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.