for a full year and would be chasing summer. This meant, I needed light weight shoes and had no need for the boots and heels that many travel blogs suggested.
I wanted to make sure I had a few solid pairs of shoes that would allow me to: trek in and out of water, look good on night outs, and let me walk for hours on cobblestone sidewalks without blistering. I did a lot of research and spoke to a lot of people. What I found was that everyone has different preferences! I had to pick things that I knew would work for me.
I have been excited to share my favorite shoes with you, but also know that my selection may not work for you. Therefore, I decided to seek out some of my fellow traveling females for their favorite shoes for travel. The shoes I have selected to share with you have been tried and tested, but I would pick what works best for you!
I was planning on cleaning my shoes before taking photos of them… but I felt like that wouldn’t be as authentic. Especially now that I am in Asia, I don’t see the point in cleaning my shoes anytime soon, as I am always out in the mud exploring the earth. Note: Shoes that clean easily are rad!
While you could definitely pack fewer shoes than me, I decided to go with five total pairs. I have a pair of Nikes that I can use when I fake going to the gym. I have my vans which I have really enjoyed with a casual dress on a night out. My favorite shoes are my hiking sandals, called Chacos, which are perfect for trekking and I can use them in the water. My other two sandals are honestly just extras. The cloth sandals, called Sanuks, are super comfy so I love wearing them around town. The others are purely to be cute, and to be honest, I never wear them.
I know other travelers who packed cute wedges or booties or boots. Totally an option if that’s your thing, but I have found them to be unnecessary. If you are traveling in warmer climates, the boots are too warm and just take up extra space in the suitcase. If you are really into heels for night out, grab some comfortable wedges if you would like. I was so excited to leave heels behind when I left the corporate world, but every once and a while, I wish I had short wedges for nicer nights out.
Let’s dive in to the top shoes my girlfriends and I adore.
Sandals are a necessity for warm climates and beaches. However, few sandals offer the true support that is needed for long travel days. We did some good searching to find what we consider our perfect sandals.
I really enjoy having sandals that wrap around my ankle and hold on for dear life. This is really a nice feature when tripping up hill on cobblestone. Sanuks and sandals that are similar boast about having yoga mat material for the base, which is a big part of what drew me to them. It gives a nice cushion of support. They come in a wide variety of colors and I think they are cute with a casual beach dress!
I am itching to buy a pair of these after hearing my gal Viki brag about them so much. RY leader, Victoria Cumberbatch, loves these sandals, stating, “My Xeros have: been through every park in Melbourne, trekked through Tasmania, got roughed up at Fringe Fest Adelaide, waltzed through the promenades of Sicily, hiked Rila Lakes, navigated Budapest streets, survived white water rafting in Bosnia, tanned in Croatia, got stolen and replaced in Portugal, meandered through the rice fields in Sapa, got tripped got dripped on in Ha Long Bay, and catapulted on many a beach in Co To Vietnam. I plan to carry these bad boys to the end of my days! #xeroshoes
By far, I think this brand has the best versatility. They offer a wide selection of sandals that you can wear comfortably for an intensive walking day, but also look great for a night out. Kathy Sheng says, “Apart from a handful of days, I have been wearing these Rockport sandals daily for the last four months. They’ve held up amazingly well. They’re probably the most comfortable sandals I’ve ever owned without entering the dowdy territory other sandals designed for comfort usually end up in And because of the heel sling, I can walk for lengthy periods over all sorts of different terrain without difficulty. So overall a very multifunctional and durable sandal.”
No shock here! These shoes are all over the travel and fashion blogs. For good reason! These shoes are known for fitting well and lasting a long time. Plus, they are excellent quality and worth the bank. This German-made shoe is known for its contoured cork and latex footbed. Gal pal, Christina Marfice, told me, “I’m all about my Birkenstocks. They’re not super versatile (not waterproof, not great for outdoorsy things), but they’re sooooo comfy for walking all day.”
Hiking, Trekking, and Adventuring
Whether you are doing a light hike or a 3-day trek through the jungle, the right shoes for the trail are vital! No one wants to get blisters or lose their footing on a trail. We picked some of our favorite hiking shoes for warmer climates.
Can I get a “hell yes!” for these shoes?! This is a pair that was referred to me by several of my major hiking friends. They have been the perfect shoe for trekking in the warmer climates. These shoes have hiked my desert home in Arizona, swam in sea of Croatia, trekked through the rice fields in Sapa, and are my most worn shoe so far. I’m obsessed with them! They get awfully dirty, but dry quick, so all I must do it rinse or scrub them down. Chacos come in a variety of support options, color styles, and are great for both men and women. While best known for the Z-strap sandals, they now offer even more outdoor shoe options.
These are also called vapor shoes. These sneakers are designed to handle rough terrain, but be light and flexible enough to mold to any running style. They are called “barefoot” because the company wanted to focus on a shoe that had a natural, zero drop experience. However, they are still durable! My girl, Melissa Randall, loves them. She says, “They are lightweight and have basically functioned as hiking and water shoes. (They are not intended to be water shoes, but they dry super quickly).”
Who says a girl can’t have cute hiking boots? Melissa proves that theory wrong with her adorable Ahnu Sugarpines. These waterproof boots are light weight, waterproof, supportive, and come in a variety of colors. Ditch the traditional brown boots and brighten the trails with some bright colors! Melissa brags, “These are the cute hiking boots that I also love a lot. They only weight a pound and a half, which is crazy light for hiking boots!”
Tennies and Sneakers
Sneakers are great to have if you are hoping to stay fit on the road or want them for walking around town. I mention a few different popular choices below, but know there are several different options that are similar and have the same features. I have learned that sneakers are a bit easier to choices than all the styles mentioned above.
I know a handful of friends who travel with a pair of vans. They’re super versatile and stylish at the same time. I have them in mint blue, which is not the best choice, as they stained quickly. Viki has a pair of vans that feature a fabulous Jungle Book pattern that I am obsessed with. They come in so many assorted colors and patterns and I have not met a single person who looks bad in them!
I seriously debated back and forth on getting Toms or Vans, and think they are both excellent choices. The traditional Toms have a bit less support, but that also makes them the lighter option if you are worried about baggage weight. These also come in a variety of colors and, more recently, a few unique style options. I’m still really interested in buying the Lana Del Rey versions. Plus, when you buy a pair, a pair is given to someone who really needs them. It’s a win, win.
Or any other light weight athletic shoe. Nikes just seem to be the favorite among a lot of my girlfriends. Fellow friend and Instagramer loves wearing her Nikes everywhere. Ariela Kadar says, “They’re easy to put on and take off, are light light, and my black and white ones go well with everything. They have elastic fabric, think ‘spanx for your feet’ without the uncomfortable part. You can throw them in the washing machine and they air-dry quickly.” They’re her preferred shoes for travel day and she has an incredible way of rocking them with a cute dress for a night out. We are big believers that you can totally wear sneakers for a night out!
Several my friends really enjoy ballet flats on their travels. They are adaptable for wide range of activities or outfits. You can find some with additional support. Plus, they’re cute. We just didn’t have a specific brand that we brag about.
I hope this post helps you to find the perfect shoes for your everyday wear, next weekend trip, or an adventure around the world. It’s important to try things out and see what works best for you. You can always throw in an extra pair of random sandals, like I did, knowing they will probably be replaced once you discover what you really want. Play around!
What about you? What if your favorite shoe for travel, trekking, or late-night strolls? We would love to hear about them in the comments below.
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