The 15 best shoes for travel
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What you wear on your feet can be one of the biggest forms of self-expression — but when it comes to travel, you want to make sure your shoes are just as comfortable as they are stylish for the journey ahead.
After all, you don’t want to start off your trip on the wrong foot.
There are a few criteria for choosing the perfect shoes for your travels. Ease of removal is a top priority, whether you’re slipping out of your shoes to luxuriate in a first-class suite for the evening, or reluctantly pulling them off at a security checkpoint because you don’t have TSA PreCheck. Comfort also ranks very highly on the list, of course. After all, the shoes you pack are only useful if you actually wear them. And versatility is key as well: A good pair of travel-friendly shoes should be suitable for whatever the day may bring, whether you’re going straight from the airport to a business meeting or transitioning from sightseeing to a formal dinner.
That’s why we asked members of the TPG team to weigh in on their favorite, can’t-live-without-them travel shoes.
Sneakers outside of the gym aren’t for everyone. TPG’s site engineer, Patrick Pahl, wears a timeless pair of Vans whenever he travels. The gum sole and black canvas of the Vans Authentic Core Classics transition well from the plane to a casual business meeting and out to drinks.
“I just got these and love them so far,” TPG points and miles editor Nick Ewen said about his new TOMS canvas sneakers. Best of all, with every purchase you make from TOMS, you can give back to a cause of your choosing.
Credit cards editor Benét Wilson recently discovered a new favorite: slip-on sneakers from SODA. “They come in 52 colors! I have black [crocodile], and they are really comfy. They’ve replaced my old stand-by, Chuck Taylors.”
Many TPG editors have taken to traveling in slip-on sneakers by Vince. With high-end materials including suede, textured leathers and tweed, they easily go from day to night, from the hotel bar to the airport lounge and from a business meeting to dinner. “Best of all,” said travel editor Melanie Lieberman, “you can buy them at Saks Fifth Avenue and use your $50 statement credit, plus complimentary two-day ShopRunner shipping, when you pay with The Platinum Card® from American Express.”
Best of all, because that $50 credit comes around twice a year, you have no excuse not to try different textiles and colors.
Casual shoes work great for personal travel, but sometimes, you have to go straight from the jet bridge to a board meeting or to meet with a client.
For trips like those, TPG’s executive editorial director, Scott Mayerowitz, opts for brown leather driving shoes, like those by To Boot New York, on the plane. “I love to fly in these,” he said. Find them at Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and other high-end department stores.
Personally, I prefer leather flats with a pointed toe for business travel, such as Nine West’s Saige ballet flat. The d’Orsay detail provides enough polish for unexpected formal meetings, while the shoe is flat and comfortable: ideal for running through terminals and rushing to catch trains on time.
Today’s slip-on footwear goes far beyond flip-flops you’ve grown accustomed to at beaches, pools and other casual settings.
A number of TPG staffers favor athletic-style slides for those mid-flight bathroom runs. The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, likes to pack a pair of adidas Adilette CF+ in his carry-on bag. “The slides are easy to slip on versus waking up in a haze and trying to find your shoes and tie them,” he said.
Walker favors the Nike brand equivalent for comfy, lightweight germ protection.
Travelers should also consider a well-made and durable pair of leather mules that work as well for meandering through Milan as they do for keeping you from touching the horrors that are airplane bathroom floors. (I’m a huge fan of the Robin slide by Frye.)
If I’m going for extra-casual (or extremely lightweight), I pack a pair of skinny-strap sandals — such as the very-affordable Sahale sandal by Aldo. They really come in handy in hot, humid climates. While they feel almost as carefree as flip-flops, the heel strap adds extra support. Bonus: You can press them completely flat in a suitcase, backpack or even small purse without damaging them at all.
And JT Genter, TPG’s senior points and miles writer who has spent the past 27 months roaming the world as a full-time digital nomad, said he only owns two pairs of shoes at this time. “The Teva Arrowood Riva are my everyday go-to, and a pair of Chacos sandals for the beach.” For the latter, you can count on zero-slip outsoles, completely adjustable straps and footbeds even your podiatrist would love.
How should you buy your shoes?
At the end of the day, our taste in shoes is as varied as our travel plans. But one thing all TPG staffers will agree upon is the importance of utilizing a cash back shopping portal to maximize your points and miles earnings on every purchase. It’s also a good idea to check for special offers on your credit cards that can help you save when you shop — including the aforementioned annual Saks Fifth Avenue statement credit for card holders of The Platinum® Card from American Express.
You may also be able to get free, two-day shipping from hundreds of retailers, depending on what credit card you have.
Looking for footwear for little flyers? Check out our guide to best travel shoes for kids.
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