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How many pairs of walking shoes to pack?

So I always take one carry-on (wheeled spinner) and a tote/personal item. I also walk a lot when I'm traveling in Europe.

For my upcoming trip to Germany (I will be gone one month), I'm planning on packing a pair of JBU walking sandals that look somewhat dressy and I can wear for dressier occasions. However, I probably won't use them much during the day as I'm not sure how they will hold up.

I also have several pair of walking/gym shoes (Ryka and Brooks) that fit well and are comfortable. I'm trying to decide whether to take one pair or two. I'd like to bring just one pair because of the bulk, but I'm wondering if it wouldn't be better to switch my walking shoes each day.

The last time I went to Europe was in 2018 and for the life of me, I can't remember which (and how many) shoes I took. I journaled about my trip but did I think to write down what I packed? Of course not! So what do you all do? Do you switch your walking shoes each day or wear the same pair? Thanks!

Posted by
21037 posts

I take 4-month-long trips with only the pair of (walking) shoes on my feet. I'm just not willing to haul around an extra pair of shoes. Anything sturdy enough for regular use would be both bulky and heavy.

Posted by
4978 posts

I always take 2 pair (wear one, pack one), but they're not specifically walking shoes. They're an SAS lace-up loafer that are my everyday shoes here at home. I can get them to fit me (size 11W!), they are very comfortable for walking, and look good enough to wear just about anywhere.

I do like to switch off; even though I usually take 2 pair of the same style, my feet seem to appreciate the change, and I know the shoes do.

I did take a pair of heavier walking shoes one year, and found they weren't worth the extra weight.

Posted by
2604 posts

I have problem feet, so I take more shoes and make up for it by packing less clothing--it's easier to buy more clothing if needed. I typically take walking/hiking shoes (wear those bulky shoes on plane), "nighttime" shoes for dinner, and sandals.
If I wore the same shoes all day every day for a month, I would most likely be leaving them behind when I came home.

Posted by
3258 posts

I always take more than one pair of shoes that have already been broken in. Nothing worse than having a blow out with your only pair. A lesson I learned the hard way. A casual fabric walking shoe, a leather loafer that can see day or evening use in the city (my go to is a Clarke's loafer that is comfortable for all day on my feet), and a nice sandal if I expect any dressier evenings out. Wear the bulkiest on the plane.

Posted by
715 posts

Valadelphia - I'm with you, though I'd be buying new shoes a week into the trip! I, a guy, always travel in my Australian chelsea boots, which are heavy and clunky, but inexplicably comfortable, and pack a pair of sneakers. The all-leather boots can take a spit-shine to be suitable for anything short of black-tie.

Posted by
1298 posts

I'm blister prone, so very careful with shoes, and take 2 pairs of walking shoes that I switch off every day. Especially important if you have a rainy day.

Posted by
1595 posts

If your sandals won’t hold up during your trip, they will not give you the support your feet need. I have fussy feet due to surgeries and arthritis. I take 2 pair of walking shoes: Ryka because they have wide toe beds and narrow heels and lace up Alegria for the same reason. I can walk all day in either. Last trip I also took FitFlop sandals (not thongs) but am considering leaving them home this trip to save weight and I doubt if I would wear them all day walking. I can’t imagine only taking one pair of shoes. Shoe rotation and good socks (I wear Wright anti-blister socks) are my key to no blisters and happy feet.

Posted by
192 posts

I wore a pair of JBU's all over my last trip - walked a lot in them, rode bikes in them, walked on the beach in Barcelona, etc. But I discovered they don't dry very quickly after I washed the beach sand out. They looked good enough with both very casual wear and with nice pants and top for dinner out. But I'm paranoid - I always have a second pair of some sort with me. Depending on the trip, could be running shoes or hiking boots or my Clark's ballet flats - comfy for walking all day and also work for casual and "dressy".

Posted by
1760 posts

Take 2 pair ( wear one on plane ) and change daily. That’s what I do and for my next trip I will add a more waterproof pair.

Posted by
784 posts

It really depends on the trip - is it city walking, light mountain hiking, dressy dinners, etc. In general I'd say one pair to wear on the plane that's easy on/off, a lightweight alternative in case the first gets wet (something like Allbirds wool) and one pair of flats or nice-ish sandals to change into for dinner. That's mainly to give my feet a break. I also have a pair of Croc flip flops that are dressier than they sound, very lightweight and I can wear then to the pool, beach, etc.

Posted by
417 posts

Two pairs for me: one pair of well broken-in walking/hiking shoes that I wear on the plane, and a lighter pair, usually Allbirds or Naots, for evenings or to give my feet a break. I might possibly add water shoes if a particular activity warrants it.

Posted by
3680 posts

I take 1 pair of waterproof lace-up ankle booties which I wear all day long everyday no matter where I go, when I go there or how long I'm gone.

Over the years, I've found that boots fitting that description are comfortable, stable and supportive. They've kept me from turning my ankle and falling on rough terrain. They've kept my feet dry through heavy rain, mud puddles and wet grass. They've been great for being on my feet while walking and standing in dry conditions over cobblestones and broken sidewalks as well as in more benign, but sometimes equally tiring walking and standing on hard surfaces like those in museums.

My current brand favorites are Keens like these that I have in 3 colors and these exact Danskos that I also have. Note that I've bought these over time at much lower prices than may be shown in the links.

As I read through the comments of others on the topic of walking shoes, I'm struck by the ones that talk about needing extra shoes or socks in case the ones they're wearing get wet or that mention getting blisters. In all my travels I have never gotten a single blister or needed to make any changes due to wet or end-of-day tired feet.

My experience has been that the socks people wear are almost as important as the shoes. So many people recommend Smart Wool that I decided I'd try some. Classic fail, primarily because they are too tight in the ankle and lower leg for me.

I've repeatedly recommended Sockwell Moderate compression socks for travel. Some people say they are too young to need such old-lady socks. So this is a recent article from Sockwell about the benefits of compression socks. I have them in many colors and styles. They keep my feet dry and cool or warm as needed. I wear them with boots, sandals and flats. Since I never wear skirts, they're mostly hidden, but that doesn't keep me from having fun with them. I typically use 3 pair on my trips. These are 2 recently bought favorites: Dragonfly Black and Black Bright.

I do stubbornly take a pair of very old and comfortable Abeo flats every trip, but I wear them so rarely that I probably shouldn't.

Posted by
1777 posts

One and they should be on your feet. I do throw in a pair of flip flops for when I get to the hotel.

Posted by
343 posts

I have wide big (womens 43 ) and bunion feet! Almost nowhere in the world can I buy my size except in men's departments. So I can't plan to replace shoes. It depends on the trip - but I have light weight trail walking shoes, around town Allbird's sneakers (summer or winter weight), walking sandals and water shoes. I can walk in all of them - the allbirds and dressy enough for dinner. I'll take no more than 3 pairs including the pair Iwear on the plane

Posted by
3303 posts

If I’m wearing boots on the plane, then I pack 1 pair of walking shoes. I walk 5-8 miles per day at home. One pair is all that’s needed. I already know they’re comfortable!

Posted by
688 posts

I take two pairs of shoes, one that I wear on the plane the other in my carryon. The one time I only took one, my husband and I were charged by a bull on a walking path in the UK, ran into a creek and hopped over a fence. It was miserable cleaning the shoes and trying to dry them overnight. After that, always two pairs.

Posted by
292 posts

Wear a pair that work for your feet and have something light for a backup. I have narrow feet. On our first trip to England and Ireland, I took three pairs of what I thought were well-fit, versatile and if-I-rotate-them-it-will-be-fine shoes. I had miserably sore feet. The next trip, I wore one pair of lace-up Ecco sneakers and took a pair of flip-flops. Three weeks later, I came home with happy feet despite over 250,000 steps. The robust footbed and narrowness worked for me. During COVID, I bought a pair of Ecco slip-ons to break in for future trips. I learned that the slip-ons didn't hug my feet well enough and were not a good choice. I'm back to the sneakery look. I've been looking at a pair of Teiks which would pack well but not sure I can make that work in my budget.

Posted by
7584 posts

The one time I only took one, my husband and I were charged by a bull on a walking path in the UK, ran into a creek and hopped over a fence. It was miserable cleaning the shoes and trying to dry them overnight.

Now THERE is a persuasive argument for not limiting oneself to one pair of shoes ! Wow!!

Posted by
18 posts

I take 2 pairs of walking shoes - sometimes one is an older pair that I can leave behind. Gives me some extra room in my suitcase for any purchases. Also a pair of flats for dinner.

Posted by
418 posts

I pack a carry-on size suitcase and one tote. I wear my walking shoes on the plane, take a pair of comfy flats or sandals for shorter walks, and flip flops for the hotel room. It’s worked so far. But, I like the idea others had to bring a second pair of walking shoes to switch out. I may try that on my next trip if I can make them fit. I agree that socks are just as important as the shoes. I use Bombas brand socks.

Posted by
88 posts

I have taken one pair for walking - waterproof Merrill’s - along with Keen Rose sandals. BUT, I think it depends just how far you plan to walk. We are doing a walking vacation this year where we know our route is 10 miles a day of continuous walking for several days, so I will pack a second pair of walking shoes.

Thank you, posters, for all the interesting sock recommendations. I am going to check them out.

Posted by
610 posts

I almost always take 2 pair, although I remember one trip where I only took one. That was a 3 week trip in the winter and I was fine, but realized if anything would have happened, I probably would have regretted it. On another 2 week trip, I took two pair, and as is turned out I only wore of them once, and wore the other the rest of the time. On one summer trip, thankfully I had brought two pair as I took a bad fall and could not wear my sandals the rest of the trip.

Even last month in Iceland we brought two pairs. I was really unsure on that and almost took only my regular hiking boots. At the last minute I decided to bring the snow boots as well, and that was smart as they come up much higher than my hiking boots. I wore both of them numerous times on the trip, so that was a good balance.

Posted by
931 posts

Wow, thanks for all this great information! I usually walk quite a bit when traveling - usually around 25,000 steps a day - so I will put some wear on my shoes. It will mostly be city and town walking with maybe a few short hikes here and there, but I'm hard on shoes, too, so I'm thinking one pair is not enough. It probably makes sense for me to bring an extra pair, especially since some of you pointed out that something might happen to one pair.

I wear an odd size - 9 1/2 W (41) - and they would be difficult to replace if my one pair of shoes wore out or was damaged. I also like the idea of switching them each day for comfort. I'm not planning on wearing the JBUs for walking long distances - just for short walks and going out to dinner - so the only other shoes I will have will be my walking shoes (although I might tuck in a pair of flip flops for water, just in case).

And thanks for the sock discussion! I never thought about socks, but I think it will be worthwhile investing in some good pairs. I'm going to check out the socks you all mentioned.

And I really like the idea of bringing an older pair. I have a pair of older Asics that are super comfortable but past their prime. I might bring those for my second pair and then ditch them before I head back. I do love the look of boots (those Dankso boots are really cute, Lo!) but it's hard for me to walk in boots. I need something fairly lightweight on my feet. I tend to shuffle when I walk and if my shoes are too heavy, I wind up tripping over something and falling flat on my face. I love my Dankso clogs but limit them to standing and walking short distances.

Thanks for all the great ideas! I really appreciate your time and expertise!

Posted by
8764 posts

I caution people about taking only one pair of shoes. Unless you’re someone who can walk into any shoe store and find something comfortable right away, it could come back to bite you. A few years ago I was in Germany visiting my family. We were staying together in a vacation home on the Rhine in a very small town. My aunt’s shoe had a blow out. Thankfully she had a spare pair. I don’t wear an unusual size shoe, but my feet are picky and I have a very difficult time finding shoes that are comfortable. I need good arch support and I have discovered that Sketchers Arch Fit shoes are very comfortable for me. I will be taking them and a Clark waterproof shoe that’s also very comfortable. I always bring flip flops or a pair of very flat slippers for the room, but that’s not good enough for my arches now, nor is going barefoot. I bought a pair of Sketchers Arch Fit sandals that slide on to act as shoes in the room, but can double as sandals if I want.

Posted by
931 posts

Unless you’re someone who can walk into any shoe store and find something comfortable right away, it could come back to bite you.

Yeah, that's what worries me, Andrea. It takes me a long time to find well-fitted shoes even in the US, and the last thing I want to do on vacation is run around trying to find a new pair of shoes.

As far as socks go, I may buy a pair of each of the ones named here, and see which ones I like best. I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone a little while ago, and mentioned that I was online looking for socks for my trip. She told me to check out Sockwell (the ones Lo mentioned above) and said that they felt incredible on her feet when she was traveling. I might check out the Sockwell ones first and see how I like them and if they're worth the price. My friend also said she likes Feetures, which are cheaper than Sockwell but good socks.

Posted by
325 posts

Blockquote
As far as socks go, I may buy a pair of each of the ones named here, and see which ones I like best.

I only wear Darn Tough socks. If you are interested in looking at them in Duluth, both Trailfitters in Fitger's and Bender's next to Michaels carry them. If you are ever looking for new shoes, Bender's started in my hometown and has been my go-to shoe store since the 70s. That's where I bought my Brooks for our May France trip. As long as I just wear them inside, I can return them up to 60 days (but, they are feeling great)!

Posted by
1298 posts

I wore Smartwool for a few years, and feel they wore out fairly quickly and generally bagged out in wearing. I have a number of Sockwell brand and like them, but my favorite by far are the Darn Tough brand. Comfortable and wear well.

Posted by
119 posts

You should take more shoes. I take enough so that one of my bags is only shoes. I take my favorite walking shoes, but two pairs, in case one gets wet and muddy. Plus a pair of running shoes in case I go running. If it may be real hot I take a pair of sandals. Just in case I go to a nice restaurant i bring some shiny shoes. So that is five pairs. Since I wear a size 14 you can see why I have a roll-around bag for my shoes. Of course you need to take the appropriate socks also for each pair of shoes. And different color socks too, to go with the seven pairs of pants I bring.
It is a lot but with compression bags I can do it. I am usually get the socks in the same bag as the shoes. Of course I fly first or business with points so I just check everything. I also use taxis and porters enroute so that I am only carrying one small overnight bag on the plane.
I really hate to be without the right shoes and socks. My podiatrist says I may be too diligent.

Posted by
931 posts

If you are ever looking for new shoes, Bender's started in my hometown and has been my go-to shoe store since the 70s.

MNAnnie, I had no idea a shoe store was there! I've been to the Michaels on Central before and did not see it, but evidently it just moved from another location. I'm going to let my daughter know about the store as well - she's a runner and is always looking for good shoes. I'm heading there tomorrow morning! Thank you! I do love Brooks shoes and love the pair I have.

Aimee and LIZinPA, I used to wear Smartwool, too, but they wear out so quickly. Plus they tend to dry out my feet. I'm going to try the Darn Touch socks - I'll check at the store MNAnnie told me about as they carry them. Another brand I like is Balega - I have one pair of those and they are very comfortable so I might pick up another pair, too.

Posted by
931 posts

treemoss2, I think I will hit the limit at 3 pair. 🙂 I will definitely not need running shoes and I haven't worn a pair of dressy or shiny shoes in decades. But it sounds like you manage things pretty well. It does help to check a bag. I usually don't but will this time because of the AirFrance restrictions (I'm flying Delta but there is a codeshare with AF from CDG to BER).

Posted by
2908 posts

Ninety percent of the time, I take only the pair I am wearing. I do pack flip flops for the shower incase it seems questionable. The few occasions that I packed a second pair, I ended up not wearing them. But if I do, the lightest pair goes in my suitcase. If I am on a tour, I will take the extra pair because if something happens, I won’t necessarily have the time or location to shop for a replacement.

Posted by
5842 posts

I have always been in the camp of one pair, the one I am wearing. However, I do admit that I have evolved to wearing a light pair of Sketcher walker slip-ons for the flight and to wear for short walks and in the evening, and then my pair of sturdy walking shoes.

The only other shoes I might pack are water shoes, if beach days are planned.

Posted by
838 posts

I travel with two pairs of Altras because I like to wear one all day and change into fresh shoes for the evening. Luxury. My carryon-only pack-out still has room for another pair.
Socks. If you have not yet found your ideal socks, get on it. I travel with four pairs, 3 colorful poly blends and 1 warmer wool. I know these will not bother my feet even if they get wet.

Posted by
20 posts

On the topic of socks, I strongly suggest wearing the socks & shoes you plan to take several times together before you leave. I made the mistake of taking socks I'd worn before and Merrell hiking shoes that I had worn many times before but had never worn the two together. By day 2 in Italy, I had blisters on my toes from where the seams of the socks rubbed against the sides of the shoes. I never would have guessed that was going to happen. I learned that lesson painfully - Try everything at home first!

Posted by
977 posts

For the last few trips and years, I have taken my Keen hiking sandals, the Newport H2 style. I have been wearing them for over 10 years (successive pairs, not the same pair). They are my regular summer shoe into autumn and gee, maybe soon in spring.

My second pair is a bernie mev Comfi (see Zappos). Made out of stretchy fabric with a huge sole, they look good with dresses (not formal) and hiking. Again, I wear all summer, probably more than I wear my Keens. One trip, it was warm, and I felt the shoes needed a refresh - I usually launder both at home. I stopped in a L'Occitaine store (they are all over Europe) and bought a small air freshener spray. Kept my shoes nice and pleasant.

I always have flip flops for the shower, but they can come in handy in other ways. One trip, I got stranded in Frankfurt airport with just my hiking Merrells. My luggage was lost. The price of flip flops in the airport was quite high. I did not buy because of that, but after wearing those hiking shoes only for several days, I know I would change that decision now. Yeah, flip flops, good choice in a pinch. Now I pack a pair in my tote bag.

If I really wanted a third pair, I would choose a foldable pair of Tieks. Pricey but classic.

I guess what stands out for me is I wear for travelling what I wear at home. Odds are slim I will be really hiking mountains, so what I usually wear are tough enough and good looking enough.

Posted by
931 posts

Wray and Paul, I totally get why you would only take one pair and I wish I could get away with it. But with me being gone a month and it being so hard to find well-fitting shoes, I'm now too worried that something will happen to one pair, leaving me having to run all over for another. I'll wear the largest pair and smoosh the other pair somewhere in my luggage. :)

Aimee, Belagas are nice, aren't they? My daughter runs and these are all she wears. I am NOT a runner but they're comfortable for walking, too.

bogiesan, ha, I am on it! I wasn't even thinking about socks till I got these great responses and now I am glued online, checking them all out. I'm heading out tomorrow morning to a couple of places in town that carry some of the brands, also.

Tammy, that's a very good idea - I didn't think about trying them together but will definitely do so now. Thanks!

Posted by
931 posts

Debbie, I love the look of all three of those brands, but sadly, none of them come in a wide width. I would kill to be able to wear Toms or a ballet flat, but they just don't work with my feet. I am planning on taking flip flops, however. They don't take up much space and will come in handy if I'm near water or need something quickly.

Posted by
610 posts

Another sock to check out is RoToTo. They are a merino wool that are super comfy and durable. We switched from Smarteool to these. I still use sock liners when hiking, but for day to day in the winter these are great in their own. They are not cheap, but worth every penny.

Posted by
977 posts

Mardee, because the Bernie Mev shoes are basically made of woven nylon fabric and very stretchy, I wonder if they would still work for you? I purchase mine from Zappos where you can easily return items if they do not work out. I think the return policy is something like a year. And, shipping and return shipping are both free.

Posted by
2161 posts

Aimee, I love balega socks too! I was wearing a different brand for my treadmill workouts and I was getting blisters. Switched to balega socks, no more blisters! Socks really make a difference!

Posted by
931 posts

mikliz97, I will check out the RoToTo socks. I love that they come from Japan - where do you buy yours?

Debbie, you twisted my arm. :) I do like the look of them so I ordered a pair and will see how they work. I'll let you know!