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The travel shoes you choose can have a significant impact on your entire trip. You won’t spare too many thoughts on those perfectly comfortable shoes, but a pair of shoes that is too tight, keeps falling off, or gives you blisters will make you miserable and might even ruin your whole trip.
When you travel you definitely want to wear comfortable shoes, but you also want them to be cute – after all, you’re going to take a ton of pictures, aren’t you? When it comes to choosing the best travel shoes, there is so much you ought to take into consideration, so I want to break that down and make it easy.
To help you choose the most comfortable shoes for your adventures we included a guide based on the different types of trips you might be taking. To finish it off we added some must-know tips to ensure that you are as comfortable as can be in your travel shoes.
Travel Shoes for Women: Contents
- 17 Pairs of the Most Comfortable Travel Shoes for Women to Buy
- How to Choose Comfortable Travel Shoes?
- Other Travel Shoe Tips
In this section, I’ve collected the best travel shoes you can buy, no matter your travel or fashion style! The list includes shoes from both high-end designers and leaders in functional footwear.
1. Glitter Star Sneakers
If you’re going on a trip that’s heavy on the walking, a pair of comfortable running shoes is key. You also want them to be cute, though, and you want them to look good with all of our outfits! These versatile little travel shoes fit the bill, with their timeless low-top design and distressed style. Even the glittery star embellishment and graphic laces only help to make them more versatile. Buy them from Forward!
2. Foldable Ballet Flats
Foldable flats are the best travel shoes to have as a secondary set. They fold down to nothing in your purse or bag, but they are extremely cute. They act as an elegant option should you decide to go out for a nice meal or a comfortable option if you only brought with you high heels. These comfortable shoes from Badgley Mischka are particularly beautiful, coming in silver suede with a gorgeous crystal appliqué. They run a little large, so make sure to buy a size down. Find them at Nordstrom!
3. Brixton Leather Loafers
I’ve recently developed a loafer obsession, and I think they make for the best travel shoes for anyone on a European vacation. They are just so darn elegant but in an androgynous way. They go with almost any outfit, and they are quick and easy to slip on! These black loafers are as comfortable as can be. They require almost no breaking in, so you can buy them and immediately start walking and exploring. The heel is collapsible so if you’re in a rush you can wear them like slippers. Order them from Net-a-Porter in a myriad of colors!
4. Sporty Track Sneakers
Heavy-duty sneakers will be the most comfortable shoes for a trip where you intend to do a lot of physical activity. They give the best arch support and cushioning, and they ensure your feet won’t hurt even after a full day of running around from place to place. These sneakers from Balenciaga are quite eye-catching, with their large red-tinged sole and black mesh and rubber upper. Their design is breathable so your feet won’t overheat, either. Order them from Farfetch!
5. Vanilla All-Stars Travel Shoes
All-Stars are another excellent option for travel shoes that bridge sporty and cute-casual. The white sole and canvas low-top upper are as classic as can be. In this cream color they’ll be especially nice for a summer city break. Can you picture yourself walking around the bazaars in these shoes? They will work nicely with almost any style, and are sold through Shopbop.
6. Oak Leather Travel Sandals
Travel sandals have to fit a few requirements. They have to hold on to the foot super well, they must look cute with any outfit, and they cannot fall apart after a long day of walking. These gorgeous Saint Laurent sandals do it all, and we cannot believe how gorgeous they are. They have a nice thick strap around the ankle with an elegant golden buckle, and another strap to keep the foot secure. Make sure to pick them up from Net-a-Porter if you have a more bohemian or earthy travel style.
7. Cushioned Leather Sandals
Merrell makes some of the best travel shoes around for anyone who really likes to get active. These ultra-comfy travel sandals are cute and versatile, but they’re also very kind to the feet. You could spend all day walking around in them without getting sore. The cork upper part of the sole will mold to your foot perfectly, and the leather upper is elegant enough to even wear to the bar after a long day of exploration. You can get them at Nordstrom.
8. Strappy Leather Espadrilles
Unique, breathable, and casually glamorous is how we’d describe these Italian-made espadrilles. The red leather upper gives them a bit more structure, while the color itself will be a wonderful splash with any warm-toned or neutral outfit. The white straps are an artistic touch that also ensures that these shoes remain breathable while still grabbing the foot securely. They do have a flatter sole, so get them along with some insoles or save them for shorter excursions. You can buy them from Matches Fashion.
9. Sleek Black and Blue Trainers
The Nike Air Max 270s are the most comfortable shoes you can rock on a busy vacation day that will still retain a sleek look. They have a sporty, ergonomic upper that’ll look awesome with jeans or with sporty leggings, and a super cushioned sole that’ll keep your feet supported all day long. They are the perfect travel shoes for intense and active travelers with a stylish yet sporty aesthetic. You can find them at Nordstrom.
10. Classic Black Combat Boots
Doc Martens are exactly up my alley for travel shoes, especially for rainy vacation destinations like London or Seattle. They go with literally anything and they also ensure that absolutely no one will try and mess with you. While they never go out of style, they are still a little extra trendy at the moment what with the ‘90s coming back in fashion. While they are a little heavy and do require some work to break in, these ones in particular are awesome because of their comfy, slip-proof sole. Order them online from Shopbop, but note that they run a little large so order half a size down.
11. T-Strap Sandal Heels
You must think I’m crazy to suggest 3-inch heels as travel shoes, but give these a closer look! These gorgeous T-strap travel sandals are actually made with a memory foam footbed and an All-Terra traction sole, so they will look gorgeous yet be comfortable in almost all situations. The woven upper is gorgeous and breezy – perfect if your aesthetic is all flowy dresses and sun hats when you travel. You can buy them from Nordstrom.
12. Slip-On Sneakers
Another classic option for travel shoes would be the Vans slip-ons. We think black is best, since it goes with everything and doesn’t get dirty easily. These slip-ons are perfect for city breaks, and are the perfect complement to a casual yet chic style, especially if it leans a little towards androgynous. Pop into Nordstrom to pick up a pair!
13. Woven Brown Ballet Flats
These are some of the best travel shoes for an easy summer break! They have perfect breathability for hot weather, thanks to the ultra-cute woven design. Made of brown fabric, they are perfect for someone with an earthy or hippie aesthetic. They’re not plain, though – a little anklet embellishment secures these flats around the ankle and adds a blingy touch. You might want to wear them with insoles if you need extra arch support, and consider them best for light sightseeing rather than days of intense walking. Order them from My Theresa!
14. Comfy Cloud Platform Sandals
If your style is a little more ostentatious, then these might be the best travel shoes for you. These ultra-comfy Prada sandals are not even a little subtle. They have a cloud platform sole that cushions the feet incredibly well and also adds a bit of height to the wearer. The leather strap fastenings keep the foot super secure, so these should be your go-tos if you plan to walk around a lot or if you have any foot issues. They are available online through Farfetch.
15. Bow-Embellished Sneakers
Sneakers are a versatile choice for travel shoes, as they will work well in all kinds of environments and are always comfortable. However, for many of us, myself included, it’s hard to make their sporty vibe work with our aesthetic. That’s where these awesome white sneakers break the mold! They are actually slip-ons with a suede ribbon embellishment that gives them an elegant touch and ensures they’ll work with even more elegant outfits. They are sold via Moda Operandi.
16. Barefoot Slip-Ons
Many avid travelers absolutely swear by a barefoot shoe. Barefoot or “naked” shoes are shoes that make you feel as though you’re walking around without shoes, but still provide your feet with much needed protection. Because they are so light, they are perfect for spring and summer vacations, and even if they get wet you’ll be happy to know they’ll dry quickly. They tend to run a little narrow, so you might want to order half a size up. Find them at Nordstrom!
17. Cream Espadrilles
Espadrilles are some of the best travel shoes, especially for spring and summer vacations! They give you a breezy Mediterranean feel and go with almost everything, but they are sturdy as they are made of Italian leather. These cream shoes from Tory Burch are especially comfortable and well-made, so they will last you a while. They are ideal for city exploration! They are available at Nordstrom.
One traveler can be very different from the other. Someone who visits new places to try out restaurants and see plays and takes taxis from destination to destination will definitely not need the same shoes as someone who visits national parks and goes hiking. At the same time, we have to remember that a lot of people lie somewhere in between or do both!
Before you start looking at travel shoes take a second to really figure out how much walking you will be doing, and over what kinds of surfaces, and let that inform the shoe choices you make. The more walking or hiking you’ll be doing, the more important it will be that you value function over form.
Make sure to check the weather for the dates when you’re traveling. Just by putting into Google “what is the weather like in (city) during (month)” you will get a weather estimate, even if you’re planning a trip that is many months away. This will allow you to figure out whether you should bring quick-drying, breathable shoes or travel sandals, or whether you should opt for a pair of waterproof boots.
If you are traveling to a place where the weather changes drastically from day to day then I recommend choosing two pairs of travel shoes – one pair that is a touch heavier and more appropriate for colder weather, and one pair that is very light and easy to pack.
You will also want to take your personal style into account! The comfortable shoes you bring with you on your adventures should look good with every single one of the outfits you pack. This means that those gorgeous hot pink shoes you love so much that only look good with that black dress should probably stay at home.
If the styles you’re packing lean a little bit towards more preppy then loafers or clean, low-top sneakers will be easier to match to your wardrobe. You can easily match strappy sandals or flats to a more feminine wardrobe, and they also tend to work well with flowy, more bohemian outfits. If you’re packing a lot of athletic gear, then a pair of running shoes will fit right in and will also ensure maximum comfortableness for you!
City Break Shoes
If you’re planning a city break where you will walk around a lot but on paved streets, you have a few directions you can go in. It’s important that the travel shoes you choose are comfortable, which can mean different things for different people.
Some might require good arch support while others might prefer a “naked” shoe that makes them feel as though their feet are bare. Personally, I prefer that my shoes have a bit of a cushioning sole but without being heavy, and that they hold the entirety of my foot without slipping.
You can opt for a pair of low-top sneakers – either slip-ons or with laces – that will be casual, comfortable, and quite versatile. These days sneakers are becoming much more versatile than in the past.
You can also choose a pair of flats or espadrilles that have good hold over the feet. As long as they have a cushy sole, these travel shoes can keep you comfortable as you spend your day exploring. These shoes are a bit dressier than sneakers, so they will also work if you decide to go out to more upscale places in the evening.
I’m of the opinion that someone traveling can make things work with a single pair of comfy and properly soled flats, or alternatively with one pair of sneakers and one pair of either roll-up flats or elegant travel sandals.
City and Nature Shoes
Choosing the best travel shoes gets a little more complicated as you start adding more terrains. As you start exploring in places where roads are unpaved and the terrain is a little harder to navigate, dedicated walking shoes become mandatory.
The issue is that properly comfortable shoes, even for easy hikes, are harder to style for more elegant occasions. It just so happens that, in my opinion, the best vacations feature both!
While some people (especially men) can travel with a single pair of running shoes that they’ll rock just about anywhere, if you’re reading this then the aesthetic matters to you, so of course you’ll want a way around the issue.
In the summer it’s possible to only have a pair of cushioned travel sandals, like the Merrell ones I recommended earlier, but during spring and autumn you will probably have to carry two pairs of shoes with you. I recommend having a pair of well-cushioned sneakers for hiking and city exploration, and a pair of flat or foldable shoes for when you want to look a little more stylish.
Nature Explorer Shoes
If you’re already an avid hiker and nature explorer, you probably already own a pair of magnificent hiking boots. If the entirety of your vacation is going to be spent in nature then you won’t need much else – perhaps a pair of solid hiking boots along with a pair of water shoes or flip-flops in case you’d like to go into the water of a rocky lake or stream.
As much as we love online shopping, it’s important to try on hiking boots in the store before buying them. If you have enough time, you can buy your travel shoes online from a retailer that has a lenient return policy.
There are a few key tips for when you examine your shoes, to ensure they truly support your feet, courtesy of podiatrist Stephanie Raley. Make sure that the soles are thick, and don’t bend at all if you’re going to be doing some very steep or intense hiking, while a bit of bend is okay for easier terrain.
Beachside Vacation Shoes
There are two types of beachside vacations: the ones where you go on excursions and explore whatever tropical locale you’re visiting or the ones where you spend your time relaxing on the beach with a book for company. For the latter, a simple pair of flip-flops should suffice, while the former requires a bit more thought.
Make sure to skip the leather sandals, and opt for a different material. Unless specifically made to be waterproof, leather can expand when wet, which will lead to it cracking.
Instead, choose either quick-drying travel shoes or waterproof travel sandals that are made of rubber or recycled plastic. The more breathable the shoes, the better, and if you are going to do a bit of walking make sure they are adequately cushioned.
Snow Vacation Shoes
While it might seem wild to me that anyone will choose to travel to a cold destination, the fact of the matter is that many people like snow holidays. Snow boots are the obvious choice for a very cold winter vacation!
Look for waterproof shoes with fuzzy inner lining and a thicker sole. These days a lot of boots intended for snow also have the specific temperatures they can withstand specified, which is a nice bonus.
● Insoles are awesome for giving additional support to the feet! Buy yourself a set of insoles that will help make your travel shoes more perfect. For example, I like insoles that add a bit more support under the arches, although you might have a different preference.
● Break your shoes in! You’re doing something wrong if you haven’t spent at least a few days in your travel shoes before departing on your trip. If you don’t take the time to break your shoes in (a few days for most shoes, up to three weeks for a pair of hiking boots), you risk finding out that they give you painful blisters or rub the wrong way at exactly the time when you want to be exploring.
● A pair of good socks can make all the difference, especially in hot weather. If you’re going to be wearing closed-toe travel shoes make sure to choose high-quality socks. Opt for Merino wool socks for a cooling, antibacterial, and moisture-wicking effect.
● If you’re also going to be flying, choose shoes with a rubber sole so that you don’t have to remove them during security check. It will save you a lot of hassle!
● This should go without saying, but leave shoes with delicate embellishments at home! Your travel shoes should be durable, and you need to expect that they’ll get a little scuffed during your adventures.
● As tempting as it might be, don’t wear flip-flops if you’re going to do a significant amount of walking! Flip-flops don’t really hold your foot in place, so they actually force the foot to work a bit to keep them on. This can cause serious soreness and foot damage down the line.
● In the list we’ve recommended some “barefoot”-style travel shoes. This refers to minimalist shoes that grip the foot well but have thin soles that allow the feet to feel the terrain. It’s as close to going barefoot while still keeping the feet protected. These kinds of travel shoes have gotten extremely popular in recent years, but podiatrists are not necessarily big fans. Do some serious research before deciding to invest in these kinds of shoes, and note that I’m a little skeptical.
Photos via @elle_ferguson, @collagevintage, @tamara, @mikutas, @marta__sierra