There’s probably no more crucial bit of advice I can offer about packing than: Start With The Shoes. They’re the most important part of a travel wardrobe, and can be the most challenging part to get right. But it’s worth the effort, as even the best day on the best vacation can be ruined when your feet hurt.
Scarf | Raincoat | Earrings | Lipstick
Sweater | Cardigan
Jeans | Watch | Bag | Pants
The best shoes for travel (for you) will depend on:
- Destination (city? country? region?)
- Activities (will you be mostly sightseeing on foot? taking a cruise?)
- Your style preferences
- Your feet (high instep? Plantar fasciitis? bunions? narrow or wide? custom orthotics? Everyone’s feet are different, and what’s comfortable for one person may not be for another.)
Aside from special occasions (e.g. weddings) or outdoor activities that require specific footwear (e.g. running, hiking, skiing, horseback riding) you can probably get by with 2-3 pairs of shoes for most trips of a few weeks or less. (You may need more options if you’ll be traveling between cool and warm destinations.)
Except for the warmest destinations, I almost always include a pair of weatherproof ankle boots in my travel wardrobes.
Ankle Boots For Travel
Ah ankle boots, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… They’re protective for travel days (if you’ve ever had someone run over your foot with their heavy wheeled suitcase in a crowded airport or train station, you’ll relate). It’s easy to find styles that meet my day-to-dinner requirement. And it’s easier than ever to find “weatherproof” and waterproof options, to keep your feet dry in wet conditions.
The best ankle boots for travel will be comfortable enough to wear sightseeing all day, yet polished enough to go out to dinner. Unless it’s a special occasion, we’ve found that “smart casual” is generally as dressed up as we need to be, even in cities.
I’ve had very good luck over the years with Aquatalia boots (both for comfort and durability) but they can be a bit spendy. I love the crinkled patent leather on this style; it’s refined but soft and pliable. This style is currently marked down, and still available in several sizes. (More sizes available here, but at full price.) Yes, it’s weatherproof.
Many of you have recommended Blondo weatherproof boots, and they seem to be well-reviewed. This style is classic (and available in several colors/finishes). It’s also a more budget-friendly option, and is currently marked down!
If you prefer a style with a lower heel, this one might be worth a look.
No, you don’t have to stick to black. Though it can be an easy dress-up-or-down option, many dark neutrals will work just as well, depending on your color palette and clothing.
This boot is listed as “waterproof,” and is offered in both black and this nice Cinnamon brown. Both Medium and Wide widths available.
Animal prints can be surprisingly versatile too. Leopard print is a neutral of course, as are many reptile prints and textures. Here’s a waterproof option from Blondo (also available in black and brown suede).
You’ll want to “road test” any new boots or shoes for several hours on your feet before you make a decision about whether to pack. Be sure there’s enough padding and support, and that there are no spots that pinch or rub. And be sure the heel height is one you can tolerate for long periods.
More Weatherproof Ankle Boots
Check out more of my Travel Wardrobe tips and suggestions HERE. I’ll be featuring more footwear and travel clothing options in future posts. Subscribe to my posts by email (just use the Stay In Touch form below) and never miss an update!
I am feeling the urge to buy a new Spring jacket. The one you’re showing is really nice and it comes in white, my favorite color for a coat!
Great selection! I bought the black suede Blondo on sale at Nordstrom’s last year. They’re have style and are very comfortable. No buyer’s remorse with this purchase.
I second the Blondo choice. I too bought them on sale at Nordstrom’s and they have earned their keep this season.
Me too! I have two pairs of Blondo ankle boots and wear them frequently in NJ in the fall and winter. They’ve held up very well (both on their second season and I expect to get at least a third season out of them) and they are very comfortable. They are my shoe of choice when I go into NYC for a museum day.
I’ve had a pair of Munro ankle boots for four years: so, so comfortable and I have problem feet! Also, I highly recommend Vionics for any kind of foot problem (i.e. plantar fasciitis.) Just got back from another ten days in London and both of these were totally pain free!!
Did it rain in London and if so how did they hold up? I have a pair of Munro booties about the same age. They are black suede with a leather back and are very comfortable. I was wondering how they’d hold up in the rain. Maybe I could waterproof them. I walked at least 5 miles in Venice in them without pain .
Cindylou: No, actually it didn’t rain much. Just gray and cold! My Munros are not suede, so can’t speak to that. And, I also wore my tall Vionics more due to the cold. I love love Vionics!
Love my Blondos! I have the Villa in black and am going to buy the Liam in a different color. They really are waterproof. I need an orthotic and the footbed isn’t removable, but it does accomodate my Powerstep Slimtech insoles.
I’m leaving tonight for 11 days in Paris. I go every January and two pairs of Aquatalia boots are always with me. Stylish, warm and dry!
Ariat makes my go-to waterproof ankle boot, the Wexford. They have great support and I live in them. I have worn the java color for a couple of years and recently bought the cordovan. I do wish they made them in black. Aquatalia and Blondo don’t have the support I need.
I, like you, always start my trip packing with “the shoes“.
I have problem feet and one piece of advice I got from a podiatrist (a longtime ago) was to change shoes daily, i.e don’t wear the same type of shoe day/evening/next day. So I usually bring 3 pairs of comfortable, supportive shoes with slightly different fit/heel height. I wear one pair during the daytime and switch to another for dinner. I just try to mix them up everyday, and I follow that easy practice at home too. Adding a supportive insert can make the shoe fit differently as well. It really seems to minimize my foot issues.
Two thumbs up for Blondos. I have several pairs – they really are waterproof!
Thanks for another useful post.
Suz from Vancouver
Great advice. I wore a pair of shoes for too many days in a row while traveling and paid the price. Your advice is good reinforcement. Need to look into the Blondos.
Yesterday, I shared in your sale post of a few days ago that I snagged a pair of black Aquatalia Falco Leather Chelsea Boots on the T.J. Maxx website for $79! I normally wear a 9 or 9.5, and they had one pair in 9.5 left, thus the bargain-basement price. The Falco retails for $395, which is out of my price range, even on sale, so I couldn’t pass these up. I’ve been wanting to try the brand ever since I first read about them on the blog a few years ago. And if they don’t work out, they are easily returnable to the local store. Fingers crossed they work, however. (The Aquatalia reviews I’ve read said they run small and narrow.) The T.J. Maxx website also has a good range of sizes for another ankle boot (a back-zip in suede that resembles that black Blondo boot you’re showing) in black and brown for $199.
The other ankle boot being an Aquatalia too – sorry for the oversight!
Here in Chicago, I live in Aquatalias through the winter. They are truly waterproof, and they hold up. Susan, thanks for featuring cooler-toned outfits today. Really appreciate that.
Linda, are they really warm enough in Chicago? A friend in Chicago mentions dreadful snowfalls and gales, though they probably have a higher average temp than we do in Montréal I usually wear decidedly unsexy boots here in the worst of the winter (I walk a lot).
Love it when readers come up with brands that work for them. Very interesting blog, thank you.
I have found that Hotters shoes are comfortable and they have excellent sales.
I agree about the ankle boots. I don’t think you’ve included my go-to brand, though. Sorel makes outstanding cold weather boots, and in recent years has branched out into more stylish option. I go to the UK a good bit, and these boots have been so good at keeping my feet dry and warm- and they’re all-day walking comfortable. The insoles feel like Dansko clogs, and they add a bit of height. They’re a little funky, which is a bonus in London. https://www.sorel.com/womens-joan-of-arctic-wedge-ii-chelsea-boot-1808551.html?dwvar_1808551_variationColor=235#icpa=hp&icid=hero&icsa=s20&prid=booties&crid=shopallbooties&start=2