Getting sore feet is one of the worst things that can happen when you’re traveling. We’ve all been there. You’re halfway through the day and suddenly it feels like your knees are going to buckle with every step. Sore feet don’t just make you tired and miserable. Your knees and back will compensate to reduce the pain in your feet, which can cause other lower back and leg problems.
Do some research and invest in a few good pairs of shoes before you go and your trip will be much more enjoyable.
Of course the shoes you take should match the climate and terrain of the place you’re visiting. You might be spending two weeks in Paris walking around museums all day. You might be backpacking across India. Or maybe you’re spending a month on the beach in Fiji. The same pair of shoes won’t work for all of these trips.
Below are some of my favorite shoes that will cover most of the situations you’ll encounter while traveling pretty much anywhere.
Note: the links below are affiliate links, which means that we’ll get a small commission if you buy them. You won’t be charged extra if you purchase through the links. Also, I’ve personally owned all of these shoes and recommend them because they are good products, not because of the commission.
You might not be planning to run a lot on your next trip, but running shoes are the best bet when you’ll be walking a lot. I don’t recommend shoes marketed as “walking shoes” because they’re usually heavier and have thicker soles than running shoes.
Good running shoes should be lightweight, support your feet on hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt, and be able to breathe so your feet don’t get hot.
The best pair of running shoes I’ve owned are these Nike Free Rn Flyknits:
I took these on a three week trip to Europe and wore them every day. They are the lightest and most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. They are so comfortable I forget that I’m wearing them. They have lots of cushion in the heels, and the top fabric is more like a mesh so they breathe really well.
The sizes run a bit longer and narrower than other shoes. If you have wide feet like I do, order a half size larger than your normal shoe size. It’s okay if there’s some extra room in the toes, it’s there to let the shoe flex without compressing your toes.
If you have any hikes planned on your trip, you’ll want to get good pair of hiking shoes. Hiking boots are usually overkill unless you’re walking over hazardous terrain or deep snow. Hiking shoes are better for most situations because they’re lighter and much more comfortable over long distances.
The most important thing to look for when shopping for hiking shoes is support for your foot arches and ankles. Walking over uneven terrain increases the risk of rolling or twisting your ankles and you obviously don’t want that. Durability is really important too. Most hiking shoes will have thicker soles made from harder rubber, which will make them last longer and provide better support on the trail than running shoes.
A lot of hiking shoes are waterproof, which is good when it rains and makes the trail muddy. But keep in mind that water resistance might come at the cost of ventilation, so they might get warmer in hot climates.
Merrel makes really high quality hiking shoes. I have a pair of these Moabs:
I’ve owned these for three years and they still look and feel like new. They’re super durable and comfortable. While they are heavier than most of my other shoes, they don’t feel clunky at all.
Business Casual Shoes
You’ll probably want a pair of dress shoes if you plan on going out at night. You might even need a pair of formal dress shoes depending on the occasion, but you can get away with business casual shoes most of the time.
These leather loafers from Sketchers are a good deal:
I wear these shoes to work every day. They’re super lightweight, and the memory foam insoles are really comfortable even if you’re standing or walking all day. They’re also good for colder weather, as the leather keeps your feet warmer compared to fabric shoes. Plus they’re slip-on, so you don’t need to bother with tying laces.
For really special occasions like weddings, exclusive clubs, and important business meetings, you’ll need to look your best. These occasions call for a pair of formal dress shoes.
I love these Clarks leather Oxford shoes:
These are more appropriate for wearing with a suit than the Sketchers loafers. They are heavier, and I wouldn’t want to wear them all day if I had a choice, but they’re still pretty comfortable. They’re also really affordable for dress shoes. There’s no reason to spend hundreds on Italian made leather shoes, these look just as good.
Slippers or Flip-Flops
If you’re going to a tropical location or spending a lot of time on the beach, a couple pairs of slippers are all you need. By far the best slippers I’ve ever owned are made by the Locals brand. Locals slippers are made in Hawaii and are probably the most popular footwear for people there.
When I lived in Hawaii, Locals were all I wore, every single day:
Other brands I’ve tried have soles that are either too thick and heavy, or soles made from soft rubber. They flop around too much under your feet and wear out quickly. The soles of Locals slippers are made from a harder and stiffer rubber, so they aren’t too floppy. They also last a really long time. Some of my pairs have lasted more than a year.
Locals are available in lots of different sole and strap color combinations. Visit their website if you can’t find the colors you want on Amazon.