Please sign in to post.

Travel shoes for teens... Yikes.

I'm taking my two teen daughters to Italy in March. (One turned 13 yesterday and the other is an "old" 15.)

I'm super happy with my Keds Scout boots which are super lightweight, have mild tread on the bottom and can be dressed up or down. I add a foam insole and I'm good to go.

My 15 year old, on the other hand, is uncomfortable with for these or any other "travel shoe". I do great in Converse, but she gets blisters in them no matter how broken in. She would never dream of wearing Allbirds or anything similar and honestly, her clothing doesn't exactly go with that style of footwear. That said, I told her she won't care how she looks if her feet hurt (and with that statement, I have officially become my grandmother).

So. Teens and travel shoes? What do-it-all shoes have your trendy travelers been happy with? (I got my Keds boots for 22.00 . I don't expect another bargain like that, but we looking at budget options for sure.)

Posted by
844 posts

Whatever shoes are most comfortable to them for all day walking. And that they will wear a lot before the trip so they are broken in. For my teen boys, they tend to wear Vans to school. But those have very little cushioning. So they’d get running shoes a couple months before the trip and start breaking them in. Most teens don’t walk 9-12 miles a day (our average in Europe) so they really don’t understand how miserable they might be in bad shoes!

Posted by
326 posts

My daughter brought Nike running shoes and ankle boots. She actually ended up finding the ankle boots more comfortable then the Nike's. Bring moleskin just in case.

Posted by
21031 posts

I think a nicely cushioned sole is the key thing. On my first trip to Europe, age 20, I took some nice, flat sandals; I knew enough to stay away from heels (cobblestones!), but the soles were leather. Every time I sat down to have lunch or take a break and then stood up, the soles of my feet burned. I learned my lesson and have since traveled with lace-up athletic shoes. I am, however, an atypical female who doesn't care about shoes. Good luck selling this idea to teenaged girls.

I know we have posters who've mentioned specific sandals they're comfortable in. You might try looking at earlier shoe threads. Stylish, comfortable, suitable-for-travel shoes can be costly. In truth, I think having shoes that are going to be comfortable all day long and that you daughters are willing to wear is worth what you have to pay for them, even if it means you have to cut the travel budget elsewhere. I am an acknowledged cheapskate, and I willingly pay $150 for my (very unstylish) travel shoes. Then I buy expensive memory-foam inserts for them. That's what I have to do to keep my feet happy. The good news is that the shoes last for most of the trip before I begin to notice that they're breaking down a bit. I walk about 800 miles per trip. If I were a normal traveler, one pair of those shoes+inserts would last many, many years.

Here's what I wear: On Cloud Waterproof. Aren't they cute? Maybe if you threaten your daughters with those, they'll settle for some less athletic-looking but suitable shoes.

Posted by
159 posts

@travel4fun

Whatever shoes are most comfortable to them for all day walking. And that they will wear a lot before the trip so they are broken in.

This is almost word for word the requirements I gave her. Agree 100% and have googled my little heart out, but it's hard to tell what will hold up for, as you said, many miles of walking daily. I told her that no matter how cute she looks she would throw them off a bridge in trade for granny orthopedics once they really start hurting!

@Gail Yep, you never know. What type of ankle boots were they?

@acraven I love your sense of humor, but hey, Those shoes are pretty hip!-- what my sister (stylist) refers to as "ugly cute". She spends her days turning the hair of high-end clients a pure platinum and, with her adorable rose-pink hair and septum ring, she wears "hideous" old white "dad sneakers", lol.

I know that sole-burning feeling- reminds me of family vacations in payless shoes, haha! I agree that shoes are important-the most important thing one wears while traveling, so I won't cheap out at the expense of function, but if less expensive options are available, I'm all for it!

Posted by
3680 posts

What does she wear at home? In the rain? Or through puddles? Or on rough pavement or slippery cobblestones? One thing for sure, if the weather is wet, the last thing any of you will need is wet shoes that don't dry in time to wear them the next day.

Depending on where you are and when, Italy in March may not be warm and sunny. It could be cold and rainy. That could affect what all of you wear, head to toe.

Timeanddate.com can help you pre-plan. You can check the weather in your locations and the dates you will be in them for several years in the past to get a better understanding than averages or oddities will provide. Just before you leave, you can also check the forecasts for exactly where you're going and make any last-minute packing changes that might be needed.

Here's the link to explore: https://www.timeanddate.com/

I'm not sure what this means, "She would never dream of wearing Allbirds or anything similar and honestly, her clothing doesn't exactly go with that style of footwear." Can you be more specific?

Google something like teen girls street style italy to see some pictures. In fact, I did that and got this: http://fashiongum.com/womens-fashion/italian-girl-street-style/

Ignore anything involving heels or sandals with thin soles. Neither is appropriate for long days on your feet on cobblestones and rough pavement. Note the casual clothes and large number of white, comfortable-looking sneakers.

This is another good source that includes what to wear in Italy updated for 2022, including shoes: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/what-to-wear-in-italy-dress-like-a-local/

I'm sure you can Google and find more pictures or resources. Just make sure they are recent and not something from years ago. For example, white sneakers, especially Adidas Stan Smith style, are very popular in Italy these days. You'd never see that only a few years ago.

Edited to add this link Best Walking Shoes for Travel in case you haven't explored it already: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/best-travel-shoes

Posted by
2705 posts

Shoes are so dependent on the specific individuals foot so recommendations go only so far.

What does she wear at home for general hanging out? Sneakers are much more in style than they used to be. White Stan smiths are popular and some find them all-day comfortable (I don’t but it’s so individual). On the pricier side, veja sneakers are quite trendy. Some specific pairs of new balance or other mainstream popular brands pass style muster. Others don’t, it’s hard to say what the difference is. Something with the shape and line? I have a new balance pair I love (THESE but I am not a teen so she will probably find these lame! I like to think im reasonably stylish but fashion at 30s/40s is different than teenagers!

My main advice is to get her to a shoe store and try on tons of pairs. Have her wear an outfit the shoes need to look ok with. A favorite outfit she’d take on the trip.

If you don’t have a decent store, Amazon has a try before you buy set up and Zappos has easy free returns so you can buy a couple and return the ones that don’t work.

Also for blister concerns don’t neglect socks. Merino wool really helps, and they do make no-show or low profile versions.

Posted by
13471 posts

Just commenting here that it might be better to look at pictures of Italian teens and high school students which are not connected with "fashion" 'cuz what comes up is more than likely not to be realistic, including surfaces the models are standing on. Last we were there, I recall Italian young folks not looking very differently than American teens, like this:

https://tinyurl.com/5n6eht5u

The short shorts are out as well as sandals (you're traveling in March, right?) but you can get an idea of what they're wearing with their jeans and tights.

I'd think any sort of athletic shoe that's comfortable and provide support would work, and she really needs two pairs; wear one and pack the other. What has she worn on others of your trips involving lots of walking? Yes, a good tread is vital for managing any wet, deadly slippery stone!

Posted by
18 posts

White sneakers!
When we were in Rome last Sept everyone was wearing white sneakers. I felt very old ladyish in my black ones. And I’m old enough to remember when you would never wear sneakers in the European cities.

Posted by
1282 posts

Have them look at Brooks Ghost running shoes.

https://www.brooksrunning.com/en_us/ghost-14-womens-cushioned-road-running-shoe/120356.html

My sister and I both wore these in Switzerland. I am more plain in my style, so I went with the simple black and white. But, my more stylish sister opted for the crazier color combinations. These are the most comfortable shoes we have ever worn and we wear them at home now too. They can try them out and return for a full refund if they end up not liking them.

Posted by
50 posts

What I found hilarious about the first fashion link above is the 4 inch heels the model was wearing in at least 2 of the photos. I think I would let my teenager wear whatever she wants, but insist she set aside $200 of her birthday or babysitting savings to buy something more comfortable after she got there. Shoe shopping in Europe is fun, often brands we don't have here in USA, good quality, but of course not cheap. Although a favorite travel purchase, and one I wear all the time at home, is a Euro 20 pair of short rubber boots I bought at a street market on the third day of non-stop rain on one trip. I don't know what the rubber is exactly but very comfortable even for a lot of walking!

Posted by
34 posts

We took our daughter to Europe at 19 & 21, so older than yours, but she is a very stylish traveler! And also in warmer months. We warned her ahead that she needed to have comfortable shoes. She ended up bringing flip flops, gladiator sandals, Keds & Nike running shoes. (She way over-packed on our 1st trip and that's another conversation to have with your daughters! Our funniest pictures are of her trying to get 1 large & 1 small suitcase + a heavy backpack over the bridges to our hotel in Venice!). She ended up wearing the gladiator sandals almost every day, but chose the Keds for Athens (climbing to Parthenon) & Nike running shoes for climbing path to Vesuvius. I agree with a previous poster to let her bring what she thinks she's comfortable in + money of her own if she needs to purchase some more comfortable shoes when she's in Europe. Have a great trip!

Posted by
159 posts

@Lo
Love the timeanddate site! We used it to project needs for this trip. As such, wee are not expecting any warm and sunny at all. That way, if we get that on some days, it'll just be a bonus! (That's why my shoes are basically rain sneakers.)

LOVE all those fun Italian girl outfits. My gal is way (way) more low key than that. She is in the "dad fashion" phase as well. Old "ugly" oversized diamond pattern dad sweaters, stonewashed jeans (men's as well).

Thank you for the links. I have read 6 or 7 blog posts very similar to the one you shared and I have read packing lists from Rick Steves and quite a few others. We feel pretty decently prepared except for the shoes, which is why I thought I'd ask specifically which shoes have worked for other teens. I googled around for it quite a bit but couldn't find a single post on travel shoes for teen/college age. Lots for younger children and older adults.

@ Mira
I didn't want to blather on in my initial post, but this may explain things: My darling daughter is awful (I mean, awful!) about wearing appropriate footwear. She insisted on picking out her own shoes for basketball without my input. They didn't fit, so she wore converse to basketball practice (which I wouldn't have thought would be problematic) but she blistered so badly, her socks were bloodied for two weeks and she lost a toenail. (We ordered bulk epsom salts.)

She got a pair of popular white sneakers last year and literally shuffled as though she was injured in order to prevent "creasing". At school, she wears a pair of clunky Doc Martens oxfords that aren't super comfy and are too heavy for long distances. (It's a small school and she switches to basketball shoes for gym. The basketball shoes are impractical for travel and not allowed off the court anyhow, in order to prevent damage to the gym floor.)

And that covers all three pairs of shoes she owns at the moment. We, thankfully, have some wool socks that are already on our packing list. That should help with minimizing laundry too.

You know, I think ordering a bunch from Amazon wardrobe is a great idea!

@Kathy

We haven't traveled much. When we went to Boston a few years ago and Williamsburg last year for history studies, she wore the (now creased) Nikes and wanted to turn back before the rest of us were ready. Every day.

@mltraveler
Well, we went to Italy on our honeymoon. I was 18 and the internet was very new, so you relied on word of mouth for travel advice. I wore flip flops. On the train. In public. I guess poor footwear choice is hereditary, lol? (If you want a laugh: I have very long feet and wore the flip flops with a skirt. I did not need to be told I'd made a faux pas. The stares and raised eyebrows were impossible to miss. One woman stared at my feet for an entire hour long train ride!) Most people we saw were wearing nice leather shoes-oxfords, loafers, ankle boots, etc...

@Laurie Ann
That's brilliant advice- for traveling and parenting. I don't think she can come up with 200 in time, but probably 100! She can (at the minimum) get a decent, simple pair of sneakers for that if nothing else.

@TinaC I wish I had a gif of my daughter's jaw dropping when I told her she can bring one pair of shoes. (She has a backpack. That's it. And I won't be paying to upgrade that pack because of size or weight, so she will have to toss anything that's in excess. I think that got the point across?)

Posted by
226 posts

don't buy new shoes! go with the tried and tested ones (even if its simple sneakers) she is already using.

Posted by
159 posts

@Jis Ganga I know, right?! New shoes for a trip is a rookie mistake. My younger daughter and I are wearing tried and true shoes. The issue is that my older daughter does not own any tried-and-true shoes at current. Even her clunky docs were a Christmas gift and not at all properly broken in. The shoes I would have suggested, of her 3 pairs, were the ones she complained of after only a couple miles in Williamsburg last month.

Posted by
287 posts

I am a huge, huge fan of my Vans Ultrarange Rapidwelds. It's the typical Vans style with the stripe down the side, but the rapid weld material is a breathable mesh. These have been my go-to travel shoes in a lot of circumstances. I will say that the mesh is not at all waterproof, so I tend to bring something else or a second pair if I'm expecting much rain, but they have been probably my favorite shoes for travel in some time.

Posted by
1595 posts

Why don't you take her to DSW Shoes to let her try on shoes she'll like and are comfortable to her? You may not like her choice; just remind her that she will be walking a lot, more than she imagines. If her feet hurt so be it. It's her lesson to learn. All you can do is guide her. When she has made her choice, remind her than she needs to break them in, so she has to wear them daily walking a lot. Maybe before your shopping trip, take her for a 5+ mile walk so she understands distance.

At 71, my shoe choice now is far different than my choice at 40 and was unimaginable at 18.

Posted by
113 posts

Forget fashion - comfort is key. When I took my two teenage daughters in 2019 I got them both a set of Sketchers go walk shoes. They have several styles and colors. You can get them on Amazon for less than $50. They will be on their feet all day. Tell them these folks will never see them again so no reason to worry about looks. I hope you guys have a great trip!

Posted by
3105 posts

Our granddaughters were 14 and 17 when we took them to Italy then Paris for a 3 week trip in July-August 2019. Both are pretty picky about their shoes but especially the youngest. When we showed up the night before our flight, her mom was happy to tell us that she had talked L into a new pair of shoes, another pair of her favorite brand, Vans. My husband and I nearly fell off the couch but didn’t say anything—it’s such a struggle to get her to buy new shoes and her mom was so proud. 48h later she came back to our Florence apartment with two 1”x2” blisters on the back of her feet and a sanitary pad cut in half and stuck to the back of her shoes to cushion the blisters! I took a picture. For the next week she wore my flip flops until her blisters healed. Her other pair of shoes she’d taken were sandals with a back leather strap. We also got her large blister bandaids @ 1€ each.

The older granddaughter will wear athletic shoes and did fine with her New Balance shoes and leather strappy sandals. Last summer I went shoe shopping with her and she spotted a pair of On Cloud shoes, mentioned above. She told me she’d heard about them on a podcast. It was love at first fitting and we bought a pair on site and loves them.

I understand about teenagers and very specific shoe preferences. Sometimes the youngest wears a favorite pair of shoes way after it’s life expectancy and it’s very hard to get her to find a replacement for something that shouldn’t be worn any longer like her first pair of ankle boots, Clarks, that she must have worn daily for 5 years!

Good luck with your shoe shopping this month. Hopefully she’ll find something comfortable and break them in before your trip, hard lesson learned by our 14yo granddaughter. If you want to see that picture of the huge, fresh blisters and shoes with sanitary pad protectors just message me and I’ll share them with you. It really helps reinforce the idea of comfortable, broken in shoes.

Posted by
9675 posts

I'll just add something about blisters. My brother was a forester before retirement and he swore by medical paper tape. It is MUCH easier to remove than moleskin and will stay on for a couple of showers. It's also easy to tear so you don't need scissors. I started using for boots which always gave me heel blisters and would put the paper tape on BEFORE anything popped up.

Socks - there are blister resister socks but they never worked for me. She does need good socks (not cotton).

On my old and wide feet I have started wearing only Altra brand running shoes and they need no break-in time for me. Maybe some of the bright colors would attract her? They are NOT budget but you need to get her well-shod. If she has a very narrow foot this will be too wide. If you can't find these locally, I recommend ordering 2 different sizes from Zappos if she decides to try them.

https://www.zappos.com/altra-women

Posted by
13045 posts

Medical tape is a good option for prevention, and for emergency use after getting blisters. I only had duct tape to tape up with to hike out of the Grand Canyon after getting serious blisters on my heels on the hike down.

I should have carried some Compeed blister patches, which I discovered in Switzerland in 2001, on a hiking trip.

https://www.compeedusa.com/product/compeed-advanced-blister-care-medium/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAr5iQBhCsARIsAPcwRON2TRG31xClFAHT0hFEPhjAXSaC577Xr0X_WB5FbH_gsoR1YxZlyS4aAl64EALw_wcB&utm_term=compeed%20blister&gclsrc=aw.ds&?cb=

They are meant to use over an existing blister and relieve the pain completely. They stay on for several days (and through showers) and allow the blister to heal underneath. Available in several sizes ( for heels, toes, etc.) at most pharmacies and on Amazon.

After that Grand Canyon hike I switched to merino wool socks and haven’t had a blister since. But I still carry the Compeeds just in case.

Another good blister prevention product is Bodyglide:

https://www.rei.com/product/745879/bodyglide-anti-chafe-formula-skin-protectant-15-oz

As for shoes, our teen daughters did fine with their regular running shoes on 4 trips to Europe, with lots of walking and some hiking as well. We did have to veto the Uggs one daughter wanted to bring. . . That was when those were popular. I don’t see that problem now.

Posted by
27709 posts

If she decides that Dr M's are her thing after all, and if you are stopping in England on the way to Italy (yeah right, huh?) and you have a day you could come up where I live for the Dr Martens Outlet Store.

Probably not worth a special trip tho

Posted by
3336 posts

Another vote for Compeed Blister patches. I too was introduced to the Compeed product in Europe years ago. One of my tour members gave me a patch in Portugal. Ahh, in a matter of a day I was pain free and healing. I bought some there and then found them at home at my local pharmacy. After that I always have some when traveling (just in case). Years before I tried moleskin. Never worked for me. Tried paper tape, but Compeed as a preventative does the trick. I also have good luck with Smartwool socks.

Posted by
128 posts

I'm not 15 so don't know the latest styles. I have an old pair of broken in Brooks running shoes that I wear in Europe for urban walking. I also bring light weight Teva sandals (5 ounces) if there is a pool or beach on the trip. Tevas also have some sandals specifically made for trail hiking but they look stylish in an urban environment too. I pack moleskin and Compeed patches too because I walk so much I still get hot spots and blisters. When I was in Italy I fell in love with a pair of shoes I saw but couldn't afford them. (300 euros?!) It's so fun to window shop though.

Posted by
159 posts

@horsewoofie
I'm all about natural consequences. (Held my breath through her standing outside in a skirt and polo waiting for the bus in 20 degree weather) But... I can't risk her actually making it impossible for us to do and see things we want to do because of something this preventable. She will miss the whole thing mentally if she's in pain and no doubt make it pretty miserable for me and for her sister. Now if she wants to refuse to wear her base layer and freeze, more power to her, but open wounds, however small, I don't want to deal with.

@Oreon.
Can you come tell them, lol? Or if your kids listen to you when you impart such wisdom, teach me your ways. Come to think of it, maybe I should suggest the most impractical options possible... she might just get sick of it and order something sane!

@Mona
Well, you are like, the coolest grandparent ever!! I imagine Vans might have done ok if they had been quite broken in... but that exact scenario is what I'm trying to avoid. Maybe I'll have her read your post, lol!

I'm actually a pretty strict parent, but I try to give a wide berth around things that have to touch their bodies... their clothes, hairstyles, etc..

@Pam
Yep, shoes like that would probably be worth their weight in cash... and the exact type of thing she's (literally) putting her foot down about. And her feet are long, but thin.

She doesn't like the wool socks I've come up with, but she's at least willing to listen to reason there!

Excellent tip on the tape... Gotta love a forester- full of good experience, I'm sure!

@Lola
Oh the Uggs, lol! I don't miss that! I will get some of those blister pads for sure. Even good shoes can rub wrong if one is stuck in the rain too long. Thank you!

@Nigel
Now you're speaking in the language of teens. (Do you also speak their secondary language of Whine-ese?). She does love the Docs, but they just aren't broken in and she has the platform ones... great for fashion, a bit ridiculous for travel.

@Leslie
Well, Tevas are back "in" around here due to their total mom-jean, dad-cargo-short association. Urban outfitters has an entire section! ( https://www.urbanoutfitters.com/brands/teva ). Unfortunately, it's supposed to be relatively wet and chilly during our trip.

You all are the best. It's incredibly gracious for so many to offer such thoughtful words about the shoes of one stubborn child, lol!

Posted by
844 posts

Google Skechers Goga mat. The “goga mat” is the insole and it’s like walking on clouds. The “On the Go” soles are super comfy too. Each of these soles comes in tons of styles. These are my go-to travel shoes. I have these soles in waterproof boots, sandals, boat shoes and tennis shoes. They’re all very lightweight. They’re literally more comfy than my memory foam house slippers.

Then go to Famous Footwear and try on a bunch of different styles to se which fit their feet best. Once you know the sole style and size that works, you can search online if you don’t find anything in the stores.

You’ll see some flashy tennis shoes in Italy. Don’t worry about blending in or trying to look like a local by not wearing tennis shoes. Skechers are super popular there too.

Posted by
97 posts

Have you considered insoles for her favorite Doc Martins? It may make them more comfortable to wear. I can definitely empathize. My 13- year old daughter loves the “grunge” style from the 1990’s (my era so I am fully supportive) and refuses to wear any shoes except docs and converse! I am anticipating similar conversations with her in advance of a trip to the (very warm) south of France this summer. I would love a report back on what solution worked for you and your teens! Good luck, mama!

Edited to add: I checked out most of the shoes recommended by others in this post, and while I am sure these are amazing shoes for folks over 65 years old (I’m 47), there is no way on earth my 13-year old would be caught dead in any of these!

Posted by
159 posts

Thank you, @amy!
Sounds like you'll have an amazing trip... I'll try to remember to report back!

The dang Docs are platforms... super heavy and unwieldy. (And oxfords too, so platforms with no ankle support. On the cobblestones of Rome.) I think insoles are probably a good idea anyhow! She will say they're for grannies, but since no one can see them, I bet she warms to the idea once she feels the difference.

I totally feel these kids too. Truth is I have only 4-5 pairs of shoes in rotation and they are low profile Doc boots, Converse, Converse hi-tops and Keds. Long live the 90s! I'm almost 39 and my daughter would probably wear a lot of my clothes and shoes if she hadn't seen me in them first, haha!)

Thank you for the edit. I was starting to think I was the only parent incapable of imparting common sense with a simple pearl of wisdom! I just adore my kid, so I will take it with a grain of salt that she's particularly stubborn about a few things.

Posted by
9675 posts

You KNOW we’re going to want a trip report!! 😁

Posted by
488 posts

Teens are tricky, shoes are tricky — I really sympathize!!

I will offer up another suggestion. We’ve had great luck with Teva ankle boots (and tall boots as well, although those might be too warm for your trip coming up). Both my teen daughter and I have pairs that are several years old and still going strong. They are super comfortable for walking; ours have logged many miles in Europe as well as around home.

Another shoe that has worked well are Crocs sandals, the kind with straps that actually go around your foot, so a little more stable for walking. They are surprisingly comfortable, come in tons of styles and colors, and weigh nothing and take up almost no room in your suitcase. My daughter sticks in a pair on most trips, and they work great as an alternative to her “main” shoes (usually sneakers or her Teva boots).

Good luck with your search, and I hope you have a fantastic trip!

Posted by
64 posts

I don’t think comfortable shoes need to be “granny” shoes. I’m a teacher, and most of the young adults I teach seem to be happy with athletic sneakers (Nike etc). I think this type of shoe would be appropriate for most casual travel in Europe (that’s what I wear while traveling in Europe). Some trail running shoes also have waterproof capabilities, which might be important depending on season. I think the most important thing is that your daughter feels like she’s given a choice, so take her to a store with shoes in your price range and let her pick. I also remember as a teenager having a greater tolerance for uncomfortable shoes than adults around me, so something else to think about.

Personally, if I want a not-as-athletic sneaker, I like Taos Star:

https://taosfootwear.com/products/star

They have great support (I can wear them all day to teach, and I have bad feet), and they kind of have a neat retro look. Might be good if she’s not into athletic sneakers as much. They come in canvas or leather.

Good luck with the negotiations!

Posted by
3797 posts

I was lucky enough to travel often as a teen, and that was "only" 15-20 years ago, and I just wore whatever pair of athletic sneakers I was wearing at the time, plus lighter canvas sneakers in summer (but Converse have no sole cushioning whatsoever, and never worked for all-day wear for me!).
To be honest, I never felt the need to have specific travel shoes, and ankle support has never felt necessary for me outside of major hikes.