Suitable shoes for trouble-free travel

When you step out to see the sights you are very likely to do extensive walking.  Sometimes people ignore their footwear and end up hobbling in smart shoes not suited to tramping around.  Even the perfect shoes that you bought for your holiday can be a problem.

How can perfect shoes be a problem?  It once happened to me so it could probably happen to you too.  I bought a new pair of walking shoes prior to a holiday in Southern England with my sister.  The key word is “new”.  I basically took them out of  the box and packed them in my luggage.

The first time that I had worn them in earnest was on a long walk.  Being new they pinched my feet in all the wrong places.  Our travel plans did not take me anywhere that I could get pads or plasters, so after a few days I was hobbling around like an ancient person.  It was unpleasant and the damage I did to my feet lasted for months.

New shoes

Wear in new shoes well before you set out.  In the week after you get them, wear them for an hour a day.  That will be sufficient to find spots that are too tight.  You can have them selectively stretched by an old-style shoemaker.

Obviously it helps if you buy shoes that are approximately the right size to start off with!  Do not buy shoes by shoe-size.  Try them on and get the ones that fit properly, even if the number on them is a number that you think is “not right”, or embarrassing.

If the shoes cause pain during your one-hour session, get them professionally stretched.  Otherwise if only minor stretching is needed you can try wearing thick socks.

If they are leather, dubbin them.  It is initially slightly harder to polish shoes that have been dubbined, but the oils from this very old footwear care technique preserve the leather.  It simultaneously makes the leather more stretchy and waterproofs it.

If you need a bit more toe room, select a suitable potato and force it into the shoe.  Leave in the shoe overnight.

After a week of an hour a day you can try wear them for several hours a day, building up to several hours at a time.  At that stage your shoes are good to go.

Running shoes

Running shoes are for running.  If you like the comfort of running shoes but intend to walk in them, get cross-trainers instead.  This is very important.  The reason is that running shoes have no lateral support.  Cross-trainers have the necessary lateral support.  Many people have been injured by twisting their ankles or knees when wearing running shoes in traversing uneven ground.  It may not be life-threatening but the injuries can be severe enough to have a permanent effect on your mobility.

Killer heels

High heels do not work well for travelling, no matter how at ease you feel in them.  They will complicate escape from an aircraft in an emergency, you are more likely to pitch over on rugged terrain, and the small surface area means that you are much more likely to slip, particularly in damp areas.

Tennis shoes

If you go everywhere in tennis shoes then you will probably be okay.  If you are not one to do a lot of daily walking in tennis shoes then they are probably not best for you because they do not provide any support or any significant cushioning.  The result of this is that your feet will get tired quite quickly.


Sandals are mainly fine for the beach.  While one does indeed get sandals that are very suitable for walking, flip-flops do not fall in this category.  If you are going to walk through loose rocks then you need a closed shoe with a steel toecap, otherwise sturdy walking sandals with a proper sole will work very well.

Sandals with socks

… Deutsche, nicht wahr?

Wellington boots

If you are intending to attend a pop festival like Glastonbury, which is usually muddy and wet, then you should invest in a pair of Wellies, which will keep your feet dry, and help you keep from falling over in the mud.  There are a number of very pretty ones these days, so the old objection of ugliness is not a factor.

Crocs and Uggs

People have been known to walk in these.  However, in most parts of the world wearing Crocs or Uggs is going to set you apart as weird.  And that brings us to our next point…

Fit in

If you are wanting to avoid undue attention when travelling then you want to adopt a reasonable facsimile of the local clothing used in the season that you are there.  If you are wearing bright pink sandals when the locals are all wearing leather boots then you will stick out.  Sticking out is generally not good.

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