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What are the best travel shoes? TPG staff share their must-haves

Dec. 18, 2021
6 min read
What are the best travel shoes? TPG staff share their must-haves
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As we get back into the swing of travel after more than a year and a half of being grounded, you might be thinking about upgrading your travel gear before your next flight. I just bought the Away soft-sided bigger carry-on, a set of YZAOLL compression packing cubes because I hate to check a bag, and some TSA-friendly toiletry bottles.

After an extended time not worrying about shoes, I also felt I should buy new ones now that I’m taking to the skies again. You need shoes that will get you through airport security quickly, be comfortable on a plane and be versatile at your final destination. But which ones?

I asked my TPG colleagues to share their picks for best travel shoes.

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Senior travel editor Melanie Lieberman shows off her Allbirds. (Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

Allbirds shoes, by far, are the most popular pick among TPG staffers. TPG credit cards reporter Stella Shon loves the running sneakers version of Allbirds so they can double as fitness shoes if she goes on hikes while traveling. “The normal Allbirds are not good for any physical activity,” she reported.

Credit cards editor Juan Ruiz just bought his fourth pair of AllBirds, which shows how much he loves them. And senior travel editor Melanie Lieberman says the shoes are comfy and cute — plus she likes that you can easily swap out insoles and throw them in the washing machine.

Senior reporter Zach Griff is another Allbirds fan. “They may not be a show-stopper, but Allbirds are my favorite, go-to travel shoe. More than anything, they’re comfortable and provide a good amount of support while on the go and trekking through airport terminals and hotel lobbies,” he said. “They come in many different colors and styles — and they double as a comfortable shoe for many exercise activities, too.”

Senior writer Andrew Kunesh says he wears a pair of knockoffs — Jsport by Jambu — that he got at woot.com for the bargain price of $9.99 (for both men and women). He maintained the quality of his shoe is indistinguishable from Allbirds, which start at $95 a pair. This was enough to convince me to buy my own pair, since I’m always looking for bargains, and these are definitely in my travel shoe rotation now.

(Photo by Benet J. Wilson/The Points Guy)

However, I have a new personal go-to shoe: The Kizik women’s Athens athletic shoe in cobalt blue, for $119. These shoes are unique since you can easily slip your feet in and out of them hands-free, so those of you who don’t have TSA Precheck can easily remove and put them back on in a security line. Not only are these shoes extremely comfortable thanks to their Rabbit Foam outsoles, but the insoles are washable. Depending on the style you buy, you could wear them with different styles of clothing, which is a great option for those like me who only pack items that can do double or triple duty.

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The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, is a big fan of Nike for his travel shoes, noting that “travel is a sport.” He added that no one else but Nike makes shoes for his size 15 feet. Senior writer Victoria Walker is another Nike fan, keeping it simple with a pair of classic slides. But product manager Alessondra Parra swears by her No Bull running shoes — at $159 a pair — because they can be slipped on and off and they have a Boost sole that’s very comfortable.

Senior aviation business reporter David Slotnick thought Allbirds were the best but said he still hasn’t found the perfect travel shoe. So like Brian, he depends on a rotating set of Nikes because they have a good fit, good style, good support and typically you can leave them on at security.

Katie Genter wearing her Merrell Moab hiking shoes at the Hyatt Andaz Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

I take senior writer Katie Genter’s recommendation seriously since she’s been a global digital nomad for more than four years. If she’s on a hiking trip, she’ll wear Merrell Moab hiking shoes — a sneaker/hiking boot crossover — on the plane and for most of the trip. They’re really comfortable and look enough like sneakers to avoid having to remove them for security.

If no hiking is involved, she wears running shoes, since she likes to work out while on the road and can’t carry a lot of different shoes when she’s away for months at a time. There’s no particular brand she’s loyal to, so she said she just compares prices for New Balance, Asics and similar brands when she needs new shoes. Finally, she almost always packs Chacos to use in rivers, oceans or anytime her feet get wet (including in common bathrooms at hostels or guesthouses).

The Rothy’s driving loafer. (Screenshot courtesy of Rothy’s)

Writer Caroline Tanner and associate video producer Marc Ramos both give a big thumbs up to Birkenstocks — and both admitted publicly that they wear them with socks. TPG senior director Mitchell Stoutin felt the need for some post-pandemic retail therapy for his upcoming trips, shelling out $185 for a pair of Rothy’s driving loafers (yes! Rothy’s now makes shoes for men) and a pair of On Running Cloud Waterproof running shoes for $149.99.

Associate social media producer Mimi Wright swears by her Vans, calling them “comfy and cute.” Writer Ashley Kosciolek is a fan of Toms because they’re easy to take on and off at airport security, sturdy enough to wear to walk around in most places and they don’t take up a ton of room in luggage. “Plus they’re super easy to toss in the wash when I get home,” she added. You have to love a company that commits a third of its profits to grassroots organizations — plus Toms has dozens of styles available for under $40.

Bottom line

When it comes to travel, comfort and ease of use are paramount. When it comes to the best travel shoes, the TPG staff has plenty of ideas — in a wide range of price points — for a pair that will have you ready to go on your next trip.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023