Best Travel Shoes: Tips for Buying the Best Shoes for Travel

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Find the best travel shoes for you and your kids. When traveling, lots of walking is included. It’s important to have one of the best shoes for travel.

You maybe visiting a museum or two. Maybe you are on a walking tour in a new town. Sometimes a pricey pair of hiking boots are exactly what’s needed, but other times, a simple pair of flip-flops are fine.

Regardless of your needs or your budget, choosing the best travel shoes can be as important as picking the right travel luggage.

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Best Travel Shoes: Tips for Buying the Best Shoes for Travel

Best Travel Shoes: Tips for Buying the Best Shoes for Travel

Like a backpack, your shoes often stay on you all day, every day. Traveling often requires a lot of walking, whether you’re in transit or just simply exploring. You need something that’s comfortable to walk around in, but strong enough to go the distance.

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Best Travel Shoes: Recommendations from Traveling Families

On my podcast, I’ve spoken to dozens and dozens of traveling parents and their opinions vary on what the best travel shoes, the best sandals, and the best boots for their family.

Families like the Clarks from episode #4 didn’t invest anything in shoes. Instead, they just bought cheap flea market flip-flops whenever the latest pair gave out. It worked for them not to buy the best travel shoes, and I know many people who do this.

If you plan to stay on a beach all day, it might work. It didn’t work for us, however. Cheap flip-flops rarely have a grip on the bottom. I slipped enough on wet sidewalks that I felt overly anxious wearing them when it rained. And it rains a LOT in Southeast Asia.

Best Travel Shoes: Tips for Buying the Best Shoes for Travel

Other families invest a considerable amount of money to buy the best travel shoes, simply because their travel plans require it.

The Johnson family from episode #22, for example, planned to hike to the base camp of Mount Everest. None should hike on Mount Everest without having the best hiking shoes, right? Some adventures require specialized shoes that are designed for such environments. Other’s don’t.

Everyone’s need is different, but having at least one pair of the best travel shoes may save your feet and legs at the end. Below, I break down some of our best travel shoes recommendations.

Comparison: Best Travel Shoes

ImageBrandNameTypeForCheck Price
KEENVenice H2SandalWomenCheck Price
KEENTarghee IIHiking ShoesWomenCheck Price
KEENAustin ShoeShoesMenCheck Price
KEENNewport H2SandalMenCheck Price
KEENNewport H2SandalKidsCheck Price
ChacoZX/2 YampaSandalWomenCheck Price
ChacoZ/2 Unaweep SandalSandalMenCheck Price
ChacoZX1 EcotreadSandalKidsCheck Price
TevaOlowahu Flip-FlopFlip-FlopWomenCheck Price
TevaOriginal Universal SandalSandalWomenCheck Price
TevaKatavi ThongSandalMenCheck Price
TevaHurricane XLTSandalMenCheck Price
TevaHurricane 3 Kids SportSandalKidsCheck Price
SauconyJazz OriginalSneakerWomenCheck Price
SauconyJazz OriginalSneakerMenCheck Price
SauconyJazz H&LSneakerKidsCheck Price

Keen Shoes & Sandals

First brand of the best travel shoes for your next trip I would recommend is Keen. Sandals made by Keen are one of the most common recommendations I’ve had on the podcast.

Many families consider them the best travel shoes, period, and they are one of the most common items I see on the feet of fellow family travelers over the last few years.

Jason Marshall‘s family wears them. So do the Davis, Hemingway, Watanabe, Suero and Blue families, and probably more. These are just the people who mentioned them by name in the interview.

Keens Advantages

Keens are rugged, easy to put on/slip off, and they pack much smaller than sneakers. With those, Keens are certainly one of the best travel shoes.

Most Keen models covered the front of your toes which prevents hundreds of stubbed and stepped-on toes.

In addition to the covered toes, the straps of Keen sandals are quite close together. Despite giving your feet some air, they still almost look like shoes. When paired with trousers, you can wear socks with them and still look nicely dressed.

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Best Travel Shoes: Tips for Buying the Best Shoes for Travel - Best Travel Shoes, KeenKeens Disadvantages

The downside of the toe cover — at least in my case — is that it can be more difficult to dislodge a small rock or pebble if one finds its way under your foot. With open-toed sandals,  small rocks will fling out with a good shake of the leg. With Keens, it takes longer.

Keens are thicker and meatier than other best sandals for travel. That means it takes them longer to dry out if you’ve walked through a river.

Most Keens I’ve seen have a fairly flat bottom — not much grip. Not a big deal on a sidewalk, but I like something chunky under my soles on the trail and in the river.

Chaco Sandals

Chaco sandals are also super common among traveling families and part of what I’d consider some of the best travel shoes available.

I feel that they hold my foot more securely than the others. They also have less padding, so they dry faster and stink less than other brands. Well, ALL sandals are gonna stink if you don’t leave them in the sun often.

Chacos: Advantages

The strap design of Chaco sandals is minimal and without loose ends, so they look basically the same when other brands begin to show signs of age and wear. Even after years of use, there is no frayed velcro or worn sides and stretched-out elastic.

Despite having a thick bottom sole, Chacos fold down really small due to the nature of the webbing straps and minimal latches. That, I consider, is one of the important thing to have as the best travel sandals.

Chaco’s minimal design mean they dry faster than any other brand of the best sandals for travel. The grips of Chaco sandals are midway from almost flat and super chunky/grippy.

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Chacos: Disadvantages

Out of the three main brands mentioned in this post, Chacos tend to have the least amount of cushioning during long walks.

My feet tire out in Chacos slightly earlier than other brands because (I think) there is less cushioning support. Less cushioning means faster drying/lighter packing, but my old legs feel it after hours on pavement.

Teva Sandals

Teva sandals are good, and often the standard for which other sandals are judged. They have been in the game the longest, and that’s why many people still consider them the best travel shoes around.

Teva: Advantages

Tevas last for a long time, which I think is a good trait to have as the best travel sandals. Keiko wore one pair for over five years. The last two of those years (mid-2013 to mid-2015) she basically wore them every day. Teva was with her in supermarkets, airports, rivers, rainforests and mountain trails.

To say that Keiko is a fan is an understatement. Keiko thinks Teva is the best travel sandals. Unfortunately, she hasn’t found a new Teva design she likes so she’s been wearing a non brand sandals which falls apart pretty quickly.

The velcro straps make them easy to hook onto your pack, a fence or wherever you want them to hang, dry out and get some sun.

In my opinion, Teva has the best tread of any brand. I wore mine on Jungle Treks in Sumatra — twice — and when I’m heading for a hike, these do the job nicely. They do well in water too — we’ve been rafting and wild swimming in them dozens of times (Note: front strap must be tightened more than regular walking mode).

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Teva: Disadvantages

They’re ugly. Sorry, but that’s my opinion. Someone like Keiko who’s not picky at all is still having hard time to find the best sandals for travel kinda confirms my opinion.

Tevas sandals itself last for a long time, however, the velcro can start to fray after a few years, unfortunately. Just like any other velcro, the velcro of Teva sandals also collects stuff over time and it’s a little gross. Besides, it also holds water and sweat more than other brands, so Tevas require more sun and fresh air to prevent the dreaded sandal super-stank.

Best Flip Flops for Travel: Teva

Teva sandals are great — some of the best travel footwear out there — but when it comes to flip flops, I must have my Tevas.

You can buy cheap flip flops nearly anywhere, and this is what most people do. However, if you’re going to wear something like this nearly every day, in nearly any situation, for years (like me) just go ahead and fork out the cash for the best flip flops for travel.

Teva flip-flops are comfortable, rugged and have that great, grippy Teva tread on the bottom. Lots of the travel we do involves walking on wet surfaces. When I wear cheap flip flops, I slip at the worst possible moments. It could be when I am lugging heavy packs, drinking hot coffee, carrying a dozen eggs, or piggybacking our kids.

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Fortunately, Teva sandals don’t slip as easily, and that grip makes me confident even when walking over slimy rocks at a riverside. You can’t swim in them obviously (it’s a flip flops after all), but if I could only wear these for the rest of my life I’d be happy.

One other benefit is that because of that Teva grip, these flip flops are considerably thicker than cheap ones or thin ones. That means your feet are slightly higher above the ground, which can make a difference when you’re walking on wet grass or flooded sidewalks.

Sandals: My Verdict

As you may suspect, I can’t say one pair is the best. You’re winning with any of them. That said, in certain conditions, I might prefer one pair over another.

If you’re traveling mostly on city sidewalks and want something to wear with trousers in a less-than-casual setting, go with Keens. Make sure to bring matching color socks.

If you’re more off-road and planning to wear them in jungles, on trails, and while rafting, Tevas or Chacos are a better choice. The webbing design of Chacos mean they dry faster and smell better, while the velcro design of Teva sandals means that you can hook them onto packs or other places to dry out more easily.

Hiking Boots

Best Travel Shoes: Tips for Buying the Best Shoes for Travel
I owned the same Vasque Sundowner hiking boots for nearly twenty years. They are definitely some of the best hiking shoes if you’re traveling to cold, mountainous places.
I haven’t traveled with shoes that big and cumbersome since 2001. Boots serve their purpose, and many destinations, climates or activities require the best travel boots with that kind of heft. Not for me.

Best Hiking Boots for Travel

I lived in Tokyo for over a decade. If you live in a culture where you never wear shoes in the house, then you quickly gravitate to footwear that slips on or laces up quickly.

For the most part, I’ve only traveled in tropical climates since my late 20’s. I’ve hiked a volcano in sneakers. I’ve trekked through the rainforest in Tevas.

If you need the best boots for travel, just remember that they’re huge, heavy and hard to pack. Make sure you stuff them with socks and underwear to save space.

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Anthony Watanabe wore Merrill boots because they were going to Nepal. The Johnsons needed boots because they were going to Everest base camp.

Judge your own needs before carrying these. They take up a lot of space and add considerable weight to your check-in luggage.

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Best Slip-on Boot to Travel

If you want something more substantial than a sneaker but don’t need the specialized nature of Salomon or Vasque, then I suggest Blundstones. Many people consider these to be some of the best travel shoes ever.

This slip-on work boot comes from Australia and is incredibly versatile. You can wear them in the woods, but you can also clean them off and wear them to a nice restaurant. The little pull tabs on top of the shoe make them easy to put on while standing up — even with a pack on. They’re comfortable, they’re rugged and they last for a long time.

Best Travel ShoesMany people recommend Clark desert boots, and they’re great, but the lace-up part turns me off. Instead, I recommend going for a slip-on boot for travel. Timberland makes their own versions as well. I’ve owned these, too, and they were great. In fact, they’re still sitting in a box in Japan for whenever we return for a winter visit. They’re not with me now simply because they take up more room.

Best Sneakers for Travel


I don’t have any specific heartfelt recommendations here because I think just about anything works here and your personal style comes into play.

Sure, there are pros and cons here and there for this particular brand or that particular model, but the best travel shoes for you depend mostly on where you’re going, how long you’re going for and what your personal taste is.

That said, here are a few tips for the best travel sneakers.Best Shoes for Travel

Wear them for at least a week before you leave: better to know how they feel and break them in a bit before you hit the road.

Consider the socks: a nice pair of sweat-wicking socks in hot climates or a warm pair of smart wool socks in cold places can make the difference.

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Buy some insoles: if you know you’ll be walking a lot, consider some good insoles to make the walk more comfortable.

Go with darker colors: White sneakers look like crap pretty quickly. Buy something that can bear a stain or two of mud, wine, or raspberry gelato.

Avoid expensive, specialized shoes for your kids: Your feet have stopped growing. Theirs haven’t. Kids wear out/grow out of shoes so quickly that I honestly think it’s a waste of money buying fancy sneakers for kids. They’ll just need a new pair in 4-6 months. Spend half the amount on sneakers and then use what’s left over to go to a fancy meal of their choice.

For the record, I usually wear Saucony running shoes simply because I have relatively long, narrow feet and like the way Saucony feels on me. To be honest, however, I have no specific brand loyalty here, although I know people who swear by one brand or another. Anthony Watanabe from episode #2 uses Keen running shoes.

Børn for More Formal Occasions

For the first two years of full-time travel, we never carried shoes that you could wear in a decent restaurant. We were all about the heat and the street, and sandals or sneakers were all that was required.

Then we moved to Valencia, Spain, a sophisticated European city, and so I wanted to be ready to enter an establishment that may frown on my toes hanging out. For this, I brought along my Børn shoes. Hovering in that gray area between stylish and sporty, I’ve been wearing Børn shoes for 15 years.Best Travel Shoes

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Why Børn?

They look sharp, last for many years and are made for walking.

Living in Tokyo, you’re constantly walking on sidewalks and climbing up and down stairs to the subway. In 15 years, I’ve only had two pairs of Børn shoes.

The only reason I got the second pair was because I wore the tread off of the first pair. That second pair came out of storage in Osaka in 2015 when we moved to Spain. I honestly thought about just re-treading them, but succumbed to the appeal of trying a new style. Great shoes. Highly recommended.

SocksBest Travel Shoes

We basically carry only two types of socks — winter and summer. Winter socks are usually Smartwool, because they’re warm, rugged and quick-drying. As for summer socks, I have no particular loyalty. You can buy some nice socks for travel that wick the sweat and stave off odors.

As for me, I have only so much money in my travel budget, and these cheap Uniqlo ankle socks have lasted for years.

Best Travel Shoes: Tips for Buying the Best Shoes for Travel

What are YOUR Best Travel Shoes?

Everyone has different taste and their own preferences. We’d love to hear yours. Tell us your preferences in the comments, or contact me directly.

Best Travel Shoes: Tips for Buying the Best Shoes for Travel

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel.

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