Travelin’ Shoes

We learned the hard way on our last travel adventure that shoes were the most important part of our wardrobe, and that cheap shoes, for the amount of walking we did, were just not worth it. My Skecher slip-ons that I started out with gave out (fell apart, actually) in less than a year and not only became extremely uncomfortable but were damaging to my feet as well. Although we’re not going anywhere for a while, and the rest of our wardrobes are fine, we’re now starting to think about acquiring necessary shoes for our next set of travels.

Shoes are, for both of us, the hardest part of our travel wardrobes to find. I have difficult feet to fit: they are wide and I have very high arches. I also have very little padding left on the bottoms of my feet so the soles the any shoes I wear need to be thick and well-cushioned. Both of us prefer shoes for daily wear that slip on and off, if possible, because of the time we spend in Japan, where shoes are removed every time you enter a home. Brett needs ankle support, and also has a big foot. What we need and want is not an easy combination to find, and shoes that do fit the bill are often either very, very expensive or ugly beyond reason.

There are also no shoe stores on Kaua’i other than the small shoe department at Macy’s and they definitely don’t have what we need. We’ve found our best option is to order shoes from Zappos, try them out, and return (free shipping both ways) if the fit is not good. While we’re here we only need sandals and walking shoes, so purchasing other pairs of shoes can feel like a huge, unnecessary luxury at times. For now we’re researching and learning about brands that could work for us, and looking to see if what they offer styles that we like. I recently bought a pair of highly-rated (and expensive) Vionic slip-on sneakers but they were a bust: the right shoe was uncomfortably tight and the left shoe slipped off my heel with every step. My right foot is only slightly bigger than my left, but the fit on these shoes was ridiculous, and I now know it’s a brand I can write off.

My current shoe wardrobe.

I like all the travel shoes I have right now: navy blue suede boots, red slip ons, and gray slip ons. I also have walking sneakers and the silver sandals that I wear all the time here. Five pairs of shoes seems like plenty, but I want to add a pair a black or navy blue slip-on sneakers with arch support and a thick sole, but haven’t had any luck so far finding anything. I think I might also be willing to tote around a pair of black ankle boots, but that is not too likely to happen. Brett needs to replace the Red Wing boots he took along last time. He needs the ankle support boots provide, but the RWs were very heavy, and he had to wear them on every flight because of their weight which meant taking them off and on every time to go through security. He plans to invest in some lighter weight boots for this next round of travel as well as a pair of slip-on sneakers.

Vans are an option: they fit wide feet, have a cushioned sole, and are the style of slip-on I want. They don’t have a lot of arch support though.

Both of us are willing to spend $$$ to get proper fitting, attractive shoes but so far our searches have been coming up empty. We don’t want to be spending hundreds right before we travel though; we’d rather gradually fit an occasional pair of shoes into our budget now and again. We’ve got a year and a half to go, but other than beefing up our savings having the right shoes is probably the number one item on our list of things we need to accomplish.

31 thoughts on “Travelin’ Shoes

  1. I have a pair of Merrill hiking boots, I have problem feet, the opposite of you. From the moment I put them on, they fit like a glove. I hiked in Ireland which included all through Dublin on a walking tour. They are reasonably priced as well.

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    1. Brett is seriously looking at Merrill hiking boots for this next go-round. We’ve both heard nothing but good things about them, and we’re happy to get another positive vote!

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  2. I have a pair of Keen hiking sandals that have been with me through Bali and Puerto Rico. They are blue and yellow or I’d wear them for everyday sandals because they are so comfortable.

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    1. I second KEEN, though I have been buying for 20 years and have multiple pairs……I will say I think the quality has gone down a bit. Lots on Zappos of this brand.

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      1. Good to get another vote for Keens – they are officially on the list of shoes to try. The girls used to wear them when they were little – they wore like iron but kept their little toes safe.

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    2. Keens would be a good choice for me because of the wide toe bed. I will check them out. I love my Mephisto sandals for walking though, but Keens would be a nice change of pace.

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  3. I have a pair of custom orthotics that I slip into different shoes that I wear. The orthotics are expensive but a solution for me.

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    1. I have never tried orthotics, but I think I’m getting close. When I had my bunions removed in 2013 the doctor told me I would probably want orthotics some day, mostly for the lack of padding on the soles of my feet, so maybe it’s time to start thinking about these. I would have to go to Honolulu to get them though – no such thing on Kaua’i.

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  4. I would give LLBean a try for comfort, durability, and good quality for the price. Another affordable brand that I recommend for comfort is Easy Spirit. An expensive but excellent brand for me has been Arche(French) but it may be too narrow for you. It’s going to be a process, but with patience, you’ll find something good for both of you. Nordstrom has a good selection, if you have one close by, you could order online and return it to the store if need it, so you don’t have to pay return shipping. Good luck in your search!

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  5. I have the same problem finding shoes, wide feet from wearing rubber slippers all my life and not liking my feet confined in shoes. One brand of ankle boots that has worked for me and comfortable from day one, Blondo. You may want to wait so your shoes don’t get moldy in Lawai. Please let me know if you find a great pair of slip on tennis/walking shoes, I’d love a pair. Good luck.

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    1. Yeah, wearing slippahs most of the time has done a number on my feet as well. I have never heard of Blondo so I appreciate the suggestion and will check them out.

      Brett’s Red Wing boots molded this year – just the excuse he needed to toss them LOL.

      I’m still looking for the slip on sneakers. I saw some I liked by Taos Footwear, but not entirely sure if they’re slip-ons or whether you actually have to tie the laces. They’re cute though.

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  6. If you are looking for good shoes to walk in I recommend Brooks running shoes. They have different width fittings and the Ghost 13 Brooks are good for high arches. Their website has a tool to work through the best shoe for your foot. Hope this helps.

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    1. I have never tried Brooks, but like what you say about their website and finding the best shoe style for my feet (which are frankly impossible). The Hoka runners I bought earlier this year have proven to be very comfortable, but I would love to have some better arch support. Our middle daughter wore Brooks all during high school for track and cross country – she swore by them but I honestly didn’t know they might fit my wide feet.

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  7. Shoes are one of those things that’s worth spending extra money on! I have ankle problems and plantar fasciitis, and Birkenstocks have been a total game changer for me!

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    1. I love Birkenstocks! However, I have found that Mephisto sandals work better for my feet – same footbed but better arch support. They’re way more expensive though.Birkenstocks have a big piece of my heart and I wouldn’t mind owning another pair.

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  8. I have a pair of Rockports for travel which have lasted years, are gortex and also look a bit smarter than runners and a pair of Teva sandals which are great. Not cheap brands but worth it. Echo shoes are super comfortable when I’ve tried them on but I’ve never owned any as they are in an even higher price range.

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    1. Best of pair of walking shoes I ever owned was a pair of Rockport fisherman sandals I got back in the mid 1990s. I honestly wore them out, and they’ve sadly never offered them again. I should definitely look at the brand again. Tevas are great too IF I can find them in a wide size. Thanks for the tip about Echo shoes – I will check them out.

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  9. I aways take too many shoes when we travel. I want pairs for walking but also pairs to look stylish with fancy clothes. Shoes weigh so much, I really should be more discerning.

    Once our lockdown ends, I think I will buy a pair of Merrill’s for all our bushwalks. Found an clearance outlet in Sydney. Will help keep my joggers clean for the gym.

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    1. One of the things I looked at closely when I bought shoes for our travels was their weight, and being lightweight was a key factor. Brett of course bought heavy boots and then paid the price of always having to wear them every time we flew somewhere.

      I felt with five pairs of shoes I had enough, but I always wanted more. I’ve never been a “shoe person” but they were the first thing I got tired of when we were on the road.

      My walking shoes are a mess – the red dirt here on Kaua’i got into them quickly and once that happens there’s no getting it out. But darker hiking boots would be overkill for the walking we do.

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  10. I have never done custom orthotics, but I buy ready-made inserts a lot because I also have high arches. My personal favorites have been PowerStep insoles – they are around $20 but provide more arch support than anything else I’ve ever found. I’ve often found that I can buy less expensive shoes to make up for the $20, too, since it seems like lately only really expensive shoes come with arch support.

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    1. I have tried inserts before but they didn’t work for me; my husband has used them with success though. I guess it might be time I give them another try. You’re right about it being only expensive shoes coming with arch support – that’s been my experience as well. I have found them to be worth the cost though as they also seem built to last.

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  11. I have a pair of Ecco Soft 7 slip on sneakers that I like enough to have gotten another color. Ecco has been a good shoe for me in general, and I slip my own orthotics into them most days. My hiking boots are Keens and they’re light and super supportive of my feet and ankles. Good luck! Shoes are the most important thing for me when I’m doing any activities. My feet have gotten worse with age, and I just can’t go long on painful feet.

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    1. I have had Ecco shoes in the past and liked them, so I appreciate the reminder. I now have several good ideas of brands to try, and may give orthotics another try as well, although I will have to go off island to get them. My feet have gotten worse as well as I get older, and right now they are taking a beating from all the walking we do. I’m grateful for the surgery I had done in 2013 – I doubt I would have been able to do as much during our travels or walk as much as I do now if not for having that done.

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  12. I have a shoe fetish owning too many wearing only a few the most. Love my Birkenstock’s but one surprising brand has been Ryka with a very supportive instep and they may have wides. I got a couple of pairs I think from QVC.

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  13. I have learned a lot about my particular foot condition (hallux rigidus) by reading a blog written by a female podiatrist in Arizona who takes the time to write about particular shoe models, not just brands, for different conditions: https://podiatryshoereview.blogspot.com/. I highly recommend that you check it out. Also, a shoe that I discovered in a store specializing in foot problems is the Wolky Jewel. It has often been called the best walking shoe, and no matter what else is going on in my shoe wardrobe, I have a pair of those to rely on when pain takes over. They are now easily found on Zappo, Amazon, etc. I had a pair of custom orthotics but find that with the Jewel, I don’t need it.

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