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Packing light with bad feet - extra shoes in wetter climates

Hey travelers,

I have terrible feet so am limited in the shoes I can wear. I love thé idea of traveling with only one pair, those being the ones I am wearing, but am concerned about getting them soaked in a downpour. None of my current good walking shoes are completely waterproof.

Interested in what other light packers do in places where rain is frequent (England is my next trip). Do you always carry a spare pair?

Would also love to hear any traveling or packing tips from others with bad feet/limited shoe selection.

Thanks!

G

Posted by
6787 posts

I don't have bad feet but I always bring a spare pair of shoes. There's just too much risk of something happening, like wet shoes as you mentioned. I'm getting ready to go to Scotland, which has a lot of rainy weather and would not dream of only bring one pair.

Just make sure you wear your biggest/heaviest pair of shoes on the plane and pack the lighter pair in something lightweight (I use a transparent shower cap).

Posted by
2847 posts

Hi G. I feel your pain. I have problem feet too, I thought I needed extra shoes until last year. On my month long trip to France I took my trusty Ryka sports shoes, Alegria tie shoes and FitFlop sandals (not thongs). First day wearing the Alegria I got a shoe bruise on the top of my toe. From then on they stayed in my suitcase. I was so glad I took the sandals; took the pressure off my toe to give it a chance to heal.

Towards the end of my trip I did a day trip to Trieste/Lipica. It poured rain so hard all day that when I got back on the train to return to Venice, I rang the water out of my socks. So I really recommend two pairs of shoes: good walking shoes and a lighter pair that you can walk at least 5 miles in.

Posted by
358 posts

I travel with a carry-on and always pack at least 2 pairs of shoes, and sometimes 3 - but I also do not have "bad feet." However, I want to have a dry pair if needed, and sometimes my feet just need a break from the same shoe. How you pack them will depend on size, and I know it isn't always easy to find supportive shoes that are also lightweight. But 2 pairs should be definitely doable. I wear AllBirds, which are very lightweight and smooshable - and dry quickly if wet. They are cushy but perhaps not super supportive.

Posted by
27336 posts

I'm unwilling to cart a second pair of shoes around for 3+ months just because I might like to wear them occasionally. If I'm spending much time in potentially wet climates, I take waterproof shoes. Otherwise, I accept that my feet may occasionally get wet, in which case I remove the inner soles so everything dries overnight. For me, that's better than the extra weight and bulk in my suitcase. On a much shorter trip, depending on my planned activities, I would consider taking a second pair of lightweight shoes, but I haven't found anything as comfortable as my workhorse shoes (which come in both waterproof and non-waterproof styles). My feet are not as happy in anything else if I'm walking more than a few blocks. And I'm always walking more than a few blocks; I do not do taxis, and I do not return to my hotel room before heading out for dinner.

Posted by
6352 posts

We pack light (carry on only,) but always include an extra pair of shoes. I find my feet appreciate the change, even when both pair are the same style.

I don't have any particular packing tip for you, though. You can stuff your shoes with undies or other small items to save a bit of room.

Posted by
14153 posts

I’ve got awful feet. For Italy last fall I wore my regular athletic shoes and took some ballet flats which were not a good choice. I could wear them to dinner if I didn’t have to walk very far but would never have been able to “tour” in them.

This trip I’m on my own in cities for 3 weeks then on a small group tour in England which may have some walking. I’ve brought a waterproof pair of my regular brand and a leather-y pair.

My worry with one pair is that if something happened to them I would never be able to find something to fit. As it is I am down to one brand and have to order the gigantic size from Zappos!!

Posted by
58 posts

Like you, I have a limited array of shoes my feet accept. I took the RS Scotland tour Oct. 2022. Boy, was I glad I took my Blundstone style old but trusty boots. I wore them most of the time. I wore them on the plane.
I also took an additional pair of lightweight waterproof shoes in plastic bags on my carry-on. My feet really appreciated the change for evening dinners and get-togethers.
No sandals, not in Scotland in October! I was really glad I had those boots. People on the tour were asking me where I got them!

Posted by
960 posts

We go to the German Xmas Markets every year - many times it's dry, but on occasion, we run into rain/snow.

We both wear our Keen Targhee III Waterproof shoes and have never had an issue with our feet getting wet in rain or snow.
It's the only shoe my husband brings and many times it's the only shoe I bring. He has the low top (like a normal sneaker) - I have a low top and a high top and love them both. They are perfect for Europe because the tread on the bottom is super supportive and great for cobblestone too. Keen also makes wonderful waterproof boots I have taken also as my only shoe.

On occasion, I do bring a 2nd shoe to change into for the evenings - and I take BZees - they are so light and comfy and weigh nothing in luggage or backpack or carryon.

Posted by
8802 posts

ALWAYS 2 pairs. Always the Keen Brand.

Most often worn are my decade old low cut water proof Targhee. Wear and tear has been minimal. Completely alleviated my plantar fasciitis. Worn in Havana, London, Paris, Seattle, NYC, Utah, Yosemite, Joshua Tree and walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Depending on where I’m traveling I’ll take either the Kaci III slip on or the Presidio II lace up. All the shoes are older than 8 years old. They are expensive and durable. I even hike in the brands Whisper sandals.
Not horribly heavy and the comfort I derive from wearing them is worth every penny I spent purchasing them.

Posted by
359 posts

It may sound strange, but for rainy or cool climates I always wear my short riding boots for travel when I anticipate lots of walking.. Waterproof, very comfortable, supportive in foot and ankle, and they look more like a fashion boot than a hiking boot. Then I tuck in a pair of flats to change for evening. These are the boots I have:
https://www.doversaddlery.com/ariat-prmfr-nitro-lace-paddock/p/X1-380982/?cpos=2&cexp=155&cst=Ariat%20paddock%20boots%20&kcid=0380982&ctype=Search&cpid=res23042210283865782564443

Posted by
27336 posts

One other thought: If you decide to take a second pair of shoes with a different heel height, be sure it works with any slacks you're taking. The last time I took two pairs of shoes, I forgot to check that.

Posted by
2847 posts

Linda, I often thought about wearing my paddock boots although they're a little heavy. But I decided I don't want to travel when or anywhere I need waterproof shoes. If it rains one day and my shoes get wet, the next I can wear sandals. If, on the odd chance, I plan a wet weather trip, I'll look at Ryka's waterproof trail shoes since Ryka and feet like each other.
Happy Trails!

Posted by
7384 posts

I travel very light, but I wouldn’t sacrifice packing light for specific needs that might keep you from enjoying your trip. Do you have a pair of sturdy sandals that could be your lighter weight option to wear while your shoes dried?

I was in a crazy downpour in Stresa, Italy last June and was glad I had a pair of black flats to wear to dinner at the hotel while I had my Keen sandals drying out in my room after blotting them with a towel.

Posted by
4574 posts

I do carry on, but always pack a spare pair of shoes. One pair may be a good walking sandal I own, but always a closed toe shoe too. You may want to look at a gortex lined hiking shoe. I used to use Salomon as they are also lightweight but the redesigned their manufacturing and have lost some of their reputation. They don't fit me well anymore. But I used them all over the world though they look more like a runner than a shoe. Also get some wool socks. They will help keep your feet warm, even if wet.

Posted by
1672 posts

I have very short, wide feet with a high instep, and sore feet are the main thing that slows me down in my travels. So, I MUST travel with more than one pair of shoes, so I can switch out. Sometimes, I travel with two pairs of shoes AND a pair of water shoes. I do this with carry-on only, and my carry on is fairly small (an "underseater"). I wear the biggest, heaviest pair of shoes on the plane, and I stuff the other ones with items such as socks, so they really don't take up that much room.

Posted by
24 posts

I always take 2 pair of shoes. One time my shoes got soaked and I was so glad to have an extra pair
to wear that evening. Both pair are athletic shoes. We carry our RS rolling bag onto the plane and I carry a back pack as my personal item. I put the extra shoes in the very bottom of the back pack and everything else on top of them. It weighs more but gives me more room in the rolling bag although I have indeed put the shoes in the rolling bag before. My feet are also troublesome and I have had good luck with Altra brand or Hoka brand.

Posted by
2476 posts

Packing light is a goal, comfortable feet is a necessity.
I always bring 2 pair (and sometimes a 3rd) and switch off everyday to let them dry out completely between wearings.

Posted by
1532 posts

How about applying a layer of water-resistant spray on your existing shoes? Waterproofing may make your feet too hot, but making the shoes water-resistant means the they are still breathable.

Posted by
4574 posts

Barkinpark, true, some may find waterproof shoes or boots hotter, but that's another reason for wool socks...they seem to help regulate temperature.

Posted by
434 posts

I got caught in a downpour once years ago in Montreal and my boots were so wet it took 2 days on a radiator and nudging along with a blow dryer to finally be dry enough to wear. I always take 2 pairs. Even though my feet like the shoes/boots I take, it feels good to trade off.
I also love my Ariat paddock boots. Can go for miles in them and they hold up great. My last pair is supposedly waterproof.
When it comes to athletic type shoes I’d love to hear from anyone who has scotch-guarded theirs. Did it work?

Posted by
963 posts

When it comes to athletic type shoes I’d love to hear from anyone who has scotch-guarded theirs. Did it work?

It helps a lot to encourage rain drops to roll off but doesn't help if you step in an ankle deep puddle! Another advantage is that it makes them more stain resistant and easier to keep your shoes looking clean, especially any white sections.

Posted by
359 posts

Horsewoofie,
That's a solution...don't travel anywhere rainy! 😁
Alas, I don't have that choice because I have close friends in Belgium and always end up outside at dog sport events. I really love the boots though because of the ankle support. I travel light, but don't mind taking the boots because I wear them all the time except for city excursions on dry days or for dress up.

Posted by
14153 posts

When it comes to athletic type shoes I’d love to hear from anyone who has scotch-guarded theirs. Did it work?

It may slow down water absorption but the fail points where you’ll have water leakage is where the vamp attaches to the sole and around the tongue. In a truly waterproof shoe there are gussets attached to the tongue to keep the water out.

Also, as AussieNomad says, if you step into a pool of water you’re toast, lol!

Posted by
26 posts

I also struggle with foot pain. When I travel, I always take at least two, maybe even three 🤫 pairs of shoes. For the plane and walking, I wear Asics.
I regularly walk three miles a day and never have problems with these shoes. I like that they come in all black, including the soles, which doesn’t scream sneaker when I wear them with pants. I’ve added stretchable laces for my upcoming looong flights.

I also usually bring a pair of Vionic sandals. I have these in black and I use them as a dressier shoe for evenings and they are fine for shorter walks. I might buy this color this summer.

I also often bring a pair of older Bass black slip ones with inserts which work okay with a skirt and for walks/touring if my ASICS get wet.

My feet like to have options 😁

Posted by
2134 posts

Most of thee time I just bring one pair of shoes along. For winter trips it is my Dromedaris boots. When we did the Christmas Markets this past December, those are what I brought and the girls only brought their Blundstone's. I almost brought mine, but didn't want to be triplets;) I will say that by the last day we were all wishing we had another pair. My daughter and I wear the same size so we traded for a day which was nice.

We travel carry on only, unless it is an unusual trip. When I do take a second pair, I wear my heaviest on the plane and then the other pair goes in my bag. I know I should always bring a second pair as I have small feet with a very high arch, but old habits die hard;)

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks, everyone, for all the feedback and suggestions. And I now have a whole new list of shoe brands to try out as well! I will definitely be making room for a second pair!

Posted by
39 posts

I'm going to add an unconventional option. I travel super light with only one small duffel bag. In wet, cold regions, my second pair of shoes are Super-Birki polyurethane clogs from Birkenstock. (My first pair are leather boots.)

They have supportive insoles, lots of space for toes to wiggle around, and thick soles with good traction. They keep my feet as dry as rubber boots in rainstorms, provided I don't wade into deep puddles. They're also great for walking on beaches at low tide (when there are pools of water) and in muddy or boggy areas. Best of all, you can clean them in the shower and dry them with a towel and put them right back in your bag to travel. No waiting for them to dry! They're lightweight in my bag and spacious so you can stuff them with all sorts of small things. In cold weather, I add a pair of wool socks. Their thick soles keep my feet warmer than my leather boots. In warm weather, I wear them with light, low socks or go sock-less. I wear them with both pants and dresses.

They're obviously not great for bicycling or walking on hilly cobblestones. That said, they still served me well walking around Siena (Italy) in winter. They were perfect for Scotland and Ireland, plus anywhere rural.

Posted by
510 posts

I like to wear my heavier shoes on the plane, then once we're in the air, I just untie them so I feel less constricted on the long flight. When I went to Europe in December, the forecast showed everything from sunny to rain to snow, so I wore my winter boots and had my summer hiking boots (water resistant, but not waterproof) in my carry on. Once I got there, I ended up buying a pair of sneakers (I love wearing them at home because they remind me of being in Florence). For my next trip, I'm wearing a waterproof sneaker/hiking boot and taking a pair of sneakers. My packing prowess has improved, but each trip has made me realize a change I should make next time. I figure if I keep traveling, maybe I'll eventually get it right!

Posted by
4010 posts

I wear my waterproof footwear on the plane. I don’t pack them because they are too bulky and heavy. Depending upon my trip, it’s either waterproof sneaker boots or waterproof tall boots.

Posted by
1330 posts

Remember that the socks are almost as important as the shoe/boot.

Take high quality wollen socks and always have a pair in a plastic bag on you when you are out walking. The relief of putting on dry socks - even if your shoes are wet - is not to be overlooked.

Posted by
35 posts

I am starting my trips in England (Cornwall and London) in May. Flying....I will only carry on. My question is about shoes. I bought a new pair of hiking shoes (Oboz) to take. I'd also like to take my new balance sneaks for alternative to hiking boots. And then a third pair of casual boots (for dinner, shopping, nite), Is Three pairs considered to much? If so what do i wear for other than hiking/long walking etc? Thank you.

Posted by
1625 posts

I have bad feet and am prone to platers factitious and my foot comfort and ability to walk is probably the most important aspect of my trip planning so in the winter/wet weather I will take 3 pairs. My most important are my black ankle boots from Vionic, with arch support, a grippy bottom to go from uneven cobblestone streets to slick museum floors giving me traction and sure footing. They are not completely waterproof but do keep my feet dry in rain. I pack these with the heels in the corner of my carry on, and the boot is stuffed with clothing. I also take a pair of tennis shoes (worn on the plane) and flip flops (to walk around the hotel room). In the summer months, I add two more pairs of Vionic Sandals (these squeeze into the sides of the suitcase). I do carry on only.
The bootie is similar to these:
https://www.amazon.com/Vionic-Brionie-Bootie-Supporting-Three-Zone-Orthotic/dp/B0B31CZN22/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1IF2NVG56MXW5&keywords=vionic%2Bbootie&qid=1682439935&sprefix=vionic%2Bbootie%2Caps%2C246&sr=8-2&th=1&psc=1

Posted by
35 posts

Letizie, i checked out Vionics (had never heard of them before) and found/ordered some very light weight
black boots, which i think will be great for day or night. I also bought a pair of sandals, which i'll probably take as well. (Your note encouraged me :). Then, Instead of packing my new balance running shoes i'll take a New Bal. trainer version. Still three pairs but smaller. To make better use of space I will try stuffing them with underwear. Thank you so much! Minannie, i liked your boots as well. However my right ankle needs all the help it can get!! Thank you.

Posted by
76 posts

I have horrible feet and hard to fit as well. I am taking a second pair of insoles for my water proof shoes hoping they make my second pair of shoes feel differently. Otherwise if rain is not an issue I take Chaco sandals

Posted by
17 posts

Light packer and Problem foot child here too. Achilles problem severely impacted my travel last year. Had to do months of physical therapy when I got home. Ended up biting the bullet and going to a podiatrist and invested a good chunk of change on custom orthotic inserts (having tried and failed with Good Feet Store/Dr. Scholl's/etc.). He took a plaster of my foot right in his office and the whole nine yards. Very worth it to me. When trying on new shoes, I take my inserts with me and put them in the shoe I'm trying to make sure they fit & feel good. I haven't gone waterproof yet but investing in the professionally made personalized insert has let me wear pretty much anything I want - which as a very light packer has meant a lot to me. This last trip I took some Brooks Glycerin and leather ankle boots (for rain/"dressier") and that worked pretty good. You can pack a ton of stuff in an ankle boot so it still fit within my light packing philosophy. ;) Good luck in your search!