Shoes may be the most important thing in your suitcase. Treat your feet the way they were meant to be treated-like royalty.
It cannot be stressed enough on how important footwear is when traveling abroad. Having the right pair of shoes could be detrimental in determining if your trip will go by smoothly or painfully.
Can you recall when you were having a great night out or exploring incredible sights and scenery and all of a sudden your feet start screaming bloody murder? Soon after, you realize that you’re in pain for the long haul and your thoughts race back to why in the fresh hell did you decide to wear those particular shoes? And why didn’t you wear the less fashionable, more practical shoes that are now hours away in a closet somewhere?
I’m sure we all have been in the position where we question our fashion choices, but for me personally, questioning and regretting the type of shoes I wear is always at the top of the ‘Life changes I need to make for my own well being’ list.
Traveling comfortably is one of those expectations that is routinely missed by only a hair, like packing light, putting all of your liquids in a ziplocked plastic bag, investing in a hiking backpack, buying a neck pillow before getting to the airport...the list goes on. Having the right shoe wear for travel is also important for your own personal health. When you wear shoes that have thin soles or a very short life-expectancy, over time that could really damage your feet and even other joints in your legs.
Who wants to take that chance?
Here are some great and convenient brands and tips to remember when you go shoe shopping for travel:
The Slip On’s
Slip on shoes have to be some of the most convenient and efficient way to completing an outfit. There’s really no struggle with latches, ties, or clips - you simply slide your foot into its home for the next few hours and go on about your day. There are plenty of different brands for slip on shoes, but the most popular style you will most likely see around Europe are Espadrilles. These stylish little shoes can compliment pretty much any kind of outfit and that is why they are so very diverse in colors, material and the ‘make and model’. You can wear these with dresses, shorts, jeans, overalls or with nothing at all if you’re in the privacy of your own home.
If you’re thinking of going sightseeing in the city or taking a leisurely stroll through old towns, these shoes would love to go with you.
Gotta do the Tennis Shoe
Not to knock on anyone who enjoys the finer things in life and loves to dress their feet up 24/7, but I am a firm believer in some comfy feet when walking long, difficult distances. Whether it be hiking through the mountains of northern Spain or grunting your way up those treacherous inclines in Granada, your feet will thank you for choosing the more durable type of footwear. Tennis shoes are also beneficial to your bodily health. Walking up or down steep hills can sometimes put a physical strain on the body. According to studies, knees are not only the largest joint in the body but it is also the most easily injured. Wearing flimsy shoes on long, trying journeys can really take a toll on your knees - and trust me, you want those as healthy as possible if you want to get the most out of your travel experience. Some brands that are great for those long, all-day travel walks are Nike, Puma, Merrel, Sketchers and Reebok.
The right size is always in disguise
More likely than not European sizes are presented in a completely different way than their American counterparts. For example, a size 9.5 in girls would be a 40 in all European countries, excluding the UK, which is 7.5. Making sure you are donning the right size shoe is almost as important as printing your ticket before flying Ryanair (they don’t really allow electronic boarding passes f.y.i); you have to do it right and look up your conversions. When shopping for important footwear abroad, always try on your shoes before making a purchase and make sure you ask the right questions, so you don’t waste your money on shoes that do not fit you well.
Cute but Comfy
Most girls and possibly some guys would always appreciate a good, comfortable shoe that is also fashionable and enviable to everyone around them. Spain is notoriously known for their cobblestone streets and uneven walking paths. Throw in some steep, treacherous hills and you’re in for a nice little workout! Even if you have a bit of hardcore walking ahead of you on a night out, that doesn’t mean you can’t look good doing it. Thats where the widely popular heeled ankle boots come in. Not only do they elongate your torso and legs, but they also are proven to be pretty comfy when faced with long walking distances or rocky city centers. There are dozens of outlets and small stores that provide a variety of options for the small ankle booties, so don’t look these guys over if you’re in the mood for some time out on the town.
So we have stressed a ton on how important comfort is when purchasing new shoes, but what about durability? Spanish streets are also guilty of shortening the lifespan of shoes. For example, if you go out and buy a nice 40 euro pair of shoes for traveling, they may last only ¾ of the time they would normally. When you travel, you will be walking and exploring and this can put an enormous strain on the soles and quality of the shoe. When shopping for shoes that can last, try and splurge a little bit if you want good quality. Don’t settle for the 10 euro basement bargain priced footwear if you plan on wearing these shoes constantly on a trip. The 20 euro you saved from buying cheap shoes will quickly be used for the multiple beer pit stops you will have to take to dull the pain from your feet screaming in agony. Some good durable shoes to consider would be shoes that are made with lasting material like the polyurethane sole that could easily last over two years, and you could wear these shoes day by day. Rubber soled shoes are also a good find. Many hiking shoes have tough rubber soles that can last hundreds of miles before being worn down.
Traveling with proper shoes is probably one of the things you will never regret doing no matter how much space it may take up. When it comes down to packing, always try to organize and strategize your outfits and footwear. A comfortable traveler is a happy traveler.
Kala is a proud and true southern girl and alumni of Indiana University, Bloomington. Dedicated and curious world traveler with an aptitude for engaging in conversation with anyone who's willing to listen. Listening to music, riding horses and laying on the beach is some of her favorite past times. Hand her a violin and she'll play you a nice and complicated little tune, with a beer on the table beside her. She is a writer, broadcast journalist, musician and 'enjoyment of life' enthusiast. Follow her on Instagram @kala_kz