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

Dec 18, 2021

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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.

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 Carolyn 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 photo by Erlon Silva – TRI Digital/Getty Images.

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