The first thing I think when I prepare for a trip is: “What should I pack?”

I have become significantly better at packing since my Europe trip, and when I take my suitcase with me (which isn’t especially large), I usually only fill about half or two-thirds of it.

But hey, that leaves more space for souvenirs.

One of the things many of my friends have trouble with is choosing which shoes to bring. They tend to bring either one pair or twenty, and it seems like there is no in-between. I personally am not much of a shoe person. I wear about two pairs consistently, and I rarely branch out. I’m a plain sneakers type of girl, and I prefer something cheap and simple.

However, I will say that cheap, flimsy shoes are not the best option when traveling.

Wherever you plan to go, you will probably end up walking a lot. After spending money on lodging, food, transportation to your destination, and activities, it may seem a bit excessive to spend tons of money on transit. A good way to avoid high transportation costs is simply to choose one area each day and spend the entire day there, but even then, you will be doing a lot of walking.

When my friend and I were in London, we walked all over the city. In one day, we literally crossed half the city on foot. We probably walked about 15 miles, and I was so thankful that day to have chosen a functional pair of shoes over cute ones. Even though we walked for hours, my feet did not hurt. I was perfectly fine, and in the two weeks that we were in Europe, I never had foot pain.

So here is the main tip of this post: Choose functionality over aestheticism.

I only packed three pairs of shoes when I was there, and that was all I needed.

The walking shoes were the main shoes I wore the entire time. Whether we were touring the Roman coliseum or crossing Tower Bridge or getting lost in Paris (or Florence or London or Assisi), these shoes were perfect. I chose Keds, and I will continue to bring them on every trip because they are fantastic walking shoes. They were also white and went with all of my outfits.

I had cute sandals for dressier occasions. If we had a nice dinner or if I wanted to look more dressed-up, I wore those. They were simple, inexpensive but not cheaply made, and a bit embellished. I rarely wore them, but it was nice to wear a cute, open-toed shoe every now and then.

I brought cheap flip-flops for use in the shower. Since we stayed in a hostel, we shared our bathrooms with multiple people, which meant many more chances of foot fungus and fun things of that nature. We both wore shoes in the shower in the hostel and in some of our hotels. I highly recommend this for anyone using community showers: save yourself the pain and difficulties of foot fungus and spend $2 on flip-flops.

If I had brought any other shoes, I would have chosen boots because there was an absolute downpour in Rome, and even though we had umbrellas, my friend and I were drenched and our shoes were soaking wet. Rain boots would have been bulkier to pack, but it would have been worth it not to have sopping-wet shoes for the rest of the day.

When you pack for a trip, whether it’s short or long, here are the shoes you should bring:
  • a really good pair of walking shoes in a neutral color (matches any outfit)
  • shower shoes or cheap flip-flops if you will be using a community shower or one that has a higher chance of fungus or mold
  • dressier or cute shoes for nice dinners or occasions
  • (rain)boots

Happy traveling!

More packing tips

More travel tips

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2 thoughts on “What to Pack: Shoes

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