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Travel shoes are one of the most important items travelers will pack for their trip. An unwise choice can be painful (literally!) and choosing the wrong shoes or too many shoes can unnecessarily weigh down your luggage. As full-time travelers, we have carefully considered multiple factors in order to find the absolute best shoes for traveling in 2023.
What Are Traveler Shoes?
We think the best traveling shoes have 3 characteristics: Comfortable, Lightweight and Versatile. If any shoe doesn’t meet these three prerequisites, then they don’t make it onto our Packing List.
Comfortable Shoes for Travel is a Requirement
First and foremost, the best shoes for travel need to be comfortable. There is no point to packing stylish walking shoes for Europe or cool shoes for New York City if you are not comfortable wearing them for long days of sightseeing.
Traveling Shoes Must be Lightweight
Bulky and heavy shoes take up too much room in luggage.
When determining the best shoes to travel with, the weight of the shoe needs to be a consideration. In our opinion, the lighter the better….so, heavy Chuck Taylor’s don’t make the cut. Big shoes with thick soles – even if they are lightweight – are not an option.
The Best Shoe for Travel is Versatile
Finally, the best travel shoe is multifaceted – meaning, it can be worn for multiple occasions. For instance, the best travel shoe for walking should be able to be worn for a casual dinner.
Top Tips for Good Shoes for Traveling
Before we get to our list of the best travel shoes for men and women, we want to share a bit of advice and top tips for the best travel footwear.
Pack Shoes for Functionality
Good traveling shoes not only need to be comfortable, lightweight and versatile, but shoes for travel also need to be functional – in that they are practical for the activities of the traveler.
A pair of stiletto heels are not the best shoes for walking around the cobblestone streets of Europe. Likewise, heavy duty hiking boots are probably not necessary for a beach vacation.
Before selecting your best lightweight travel shoes, consider what activities you will be participating in on your trip.
Wear Them Before You Pack Them
Please, heed my advice: Never pack a brand-new pair of shoes for travel. I made this huge mistake at the start of our Around the World Trip in 2014. The new shoes were identical to a favorite pair that I had worn on numerous previous trips – so, naturally, I thought they would be the best women’s walking shoes for travel. The difference was that my old shoes were broken in and the new travel shoes were not – and I suffered for it.
Before we even left the airport at our first destination (Uruguay), I had blisters on the back of my heels. It was not a good start to the trip – and it could have easily been avoided by simply breaking in the shoes prior to traveling with them.
When they were eventually worn in, they were wonderful women’s walking shoes for travel…but those first few weeks were rough on my feet!
Use Shoe Inserts for the Most Comfortable Shoes for Travel
Shoes – especially ultra-lightweight walking shoes for travel – often lack foot support, which is why we recommend packing supportive and comfortable shoe inserts for your trip.
In our experience, even the best sneakers for travel walking don’t offer enough support for 10+ miles of city sightseeing. To help, I use inserts with adequate arch support for my shoes and Kris uses heel cushions to ensure he has the most comfortable men’s walking shoes for travel.
The inserts we use are relatively inexpensive. Better yet, they fit in all of our traveling shoes so we each only need to pack one pair of inserts.
Travelers who suffer from plantar fasciitis might want to get special orthotics to help relieve foot pain when traveling – or find suitable products on the Seal of Approval list of the American Podiatric Medical Association.
For the Best Shoes to Travel With, Pack the Right Socks
Packing the right socks is just as important as packing good walking shoes for vacation.
First, you will want to make sure you pack socks that go with your shoes. Personally, I like to wear ankle socks with my good travel walking shoes and low cut, no-show socks with my slip on, casual travel shoes.
Of course, you also want to make sure the socks securely fit your feet. I once packed socks that consistently slipped off my feet when walking uphill. It was a nuisance to continually have to pause to pull up my socks. Just like your shoes, test them out and wear them in before your trip.
Additionally, make sure the socks you pack are made with the right materials. For traveling, it is best to choose technical socks made with materials designed to dry quickly and resist odors.
Know that Stinky Shoes = Traveling Faux Pas
Smelly shoes are horrific and can be horrifically embarrassing. Because the last thing you want when traveling is stinky feet, consider packing an odor fighting product for your shoes.
Baking soda will do the trick (pack it in a small, resealable baggie), but it can be a bit messy. While shoe spray is a good odor deterrent, we don’t recommend packing it – as it could release inside your luggage. Instead, for travel it’s best to use shoe deodorizer bags or sneaker balls that you can open and shut.
Don’t Forget Bandages
Blisters happen…and when they happen on vacation it can put a damper on the trip.
To be honest, it has even happened to me in Southeast Asia when wearing my comfy women’s travel shoes that were already broken in. Between the intense humidity and hot, swollen feet, I developed a painful blister on the back of my heel. No worries, though – as adhesive bandages are one of the must-have items on My Packing List.
Invest in a Travel Shoe Carrying Case
Shoes get dirty – especially when traipsing around a city on sightseeing tours or hiking up that mountain for epic views. I cringe at the thought of putting my dirty soled shoes inside my luggage!
Wrapping shoes in plastic grocery bags or covering them with disposable shower caps provided at hotels is a good packing hack, but there are better products to protect your suitcase or backpack from dirty shoes.
Traveling with Shoes: How Many Pairs to Pack?
Packing lightweight and versatile shoes for traveling means that you won’t unnecessarily fill up your suitcase with too many pairs of shoes.
For our nomadic lifestyle, we each only pack 3 pairs of shoes for traveling: Walking Shoes (which double as our hiking shoes), Casual Shoes (good for travel days as well as going out) and Flip Flops.
To keep the number of travel shoes you bring on a single trip to a minimum, we recommend that all shoes match all outfits. Packing a capsule wardrobe is best for this – and is actually one of the top hacks for packing. For more space and time-saving tips, read all of our Packing Hacks!
Where to Buy the Top Travel Shoes for Men and Women?
Our go-to resource for buying comfortable, stylish walking shoes for travel is Amazon.
We sometimes will wander through a shoe store in search of lighter shoes and newer styles, but when we price check the shoes on Amazon, we find the best price is online. Plus, with a Prime membership, shipping is free and returns are usually a cinch if the shoes don’t fit as expected.
On our list of the best women’s and men’s travel shoes, we provide product links so that you can easily compare shoes, read reviews and make your best purchase!
Best Shoes for Traveling: Our Top Picks
We have highlighted the top characteristics we consider when deciding which shoes to take on a trip…so which comfy, light and versatile travel shoes fit the bill?
In our experience as full time travelers, we have had plenty of opportunity to test which shoes are the best shoes for travel. So, without further ado, here are our picks for top travel shoes for men and women.
Best Travel Shoes Women
Searching for the best travel shoes for women is an overwhelming task. There are hundreds, thousands – probably millions – of opinions for the best shoes for traveling women.
Best Shoes for Travel Walking
If you follow our blog you already know that we love exploring cities on foot. We typically walk 5-plus miles a day (and have written popular self-guided walking tours for cities like London, Amsterdam, Sydney and Hanoi). Therefore, wearing the best travel walking shoes is imperative.
Thankfully, through the years, I have been able to find several versatile, lightweight and comfortable travel shoes for walking.
In fact, since we became Digital Nomads in 2014, I have owned (and loved!) many different pairs of walking shoes for travel. I am featuring what I think are the best travel walking shoes for women – but each pair has pros and cons that individual travelers will want to consider before packing them for their next trip.
Best Travel Sneakers: Women’s
I have always felt that sneakers are the best comfy women’s travel shoe. They are comfortable walking shoes for Europe, ideal for hiking easy to moderate trails in US national parks and perfect for long travel days, too.
That said, choosing which sneakers are the best women’s walking shoes for traveling is not an easy task. I looked high and low until I found the perfect traveling sneakers.
New Balance FuelCore Nergize: Best Travel Shoes Walking
A few years ago, when I was looking for a new pair of women’s walking shoes for travel, I wandered into the Cross-Training section (which is not where I tend to look for walking travel shoes). To my surprise, I found the best sneakers for travel. The New Balance FuelCore Nergize shoes ticked all of my boxes for the Best Walking Shoes for Travel.
Unlike the other brightly colored shoes in the aisle, the NB FuelCore Nergize are a subdued grey that go with everything (although they are available in a variety of colors). The style is less-sporty-more-sleek, so they look good with jeans, shorts, athletic wear and even casual dresses. Versatile – Check!
When I picked a shoe up, it was as light as a feather; I honestly could not believe how weightless it felt! This pair of shoes only weigh about 1/3 of a pound – and the entire shoe folds flat (including the flex heal!) – which makes them ideal for packing. Lightweight – Check!
The material – inside and out – is designed to hug and support your foot, making them one of the most comfortable travel shoes I’ve owned. Equally important, the sole is made of rubber (which means I won’t slip on cobblestones) and the tread grips (which means I won’t slide on hiking trails). Comfortable – Check!
There is, however, a downside to the FuelCore Nergize; they offer little protection against water. Rain, puddles and streams will eventually trickle in. On the other hand, they do dry extremely fast and are easy to clean as well – so that goes in the plus column, too.
One last reason that I think the New Balance FuelCore Nergize are the best women’s travel walking shoes is that they are affordable – which is a big bonus for budget conscious travelers, like us. Shop for your size now!
One of the often raved about traveler’s shoes is the Allbirds Wool Runners. The every day walking shoes are made with Merino wool to help regulate foot temperature. Plus, they have cushioned support and are machine washable. However, the price – well over $100 – is a bit high for many travelers.
Not your style? The Adidas Ultraboost sneakers also get good reviews by fellow travelers in the category of Best Walking Shoes for Travel: Women.
Best Stylish Walking Shoes for Travel: Women
Personally, I prefer function over style when it comes to good travel shoes. However, it is always a bonus when I find stylish travel walking shoes – which is exactly what the Columbia Dorado Boat Shoes are! These cute walking shoes have all the traits that I look for in travel shoes – plus they are cute walking shoes. While Columbia shoes are technically outdoor shoes, I find them to be both stylish and comfortable walking shoes for travel in cities, too.
Stylish Shoes for Travel: Columbia Dorado Boat Shoe
The Columbia Women’s Dorado Boat Shoe is designed with breathable mesh upper material and slip-resistant rubber sole – making it one of the best city walking shoes for comfort. They are also sufficient for casual hiking and excel in water activities, like boating. The shoes weigh just a little over half a pound, which means that are good travel shoes for packing, too.
While the Columbia shoes excel as stylish walking shoes for women who travel, they are seasonal summer shoes – and are not designed for winter wear.
For travelers heading to warm destinations, however, I think these Columbia shoes are one of the best women’s walking shoes for travel! Shop for Columbia Shoes now!
Best Slip On Shoes for Travel Walking: Women
Skechers have long been hailed as comfy travel shoes – and they make my list, too! In fact, I wore Skecher Slip On travel shoes for the first three years of our full-time travels.
Best Travel Slip On Shoes: Skechers Breathe Easy Fortune
With Memory Foam insoles, arch support and rubber soles, Skechers are good walking shoes for travel – as you can walk for miles! The slim and lightweight travel shoes they are also easy to pack. And, because they are Slip On, they make great airport shoes!
My one hang up with Skechers travel shoes is – that while I do think they are sporty, stylish travel shoes – the style is not versatile enough for me. That said, I still think they are an extremely good travel shoe! Shop Skechers Now!
Women’s Best Travel Shoes for Hiking
Hiking is one of our favorite activities – and we do it in destinations around the world! My New Balance FuelCore Nergize are sufficient for most of the hikes that we take, but at one time I did travel with Merrell hiking shoes – and I think they are the best travel hiking shoes for avid hikers.
Best Hiking Travel Shoes: Merrell Trail Glove
Specifically, I like the Women’s Merrell Trail Gloves as travel hiking shoes. They are comfortable, sturdy and well-soled – yet they only weigh about three quarters of a pound – making them one of the best lightweight hiking shoes for travel.
The one reason I do not think Merrell Trail Gloves are the all-around best shoes to travel in is that they, like Skechers, are not versatile enough for me. That said, for outdoor adventure and hiking trips, I think they are perfect travel shoes! Shop Hiking Shoes Now!
Best Travel Sandals for Women
It can be difficult to find comfortable walking sandals for travel – as they are a type of shoe that are often not supportive enough to be worn for long days of sightseeing. In addition to all of the requirements I have for regular travel shoes, the best travel sandals for women also need to provide adequate foot support.
My preferred style of sandals are women’s travel flip flops – but I know that many women need a sandal with a strap around the back of the foot. Therefore, I’m offering two suggestions for the best traveling sandals – flip flops and strappy sandals.
Best Travel Flip Flops for Women: Sanuk Yoga Joy
The best travel flip flops are Sanuk Women’s Yoga Joy Flip Flops. One of the most comfortable sandals for travel, the Sanuk Yoga Joy flips are made of yoga mat material that keeps feet from slipping out of the shoe. Furthermore, there is some arch support, which makes them great walking shoes for travel. Shop Sanuk Flip Flops Here!
Best Walking Sandals for Travel with Straps: Teva Women’s Ankle Strap Sandals
Highly rated as the best women’s walking sandals for travel by fellow female travelers, the Teva Women’s Ankle Strap sandal feature a plush footbed with ample arch support, a grippy rubber sole and fashionable, adjustable straps.
Great for city walks and dinner out, Teva’s get high marks as the best traveling sandals with straps.
Note: For many years I raved that the Reef Ginger Flip Flops were the best walking sandals for travel. The high arch support and fabric thong made them some of the best sandals for sightseeing. However, back in 2018, Reef changed the sole – and the new design is super slippery on slick or wet surfaces. If they reverted to the original sole, I would give them my vote for Best Flip Flops for Travel again.
Best Ballet Flats Traveling Shoes
Ballet flats are lightweight and versatile – and they can be the best shoes for travel in Europe and worldwide destinations…as long as you can find a pair that is comfortable, too.
I have personally struggled to find a pair of ballet flats that I would consider to be the Best Shoes for Traveling and Walking. While foldable flats are great for minimalist packing, they offer little foot support and often lack good, cushioned soles as well.
However, fellow travelers consistently rave about a specific pair of ballet flats as the best walking travel shoes – Tieks. The only downside is, they cost nearly $200 a pair.
If that is out of your price range, then consider a comfortable, lightweight and versatile pair of Dr Scholl’s Ballet Flats. Both the Rise Knit and the Rise Shine line are highly touted as the best shoes for travel and walking.
Best Water Shoes for Beach Vacations
Travelers heading for a beach, boat or lake might need to pack a pair of water shoes for their trip. Ideal for aqueous environments, the best water shoes are made of ultra lightweight materials and anti-slip soles.
The best travel shoes for Europe beaches (which are sometimes pebbly, not sandy) and the best lakes around the world are JIASUQI swim shoes. The unisex shoes are made for to be splashed!
Best Travel Slippers: Ballerina Slippers
There are two good reasons to pack slippers for a trip: To keep your feet warm (on that long haul flight) and to protect your feet from any germs that are lurking on the floor of your accommodations or airplane bathroom.
The best slippers for travel need to be packable and machine washable – which is why I prefer to travel with Ballerina Slippers. Not only are they the best foldable travel slippers, but they can also be tossed into the washing machine when you get home. Shop slippers here!
Best Travel Shoes Men
You would think that finding men’s shoes for travel would be easier than for women, but Kris spent ample time seeking out the best men’s walking shoes for travel.
Best Travel Shoes for Walking: Merrell Trail Glove
When Kris was looking for the most comfortable men’s walking shoes for travel, he wanted an all-around, can-wear-it-anywhere shoe. When he found the Merrell Travel Glove shoes, he was hooked on the comfy walking shoes. Made with quality materials, Merrell Trail Glove Shoes – technically minimalist trail running shoes – have proven to be the best men’s travel shoes for our lifestyle.
Lightweight Sneakers for Travel: Sanuk Pick Pocket Slip On
The Sanuk Pick Pocket Slip On Sneaker are fantastic men’s walking shoes for travel. Kris can wear these lightweight travel shoes for men during the day while sightseeing – and for a night out. Not only are they versatile and incredibly packable travel shoes, but he claims that they are also one of the most comfortable walking shoes for travel.
Comfy Sandals for Travel: Reef Voyage LE
Reef has long been a brand that Kris has trusted for good walking sandals for travel. Of all the styles they offer, he thinks the Reef Voyage LE shoes are the best walking flip flops for travel. Designed with travelers in mind, the shoe is constructed with arch support, waterproof leather and a cushioned footbed. Not only are these shoes functional, but they are stylish walking sandals for travel and can clip to the outside of a Day Pack when, say, walking on a beach in Thailand!
Get More Great Packing and Travel Tips!
- Check out our Ultimate Packing List
- Find out Why We Love Using Packing Cubes for our Travel Gear
- Get our advice on the Backpack Vs. Suitcase quandary and why you should always carry a Great Day Bag
- How to gather the Everyday Items You Should Pack for your next trip!
We Want To Know: What are your Best Shoes for Traveling? We would love to hear what you think about the best travel footwear – so leave a note in the comments below!
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