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Choosing the Right Shoes For Your RTW Trip


If only there were convertible shoes, then we wouldn’t have to worry.

One pair could transform from hiking boot to sandal with zip-on and tear off pieces. It would sure as heck help us decide on the types of shoes to pack in our backpacks since we often don’t have much space but definitely have multiple shoe needs.

I’ve said it before on this site that I recommend a light-hiker, chaco sandals and a pair of shower flip-flops. And, if you have the room to spare, a pair of these spare soles might do the trick when you want to look extra cute. Here are the shoes I recommend packing on the RTW trip you are about to take:

Choosing the Right Shoes for Your RTW Trip

The Adventurous RTW Trip Shoe List

This list is for the traveler that needs a set of no-fuss, durable shoes for an adventure taking her to more rustic destinations. This trip will probably involve less “dressy” events and focus more on functionality.

Shower Flip-flops:

flip flopsYou’ll want something rubber for this since they’ll need to dry quickly after use (any sort of cloth will hold you back and start to smell after a while). Showers in hostels and even some hotels are a little bit sketchy, and if you don’t want to end up with tinea – athlete’s foot – then you’ll want to keep your feet away from the floor.

With a little bit of rinsing, you can even sport your flip-flops out at the beach or around the hostel making them multipurpose, small and necessary.


keen targheeLight hikers are shoes that can withstand a bit of wear and tear, and keep your feet protected when doing some hiking and serious trekking. Of course, you’ll need a pair of real hiking boots if that is the focus of your travels, but light-hikers with waterproof uppers and gortex soles should do the trick for most.

I recommend the Keen Targhees
as I used to have a pair. They were so, so comfortable and they even looked cute with a pair of jeans.

Chaco Sandals:

chacosOh my goodness, these things are sometimes very ugly. But, if you look at the Chaco article I recently wrote, you’ll see that some of the people commenting are forever converts. These sandals are very popular and for good reason: they last and keep you walking longer.

Chaco sandals are perfect for times you’ll be walking a lot around cities, perhaps in warm weather, when otherwise closed-in shoes would suffocate. They don’t take up too much space either!

Spare Soles:

spare solesIf you haven’t seen Spare Soles, then you should definitely check them out. No, they aren’t fancy high heels, but they can go with skirts and jeans when you’re needing to class it up a bit more – which probably isn’t all that often on your adventurous style round-the-world trip. These shoes aren’t the best for walking, but they are there in a pinch when you’re planning a nice dinner out for a change.

The City Lover RTW Shoe List

This round-the-world trip is for the person that wants to visit the world’s most glamorous, happening, and exciting cities. There won’t be much off-roading or loss of amenities here. This separate set of shoes will better suit a trip of this nature.

Shower Flip-flops:

flip flopsIt doesn’t matter that you’re city hopping, if you’re staying in hostels, you will definitely want to keep those shower flip flops in your luggage. There are just too many people using those showers too feel good about going barefoot.

Plus, they’re good for wearing around your hostel dorm room and easy to slip on when running to the restroom late at night!

Comfortable Walking Shoes:

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 11.32.17 PMWith a trip that won’t really involve any hiking, you will be fine as long as you pack a good pair of walking shoes. Trust me, your feet will be thanking you when you’re exploring every corner of New York, Rome or London!

Some people like their TOMS for this purpose, but we recommend anything that provides solid arch support.

Cute Yet Comfortable Sandals:

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 11.35.31 PMIf the weather is on the warmer side, you’ll probably want some sandals to dress up your outfits, wear to dinner, or just to explore in – but you always want to make sure these are broken in and comfortable as well! Looks are not everything when you get blisters so bad that you can barely walk the next day!

We recommend a sandal that looks like the Merrell Henna.


o_black_foldedWe love, love, love Tieks at Her Packing List. They are like the ultimate cute ballet flat – dressed up or down, they suit just about any adventure.

However, they do come with a bit of a price tag, so do your research. Are they worth it for your travels? Have a read and find out.

No Right Or Wrong

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to packing shoes for your RTW trip. It really comes down to personal preference, personal travel style and willingness to carry or roll what you pack.

What would you pack for your RTW trip?

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Gear We Use

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Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


Splice Jaisalmer Reversible Tunic
Splice Reversible Jaisalmer Tunic


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Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


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Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


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Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

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Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Christy @ Technosyncratic says

    The Spare Soles look neat!

    My perpetual search seems to be for comfortable basic black flats that I can use for walking around a city. I do have Chacos and love them, but I’m also in the camp that thinks they’re ugly. 😛

    I just want a pair of small comfy walking shoes that are cute!! Le sigh…..

      • Sofie says

        Lol, probably.
        No, seriously: I don’t get how they can develop shoes with so much technique in them; against the cold, against the heat, against the rain, to have a good grip etc, but they can’t make them look good?
        The reason I don’t own good hiking shoes at the moment is because I know I would wear them solely for hiking. I wouldn’t wear them to visit a city. I know a lot of people do and it’s probably really comfortable, but I’m afraid i’m a bit too much of a style lover to do that.
        Maybe in ten years, who knows:)

  2. Morgan says

    Sofie! I second that. I have heard tales of a comfortable black flat that was around 80USD. I have to research what it was called….. but I am too afraid to buy them online without trying them on! Have you been succesful at all?

    • Sofie says

      I’ve only bought shoes online without trying them in a shop first once, and it wasn’t a succes, so i’m hesitant to do it again…

    • Briana says

      I love Naturalizer “Maude”, a simple black leather flat that once broken in a little is amazingly comfortable! I wore mine for a month all over Europe and never had a problem.

  3. Harmony says

    Depending on what I’ll be up to during my trip I’ll carry around 3 or 4 very packable shoes. I have a pair of camileon heels which for those of you who haven’t heard about them are foldable heels. They barely take up any room and I can wear them in their kitten heel form or their 3 inch heel form. I also carry a pair of Flipsters foldable ballet flats (much like the spare soles) and a pair of Flipsters foldable flip flops. Lastly I have my good old Vibram Five Fingers treksports for my light hiking and walking needs as well as a pair of Timberland Radler Trail camp shoes (foldable canvas shoes with a hiking shoe tread). Now I can throw all the shoes I mentioned into my carry on and they barely take up any room but like I said, I usually only travel with 3 or 4.

    • Gina Salas says

      Thank you for all the info you provided I’m vacationing in Hawaii for the first time and never purchased fold up shoes, you have given me several options. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Emma says

    Deciding on travel shoes can be stressful but I really like this list.

    Sofie, I hear you loud and clear! I really like the look of high top sneakers, so I wish I could find some hiking boots like Hi-Tec’s Sierra Lites in a women’s version. They’re light weight, waterproof hiking boots and when you’re not hiking, you can style the laces differently so they look like cool(ish) high tops. Unfortunately, even if I can find them in my size, men’s shoes just never fit quite right.

    Also, I like the list above but I have stopped traveling with flip flops because I have found that Crocs brand make some sandals that I can wear in the shower, but are stylish enough for wearing around town. I don’t especially love the name, but Crocs Really Sexi Sandals have a heel strap and can still slip on and off. They are cute enough to wear with a dress while still comfy and waterproof. I’ve worn them clubbing, kayaking, for light hiking, and touring cities all over the world, and never blistered or felt like they looked dorky. They have several colors and a few similar styles, so it might be worth a look.

  5. Xenia says

    Check out Merrell, they make cute ballet flats wirh serious walking support! They don’t look quite as stylish as Audrey flats, but definitely better than multicoloured sneakers **shudder** or the hiking boots with jeans look!


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