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shoes

How many & what kind of shoes should I pack for a 32 day tour of Europe? I have bad feet/ankles so I need at least 2 pairs to alternate. For those with foot problems, will I regret not bringing a pair of tennis shoes?
We will not be hiking, but I know that we will be doing a ton of walking.

Posted by
1974 posts

What time of year? Why wouldn’t you bring tennis shoes? Everybody wears them in Europe. What I would not bring are flip flops.

I always bring two pairs of shoes: 1) My well worn in, absolute most favorite tennis shoes and 2) a slip on shoe that I can walk for miles in. At the moment, both of these are Skechers brand. Both are super lightweight and work for MY feet.

Whatever you bring, make sure you’ve worn them for miles of walking at a time and they’re well worn in. Comfort is key.

Posted by
12643 posts

I agree…why NOT bring tennis shoes if this is what is comfortable for you to walk in? I bring 2 pr athletic shoes because that is all that’s comfortable.

My personal brand of choice is Altra Zero Drop but they are not for everyone. You’ll want to decide what works best for your feet and will keep them going for your wonderful trip!

Posted by
6173 posts

If your feet hurt, it’s going to affect your trip. I’ve taken Keen Rose sandals for years as my shoe. I realize they’re not glamorous, but it’s more important for me to have a good traction sole and a toe protector design than a cute shoe. And, I rarely have a photo that shows my shoes, and no one else really cares what shoe you’re wearing. So pack your most comfortable shoe(s) that you would be wearing if you were active at home.

Posted by
4012 posts

You probably should take a look at and post this question in the forum titled Best Walking Shoes for Travel

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/best-travel-shoes

There you'll find many brand and style recommendations as well as how few pairs you'll need from the packing point of view.

As someone else mentioned, where you'll be going, when and what kind of trip (tour, self-planned, city, small town, etc.) are important details that will make suggestions and recommendations more to the point.

Posted by
8 posts

We are going in mid-May to mid-June to Germany, France, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, Lichtenstein...I feel like I am leaving some out. I am tagging along with my husband, his colleagues, & about 30 college students. We are mostly staying in smaller towns, usually in the old town areas. We will be spending a couple of days at the beach in Medveja, Croatia. I was thinking about not packing tennis shoes because they take up more room. This is my first time trying to pack one suitcase with a month's worth of clothes & leaving a little room to do some shopping.
I will check out the board on shoes. I didn't know it was there. Thanks!

Posted by
12643 posts

Wear your heaviest shoes on the plane and pack your lighter pair. That group is probably going to move fast so you’ll need to be comfortable every day.

Many of us are all about packing light. Start with a list - 4 SS shirts, 1 LS shirt, 1 or 2 sweaters or quarter zip shirts. 3 pr bottoms, 1 waterproof jacket. 2 pr shoes. Undies, pjs, toiletries.

And after the holidays I recommend some trial packing!

Posted by
784 posts

The engineering in modern athletic shoes is really amazing in comparison to what we had for serious hiking back in the dark ages of the 1970's and 1980's. But never take any shoes on a trip that you have not worn at home for several weeks, if not longer. Although it is not travel advice per se... but ...if you have significantly bad feet/ankles invest in an orthopedist visit for their advice first. And ask her what shoes nurses she knows wear - they are on their feet on hard floors far more than most people.

Posted by
2326 posts

I have old and new foot issues. Wear and pack what is most comfortable for you to walk 6 to 8 miles everyday of your trip.

In September I packed Ryka tennis shoes, Alegria tie shoes and FitFlop sandals (not flip flops). Although the Alegria were well broken in I got a shoe bruise on top of my toe when I walked my 6 mile daily average. They stayed in my suitcase the rest of my 28-day trip. I debated about packing the sandals but was so glad I did.

June 2023 I’ll wear my tennis shoes and pack the FitFlop sandals. Alegria will stay home. I truly thought my feet would be happier rotating shoes daily. They were happiest in Ryka tennis shoes. Plus I’m saving 1 pound by leaving the Alegria home.

Posted by
1974 posts

You can’t possibly pack a month’s worth of clothes in one suitcase. Check out the packing lists on this site. You’re packing maybe a week’s worth of clothes, probably less. Plan on doing laundry. Either in your sink, at a laundromat, or dropping it off at a “fluff & fold”. Bring a foldable duffle bag. Coming home, pack your souvenirs in your carry on. Put your clothes in the duffle and check the duffle for the flight home.

Posted by
7786 posts

We travel lighter and lighter the more we travel. With our 21" ultralight swivel wheeled Travel Pro bags, we can travel indefinately--using Rick Steves' Packing List.

We intentionally will book accommodations half way through our trip that have a washing machine. That's is a great help to allow packing lighter.

I only take one pair of shoes, but since I wear Size 15, another pair would take up a lot of space in my bag.

My wife has taken the advise of her foot orthopedic surgeon and that's wearing Alegria rocker bottom shoes--like the doctor wears. She now wears no other brand of shoe.

My wife has terrible arthritis in both feet and has had mid foot fusion on one foot. She has a folding personal electric scooter that she rides which all the time. It's the only way she will ever be able to travel. But with a 10 mile range, I cannot keep up with her.

Posted by
1259 posts

How many & what kind of shoes should I pack for a 32 day tour of Europe? I have bad feet/ankles so I need at least 2 pairs to alternate. For those with foot problems, will I regret not bringing a pair of tennis shoes? We will not be hiking, but I know that we will be doing a ton of walking.

There you are: Three pairs.
Selecting the brands and models that protect your feet and will not aggravate your conditions is a job you fortunately have plenty of time to accomplish. So get to work. You will want to follow your orthopedic doc's or surgeon's recommendations closely. If you don't have a foot doctor, you've got time to find one and have your issues properly diagnosed and treated. Self-diagnosing foot problems is a one-way ticket to discomfort and possibly harm. Depending on your issues, you might need custom orthotics, special footbeds, or socks in combination with your new walking shoes. Is there an indoor track where you can evaluate footwear? Join the early morning walkers at a mall? You will want to put 30-100 miles on your feet while using your new footwear and devices, starting very slowiny and working up to whatever you think is going to be a solid day on vacation, maybe 10 miles. You've got to figure out how far you can go beetween rest stops, how to accurately measure that distance (Apple Watch?), and how to recognize when you simply must stop to avoid debilitating damage that will mean a day of rest, anti-inflamatories, and ice while everyone else is off having fun.

Posted by
813 posts

Maximum two pairs of shoes that you can walk and stand in all day. Wear one pair and pack the other. When you say “a ton of walking”, how many miles a day do you mean? On our last trip to Europe in April, we averaged between 5 and 10 miles per day.

Posted by
125 posts

We were in Europe for 3 weeks+ earlier this year. We packed in one carry- on and one back pack per person. My husband and I each brought tennis shoes which we wore 90+% of the time. I packed Reiker sandals which I wore the rest of the time, and another pair of shoes that I never wore. So, my suggestion, pack (or wear on the plane) your tennis shoes. Then pack no more than 2 other pair of shoes. The deciding factor for me was that I would be more likely to regret NOT having comfortable shoes with me, and that if me feet “went down,” my vacation would go down with them.

Posted by
14917 posts

Call them “sneakers” rather than “tennis shoes” and you will see many options online that were made specifically for walking, not for the tennis court. Don’t hesitate to take them to Europe.

Sketchers is an oft-recommended brand in the moderate price range. My current travel sneakers suede ones by Lowa, a now-discontinued model similar to this, but without the perforations.

https://www.rei.com/rei-garage/product/209155/lowa-san-francisco-gtx-surround-shoes-womens?CAWELAID=120217890013235654&CAGPSPN=pla&CAAGID=140331646459&CATCI=pla-1658742773458&cm_mmc=PLA_Google%7C21700000001700551_2091550020%7C92700072545480314%7CNB%7C71700000080221961&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0c3F9s6V_AIVjjOtBh0W7gGAEAQYASABEgLe6fD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Lots of other good options on the market, and they all fit differently and have different amounts of arch support.

You don’t need to listen to men who tell you “2 pairs max”. That’s a guys’ rule, not meant for women.

My packing list for Europe always includes 4 pairs for summer travel, because our activities range from serious hiking (10 miles or so on rugged rocky terrain) to city strolling (can do ten miles here too) to nice dinners and opera, to beach or pool swimming. So I take my sturdy hiking shoes, one pair of “city sneakers”, nice-looking sandals that I can wear with a dress, and a pair of Clark’s flip flops for the beach or pool.

Fortunately I have small feet (size 6) so 3 pairs fit in my carry-on plus personal item. I usually wear the sneakers on the plane, and put the hiking shoes in the small daypack that serves as my personal item.

You won’t need the hiking boots, so you could do fine with 2 or 3 pair ( two pair sneakers or other walking shoes) and one pair of sandals if you like). With “bad feet/ankles” you do need to alternate shoes. And since it has been very hot in Europe the past two summers, you may like to have the sandals to wear some of the time. Just make sure the footbed (the surface your foot rests on) is soft and non-abrasive. Suede or cork are good; some plastics can be very abrasive, especially in hot weather when feet get . . Well, sweaty.

Posted by
6173 posts

Wow, your itinerary sounds like a lot of fun! What a great opportunity!

There’s some serious cobblestones in the smaller towns. Google images of “Modena cobblestones” to see the variety from literal oval rocks across a piazza to pavers in patterns. I mentioned the sturdy soles on my Keens above. Whatever you pick, make sure it doesn’t have a bendable sole, so your feet don’t hurt walking over the rocks. My Keens stay flat over the rocks.

Posted by
8 posts

@Jean I had a run-in with some cobblestones & pavers in Denmark a couple of months ago. I thought I had killed my camera! Thanks everyone for the tips! We are still fairly new to international travel so I am always looking for ways to improve my packing.

Posted by
4012 posts

About the packing, shoes and everything else.

You said "We are going in mid-May to mid-June to Germany, France, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, Lichtenstein..." and "We are mostly staying in smaller towns, usually in the old town areas."

Before you make too many decisions be sure to check

https://www.timeanddate.com/

to find out what the weather might be at the time you will be at or near the places you are going. If you explore that website a bit you can get a few years of historical data for them.

That way you can better pinpoint the kind of clothes and shoes you need to wear while there. For example, the last thing you need is to depend on sneakers that won't dry quickly enough if they get wet.

I also have foot and ankle issues and one of my biggest shoe errors was wearing sneakers in Italy. They simply did not have the ankle support I needed for the uneven, broken pavement and cobblestones I experienced there.

Before that mistake and definitely after, I've worn ankle boots that are lightweight, supportive and comfortable enough to wear about 95% of the time. They are waterproof, good on paved flat surfaces, cobblestones of any shape, grass, gravel or dirt -- dry or wet. Far from fashionable, but I do have some fun colors.

In addition, I pack one pair of just-in-case comfortable flats that I rarely wear outside the place I'm staying and one pair of quick drying ballet style non-slip shower shoes that I bought after experiencing some very slippery shower and bathroom floors in 2018.

As for the clothes, I pack for a week and plan to do laundry along the way.
I may sink wash (my least favorite), self-launder where I'm staying or nearby (my most favorite), send it out or drop it off (both acceptable). The cost seems to work out to be about the same for almost everything I have except what I'm wearing.

My basic clothes list includes the shoes mentioned above and what follows. This is everything, including what I'm wearing.

On the inside: 2-3 pairs of Sockwell knee high moderate compression socks, 2-3 bras, 2-3 shapewear camis, 7-8 pairs of panties.

On the outside: 6-8 tops (including 1 button-up long-sleeve shirt), 3 pairs of pants and a rain jacket. The tops and pants are chosen based on historical weather data and the forecasts just before I leave. I might add a zip-up fleece or puffer jacket if needed.

Most importantly for me, everything has to go with everything else. I am not a fan of neutral colors and usually use a scarf to base my colors on, even if I don’t always wear the scarf.

I do carry-on only about 90% of the time. All my bags are 2-wheeled ones. The heaviest one has a U-shaped handle and weighs 5.5 pounds empty. The other 3 have T-shaped handles and weigh 4.5 pounds empty each. No matter which one I use, if it goes over 20 pounds packed, things are removed until it meets that goal. I use a backpack or a cross-body bag for my personal item.

And that's it. That formula (or less) in various permutations has worked for me on trips to Europe since 1977. And, yes, sometimes less is more.

Posted by
1259 posts

Packing light is a religious topic around here and there are mountains of information here and the web. Packing light is an art, once one completes the task of quantifying mass and volume; it's easy but may not be for everyone. How many shoes one packs is a personal decision based on fashion, physical requirements, and available space.

Posted by
290 posts

I wear Hokas. I wear one pair on the plane and the other I run in, but also use to give my primary shoes a break. Someone above said six to eight miles of walking per day -- reasonable estimation. MAYBE toss in a pair of flip flops for poolside or lounging in your accommodation. I do because I can smash them into my carryon bag.

We went to Scotland last year and I wire the highly recommended hiking boots on the plane. They otherwise would take too much room in the carryon. I wasnt wild about wearing them to fly, but it was a solution.

That said.. . Two pairs. Max.

Posted by
5927 posts

Lo, what ankle boots do you wear? I'm looking for something similar.

Edit to add: I just emailed Lo about this; if I get a response there before she posts here, I'll post the information, in case anyone else is interested.

Edit again: I heard from Lo, and the ankle boots she likes best are no longer made: zip-up Abeos with a sweater-like cuff. They look very comfortable. The other ones she likes are more like hiking boots: Keen Terradora II, and Teva Arrowood 2. She wears the Tevas for walking here at home, and credits them for keeping her from a fall in Lisbon.

Posted by
18 posts

I love my Allbirds (wool sneakers) and Blondo leather ankle boots. They're both water resistant (almost water proof) and the boots can be worn daily, or for a dressier evening look. They're both supremely comfortable for me, but, like others mention, and I'm sure you know, make sure whatever shoes you bring are comfortable and sturdy enough well before your trip. If you don't like wearing just socks indoors, I sometimes pack a pair of Nike slides, which can be used as slippers, and also be worn in a shared shower, or at the beach. While bulkier than flipflops, they weigh very little. I also find that wool socks can be a lot more comfortable for a long day walking than cotton or man-made blends.

Posted by
1481 posts

Another vote for the Allbird wool sneakers. They are so comfortable for me and I can wear them all day.

Posted by
5927 posts

I bought a pair of Allbirds a couple of years ago, after travel group friend Kim bought some and loved them. I had to go up considerably in size, because they don't offer a wide. They are extremely comfortable, but when I went for a walk in them, I made it a half mile before I knew they wouldn't do. There's not enough support for me; YMMV, of course.

I do wear them around town, but not for travel, and not for walks. And I wear them to our travel group meetings!

Posted by
1602 posts

Here is my female packing list for shoes:
Foot problems here, planters factitious specifically. I take 5 pairs every Trip.
2 pairs of Aetrix Sandals (One in gunmetal and one black, this will cover all my outfits including skirts/dresses) . The great thing with these is the comfort (I can walk 5+ miles a day) and the adjustable straps in case your feet swell during the day. Also I can never wear flats again due to PF, the wedge heel and design of the heel keeps my whole body adjusted, so no sore hips or back.
https://www.aetrex.com/jillian-braided-quarter-sandal-gunmetal-SC465W.html?lang=en_US
1 Pair sneakers- your brand choice -I have been fitted for Brooks Ghost
1 Pair Booties- I use Vionic, due to the support, the comfort and the bottom grip. Plus they are cute. These have been on multiple trips to Europe and used daily at home in the winter:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HLW6SO2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
1 Pair of Flip flops- Also Vionic for in the hotel room, the beach, when I just want to run out real quick.
https://www.vionicshoes.com/casandra.html?color=1259

I wear the sneakers on the plane all the rest are compact because the sandals only need the space for the sole, the top can be squished down, the flip slops are shoved into the sides of my suitcase as the last items and the boot heel goes into a corner with scarves or other clothes packed into them.

Posted by
884 posts

I too found the original Allbirds lacking in arch support. I even sent a suggestion that they offer there insoles with improved support. I do believe they have some newer models with more cushioning. I tried one and the support was better but I didn't like the top side. They were the no lace sort but the tops didn't stretch so they were hard to get on.

Posted by
613 posts

I generally take two pairs of shoes. one pair of sturdy walking/running/hiking shoes and another lighter pair, regardless of the amount of time I will be traveling. On rare occasions, I will throw in a pair of water shoes if I absolutely know I will need them.

My exact brand and type of heavy shoe varies a bit . As a general rule, if the shoe is comfortable for lengthy dogs walks, it's good for travel.

My light shoe picks are usually Allbirds or Naots --- just something to give my feet a break.