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Top Picks for the Most Comfortable Walking Shoes for Travel

In the past, I wrote about some of my best walking shoes for travel, including my trusty Dansko sneakers and sandals, Clark flip flops, and Sperry Topsiders. While those shoes are all great, mine are getting a little worn after walking around Spain, Canada, and countless other places. So I have spent the recent months trying to find the most comfortable walking shoes for travel.

I did some SERIOUS searching — from combing the malls, outlets and shoe discount stores like DSW, to outdoor specialists like REI and LL Bean, to scrolling through page after page on Zappos and other websites — and this is what we came up with. They have all been tested and wear comfortably with no rubbing or discomfort. 

Shoes on tile in Lisbon

Most Comfortable Walking Shoes for Travel

But first let’s talk a moment about shoe strategy. One thing about comfortable walking shoes for vacation is that they are heavy and weigh down the luggage. And the more shoes you need, the closer to your 50 lb. max you’ll come. So here is what I keep in mind while packing:

  • Wear my heaviest shoes on the plane
  • Coordinate my evening outfits so that I only need one or at most two pairs of fairly comfortable sandals (this may vary depending on the type of vacation like a cruise vs. a trek around Europe)
  • Include one pair of closed-toe shoes if we’ll be doing any hiking or walks through ancient ruins
  • Buy shoes in neutral colors — this is easy for me since I always gravitate toward those colors anyway

Just remember that everyone is different. My recommendations below work great for our feet, but we all tried on dozens of others shoes to find the ones that really were the best fit for us. I’ve compromised in the past on shoes that were almost right (they were comfortable but didn’t come in half sizes so that arch support didn’t hit in quite the right spot) and this time I really wanted to get it right. Hopefully these suggestions are a good starting point in your search for comfortable walking shoes.

Comfortable Walking Shoes for Women

Note: This post contains affiliate links, if you make a purchase I may earn a small commission. I received a complimentary pair of Wiivv sandals for purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

Wiivv Custom Sandals

Wiivv custom sandals

I have fairly flat feet so if I wear a pair of shoes without adequate arch support, my feet and back will hurt after a while. Yet sometimes finding a pair with the arch in the right spot and height for my foot is challenging. Wiivv offers custom-design sandals to solve this problem! With their innovative software, you just take a few pictures of your feet using the Wiivv app and shortly a pair of custom-designed sandals is on your doorstep. You can customize the strap color and the arch color, but the real magic is in the insole. Each sandal is fitted with a custom insole made exactly for your foot (it even has your name on it!) When mine first arrived, they were a little stiff and squeaky, but wearing them around the house broken them in and now I love the comfort and support.

Ariat Waterproof Riding Boots

Waterproof Ariat riding boots

Last year when I was headed to Ireland, I decided to invest in a good pair of waterproof boots. I didn’t really want to walk around in rainboots all day, since those tend to not give my feet a lot of support. But I also knew that my leather fashion boots weren’t going to cut it. Instead, I found this great pair of Ariat waterproof riding boots that looked stylish and kept my feet warm and dry. I ended up wearing these the whole time I was in Ireland and London, and they were my go to all winter at home as well. They were expensive but worth the investment, especially if you get get a Zappos sale.

Merrell Hiking Boots

Boarding Skagway train

I initially bought my Merrell waterproof hiking boots for our trip to Iceland and I’ve since worn them back to Iceland, all over various National Parks, and on our recent trip to Alaska. They are very comfortable, even after our strenuous four-hour hike in Alaska. And there have been so many times that I’ve been happy for the mid-height ankle support and waterproofing.

Tieks Foldable Flats

Tamara in Lisbon

After years of hearing bloggers rave about Tieks foldable ballet flats, I finally broke down and splurged on two pairs. There are so many colors to choose from it is hard to decide on just one! I really do find them comfortable and spent full days wandering around Lisbon in them. Plus, I can’t get over how convenient it is to fold them up and put them in my carry on. It makes traveling light SO much easier!

 Abeo Huntington Sandals 

These are not sexy but they are oh so comfortable. And seriously, can’t you see me climbing around the ruins of Pompeii or hiking the Trail of the Gods in these? I love the arch support (in just the right place, finally!) but I also like that they are ultra-adjustable with velcro adjustments across the toe, around the heel, and across the ankle. One tip our sales person told me was to start adjusting at the toe and work your way back, and then readjust as necessary and only loosen one strap to take them on and off during the day.

Comfortable Walking Shoes for Kids

Birkenstock Rio Sandals - Comfortable Walking Shoes for Kids

Birkenstock Rio Sandals

The most frustrating part of my search was finding comfortable walking shoes for kids. I understand not wanting to spend a lot on kid’s shoes when their feet might grow at any second. BUT…how can we expect their tired little legs to keep up with us if they are wearing crappy shoes? It is REALLY hard to find good quality, supportive comfortable walking shoes for kids. We’ve always had good luck for trips, camp and school with Keens but this year, my daughter’s feet are narrower than usual and she just floats in most of the shoes designed for walking, leading to rubbing and discomfort. I looked through 864 pairs of sandals on Zappos to try to find something for her recently and the only brand of walking shoes for kids that seem to come in narrow (that I could find) are Birkenstocks.

Birkenstock Rio sandals – these come in narrow-medium width and are adjustable across the toes and around the ankle for a good fit. In addition to arch support, the footbed molds to the shape of the foot. We opted for neutral, but they do also come in some fun colors for kids.

Merrell sandals for kids - Comfortable Walking Shoes for Kids

Merrell Sandals

Merrell sandals – the next quest was a decent looking sandal to go out to dinner in sundresses and skirts, but still be comfortable enough for taking pre- and post-dinner strolls, especially since on vacation we are mostly walking to dinner versus driving or taking a cab (and thinking about those 90 steps to climb in Positano!) After searching around all the usual suspects (Stride Rite, Marshall’s, Target, Zappos, Nordstrom, etc), I eventually found these off-white sandals at the Merrell outlet that adjust in the front and back to help with those narrow feet. They are fairly casual but still look better than the Birkenstocks or sneakers for going to dinner, and they even worked at a family wedding recently when I just couldn’t find anything at all that would fit her skinny feet (she wears a size 2 and measures a toddler size 10 in width — and she is 10 years old!)

Comfortable Walking Shoes for Men

My husband tends to wear the same shoes for years, sticking to his trusty Keens, Timberland sandals, running shoes, and loafers when traveling but this year I convinced him to invest in some good casual shoes that give him the support he needs to spend a hot summer day walking around Italy. After trying quite a few options, this is what he settled on.

Olukai Ohana comfortable walking shoes for men

Olukai Ohana Sandals

OluKai ‘Ohana flip flops – many of the flip flops he tried on had a very thick leather thong between the toes that just wasn’t comfortable. These sandals provided the arch support, toe bed and comfortable fit he was looking for.

So these are our top picks. What about you, do you have a favorite walking shoe? How many pairs of shoes do you bring on vacation? Leave me a comment below!

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Top picks for the most comfortable walking shoes for travel including flats, sandals, hiking boots, and waterproof boots. Even options for kids and men (not just women's shoes.) #walkingshoes #shoes #comfortshoes #sandals #hikingboots #waterproofboots #ridingboots #traveltips

Photo credit: The awesome picture of Mt Baker framed by some tired feet is courtesy of Missy Leone via Flickr Creative Commons. 

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3 Comments on “Top Picks for the Most Comfortable Walking Shoes for Travel

  1. I struggled with the same quest. Ultimately, I ended up with an extremely ugly pair of Tevas that are oh so comfortable! I’ve never seen the rios before, I will have to check those out! And pay more attention to my zulily emails apparently 🙂

    THANK YOU!! Although my families foot needs are different than yours, I appreciate the fact that you’ve given me some go-to sources. We all love walking and being active when we travel, and footwear is a huge challenge. A lot of GTK info!

    […] Plan around your shoes. Shoes take up weight and space so whether you are checking baggage and need to keep it under 50 lbs., or you are trying to minimize space in your carry on, you just don’t have the luxury of bringing a ton of shoes. If checking a bag, I try to wear my heaviest shoes on the plane if I think weight will be an issue. Otherwise I try to pick a comfortable pair that works well with multiple outfits — definitely don’t choose a pair that you will only wear once! (Here are my suggestions for comfortable walking shoes for vacation.) […]

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