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*This post was originally published in 2012 and we decided to freshen it up a bit in 2020.
I was very reluctant to get on the Toms bandwagon, especially considering the innate hipster factor, but once I bought my first pair, I was hooked. I’ve since brought them on every trip.
I usually overpack, especially when it comes to shoes, and I end up not wearing most of them (sound familiar?). This is what makes packing shoes for your RTW trip a struggle!
So why do Toms make ideal travel footwear?
1. Easy to slip on and off
There’s nothing more annoying than being stuck in line at airport security behind someone wearing combat boots or some similarly annoying shoes. They slip on and off with ease, helping you get through the airport that much faster.
The people behind you will be grateful.
Toms are also good for visiting temples or mosques where you are required to remove your shoes. You won’t spend ten minutes untying and retying your shoes while your travel companions are already at the next sight.
2. Comfortable for long-haul flights
Speaking as someone who has endured many flights over nine hours, I can say that there are no shoes that are more like bedroom slippers than Toms. (And when you are flying long-haul in economy class, you want every tip and tactic for getting comfortable flying!)
If you decide you don’t want to wear them, you can slide them into your seat pocket and put them back on when you want to get up for a stretch or bathroom break.
Depending on what color and style you get, they can be dressed up or down for any outfit, meaning you don’t have to pack as many shoes!
I’ve worn my black corduroy Toms with both pants and skirts. I’ve even seen photos of brides wearing them at their weddings.
4. Easy to pack
They collapse and take up hardly any room.
If it comes down to only two pairs of shoes in your carry-on bag, Toms should be one of them. These shoes take up less room than your guidebook (err… 2020 update – who packs a guidebook anymore?)!
Aside from Tieks, they’re the smallest shoes to pack.
5. Good for walks
Sure, they’re not as ideal for hiking as Chacos (or Keens or Tevas), but they can be comfy for walks around the city. They’re trendy, casual, and cool.
I wore mine all throughout Thailand and Europe without any problems until they finally started to get holes in them in Australia. I probably could have made them last if my friends hadn’t been mocking me for how dirty they looked.
And if you don’t drag your feet as much as I do, they can last even longer. If they get too dirty, you can wash them in the sink and air dry.
7. Well-known brand
Not only are their shoes unique and easily recognizable, but each pair comes with a TOMS brand flag that you can show off in front of all those landmarks you visit. (2020 Update: They appear to no longer give out a brand flag with purchase.)
8. Supports a good cause
Their motto is “one for one.” For every $50 pair you buy, the company sends a second pair to a child in need. What could be better than helping a needy child and buying a great pair of shoes at the same time?
2020 Update: They retired their one-for-one program in 2019 and now run on a giving model as part of their Global Giving Fund. For every $3 they make, they give away $1 – which is quite a bit of giving!
Would you buy Toms to take on your next trip?
Rebuttal: Toms Make TERRIBLE Travel Shoes
Guess what! Not everyone thinks TOMS are great for travel. This rebuttal post is a must-read if you're considering adding TOMS to your packing list.
I don’t have a pair of TOMS but I’m pretty sure they’re going to be one of the first things I buy when I’m back in the States! I have friends who swear by them–one has a sparkly pair in addition to a set in pretty much every color–but I keep seeing travelers wearing them and they look hip and simple and easy and light. I like that combination!
Thanks for this! I’m thinking perhaps I need to get a pair before my trip to Europe this summer!
I think Toms are ugly, but you’ve almost convinced me that they’re worth a try. Reason #7, however, would be the exact reason why I would immediately cut off that brand tag. I think visible brand labels are tacky… I should get paid if the company wants me to tout their merchandise. Reason #8, though, might just tip the scales in their favor.
Caroline Eubanks says
Fair enough, Nethwen, I don’t like overly branded clothing either, but I’ve also worn Keds which have about the same amount of tagging. I say go try them on before buying to see how you feel! Thanks for commenting.
For those ladies (and gentlemen) in Canada, another pair of shoes that are quite similar to Toms are Sanuks. I brought them on a trip to Europe and they were fantastic. They’re sold at my work and almost everyone has a pair to wear to work, even though we usually don’t get breaks and are therefore on our feet walking around the store for 5 hours straight! Super comfy, also fold up really flat, and a definitely option for those who are conscious of the hipster factor that comes with Toms 😛
I ADORE my TOMS but I disagree… I think they’re terrible travel shoes. If you dont get removable/ washable insoles they start to stink after a few weeks of wear (since they’re meant to be worn barefoot). Mine have worn through at both toes and both heels (the fabric part, not the sole). There is very little tread on them – if I wore them in Sydney on rainy days I would slip on the sidewalk. I still have mine and they’re good biking up to the store shoes… but beyond that, I wouldn’t bring another pair with me again.
Interesting feedback, Melissa. Would you be interested in writing a short rebuttal guest post? Would love to share you side of the story with more people 🙂
for sure, I’ll write something up and send it to you. I’ll even provide pictures of my poor worn out TOMS (which I still wear, despite the holes)
I agree. I’ve worn my knockoff Bobs (they don’t sell Tom’ here so I wanted to try them before I shell out $50) all over Europe. Are they the prettiest thing? No. But they are comfortable, lay flat in a small carry-on and….. I throw mine in the washing machine. Sure, they wear out. But I think the benefits outweigh the hassle of buying a new pair. And they come in lots of colors and designs, including ballet flats.
I love travelling with my toms; however, there are pros and cons with travelling with them.
Durable (for the most part)
Great for the airplane travel where you must remove your shoes at every airport
Not suitable for cold or wet environment
Having to stand barefoot in airport because you had to put your shoes through the scanner.
Not suitable for hikes (easily solved by bringing an alternative pair of footwear)
I mean I have traveled with multiple TOMS in the past. On my most recent trip which was to Orlando, FL for a conference I brought 2 pairs of toms and that was it for foot wear. My black lace ups served as my dressier shoe for the conference as well as my amusement park shoe (water rides were a challenge at times in TOMS). I also brought a pattern classic to wear for travel and shoes for in the hotel.
I would advise anyone wearing TOMS traveling to make sure that they are in fact appropriate for your destination and the purpose of your trip.
Hi. I know this topic was started long time ago, but I’ve come to your site while researching about Toms. I’m traveling to Europe this summer. I already have a pair of sneakers that will serve me well for a lot of walking. However, I wear dresses a lot and sneakers probably won’t work well with dresses. I am thinking of wearing Toms with my dresses. Can you recommend a few colors of Toms for that purpose? I am thinking of something that goes with everything like black canvas. The crochet ones look nice, too.
Thanks in advance!
I would suggest the a black (or white) pair of classics in canvas, though the crochets are great as well. The glitters are great as well, and really aren’t bad with jeans either, if they aren’t too flashy for your taste.
I don’t own Toms but do have two pairs of Bobs (Skechers brand that are the exact same concept). They are very comfortable and lightweight but I question how good they are for lots of walking and sightseeing? I have only worn them around town where I am walking some and sitting some. Another type of shoe you may want to consider are Go Walk, also by Skechers. I own two pairs of them and love them! They are slide on shoes with tons of cushioning so it feels like you are walking on clouds. Very lightweight so great for packing and travel. I wore them walking around Disney World for 12 hours and could have done more! They aren’t good for colder temps and I am just not sure how well they will do rain but I think if the do get wet they’ll dry quickly.
Ruthie Bee says
I would personally never bring Toms to any of the 35+ countries I’ve visited. I do own a pair for around town. I rock Dr. Marten Maryjanes. They have enough support to hike, look cute enough to dress up, and will never wear out! They aren’t particularly heavy either.
I know this is a pretty old article, but thought I’d post my experience anyway, since the article actually was what caused me to bring TOMS along to Italy last month. Long story short, I should have left my running shoes home. We stayed in Italy for two weeks and travelled super light (35L packs). I wore my toms everyday except for one dash through a downpour in Milan. I found that they were more comfortable wearing little no-show socks so my feet stayed dry. Even hiking up the Duomo in Florence, they really weren’t too bad even without traction. My feet had room to swell and since I packed a black pair, they were fine for going out to dinner as well. The original article got me to cave a buy a pair of TOMS. The comfort and ease of wearing them for two weeks straight on a marathon tour of Italy made me come home and buy 2 more pairs. I now love these shoes and plan on taking them on all of our upcoming trips, as well as wearing them whenever I can at home.
Really late to the party. I found a pair of Toms Classics fot $27 at my local Ross store. They are really comfy but after reading the rebuttal post I’m wearing no-show socks with these!