Footwear is one of the most complicated packing categories. Shoes and boots take up a lot of space in your bag, but packing an uncomfortable pair can negatively impact your trip.
When considering which shoes to pack, try to pick multipurpose options. Can you pick a pair of stylish sneakers that you can also wear to a nice dinner? Can your running shoes pull double duty in the gym and on a sightseeing tour?
To save space, don’t forget to utilize the interior of your shoes when packing―stuff the inside of your shoes with socks, for example. Wearing your heaviest (or bulkiest) boots on the plane can also help.
Follow this footwear packing list to help decide what shoes to bring on your next trip.
Casual Walking Shoes
A pair of casual walking shoes will serve you well on any trip. These shoes should be comfortable enough to walk for miles in but stylish enough that you won’t mind wearing them all day (and night) in a fashionable city.
SmarterTravel Pick: Seavees’ Sixty Six Sneakers’, available for men and women, are low profile and stylish. Equipped with a cushy memory foam footbed, airflow channels for cooling, and a soft cotton canvas exterior, these shoes are both lightweight and comfortable.
Pack a good pair of workout shoes if you’ll be hitting the hotel gym, running, or just want a truly supportive sneaker for walking. Look for lightweight but cushioned ones so that they’ll be comfortable but won’t take up much room in your luggage.
SmarterTravel Pick: Nike’s Vaporfly Shoes, available for men and women, is one of the brand’s lightest sneakers, making it easy to pack.
Hiking Boots or Shoes
Hiking boots or shoes are non-negotiable if you’re headed on a hiking trip. If you’re flying to your vacation, consider wearing your boots on the plane. You can always unlace them to make them more comfortable during the flight―and you’ll be thankful you have them with you if your luggage gets lost. (No one wants to break in new boots on a hiking trip.)
SmarterTravel Pick: Merrell’s Antora 3 Mid Waterproof, available for men and women, weigh around 10 ounces per boot. These lightweight boots are designed to feel like a sneaker but offer ankle support and waterproofing.
Don’t let a little wet weather trap you inside your hotel for your vacation. If the forecast calls for rain or snow at your destination, pack waterproof boots to help you stay warm and dry.
SmarterTravel Pick (Women): Vionic’s Evergreen Ankle Boots feature a water-resistant upper that repels moisture. Inside, a unique Vio-Pod outsole provides cushioning right where you need it. The slip-on style makes these boots perfect for flying, as you can easily take them off for security screening.
SmarterTravel Pick (Men): Bogs’ Kicker Chelsea boots are not only waterproof but they are also insulated to keep you warm in wet and chilly conditions.
When your itinerary includes a wedding, an important meeting, or a fancy restaurant, you’ll need to pack a pair of dress shoes to complete your outfit. Choose a versatile pair that you can walk in (or dance in) comfortably, as you never know what your night will bring in a new city.
SmarterTravel Pick (Women): Part of Vivaia’s “running heels” collection, Vivaia’s Melody Pro High Heels are designed to be comfortable enough that you could safely sprint in them. Made from a stretchy knit fabric, these heels expand to fit your feet. A blister-preventing heel patch and padded insole both add to the comfort factor.
SmarterTravel Pick (Men): Allen Edmonds’ Strand Oxford Dress Sneaker is a sneaker disguised as a dress shoe. The cap toe and Oxford styling make this shoe appropriate for almost any outfit, and the supportive removable insole provides shock absorption and all-day comfort.
Flip Flops or Sandals
Whether you’re headed to the beach or hotel pool, you’ll want to pack a pair of flip-flops or sandals that can get wet. Bonus: You can wear your sandals around the hotel room if you don’t want to pack slippers.
SmarterTravel Pick: Teva’s Original Universal Sandals were created by a Grand Canyon river guide and can handle any water activity. Velcro straps provide a custom fit while keeping your shoes secure during adventures.
If the thought of walking barefoot on a hotel floor grosses you out, slip a pair of packable slippers in your bag. Pro move: change into slippers on the plane for peak comfort during a long-haul flight.
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