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Before we left last August I wrote a post about what I’d be packing for a year. I made some good choices, but there’s nothing like experience to tell the tale. Now, after over nine months of travel, here is a status report on that most female of items: shoes.
I said that I would be bringing four pairs of shoes but I added a 5th pair just before we left, and I’m glad I did. I know, I know, my husband only brought two pairs, but that’s a guy thing. Here’s a review of women’s travel shoes I packed and how they’ve worked out.
Review of women’s travel shoes
Keen Hiking Sandals:
The Keens in action truffle hunting in the mud on a wet day in Italy. The sandals are waterproof but Larissa is not, hence the plastic bags.
- The plan: I chose sandals over hiking shoes/boots because I knew I’d be in warm climates and wasn’t planning any really heavy-duty trekking. I also wanted a shoe that would be easy to pack. I chose the Venice H2 by Keen because they were open enough to feel like a sandal, but sturdy enough to provide support on long walks. They are also waterproof.
- The result: Good choice. I wear them when we’re out for a long day of walking in a non-city environment (they are not particularly chic). They are comfortable and sturdy. The waterproof aspect makes them easy to clean off in a sink or tub if I get them mucked up a bit. An added bonus is that I can wear socks with them, which makes them cozier on chilly days.
- Here’s how to buy women’s Keen shoes.
City Walking Shoes:
- The plan: I lived in Philadelphia and appreciated a good pair of walking shoes that were dressy enough for city living. A few months before we left I purchased the Helika loafer by Waldlaufer in a black patent croco pattern, which would match my mostly-black wardrobe.
- The result: Good strategy, unreliable shoe. They looked nice, and were sturdy and comfortable . . . until they broke. Yep, broke. We were visiting Ho Chi Minh’s tomb in Hanoi on a rainy day and my foot felt wet. I assumed I had stepped in a puddle, but when we got back to our hotel I saw the entire sole had split in two. The shoes had only minimal wear, and I had spent $168 for them. Since I was on the other side of the world, I couldn’t take them back to the store. I replaced them with a pair of Italian-made Fly Flot loafers, style #33217, which were about $90 in Israel. Decent-looking, comfortable and, so far, sturdy.
The Waldlaufer shoe with its cracked sole.
- The plan: Multi-purpose, easy to pack and comfortable for walking. I packed a pair of black Fit Flops Walkstar Classics that were already a few years old. I figured I could replace them with something cheap if they broke.
- The result: Multi-purpose, easy to pack and comfortable for walking. No need to replace them, the things wear like iron. It turns out if I wanted I could buy replacement Fit Flops in almost any country I’ve visited, they seem to be the go-to comfort shoe for women everywhere.
Ballet slipper flats:
While they don’t make me as graceful as Natalie Portman in Black Swan, they’re pretty comfortable.
- The plan: These were the last-minute addition to my packing list. I wanted something closed-toe that I could wear without socks and were also dressy enough to wear with skirts. I got a pair of Puma Zandy ballerinas, which are sort of a hybrid between a simple sneaker and a shoe.
- The result: Good choice. Their athletic shoe heritage gives them a little more support and sole cushioning than a typical shoe, meaning it’s great for walking. They’re a little sportier than a shoe, but can still work with skirts. They also take up very little space in my suitcase.
- Here’s how to buy Puma Zandy Ballerina shoes.
These Aerosoles were great at home but are not the best for travel.
- The plan: I wanted something a little dressier for going out. I couldn’t imagine an entire year without heels. I brought along a pair of Aerosoles Hedge Maple sandals that I had field-tested at home before leaving.
- The result: Okay, I blew this one. My least-worn pair of shoes, and probably a dead weight in my suitcase. They’re comfortable, but a little too confining for serious walking. The wedge soles take up valuable space in my suitcase. I probably would have been better off with a simple pair of slings. As I write this I realize these sandals will not be making the move to our next destination. Hey, that’s liberating!
Bring shoes that are comfortable, multi-tasking and sturdy. Fortunately there are several manufacturers that manage to put together all of those features in a decent looking shoe.
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What types of shoes have you found useful while traveling?
(NOTE: All these shoes were my own purchases, these are not paid endorsements.)