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Going minimal: no extra shoes?

I wear Merrill Moab hiking shoes on the tour; not stylish, but acceptable for most places and comfortable. I wore one pair and packed a second (older) pair as a backup, but never ended up using the backup pair. It made me wonder: should I just not bring a backup pair of shoes - especially if I am wearing a newer pair that doesn't have any risk of falling apart? The only risk is if I step in a puddle and then have only wet shoes.

So I thought I would check and see if anyone else out there travels without an extra pair of shoes.

Posted by
1486 posts

I never bring extra shoes. I always bring shoes that are versatile -- good for walking around the city or for hikes out in the wilderness.

I will say this strategy failed me in Iceland, where my versatile shoes weren't quite versatile enough for the wilderness.

And one time I wore shoes that I'd previously worn and broken in well, but apparently my feet changed and the shoes were causing blisters. So in Dresden I bought a new pair of shoes and threw away my old ones.

Posted by
9914 posts

I spent a lot of time with this question before this last trip. I wound up with a pair of Bobs flats which I would not be able to walk in for touring distances. I didn't have them out of the suitcase. I'm tempted to just take one pair next time. Mine are usually pretty new - I use Altras - and have never had a failure in years of wearing this brand.

As to them getting wet, take out the insole and see if they will dry. If you have a fan in your room or a towel heater both can be used effectively to help speed drying.

Posted by
1456 posts

I’m currently debating this myself. And I leave next week!! My only reason for brining a 2nd pair is the very wet extended forecast for Switzerland. I thought about some of the suggestions Pam has for drying the shoes. But my thinking is if it’s raining in the morning and I want to have dry shoes for the afternoon, I do not want to sit in the hotel trying to dry them. I’ve decided if they’ll fit in the suitcase, I’ll bring them. If I didn’t have such a hard time finding shoes that fit properly, I’d probably just have the attitude, I can buy a pair there if I need to.

Posted by
287 posts

Only shoes I take on a trip are the ones on my feet. Have never had an issue, never wished I had another pair - I wear dark athletic shoes (Brooks) and they are great for walking and even hiking.

Posted by
943 posts

I travel with two pairs of shoes for the sheer delight of changing in to fresh shoes after a long day. Beware the minimalists. You've got to make your packing decisions based on your needs and experience, not dogma. Maybe you just need a pair of slippers.

Posted by
9914 posts

"I’m currently debating this myself. And I leave next week!!"

Carrie...I was actually still debating until the day before when I made myself zip up the suitcase and place it beside the front door!

Posted by
1236 posts

I always take tennis shoes plus boots or flats depending on the season. Wearing the same pair of shoes for a week or more is pretty gross for me. especially as my feet sweat. I usually pack the smaller shoes in my suitcase and have never had a problem-probably because I pack light.

Posted by
13691 posts

I always pack a 2nd pair of shoes, and have always been happy I had them. It's not as much about one of them falling apart as one pair wearing on different parts of my feet than the other so those different parts get a break.

Posted by
6788 posts

Yes, I only take the pair I have on. No issues. Moabs have worked for me in the past as well.

Posted by
1666 posts

My problem feet like variety. I take two pair of walking shoes and a pair of sandals.

Posted by
4739 posts

I usually being a pair of athletic sandals as my second pair when I am traveling during warm weather.

Posted by
287 posts

I think this is often a guys vs gals issue...I am a guy, and I wear a size 14 shoe - they take up an enormous amount of space in a bag, a big part of the reason I wear my only pair on a trip.

Posted by
79 posts

I take two pairs -- less for fashion, more because walking all day means you need to switch shoes and give your feet a break.

Posted by
646 posts

Only ONE pair and we aren't minimalist packers. We check a bag and have a tote/carryon too. Shoes are just bulky and take up weight and room. If we travel in the Fall - we both wear the WaterProof Keen Targhee III (the reg shoe, not the hightop)- we love them and have never found anything more comfortable. When we go in Dec for the Xmas Markets, my husband wears the same shoe and I wear WaterProof Keen boots.

We are going on a 2 week tour in Sept - Dolomites/Alps/Germany/Austria/Switzerland for the Oberammergau Passion Play and I am 'considering' taking an extra pair for the first time ever - but if I do, I have no idea what type it will be IF I decide to do it.

Posted by
4592 posts

I usually take a second pair of shoes, mainly because I attend a nice concert or opera or similar where I wouldn’t wear my sturdy sandals. My main shoe is the black Keen Rose design sandal. Then for some dinners and nicer events, I pack the lightest/smallest black flat shoes I own. Those aren’t great for walking distances but work for these nearby events.

Posted by
2145 posts

I take my two most comfortable pairs of walking shoes to which I apply a waterproof spray in advance of the trip. I tried buying shoes that were made waterproof, but they never were as comfortable.
Safe travels.

Posted by
1888 posts

In addition to walking shoes or sneakers, I always bring a lightweight pair of slip on Skechers shoes.
They do fine for slower evening walks, going out for dinner, and also as slippers at my accommodation.
I have biggish feet so don’t want to go look for extra shoes while I’m away.
In Spain a few years back I did decide I wanted some lovely boots in Spanish leather.
My feet are only size ten, not that huge, but nowhere could I find a single pair big enough.

Posted by
21301 posts

Back in 2015 (first trip of the century for me) I took a pair of crepe-soled sandals in addition to lace-up walking shoes. The sandals were sort of a last-minute decision; I planned to use the walking shoes most of the time. Unfortunately, I failed to consider the impact of different heel height. Wearing the sandals just once as I walked two miles damaged the cuffs of the slacks I was wearing, because they dragged along the cobblestones enough that I stepped on them. I'd have been fine if I'd been wearing a dress or skirt, but I only travel with slacks.

On my second and subsequent trips I was thrilled to stick with the pair of shoes on my feet. They are not attractive, but they are super-comfortable. I've had no trouble getting them to dry overnight if I get caught in the rain, but I always remove the innersoles.

Posted by
5648 posts

Two pairs, one low-cut hiking shoes, one “dress” pair. I can change for dinner, while the daytime shoes have a chance to air out. And I take very lightweight slippers, that crush up into a tiny ball, for wearing on the plane and in hotel room/rented apartment.

When in France, I’ve often come home with one or two pairs of new Mephisto shoes - bought on sale!

Posted by
214 posts

A pair and a spare. We had rain and snow in Switzerland earlier this week. The low cut waterproof Bogs boots were on my feet for 3 days. My feet appreciated the change into my athletic shoes when we returned to dry conditions in France. My size 6 shoes take up much less room anyway.

Posted by
2280 posts

The vast majority of the time I take one pair of shoes -- Hokas. We don't go anywhere that you can't wear athletic shoes. The only time I bring a second pair is if I need sandals or boots, but that is rare. I've never had a problem with just taking one pair.

Posted by
866 posts

I like to wear sneakers on the plane and trains. But I never wear them when touring as my feet get hot. Next time I will bring 2 walking sandals for a change and if one gets wet, p,us I like the variety of color. I’ll take a lightweight fancier flat sandal for evenings, none are huge or cumbersome, so no biggie.

Posted by
382 posts

I take my trusted Brooks Ghost 13 athletic shoes for all the walking and always take a 2nd pair of something dressier, sandals if it’s warm enough. I also take a pair of inexpensive Old Navy flip flops that weigh nothing and take up basically no space as my feet don’t like going barefoot anymore, so they are worn around the hotel room or to a pool if we happen to be near one.

Posted by
200 posts

I have usually worn one pair of shoes and packed another pair on my trips to Europe. On my last RS tour to Bulgaria, I only brought one pair and regretted it. Our group had to go on our bus to get to a musical performance. As we traveled to that site, it began to rain torrentially. In order to get off of the bus we had to leap over a very wide and deep puddle to get to the sidewalk or had to walk through that huge puddle and get our shoes totally soaked. My shoes wouldn’t dry overnight. I have a weak frequently-sprained ankle so I had to step once into the very deep, wide puddle to avoid risking a sprained ankle and ending up on crutches on tour.

So from now on I will always wear one pair and pack another. My shoe size is large and wide so buying another comfortable pair which fit properly while moving around on tour in Europe would have been difficult to impossible. (Buying a new pair is difficult enough for me in the US.😊) And this tour involved a lot of walking as do most of the RS tours I have gone on. Also I pack flip flops which take very little space and weigh almost nothing. I wear those around my hotel room and also would use if I had access to a pool or beach.

Posted by
6016 posts

I think shoes can be a rabbit hole that can lead you to overpacking, but does not have to be. I have traditionally been a "only the pair on your feet" kind of guy; but I have softened in my old age. I have in the past considered my itinerary, and in most cases a comfortable pair of oxford type walking shoes has sufficed, casual, a little dressy, able to handle lots of walking and even trails. I would throw in sandals or water shoes if beach time is planned. I suppose if my itinerary was somewhat rugged hiking, I would refigure...but that has not been an issue.

However, I do now find that I like to wear a lightweight walking show, like a Sketchers slip on, for the plane and as a break from my oxfords at the end of the day, so now one pair is taking up room in my bag.

Posted by
334 posts

I bought my first pair of Brooks for our France trip. I wore them in the house before our trip and did over 250,000 steps on our trip before I could feel something was wrong with the right insole. I pulled it out to see that it was considerably smaller than the other insole. The discomfort got worse each day. I contacted Brooks customer service hoping for new insoles, but they send me a new pair of shoes! I went to the local store when we got home just to make them aware, and they insisted on finding me a new pair of insoles. Even shoes that seem perfect can end up with issues. I was grateful I had my new hard-soled moccasins to wear the last days of our trip (even hiking up a couple big hills wearing them).

Posted by
1250 posts

I originally brought three pairs of shoes with me - 2 pairs of good walking shoes (O-boz and Ryka) and a pair of Tom's canvas slip-ons for casual wear in the evening. I sent the Ryka shoes home - I liked my O-boz too much and wore them every day for a month. The Rykas weren't supportive enough.

I really liked having the Toms with me - when I got back to the hotel after a long day of walking, I could take off those shoes and then slip on the Tom's to go to dinner or even just walk around for bit. They were also nice to wear in the morning if I ate breakfast at the hotel. And they took up very little space.

Posted by
2927 posts

I have only packed an extra pair of shoes once, on my RS tour. I used them once…only because I packed them, better use them. (This is the same trip I only packed one extra pair of pants and destroyed one of my two pairs the day before the tour…I did have a lovely interaction with Greek ladies as a result though. I digress.) So ordinarily I would say one pair of shoes (and now 3 pairs of slacks, LOL); however, if you are on a formal tour and might not be in places to shop or have time to shop, or you have problematic feet, it might be a good idea to bring a light, well loved, extra pair of shoes. We each have different physical requirements to which we should pay attention and pack accordingly. There is one item that packing lists suggest packing one of, but I pack 3 or 4 because, generally, I could not find this item easily in Europe…IMO. So, you do you! Follow your gut.

Hold harmless, I do pack cheap, thin flip flops for the shower and hotel room, but I don’t consider them shoes as I couldn’t walk in them.

PS, I have never had wet shoes that weren’t dry by morning, but if it is an extremely torrential day, just put an extra pair of socks in your day bag/purse.

Posted by
21852 posts

One pair -- BUT -- changeable innersoles and change each day. I wear an ECCO shoe. By changing the innersole daily it keeps the shoe interior day.

Posted by
93 posts

I need a second pair of shoes. My feet don’t want to be in the same shoes all day and evening. I want to get to the hotel and take off my Merrills but don’t want to be barefooted. If it is warm, I am packing a pair of Keen Rose sandals. Comfortable enough for walking and cool and breezy on my feet.

Posted by
925 posts

I often only bring one pair. When I bring two the second pair is either sandals or light flats to wear just to dinner. I think it really depends on the person if you need to not wear the same pair of shoes every day. I have never had a problem wearing the same pair every day as long as the pair was well broken in and comfortable. The only time it was ever a problem was when I made the mistake of bringing a brand new pair of shoes as my primary shoes. My back up flats got a lot of wear that trip because I did not want to keep putting on those blister causing new shoes!

Posted by
8 posts

My favorite shoes are Allbirds Tree Breezers, which are really low-bulk, pack flat, let me walk happily for hours, and are so comfortable that they also function as slippers for me. However, they let water in like they're sieves, and they're not good for really rough walking.

So in transit, I wear the bulky shoes/boots that are OK for water and rough walking, and I pack one pair of Tree Breezers.

Posted by
1013 posts

My feet enjoy a change. Keen Newport for daily walking and all terrains; Bernie Mev Comfi for walking and situations when I want something a little nicer looking; and a flipflop. This is for summer weather.

Posted by
1851 posts

I have run into shoe problems twice when I only had one pair of shoes with me. It was a pain in the neck to have to shoe shop for my quirky feet in Europe but even worse when we were in northern Iceland and no convenient shoe stores to be found. I take two pairs.

Posted by
7698 posts

Debbie - those Bernie Mev shoes look like they could be perfect ! I have seen those but never knew what they were. I feel like they could be the perfect second pair -- I wasn't in love with what I took for my second pair last August to Norway -- for hotel breakfast and dinner etc. But these would be great (of course I have to see if they actually work for my feet ).

Posted by
2145 posts

I just have to add this- one of my favorite casual [not hiking] comfort shoe brands is a German company named Riekers. I saw a pair here at home I just loved, but didn't want to pay the money. I joked to my friends that I'd look for the shoes in Germany.
First shoe store I walked into, in Rothenburg, carried the brand. I pulled out the pix and asked the clerk if she had that style- and she pulled the exact pair of shoes, at half the price as in the US. Best souvenir ever!!!!

Posted by
69 posts

My most comfortable flats literally fell apart while walking out of the airport. The sole detached from the top and I was left flapping until I could change to my second pair in my suitcase.

Posted by
943 posts

Merrell Moab 2 Vents mass very close to 1000 grams. Let us now put a second pair of shoes into perspective: my Altras mass a mere 310 grams.

Posted by
1013 posts

@Kim: the Bernie Mevs are all fabric and are quite stretchy. I throw them in the wash machine on a regular basis, and I wear them all summer long. I have seen them in the UK. Here in Philly, I get them from Zappos.

Posted by
130 posts

Adding a pair of lightweight (8 ounces) waterproof sandals to my carryon roller bag saved my feet after walking for 8 hours in the Samaria gorge in hiking boots. When the sandals get dirty you can rinse them off. My carryon bag was still less than 8 kilograms even with 2 pairs of shoes.

Posted by
1456 posts

I leave tomorrow and I'm still debating that darn second pair of shoes!!! 😊 They'll fit, but there won't be much room for Swiss chocolate on the way home. Debating my puffer coat too. It's light-weight but does take up space. It's too bad weather forecasts aren't accurate 2 weeks out. Would make my life so much easier. 😊

Posted by
46 posts

Carrie,

Good luck, and I hope whatever you decide it works out for you. Which trip are you going on?

As for me, I am strongly leaning toward taking just one pair of shoes on the next trip - but the next one won't be until 2023. I have approximately 10 months to agonize about it!

Posted by
1456 posts

Hi tony, I’m going to Switzerland—solo and no tour. I’m thinking bring the extra shoes and coat, because if I don’t, I’ll probably be worried that I should have brought them. Isn’t that how it usually works? And if I bring them, I won’t need them. 😊

10 months is a long time to ponder. 😊

Posted by
2145 posts

Carrie, for my recent return home, I hung my packable down coat to the outside of my backpack, and gained some chocolate room! The jacket had a small pouch. Maybe that will work for you- just loop it over your suitcase or backpack.
I know you're excited-safe travels!

Posted by
46 posts

Carrie,

Yes, 10 months is indeed a long time. Fortunately I seem to enjoy the planning and anticipation as much as I enjoy the actual trip.

Good luck with your trip, I hope it's a blast. And I hope you are going to the mountains to see the Schilthorn, the Munch, the Eiger, etc. Magnificent.

Posted by
1456 posts

Final decision for me: just the shoes on my feet (my brooks ghosts) and no puffer coat!! 😊

Posted by
46 posts

Carrie,

Good luck, and let us know how it goes. You're going to have a wonderful time!

Posted by
2043 posts

Mytrick for drying shoes. Take the insoles out if possible. And then stuff the shoe with newspaper. You’d be amazed how much moisture that’ll work out you might want to change the newspaper a couple times overnight. if you wake up to go to the bathroom change the newspaper, it will make a difference

Posted by
177 posts

I was thankful that I packed a second pair of shoes when we were in Naples in 2016. After trekking up Vesuvius my shoes STANK. I think it was the combination of sweat, volcanic topsoil and mist; I suspect that is the recipe for the water insoluble concrete that the Romans used because I could not clean the shoes up and get rid of the smell. They ended up in the garbage bin of the apartment we had rented. Now I wear an easy on/off pair on travel days and pack a second climate appropriate pair.

Posted by
16 posts

For my first European trip (20 weeks!) I only brought the walking shoes on my feet, plus a pair of very cheap flip-flops for use in showers (I was staying almost exclusively in youth hostels). For New Zealand I brought hiking boots and walking shoes. For our last trip - to Italy - I brought walking shoes and comfortable walking sandals, and used both (the sandals were lightweight to pack, comfortable and cool to wear, and looked good with a skirt). For this next trip (3+ weeks, Europe), I will probably bring the same combination.

In all cases, I wore shoes that were well broken in and comfortable, and brought and used moleskin to prevent blisters during longer walks and hikes. (If you are buying new shoes for the trip, I strongly suggest buying them at least several weeks in advance so you can get them broken in before you leave.)

Have fun!

Posted by
1456 posts

I just returned from Switzerland and the one pair of shoes I took (my brooks ghost) turned out to be all I needed. I’m so glad I didn’t take up valuable suitcase space with a second pair as that would have meant less room for chocolate. 😊

Posted by
920 posts

For me …. I have done both one pair on my feet, extra pair. For me it depends on where we are traveling to.

On my trip now… we packed our larger checked bags because we are gone for 26 days.

Finished up Iceland … now 20 days in Scotland.

I brought my hiking boots but the second day they started to fall apart. Got super glue which did not work. Glad I had my ultra’s with me, on a rest break we stopped at a center and went into the icewear store. No womens I liked or fit. Found some mens made we ugh gortex. And they work. Dumped my old ones in the trash

Posted by
33 posts

I only bring the shoes I am wearing and a pair of flip flops. The sandals don’t take up much space and I like being able to change out of my other shoes at the end of the day, particularly if I just need to walk down the hall, go to the front desk, or eat downstairs at the hotel restaurant. (Not to mention going to the pool/beach during the trip.) I almost always use them, so they are a staple of my travel wardrobe even for weekend trips.

Posted by
11973 posts

One pair of shoes that is good for lots of walking, waterproof (or water resistant in summer) goes with my clothes and looks nice enough to wear to dinner. I wear them on the plane too.

I do add a pair of very lightweight flip flops in my bag. I'll wear those for laundry, to the pool or beach, as shower shoes, with shorts in summer or anytime I just need to get out of the other shoes.