The Most Comfortable Shoes for Travel: 10 Tips for Finding the Perfect Pair of Shoes for Your Next Vacay

When every step is an adventure, you want the most comfortable shoes on your feet, helping you travel the world and conquer that next step.

The most comfortable shoes for travel will differ from person to person, but with these ten tips, you can’t go wrong finding the perfect pair of shoes to make every step of your vacation feel like the first step on your journey.

Table of Contents

1. Comfort Beats Fashion

If it’s a head-to-head matchup between comfort and fashion, comfort wins with the knock-out. Or at least, it should. 

We often think of shoes as either making or breaking an outfit, so stylish footwear can feel like a must for all those precious photo memories of your trip. But are phantom pains from a pair of dress shoes that ravaged your feet truly worth it?

Cute walking shoes or fancy footwear that give no thought to comfort will undoubtedly look good for the photo ops you’re bound to have wandering Prague or the scenic walkways of Burano. Unfortunately, they’ll also certainly leave you with blisters and sore, aching feet.

Take it from travelers who know. At the end of the day, you’ll regret passing over the comfy walking shoes and putting your bag in the stylish-shoes camp.

Relax. This doesn’t mean you have to spend the rest of your days cropping your feet out of your travel pics. Choosing comfort doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice fashion. It simply means you need to shop with an eye for comfort as your number one priority. 

Things to look for as you shoe shop:

  • Lightweight travel shoes
  • Comfortable walking shoes that offer good arch support
  • Durability to withstand lots of walking (and being crammed in your suitcase)
  • A breathable mesh upper on your travel shoes that allow for ventilation 

Once you’ve thought about these features and found some good candidates, you can start considering how they look and pair with the outfits you’ll put together—or already have—for your trip!

2. Shop Later in the Day

Who would have thought there’s such a thing as the right time to buy new footwear. But when you go shopping for your new trusty travel shoes can be crucial for choosing the most comfortable walking shoe. And the best time to do it is at the end of the day. Or at the very least, after you’ve been on your feet a few hours.

So, why is the perfect time to shop later in the day? 

Experts say the afternoon or evening is the best time to shop for shoes because our feet naturally expand during the day. Trying on new shoes after our feet have had a chance to swell a bit will give you a more accurate feel and fit with your new travel shoes than if you shop during the morning. 

Overnight, our feet recover from any swelling from the previous day. Of course, by the time morning rolls around, they’ve typically returned to a resting size. Doing your shoe shopping in the morning could lead to an unpleasant surprise later on when your previously perfect fit suddenly starts pinching your feet after a bit of wear.

3. Consider Insoles

Many people think they don’t need insoles if they already have a comfortable shoe or one that addresses their needs with high arch support, more cushioning, etc. In reality, adding insoles can be a game-changer that takes your shoe comfort to new heights.

Like shoes, insoles aren’t one-size-fits-all. Instead, they come in a variety of styles with different features to help offer support where it’s needed most. Have high arches? You can grab a soft, flexible insole that lessens the impact of each step. Suffer from plantar fasciitis? Reduce your foot pain with memory foam insoles that provide heel and arch support.

Unless you spend all day walking, your feet will be in for a shock when you travel. Strolls along the French Riviera, hiking to hot springs in Iceland, and scoping out the perfect miradouros in Portugal for a spectacular sunset view all involve a lot of time on your feet—and steps on your smartwatch.

Adding insoles to your most comfortable walking shoes could take the shock out of each stride and help you feel like you’re floating rather than dragging your feet to the next incredible location!

4. Splurge on Socks

Spending the time, effort, and money to find the best walking shoes is important, but it’s not the only thing to consider. Wearing a set of travel shoes is a bit like going on a date. You can have a great time by yourself, but it helps if you bring along a partner.

Shoes are a great starting point, but they’re not the only attendee here. Behind every great travel shoe, there’s a pair of fantastic socks at its back.

Socks serve a function other than just aesthetics. They help keep your feet healthy as you travel, braving everything from nippy winds and murky puddles to searing sunshine and rough roads.

Your feet’s first line of defense, socks protect against blisters and harsh friction from your foot rubbing against the inside of your shoe. In addition, they reduce foot odors and absorb excess moisture. So, if you want to avoid sweaty feet and stinky shoes on your travels, socks are the way to go. 

And if you want to go all-in on comfort, socks now offer some of the same support as your favorite shoes and insoles. We’re talking arch support, cushioned soles, compression socks, and more. So look for a pair of socks that’ll support the work your shoes and insoles are already doing for nonstop, all-around comfort. 

If you want the most comfortable shoes for travel, consider this your official excuse to throw out those worn-down, threadbare socks. It’s time to invest in socks that’ll weather your journey with you, rather than tapping out after your first day of travel.

5. Get a Perfect Fit

You’re bound to stumble across some new footwear brands in your search for the most comfortable shoes for travel. In that case, it’s a good idea to locate your nearest shoe store and pop in for a visit.

While online shopping is becoming increasingly popular, not to mention easier, the biggest downfall is that you can’t be sure of a perfect fit until it arrives. And if your new travel shoes don’t fit, you’re right back to square one.

So, instead, try going to a store with a salesperson available to help you find the perfect pair of comfy walking shoes.

Your perfect fit won’t just magically happen. Head out with a game plan for success:

  1. Measure your feet. Foot size and shape aren’t static; they can change over time. So, don’t settle with a size simply because you’ve always worn it before.
  2. Go big. Almost everyone has one foot that’s larger than the other. It’s weird, but it’s science. Go with the size that fits your larger foot.
  3. Check for a snug fit. The width and depth of your travel shoe should feel comfortable, so your foot isn’t rubbing against the sides or top.
  4. Leave some space. You want a fit that leaves about ½ inch between your biggest toe and the end of your shoes.
  5. Do a test run. Always walk around in your shoes to make sure they feel comfortable: not too snug and not too loose. If there’s any chafing or sliding, keep looking for a better fit.

6. Match the Shoes to the Activity

A day of wild adventures calls for the perfect pair of travel shoes to match. A heavy pair of hiking boots may weigh you down during a journey through Cartegena’s historic Old Town, while comfy walking shoes won’t necessarily provide the grip and grit you need to hike the Grand Canyon. Bringing the wrong shoes for your activities is like trying to take a driving test blindfolded: you’re setting yourself up for failure—and likely a few accidents.

The shoe that will provide the most comfort is one specifically designed for the activities you have in mind. So, figure out what you plan to do at your destination.

Spending hours walking from one local attraction to the next will call for sleek but durable travel shoes, maybe even a pair of comfortable walking sandals. On the other hand, beach vibes might call for bright, stylish walking shoes. You still want to look for something with a comfy fit and a bit of traction, though, for when you leave the sand behind. And, of course, rugged adventures call for lightweight hiking shoes with durable exteriors and plenty of grip to keep you from slipping and sliding in questionable terrain.

7. Check the Weather

Some destinations are notorious for their weather. Think of the classic gray skies and wet sidewalks of London or the snowy peaks of Alaska. To keep your feet comfortable, you’ll need shoes that can withstand extreme weather or even a random bad weather day.

Waterproof boots with insulation are ideal for treks around the varying landscapes and weather conditions in places like Alaska. Snow one minute and mud the next. But, a pair of lightweight, waterproof shoes will be perfect for dashing through the rain to get from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace to catch the changing of the guard.

8. Take Time to Break ‘Em In

This used to be something our parents would tell us all the time. You know, on those rare occasions when we got shoes that weren’t hand-me-downs from older siblings.

Break your shoes in before you wear them out and about.

Of course, now we have the money to buy our own shoes, and we don’t necessarily remember everything our parents taught us, but this is something they weren’t wrong about. New shoes need time to lose their stiffness and feel good on your feet for long periods. If you want your walking shoes to feel comfortable when you travel, you need to break them in first. 

Start simple, and try to wear your shoes for a few hours. Put them on while you do house chores or even while watching your favorite TV shows. That’ll make the time fly. Gradually work up to wearing them for extended periods, and then for long hours walking, running errands, you know the drill.

Don’t wait until the last minute to break in your travel shoes. The goal is to make sure your shoes are comfortable by the time you head out on your adventures. Ending a travel day early to soak sore feet in a tub isn’t really anyone’s idea of fun.

9. Consider the Season

There are three important seasons to consider as you do your shopping. Yes, you read right. Three.

The season you’re shopping for and the season you’re shopping in can play havoc on your travel shoe decisions. For example, if your feet tend to swell in the heat and you’re shopping in the middle of winter, you may grab a pair of shoes that seem to fit perfectly. Only to show up to your beachy destination with sandals that pinch at your feet and leave no room to breathe. Naturally, the opposite is just as bad. The last thing you want is the comfy shoes you thought were your new best friend sliding off your feet and rubbing your skin raw with every step.

So, as you shop, consider how the current season affects your foot size and if it will differ at your destination. You may need to size up or down accordingly to ensure your fit is still perfect.

Now, wait, you may be thinking that’s only two seasons. What’s the third?

The third season is, of course, the shopping season. Take advantage of sales and price drops to score a pair of comfortable walking shoes for cheap. And with sales, you’re bound to find cute, stylish shoes that fit your criteria for comfort without exceeding your budget! 

Speaking of budget, if you want the secret to traveling affordably—and saving hundreds on every trip—sign up for Next Vacay. Every day will be sale season for flights!

10. Do Your Research

Finding the most comfortable shoes for travel will require research. Whether you’re looking for good walking shoes, super lightweight running shoes, or incredibly durable hiking boots, taking your time and doing the work now will save your feet and travels. 

Nothing ruins a trip quite like sore feet that bother you from the start of your day till the end. That’s why investing your time in finding the most comfortable shoes for travel is key to a great trip. 

If you’re not sure where to start, consider the types of vacations you’ve taken in the past and the ones you hope to take. That should give you a good starting point for the kind of shoes you’ll need. Someone who travels all over the world for business might find dressy walking shoes the answer to their prayers, whereas a social media pro might need some fashionable walking shoes that can be dressed up or down to complement any outfit.

Figure out your needs and your wants, and then get to searching. Check out reviews and ask your friends or fellow travelers what their favorite travel shoes are for hiking mountains or strolling along the beach, and ones versatile enough for both!

Women: The 5 Most Comfortable Shoes for Travel 

Picking out the most comfortable women’s walking shoes is a challenge, especially with so many great options for travel shoes. Whether you want casual sneakers or fancy heels, you’ll need the most comfortable shoes. Lucky for you, you’re bound to find these shoes the highlight of any outfit and perfect for long days of exploration.

1. Comfortable Walking Shoes: Allbirds Wool Runner

You can wear sneakers traveling, and these Wool Runners from Allbird make it easy. These sleek, comfy travel shoes feel like slippers, but they’ll hold up well to hours spent walking the streets of your favorite city, from the asphalt of New York to the cobblestone streets of Paris.

The shoes are made of wool, allowing your feet to breathe comfortably, and come with their own contoured insole. However, to make these travel walking shoes perfect, you can even replace the insole with another if you have a specific foot concern or need more arch support.

Oh, did we mention they’re also machine-washable?

2. Stylish Walking Shoes: Ecco Soft 7 Sneakers

We did say comfort was the number one priority, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw aesthetics out the window. These stylish walking shoes will work with almost any outfit you can put together. Skirts, pants, summer dresses, even joggers—these shoes top off any ensemble. 

Of course, we wouldn’t recommend any fashionable shoes unless they were comfortable, and the Ecco Soft 7 fits the bill one hundred percent. You don’t just get a fabulous-looking sneaker; you get amazing arch support, cushioning, and even a removable insole. On top of all that, the fact that they’re also super cute walking shoes is just a bonus.

If you’re looking for the most comfortable, easy-to-pack walking shoes for travel, you can’t go wrong with these versatile shoes.

3. Comfortable Hiking Shoes: Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Hiking Boots

These hiking boots give female travelers a dependable companion on fun days out on the trail. They may look like hiking boots, but they feel more like sneakers. Rubber soles make them perfect for trekking over uneven terrain, and the leather upper keeps your feet dry with water-resistant protection. 

If you’re looking for an incredibly comfortable hiking shoe to take with you on an outdoor adventure, walking the trails of the Grand Canyon or scaling Iceland’s rough terrain, say hello to your new partner.

4. Comfortable Walking Sandals: Vionic Amber Adjustable Sandal

Another shoe that combines fashion and comfort is the Amber Adjustable Sandal, an orthotic shoe you can’t even tell is orthotic.

The rubber sole and a soft microfiber footbed make it one of the most comfortable women’s walking sandals. Along with the supple leather upper, this shoe offers all-around comfort in a chic style, perfect to pack for your next beach vacation.

5. Comfortable All-Day Heels: Everlane Day Heel

Heels aren’t generally known for being the most comfortable walking shoes. They’re not even something women generally look forward to wearing for long days on their feet. However, the Everlane Day Heel turns that on its head.

These stylish walking shoes are a versatile dream. You can pair them with jeans and crop tops as easily as blazers and work slacks. These cute walking shoes are made with Nappa leather or suede and have an elastic back and a two-inch heel. And, of course, they come with a cushioned footbed that won’t leave your feet screaming after hours of standing and walking. 

Pro-tip: Order a half-size up for the perfect fit.

Men: The 5 Most Comfortable Shoes for Travel

Choosing comfort over style is a no-brainer, but it’s not always necessary. With these stylish and comfortable walking shoes, you don’t have to sacrifice your style for your comfort.

So, put your best foot forward and relax, knowing that these comfortable travel shoes will be there for you, one effortless step after the other. 

1. Comfortable Walking Shoes: Allbirds Tree Skippers

Comfort is clearly in this company’s DNA. The Tree Skippers are another fashionable style from Allbirds and one of the most comfortable walking shoes. 

Lightweight materials and foam soles make every step feel like you’re walking on air. Furthermore, their flexible shape makes them easy to pack and ensures the shoe conforms to your foot with every step, hop, and skip.

They also provide a sleek look to complete any outfit. 

Hands down, the Allbirds Tree Skippers are some of the best walking shoes. 

2. Stylish Walking Shoes: Bruno Marc Men’s Rivera Oxford Shoes

The Bruno Marc Men’s Rivera Oxford Shoes fit the bill for a set of casual travel shoes you can dress up or down. 

Breathable insoles cushion your feet, while rubber traction along the bottom helps to absorb shock. The inside fabric lining and padded collar add to the shoe’s overall comfort. These stylish shoes can be worn for a day in the office or a casual weekend out. Regardless of where you roam, this versatile pair of shoes will be ready to go with you. 

3. Comfortable Hiking Shoes: Palladium Pampa Sport Cuff WPN

For stylish walking shoes for travel that also double as hiking shoes, the Palladium Pampa Sport Cuff will fit your needs to perfection. With a Chuck-Taylor, military aesthetic, these stylish shoes pack a punch when it comes to comfort. Rubber soles and sponge fillers make steps soft, even on rough terrain, and waterproof materials and stitching keep your feet dry, even tramping through puddles and creeks. 

The midrise design microfiber collar also provides plenty of ankle support to keep rugged terrain from getting the best of you.

4. Comfortable Walking Sandals: Chaco Z/Cloud

Sandals are the perfect companion for warm-weather adventures and beachside retreats. So, it only makes sense that the best walking shoes should be able to handle both.

Chaco Z/Cloud sandals can be worn on dirt, rocks, concrete, and even snow, making this comfortable and versatile sandal perfect for casual strolls and challenging trails. The shoes are made of three thin layers: one of rubber and two of polyurethane. The top layer is extra plush. With this flexible form, the shoe molds itself to the foot, providing a near-perfect walking experience.

5. Comfortable All-Day Loafers: Ecco Helsinki 2.0 Men’s Apron Toe Slip-On

Looking good doesn’t have to come at the expense of your feet. Ecco may as well have included comfort in the name because these loafers easily top the list for the most comfortable dress shoes you’ll find. 

The moisture-absorbent design means your feet stay dry, whether you’re out all day before a fancy evening out or running through the airport to catch your plane. Speaking of airports, the slip-on design of these shoes will make your future security checkpoints a breeze.

The Wrap Up

Shoes can make or break your travel experience, so it pays to invest in a pair that will stand the test of time and comfort. Remember that your shoes should support your needs, but that they’re not the only player here. Insoles and socks can add another level of comfort and be the difference between fatigue and sore feet and your ability to greet the next day of travel. 

For a successful vacation, consider what kind of shoes will best support the activites you’ll get up to and toe the line between style and comfort. But remember, comfort always wins.

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