When traveling abroad, one of the biggest considerations, like anywhere inside the United States, is where you might end up. If you’re traveling in Southern states or the Pacific Northwest, it’s highly advisable to pack at the very least a rain jacket or umbrella, for example. The same holds true for making the proper shoe selection when traveling abroad.
Proper Shoe Selection Is Critical
Many an unprepared American traveler has ended up in the South of France, not realizing just how hot it can get there, and they planned for Parisian weather. We’ll also discuss fitting into the local scene as much as possible. The last thing you want is to be wearing hiking clothes in London. You’ll be a pickpocket’s first target, and the moment you interact with anyone local, they will instantly spot you as a tourist, likely treating you like one, whether that’s what you want.
Specifically, this article will cover the best shoes for travel. Whether that be the best shoes for walking or the best shoes for hiking, we will help guide you across the spectrum. Proper footwear is often overlooked and can make or break your adventure. Everything from a good, waterproof hiking boot to open-toed lightweight sandals has a place, but where are they the best fit for your trip?
The Right Footwear For the Plane
Most who travel often know this is commonplace, and those who are unaccustomed to Oceanic flights give it little thought. When you’re on a plane for over 10 hours, the best shoes for air travel can be a huge deal. The biggest thing here is planning on your feet swelling. Many people have felt the need to remove their shoes during a flight due to this swelling issue caused by limited blood flow and altitude. Make sure that the shoes you wear to hop on a plane are easily removed to smooth the security process and are comfortable and flexible for the flight.
Different Shoes For City Sidewalks
Right off the bat, most people are surprised by the roads and sidewalks in Western Europe. Being much older than most US cities, cobblestones have become weathered by years of people, horses, and various vehicles traveling on them. Now they are positively slimy in unfavorable weather. Expect that sidewalks are a minefield of trip hazards, and due to their age, locals become used to the high curbs and pitfalls.
Your best bet for cities is a shoe or light boot with some waterproofing or even full waterproofing as long as your feet don’t naturally sweat. The tread should be manageable to avoid drawing too much attention. Usually associated with full-on hiking boots, minimalist shoes are a disaster waiting to happen. Something like a 5.11 CST boot is a great choice to fill these needs. Choose muted or natural colors, grays and blacks are ideal. Standing out and looking like an American when traveling can see you singled out by pickpockets or, worse, who knows, you’re a tourist. Doing your best to fit in is advisable, and footwear is no exception, especially in cities.
Shoe Selection For Rural Areas
You will find relatively consistent climates throughout a good part of Western Europe. A good amount of rain can be common, as can hot, sunny days. These weather swings tend to be more pronounced in urban environments; however, the weather is often more stable in rural areas. What you’ll find regarding footwear is that the grass is often thick, the mud is sticky, and rocks are hidden everywhere. That means a good leather boot can be a huge asset.
They can be absolute lifesavers when adequately treated as water-resistant or preferably waterproof. Farm country is often hillier than one might think, so having something that fits you comfortably with a pair of good wool socks is also highly advisable. The days can be nice, but the mornings especially with fog rolling in, can be surprisingly chilly. You’ll have more freedom regarding the look of your footwear because no matter what, the locals all know you’re a tourist. Most small villages consist of people who rarely leave them, so when you’re sitting down at a local pub wearing Merrells, it won’t matter one way or another.
Costal Locales Require Boots
Some of the best places to visit throughout Europe have fantastic coastal experiences. From the cliffs of Dover and the golfing on the coast of the Scottish Isles to the sun-soaked French Riviera and the towering monolith at Gibraltar, there is a wide range of coastal options. Plan accordingly when it comes to footwear. For places like Dover or Gibraltar, think of those like backpacking in the mountains.
A good boot with ankle support is often the right choice, even if you might look like a tourist. Better looking like a tourist than a badly sprained ankle that will ruin the rest of your trip. On the flip side of that coin is a place like Marseille on the French Riviera with its high fashion and soft, white sand beaches.
Here a simple set of sandals or light shoes and a backup set of sandals is the way to go. They will be adequate for your gorgeous environment and will not draw too much attention. In the case of a place like this, consider white or lighter, natural colors to fit in with the crowd. If you’re in a coastal area, expect to do a lot of walking, so wear something that won’t come apart, or worse, injure, your feet due to the long trips afoot.
Like any other travel choice, proper shoe selection can be the difference maker. Skip the casual athleisure options and take your feet seriously. Showing up with the proper footwear can be both trendy and practical. One pair of shoes won’t cut it. Plan to enjoy your trip in every way!