Travel shoes.

6.23.2014
I'm less than three weeks away from my month-long European voyage, and my mind is in full-on panic preparation mode. 'Three weeks?' you may be thinking. 'You have plenty of time to prepare!' Well, sure. But if you know me at all, you know that packing for a trip of more than four or five days is not my favorite thing to do. Nor is it something I'm particularly good at. And as this one is a fast-paced tour with many different stops (rather than a come-and-go-as-you-please study abroad program with a home base), I'm trying my best to pack light (an impossible concept for me to wrap my head around).

Dresses, cardigans, swimsuits, hats, sunscreen, camera lenses, memory cards, plug adapters... the list of things I'll need goes on and on. But for right now, my most pressing concern is choice of shoes to bring. Obviously, this is a big one. Every day for four weeks, I'll be on my feet constantly—whether it be meandering through the cobblestone streets of Amsterdam, hiking along Interlaken's rugged mountain trails, or dancing the night away in one of Berlin's exciting nightclubs. And I'd rather not be worried about the state of my feet during these (and other) international shenanigans.

When I spent a weekend in Paris two summers ago, I made the rookie mistake of only packing a few pairs of cute-but-less-than-functional ballet flats. By the end of the second day, my right heel felt like it was going to separate from my ankle, and I was forced to buy a cheap pair of ugly sneakers at one of the train station shoe stores to get me through the weekend. Now that I'm aware of the difference a comfortable shoe can make when traveling, I'm on the hunt for the perfect pair of women's travel shoes.

I'd like to bring no more than three pairs on my trip (including lightweight tennis shoes for outdoor activities), which is easier said than done when you have an array of different outfits to complement. I recently bought Cushe Women's Hellyer Ballet Flat in Sand for everyday comfy wear but I'm still searching for the aforementioned sneakers and another semi-fashionable shoe that offers enough support. For a while, I planned on bringing this cute pair of strappy black sandals I found at Target for nights spent on the town, but after several hours of testing them out, I felt the familiar throb of my heel begin to flare up. Needless to say, those will not be making the cut.

I guess my question for all of you travel gurus is this: where can I find an (affordable) shoe that's lightweight, durable, and comfortable without skimping on style? My one worry is that my poor heel will crap out on me mid-trip and I'll be stuck wearing bulky sneakers for the rest of my stay. Sundresses + sneakers? Not exactly fashionable. But of course, at the end of the day, I'd rather be comfortable than cute. Perhaps there's something I can find that combines the two.

Any suggestions? At this point, I'll take all the traveling advice you've got. I'm learning that packing is somewhat of an art form, of which I have yet to master.

6 comments:

  1. Toms shoes :) I did the exact same thing- month-long trip around Europe (I did it with a carry-on, so packing was a huge challenge and definitely required some long preparation beforehand), and I used Toms and sandals. The Toms were pretty much done by the end of the trip, but they were super comfy and great to use throughout it all. I got black glittery ones, so they could look somewhat dressy if needed. Another tip: accessories. You'll be limited in the number of outfit combinations you can pack, but you can always dress it up with cute scarves, necklaces, head bands, etc. Another tip you've probably already heard: leave extra room in your luggage. You'll want to bring stuff back :)

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    1. I am thinking about bringing a pair of Toms! I have a simple black pair, and I wear them all the time. :) Thanks for the advice!

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  2. My suggestions after 4 weeks in Europe in 5 pairs of shoes: (keep in mind that I had to bring business professional shoes, which is why I had so many)
    -I rented boots whenever I did an intense activity like hiking, canyoning or sledding. It's not for everyone, most people wore their Nikes, but it does save a lot of room in your bag. If you know where you'll be doing these activities, I'd see if there's a rental option first!
    -A pair of comfortable brown sandals is a must! I didn't think I'd wear any while packing and ended up having to buy a pair in France. Worth the investment to buy a good pair while you're still in the States.
    -I had to bring black and brown flats for business attire but I made them work for casual wear as well. I upgraded to more expensive versions of the Target ones I already had and was so grateful I did. I still had a few blisters in the beginning to break them in but were extremely comfortable by the end and didn't need Band-Aids after about a week.
    -White Converse/TOMS are a good casual pair of shoes for walking around all day and you blend in well. I'd wear these in the city, and then Nikes/tennis shoes for outdoor activities.
    -I did bring a pair of riding boots and only wore them twice. Luckily they weren't very bulky to pack but I wouldn't suggest them at all. At best, a pair of short combat boots would be good for colder climates but honestly I wouldn't bring any boots at all if I had to pack again.

    -I wore my cream colored TOMS and brown sandals most and could've easily survived on these two alone. If you're going to buy more shoes, I would invest in quality pairs that will save your feet later!

    Sorry about the novel, I guess I should start a blog now! Hope this helps :)

    -Juliette

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    1. You know, I didn't think of this before, but the brown/black sandals option is something I'm definitely considering now. I'm going to look into buying a pair at Nordstrom's like you suggested. :) Thank you for all of your shoe tips! I hope you're having a blast in Europe, girl.

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  3. Overall, I think you could get away with probably three types of shoes--ballet flats, sneakers, and a cute flat sandal that can be dressed up or down. You've already got some ballet flats, so here are some options for the other two :)
    It's been awhile since I studied abroad, but I brought two pairs of Merrell zip sneakers (similar to these: http://www.amazon.com/Merrell-Womens-Lorelei-Fashion-Sneaker/dp/B005O6Q1KS). They were insanely comfortable and still decently cute. They're a bit pricey usually, but the deep tan ones are on sale over at Amazon for a pretty good price.
    I also agree with Juliette that some white (or black or grey) Chucks would be a good sneaker option as well, though they definitely don't have fabulous arch support. You could probably put a gel insert into them to make them a bit more comfortable for long wear.
    I recently bought a pair of Coach sandals from Nordstrom Rack for a song--they took a tiny bit of breaking in, but they're real leather and have become one of my go-to summer shoes. There are some brick and mortar NRs here in Houston, but even looking online, they have a lot of cute sandal options, Again, I'd get a tan/cognac color that you can wear with everything. (https://www.nordstromrack.com/shop/Women/Shoes/Sandals/Flat?colors%5B%5D=Brown&colors%5B%5D=Beige&sort=most_popular)
    Hope that helps!

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    1. Oooh, I like those sneakers! I wonder if they would be good for outdoor sports/hiking? They look like they could work! And from the responses I'm getting, it sounds as if a pair of good neutral-colored sandals is a must. I'll be heading to the mall this weekend to scope these things out. :) Thanks a bunch!

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