We’re heading into Prime Travel Season, and if you have travel planned this Spring or Summer, you may already be thinking about what to pack. My advice: start with the shoes.
There’s no other component of a travel wardrobe that has as much power to make or break a trip. If your feet hurt, or your shoes aren’t appropriate for your activities, it will (at best) diminish your experience. At worst, you’ll be miserable. And I speak from experience 😉.
How To Choose Spring And Summer Travel Shoes
So how do you know what to look for in travel shoes? Here are a few of my guidelines:
Comfort, Comfort, Comfort!
If your travel plans include walking tours or other sightseeing, you’ll probably spend more time on your feet each day than you would at home. And you may be walking on a variety of surfaces. (Hello, cobblestones!)
- Your shoes or sandals should have plenty of support and cushioning in the sole and insole. We tend to lose the natural padding on the bottom of our feet as we age, and may need additional cushioning. If arch support is a requirement for you, be sure there’s enough, or that you can add a custom insert if needed.
- The shoes should not rub or pinch anywhere. They should be well broken-in, and you should “road test” for several hours on your feet if possible before packing.
- They should be secure on your feet. If your shoes are too loose, your legs and feet will have to work harder, and you may tire more quickly. If they are too snug, they can be uncomfortable if your feet swell up over the course of a day. (You may find shoes that lace or have adjustable straps are your best option.)
- Rubber soles will provide better traction and more cushioning than leather or other slicker materials. You can ask your cobbler to add a rubber half sole (and heels) to a favorite pair. This also extends the life of the shoes.
- I find a low heel/wedge is more comfortable and easier to walk in than a completely flat shoe. But everyone’s feet are different, so go with what works for you.
- Materials: some people find fabric or canvas shoes more comfortable in warmer weather. (I’m not one of them.) If leather shoes are your preference, look for tumbled or softer leathers, or be sure the shoes have been well broken-in. There are a lot of perforated leather styles offered this season, which allow for more air flow while still providing coverage.
- Look for versatile styles that can go from day to evening. Loafers, oxfords, classic sneakers and many sandals will be able to make this transition.
- Dark colored shoes will be less inclined to show dirt, but may look and feel too heavy with a warmer season wardrobe. If you choose lighter colored shoes, you can always treat with a waterproofing spray, which may help them stay cleaner.
- Neutral colors will be more versatile, but a classic color such as red can add a nice pop.
- Unless you have a fancy dress event (e.g. a wedding) on your itinerary, leave the heels at home. “Smart casual” is as dressed up as you usually need to be (yes, even for a nice dinner in Rome, a play in London, or the opera in Paris).
- If you’ll be traveling somewhere that tends to be cooler and wetter, you may want to include at least one pair of water-resistant shoes or even ankle boots.
Here are the styles of shoes I’ve found work best for spring and summer travel.
Up until a few years ago, wearing sneakers, especially white sneakers, in many European cities immediately flagged you as a tourist. But sneakers are ubiquitous now, and if this is your preferred type of walking shoe, no need to leave them at home. Clean, classic sneaker styles in a single color will be the most versatile. (To keep white sneakers looking sharp, use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. For travel, just snip off a small piece and pack with your clothing care items.)
Loafers And Oxfords
These styles will generally be easiest to dress up or down. Again, look for soft leather, a well-padded insole, arch support, and a secure fit. Styles with thicker platform soles are popular and may provide extra cushioning, but be careful that the platform is stable on irregular surfaces.
Loafers and Flats
Oxfords and Brogues
Not everyone is comfortable traveling with sandals, but I find them a necessity on warmer days. Though I wouldn’t advise wearing them on flight or travel days…better to have the protection of a closed-toe shoe.
Styles with adjustable straps over the toes as well as around the ankle will provide the most secure fit. Though I often wear backless sandals at home, they’re not the best for travel. I’d also be wary of “strappy” styles with just a few, skinny straps. For travel sandals, sturdy carries the day.
I wore the style shown above all over Paris when we visited last summer, and found them extremely comfortable.
What are your favorite shoes for warm weather travel?
And More Travel Tips!
I was delighted to be asked to participate in this travel “round table” of experienced travel bloggers! Please check out their posts below…
- “How to Pack Your Suitcase Like A Pro” by After Orange County
- “How to Take the Stress Out of Packing When Every Outfit Counts” by Brenda Kinsel
- “Stylish & Savvy Travel Tips from a Travel Advisor” by Curated Travel
- “Steps To Plan An Unforgettable Large Group Vacation” by Classic Casual Home
- “How To Pack For A Weekend Getaway” by Most Lovely Things
- “How To Rock An Over 50 Travel Wardrobe” by Rough Luxe Lifestyle