Welcome to Day 8 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.
If ever there was a thing to struggle over packing for the ladies, it would be shoes. Since shoes tend to be so specific in their purpose, the task of whittling down to just a few pairs for a several week to several month adventure becomes an agonizing one at best.
While this post probably isn’t going to wave a magic wand and make you magically walk out the door with 3 pairs of shoes in your bag, it will hopefully shed some light on possibilities.
Shoes for Trip Purpose
We all have our favorite pairs of shoes at home, but taking those same shoes in our luggage can be a terrible decision. When it comes to travel shoes, practical is usually better (unless you’re traveling for something where you have to dress nice or work). High heels and other shoes that are hard to walk in for long periods of time do not tend to make the cut. The best plan is to think about the different types of shoes you might need for your intended trip style, and then see which ones could potentially be done without.
Hiking Boots – Hiking boots will be necessary for the person that is serious about exploring the outdoors, trails and mountains, but they will be the worst things to carry with you long-term. Take these only if you need them and consider whether or not a light hiker that can double as your hardcore walking shoe will work instead.
Walking Shoes – On almost any trip, people find they walk more than they do in their normal lives. A comfortable walking shoe is a must so that you can continue to enjoy the experience instead of dealing with blisters and soreness.
Running Shoes – The individual that likes to run in order to stay in shape will want to pack a running shoe. If you can find a shoe that works for both walking and running, try to pack just the one for both.
Comfortable Sandals – Warmer climates can be stifling to feet covered in hot shoes. In that case, a good walking sandal is probably a great idea. Pairs from Chaco and Teva will work wonderfully, but if you want something a bit prettier to look at, try these from Merrell.
Flip Flops – Flip flops of some sort are a must for most travelers, especially if you’ll be staying in hostels and sharing communal showers. These are also great if you’re heading to the beach. Since Chacos and Tevas generally come with fabric or leather straps, they are usually not the best to use also for your daily showers. If you’ll only be needing a shower flip flop, try investing in a pair of fold-up flip flops (like Flipsters) instead.
Ballet Flats / Casual Dress Shoes – We recommend going with a ballet flat or other sort of casual shoe that can be worn to nicer dinners or nights out. If these will be minimal, you can always invest in a pair of Spare Soles, but the more expensive Tieks are a definite recommendation if you can afford it. Those shoes also fold up but are made of high quality Italian leather making them something that can be worn to more dressy events without feeling self-conscious.
>>Read a review of Tieks fold-up ballet flats here.
How to Choose Your Travel Shoes
Take only what you truly need. When heading off on a round-the-world trip to more off-the-beaten-path destinations, a good minimalist list might include: a pair of light hikers (Gore-tex soles, waterproof uppers) for hiking, walking and colder weather; a pair of walking sandals (like Chaco or Teva brand); a pair of flip flops (for showers, beaches, around the hostel). If stopping in to cities from time to time and indulging in nicer meals out, shows and the like, then a pair of ballet flats might be a necessary addition.
We would say 2-3 pairs of shoes plus your shower flip flops (if hostels and/or beaches are on the agenda) is the target range to take on your travels. Shorter weekend trips will potentially require less, as would a beach holiday where closed-toe shoes might not be necessary.
>> Perusing all the shoes in our travel clothing section can help you choose how many shoes to pack since we cover many that serve multiple purposes.
Ask yourself questions as you whittle down the list. Will you be needing these shoes more than once? Is it imperative that you bring these exact shoes? Can you make another pair work? For example, a pair of high heels for one nice dinner out and a few nights at a club is not a good enough reason to pack them for that 3 month trip. Can you use black ballet flats or a pair of sandals work for those situations instead?
Luckily, the trend for comfortable, technical shoes that also look cute is becoming more popular, just like Megan discovered in her search for a comfortable walking sandal.
Take Action: Take Only the Shoes You Need
Go through your planned itinerary and activities. Decide which shoes you will need to take and pare down to the best of your ability. Look for taking fewer high quality shoes that can serve multiple purposes.
Let us know the shoes you’re taking with you on your upcoming trip, or let us know if you need some extra advice, in the comments below.