The Best Travel Shoes Are Comfortable, Lightweight and Versatile
The other day, I was flipping through some old photos from a vacation to France I’d taken with my best friend when I was in my early 20s. It was an unforgettable trip of visiting famous landmarks and museums, eating great food, and doing LOTS and lots of walking. I paused at one of the photos and chuckled to myself. It showed me and my friend on a gorgeous day in Paris, standing out in front of the grand cathedral of Notre Dame. What made me laugh was that my shoes stuck out like a sore thumb. There I was in the fashion capital of the world wearing a pair of ridiculously ugly athletic trainers.
Because I knew we’d be doing so much walking, I packed this pair of thick, cushiony athletic shoes (which happened to be bright white), thinking they’d be comfortable travel shoes. I wore them for nearly all of our daytime and nighttime activities. Not only did these shoes look unflattering with everything I wore, but they felt heavy and didn’t keep my feet from getting sore that week. I’ve since pinpointed three main traits I look for in any shoes I’m going to wear while traveling. Looking back, those athletic shoes didn’t measure up on any of them.
Top 3 Travel Shoe Traits
First and foremost when considering what shoes to pack and wear on a trip is, of course, comfort. If you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, you don’t want foot pain or blisters to hold you back or keep you from enjoying yourself! I used to think “comfort” in a shoe was determined by the amount of cushioning and arch support it offered, which is why I thought athletic shoes would work well for walking all around France. As I’ve learned more about shoes and healthy feet, though, I’ve come to realize comfort is related to my shoes being flexible, soft and spacious. Cushiony shoes that “hug” my feet too tightly are much more likely to cause blisters and that rubbed-raw feeling on the back of my heels. The best travel shoes for me are those that give my toes plenty of room and create more of a barefoot feel.
We tend to name shoe styles based solely on the activity they’re good for: hiking shoes, walking shoes, running shoes, dress shoes. But this is so impractical! The last thing you want to have to pack for a trip is five different pairs of shoes for different activities. When traveling, you need shoes that can seamlessly crossover from one activity to the next. Softstars do this wonderfully, which is one of my absolute favorite things about them. For instance, I have worn my Softstar Merry Janes for long nature walks, paired with cargo shorts and a t-shirt. I’ve also worn them many times while out to dinner, paired with a skirt and cute blouse. I love wearing these shoes on any trip because they dress up or down so easily, and they’ll work just as well for hikes as they will for long city walks or a night out on the town.
3. Lightweight and Easy to Pack
Bulky, heavy shoes take up more than their fair share of suitcase or bag space. No thanks! When traveling, I ideally want shoes that weigh next to nothing and take up a minimal amount of space in my luggage. Softstar shoes are incredibly lightweight and flexible—they can even be rolled up and tucked into a small pocket of a backpack. This trait goes hand-in-hand with versatility, because if you have shoes that work for multiple activities and in multiple settings, you’ll already have less to pack.
Dispatches from Traveling in Softstar Shoes
Like me, a lot of other Softstar fans have discovered how great these flexible, comfortable shoes work while traveling. We recently asked our customers to share more about where they’ve worn their Softstars on vacations that involved quite a bit of walking. We asked them what they like about traveling in their Softstars and about their favorite styles to pack on a trip. Here’s a roundup of their responses.
“Merry Janes have been on my feet in Midwest urban centers, the pine forests of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and on the shores of the Great Lakes. My son has donned Ramblers in all of those places. We love them always, but especially because they're easy to fit into a backpack or luggage and don't weigh us down.”
“I wore the Solstice sandals on a spur of the moment hiking trip and they were so comfy I forgot I was even wearing them! I also like the rugged Ramblers for our kids for hiking—no slipping or blisters.”
“Took two pairs of black Ballerines all over Europe. One newer, one older and wider (to accommodate overtired swollen feet). Best choice I ever made. Worked so well that they went to Australia and New Zealand too. They look nice and I could easily keep up with my almost 3 year old.”
“I spent four days walking the District of Columbia in my Solstice sandals! I loved them! I have a really hard time wearing shoes for any extended period of time because of friction burns on the soles of my feet (with or without socks), but I never had the first hint of it in my super-soft Softstars!”
“On a plane right now. Wore my amazing classy Softstars to Europe. Easy in Airport security and walked at least 5 miles each day, if not 7 or 8. Only time my feet hurt was when I had to wear my other shoes to a business function.”
“ I love the RunAmoc best for traveling because they can dress up or down and are great for various terrains.”
“I wore my new shiny Metros to a trip to Utah. I walked a lot and they dressed up nicely! I love how lightweight they are. So easy to pack!”
“ I wore my Ballerines all over Switzerland and Italy last month. Long days of walking all over villages. They (and my feet) did great!”
“I’ve traveled extensively in my Ballerines. I love that they are comfortable enough to walk all over the airport in, but also light and compact when I need to put them in luggage.”
“In a recent trip to Buenos Aires, I only brought two pairs of shoes—a pair of barefoot-style sandals and my custom Softstar Ballerine flats. The weather was a little chiller than I anticipated and I ended up wearing my flats every day. This trip is really where I fell in love with these shoes. I eschewed all the recommendations I received from people that Buenos Aires is best seen from the comfort of a tour bus; I hit the pavement (and cobble stone, red clay, grass, and marble). My Softstars cradled my feet for at least five hours a day as I walked from barrio to barrio through a city with a greater population of 12 million. It made such a huge difference having a pair of shoes that gave my toes ample room to move without having to compromise style in any way. After walking on hard surfaces all day I never had the urge to kick my shoes off as soon as I got back to my Airbnb. For feet that are already well adapted to minimal shoes I would highly recommend them!”
We also received a few helpful travel shoe tips from customers. Sarah said she recently wore her Softstars to Las Vegas and realized she needed to stick with a Vibram-soled option as the summer heat made the sidewalks so hot that her leather-soled pair burned her feet. She loved her Solstice sandals and Sport Ballerines for Vegas, but went with a pair of Rogues and her Dash RunAmocs for a different trip to the Redwoods... and both times had happy feet!
Other customers commented that a bonus of Softstar shoes is that they’re comfortable to wear around the airport and while flying, and they’re super easy to slip off in the airport security line.
Gearing Up for Your Trip
Softstars are minimalist shoes that include a lot of unique design features, such as flexible, zero-drop soles. These features lead to strong, healthy feet, but they do require a bit of adjustment time. If minimal footwear is new to you and you plan to wear your Softstar shoes on an upcoming trip that involves a lot of walking, don’t forget to transition into them. For tips, check out our post on How to Transition to Minimal Shoes.
A few recommended styles for travel.
If you have stories of traveling in your Softstars, or tips about what you look for in travel shoes, then please share them in the comments section below. Happy travels!