Things to bring on vacation – choosing the best footwear

Allyn BeekmanWhen you are thinking about things to bring on a vacation, one of the most important things is your choice of shoes that you take with you. Allyn shares his thoughts on what you need to consider in choosing the best footwear for your trip.

Article by Allyn – founder of

Typically, when people go on holiday, they depart from their normal pattern of life. After all, that’s what vacations are all about, right?

If you are planning a holiday trip make sure you take time to plan out your footwear. Will you be walking more than usual or perhaps even participating in more strenuous activities? Recognize that different or unusual physical patterns can place a great deal of stress on your feet.

It is important to bring along footwear that fits your needs but also provides essential foot support. I know! On my last holiday I wore non-supportive sandals my first day and spent the rest of my holiday struggling with plantar fasciitis.

Planning out the right footwear to bring with you can be difficult and even frustrating because you are limited on space. There are a number of questions you need to consider as you plan. For example:

  • What type of activity will you engage in while you are on vacation?
  • What climate(s) will you encounter on your trip?
  • Are there cultural or social expectations that you need to take into account?
  • Do you have any personal fitness issues that may affect your choice of footwear?

Let’s consider each of these questions individually.


Three Types of Vacation Activity

City walkingWalking: Will you be walking more than you normally do? If you expect to be sight-seeing, walking the streets of a city, or taking in special sights, the answer is probably “yes”.

With this in mind, perhaps the most important pair of shoes would be comfortable, quality walking shoes that have good arch and heel support. You want to avoid potential foot problems due to shoes with poor fit or lack of support.

One type of shoe that has gained greatly in popularity is Crocs. If you aren’t worried about fashion, these can prove to be very comfortable. Before you run out and buy some, however, be sure to check whether this type of shoe will be considered appropriate where you are visiting.

Note that fashion should not win out over proper foot support. If you expect to do a significant amount of walking on city centre streets, however, you will probably want to keep the fashion factor in mind as you select your walking shoes.

Need some recommendations? Check out the 19 Comfy, Travel-Friendly Shoes Made for Walkin’ recommended by Travel+Leisure. A few of these might also be good if higher fashion is required.


HikingStrenuous Activities: This is often the most unplanned part of a holiday. If you expect to participate significantly in activities that are out of the norm, for example hiking, climbing, dancing, or sports, then you must also consider the more specialized footwear required to meet the demands placed on your feet.

Shoes that are specifically designed for your activity are best, of course. Most importantly, they must provide proper support for your toes, arch, and heel.

Dressy Activities: Will you be spending time conducting business? Will you attend a wedding or funeral? These are not normal activities when on a holiday vacation but they may be included in your itinerary.

Or, perhaps you expect to go to a nightclub or up-market restaurant.

If any of these types of activities are part of your plan, you will need more formal footwear than your walking shoes. Plan and pack appropriately. Women may choose to bring fancier flats or sandals that go with multiple outfits. Men may need business attire shoes or perhaps could get by with good-looking semi-formal slip-ons.

But be aware of your feet! If you will be standing for a long period of time, they will get tired. Don’t jeopardize the rest of your holiday trip by wearing shoes that will hurt your feet.


Other Factors to Consider

ClimateClimate: Obviously, climate can greatly affect the type of footwear you will want to bring with you.

When travelling to a hot climate sandals or thin soled vented shoes are your best choice. Between the tropics, most travellers and locals wear either a sports sandal or flip-flops. But beware – these shoes will not give your feet good arch support. Too much walking in something without support could result in very painful foot problems.

On the other hand, if your destination will feature cold weather, you will need to adjust accordingly. Ankle boots may be appropriate for women. Men, find an appropriate shoe/boot and add socks, if necessary.

You may want to stick with close-toed shoes if you travel to locations with ground-based biting insects or if you will be walking significantly on dirty or gravely surfaces.

Cultural and Social Expectations: You need to do some research before going on your trip. There is plenty of cultural and social information available on the internet.

Crocs available on Amazon

Find Crocs on Amazon

Birkenstocks available on Amazon

Find Birkenstocks on Amazon

Recognize that some types of footwear may be frowned upon socially in certain countries. For example, Crocs, Birkenstocks, and tennis shoes are no-no’s when in Spain or Italy. If you are planning to visit these countries, consider comfortable leather walking shoes.

As an American, I will remind you that some of our “casual” footwear stands out, shouting “American tourist,” in other countries. Perhaps the most commonly recognized and highly disliked footwear common to Americans are white, lace-up tennis shoes. Be careful when and where you wear such shoes.

Crocs and Birkenstocks are available on Amazon in mens, womens and childrens styles and sizes.

Age and Weight: I mention this one, not to invade your privacy, but to remind you that your feet change over time. If you are a typical adult that does not get enough exercise, your feet may be weakening with age. Depending on your activities, you may stress muscles and tendons that you don’t normally use so much.

Age and weight are factors that can make you more susceptible to issues such as plantar fasciitis. Adjust your footwear choices to account for these factors. Again, proper support is the key.

Condition of Your Feet: You know your own foot health. Have you had previous problems with your feet? If you aren’t sure what to do perhaps you should consult with your doctor.

Condition of your feet

Top Tip – Three Pairs

After considering all the factors, it is now time to select your footwear. As you make your selections think through the following characteristics of the footwear: support, comfort, weight, durability, functionality, and style.

Though this may not always be the case, the most efficient plan for holiday footwear is typically three pairs of shoes/sandals/boots.

More than three can become a nightmare when packing. Less than three may leave you with inappropriate footwear for the situations you will encounter on your holiday trip.

Make sure your footwear has been broken in before your trip. You do not want to suffer from blisters or other foot issues simply because you are wearing shoes that are still stiff.

If your footwear is worn or not of high quality, get something that is. Remember that high quality shoes will help you avoid foot issues.

The key is – think ahead when considering things to bring on vacation. Be sensible. Plan out what you will be doing when choosing the best footwear that will give your feet the support and comfort needed. In doing so, you will have a fantastic holiday vacation and you will arrive home with healthy feet. If you have any questions or tips of your own on choosing the best footwear to bring on vacation, please leave a comment below.

Posted in Things to bring on vacation, Top Tips For Holidays, Top travel advice and tagged , , , .


Allyn set up website to help others suffering with painful feet. This was after he struggled with plantar fasciitis foot pain while on vacation at Disney World in Florida. He currently lives in Texas, USA.


  1. I’m really curious as to what you would recommend for spending the day at the beach. That’s what i’m always thinking before I go on vacation. For other situations, I’m too picky about what kind of footwear I use. I agree that at certain time you need to be a little fashion conscious.

    I have heard that Crocs are comfortable but they do look a little like a fashion mistake. I don’t think people usually look good in them. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    Your information about cultural expectations was a real eye opener. I had no idea that in Spain, tennis shoes would not be acceptable. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi John,

      For me personally I would where some sort of sandals for a day at the beach. Crocs are suggested in the article because not only do they make good beach shoes but they are plastic so it’s OK to get them wet.

      The article was written as a guest blog by Allyn who is from the USA and I don’t think he was saying that tennis shoes are not acceptable at all in Spain and Italy, he was just pointing out that sometimes they would make the wearer stand out in certain social situations.



  2. You offered some great tips here. Never thought about which types of shoes to bring on vacation but like you said you never know what activities that you may be participating in. For that reason it is wise to bring a few pair that you can do certain activities with. I actually own a pair of Crocs, Some of my friends actually made fun of me for wearing them but what they don’t understand is that they are very comfortable and they help with my back a lot. So looks can be deceiving they also make for some great shower shoes too.

    • Hi Brandon,

      I agree with you about Crocs, they make great shoes just for knocking around in when you are holiday and it doesn’t matter if they get wet. I’ve even been in the sea in them when the beach has stones that are too sharp to walk on in bare feet.



  3. These are some good points, nobody really thinks about these things, well at least I don’t.
    When I’ve went on vacation I would just bring a bunch of my flip flops. Even after getting blisters I never considered comfort over fashion haha. After reading this, I’ll consider what’s best for me next time.

    • Hi Gina,

      Yes flip flops are practical for the beach but not great if you need to walk far. Proper strap on sandals with a grippy sole are better as they can be worn all day and you can walk miles in them.



  4. So many times I have gone on vacation wearing tennis shoes. I always bring a pair of sandals but often forget to bring a pair of dress shoes for a dinner out and end up wearing my sandals or buying a new pair while I’m away. So this is a really good resource for the next time I go away. Thanks for the great tips.

    • Hi Wendy,

      I’m glad you liked the tips. As well as tennis shoes and sandals I usually take one pair of proper shoes that double up as dress shoes if necessary. I know everyone is different but some people will struggle to pack only three pairs of shoes as suggested in the article.



  5. Hi there,

    Some great advice and tips! As a women I do tend to over pack, this includes my shoes. I have learnt the hard way that your dressy sandals may not be the best idea for walking in.

    Taking the culture into consideration is something I have never thought about. Thank you for bringing this point up, something very important to consider especially when travelling oversees.

    If you do find yourself with blisters on your first day of vacation. Is there any particular treatment you would recommend?


    • Hi Laurine,

      I don’t want to generalise too much but women probably encounter sore feet from walking too far in shoes not meant for walking more than men when travelling. As you say it can be due to those dressy sandals, while guys tend to wear flat shoes. If you do get blisters, treat with some form of antiseptic cream and then cover with a fabric sticking plaster to protect the blister and wear flat shoes until it’s healed. Unfortunately blisters take longer to heal in hot, humid climates, in which case you’ll just have to live without the sandals for a while.



  6. Hi
    Great article on footwear, so often overlooked. I have to agree with your 3 pairs guideline. We go to Sicily often and in Summer, when it’s 35 C, a pair of sandals or Crocs are great for the beach, but if you’re walking in the hills or checking out the islands, the extremely hot sand and pepples get into the sandles and crocs especially, and burn your feet. A couple of years ago, we went to Vulcano and though the path to the top of the volcano is reasonable well maintained, we had to stop constantly to remove the offending articles, and we all had blisters on our feet and between our toes. Now we always bring small boots or basketball sneakers. Sweaty feet can be resolved much more easily than blistered feet.
    All the best


    • Hi Lorcan,
      Great advice and I agree with what you say about Crocs. As a general sandal type shoe for hanging around towns, cities and going to the beach they are fine. But what you say about boots or sneakers makes a lot of sense. Walking shoes would also serve the same purpose. If you are going off-road you need footwear that will protect and support your feet. Off-road being anywhere that has objects that would seriously hurt if you were walking barefoot such as mountain paths, forest walks and volcanos. Not sure which volcano you were visiting but on some this may require special boots with soles resistant to very hot temperatures if you go anywhere near areas with lava or hot rocks.

  7. I think Gravity Defyer shoes are the handpicked inoivtenn by their founders because they are dedicated to bring pain relief footwear, using authentic material in their shoes and sandals to provide complete comfort especially when you’re walking or running on uneven surfaces you don’t need any other shoe if you have Gravity Defyer’s collection. In last 8-9 months I bought 3 casual shoes and a stylish sandal from this brand and so far my complaining of making uncomfortable shoes have discharged because now I’m using these comfortable shoes.

    • Hi Maxsuel,
      Thanks for your suggestion. Gravity Defyer shoes seem to get good reviews from what I read on the internet. The Gravity Defyer company website says they only ship their products to US and Canada but I notice that they are available in other countries via Ebay.


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