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What are the Best Shoes for Travel?

Summer vacation is back in a big way, so we’re wondering, what are the best shoes for travel? With a plunging Euro and a relaxation of Covid restrictions, so many of us are heading overseas. And we’re trekking across cobblestoned European steps, for hours on end. Finally, we’ll get the chance to see sights we’ve only viewed on Zoom tours for the past two years. But if you’re not wearing the right shoes, you could end up with blisters, cuts or heel and Achilles tendon pain. Lucky for you, your Spring, TX podiatrists won’t let that happen.

Style and Comfort: Best Shoes for Travel

Before making new recommendations, we looked back through our records and found some informative interviews with tour guides. Accordin to Sofia Bartlett, a director for the tour company Tauck, “Not only can you injure yourself with an awkward step, but your whole day (or even your entire trip) will be ruined if your shoes start hurting your feet.” She chooses Skechers sneakers as her travel shoe of choice.

Best Travel Shoes for Women

So, what do our intrepid guides say about women’s footwear on vacation? “For me, comfort is No. 1, but I refuse to compromise on style,” said Susan Rose, who leads tours for Tauck in Spain, Portugal and Italy. “I almost cried when I bought my first pair of orthopedics at 30, but since I’ve found Fly London, my boring orthopedic loafers are in the closet.”

As Rose explains, Fly London shoes “Are all soft leather sandals and boots with mostly rubber soles and a stylish, funky, sometimes playful design.” She says they “are as comfortable as tennis shoes but always get compliments.” And we love that the sturdy soles provide plenty of shock absorption when you’re walking on hard surfaces.

Hiking Gear

Heading to more rugged terrain? Candice Criscione, a trip development coordinator in Italy for Backroads, chooses over-the-ankle boots for proper support to avoid sprained ankles. Her latest purchase: Breeze 2.0 GTX hiking boots by Vasque. “Excellent boots are key and totally worth the investment,” she said. “I’ve seen many guests come with running shoes or trail shoes. The support isn’t good enough for the miles in the mountains.”

Sarah Walker, who also leads European tours for Backroads, wears hiking or trekking shoes from Quechua, an affordable brand that she said can be found at Decathlon stores across Europe. She also wears Scarpa hiking shoes, which she described as more elegant and of higher quality (and price). “In the Dolomites I see many European day hikers wearing these lighter Scarpas,” she said. (When she’s not hiking, yet doing a lot of walking, she wears sandals by Chaco).

Helena Novak, a guide with General Tours World Traveler, said her must-have hiking shoes are Salomon Contagrip Ortholite 3Dfit Gore-Tex. She’s worn them on cobblestone streets and on snowy hikes, during which they stayed warm and dry. “It feels like walking on air,” she said.

There isn’t room for all of the guides’ advice, but other brands they wear include Ecco, Pikolinos, Stonefly, Arche, Rieker, Salamander, Munro, Dansko, Merrell, Biviel, Vialis, Keen and Cole Haan with Nike Air technology.

Best Travel Shoes For Men

“I swear by the Cooper Square Wingtips from Cole Haan, which are incredibly comfortable with their Nike sockliner,” said Jonathan Holburn, who leads tours for Trafalgar in France. “I got them in brown, and they can be dressed up with navy blue trousers for work or a pair of cream linen pants in summer, but they’re also casual enough to go with jeans and a sweater.”

Sandor Nagy, who for years has been giving tours of Budapest to General Tours World Traveler guests including President Jimmy Carter, rotates among eight pair of walking shoes. His top choices? Nike’s Studio Low II leather and Reebok Classic leather sneakers. “I never feel pain or tiredness, thanks to those shoes,” he said.

Konrad Wolkowinski, a guide for Cox & Kings in Britain, buys leather shoes at Jones Bootmaker in London because they look smart and have a comfortable leather sole. “I find my feet can breathe that way,” he noted.

Fashion Conscious Choices

Rockport is the shoe of choice for Bill Serues, a Tauck guide in England, Scotland, Wales, France and Ireland, because he thinks they look good and cushion feet from cobblestones. “Us marathoners know a lot about shoes,” he said. Another Tauck guide in Europe, Tom Bougers, says Nike Free sneakers are his “most comfortable footwear ever” because they are light, flexible and durable.

Many guides, like Michael Furillo of Tauck, prefer Timberland. (Geox, Mephisto and Clarks are also popular.)

Paul Wormsbaecher, who leads tours for Trafalgar in Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic, said his favorite Clarks style is the Aston Mind loafer because it’s light and has a no-slip rubber base.

Best Overall Comfort Shoes for Travel

Want to really protect your feet from the shock of hard streets while you travel? Consider the just-upgraded Hoka One One. Already equipped with maximalist cushioning that’s great for shock absorption, the new design features lighter heel foam so you can walk for longer. Plus, the heel geometry got a makeover to optimize your stride for less pain and longer, more comfortable walks.

Whichever shoes you choose, long days on your feet can leave you with new foot pain. Or exacerbate an existing problem. If that’s the case, what should you do? Reach out to us as soon as you get home for a post-vacation appointment. We’ll make sure your only travel souvenirs are the ones you purchased or photographed!

Portions of this article appeared in print on April 21, 2013, on page TR2 of the New York edition with the headline: Walk a Mile (or More) in Their Shoes.

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