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Women, help on shoe issues

Why is it shoes always create the most problem for me? We leave next week, hiking and outdoor activities in Switzerland. Museums and sites in Austria. Outdoors again in Slovenia. Two nights in Paris before return. Some nice dinners. Most of the CURRENT long range weather is nothing above 80F. Several times rain/showers. My current shoes in my bag:

One pair Keen low top hikers
One pair Birkenstock flat tennis shoes
One pair black Clark’s walkable but passable for dinner with long pants
One pair sandals

Should I ditch the sandals? Trying to cut down on anything I can because I have to take a regular size specialty pillow for my neck, which will be vacuum sealed but still takes up room. But shoes take up WAY too much space. Thoughts, women? Thanks

Posted by
1520 posts

My first thought is, how long is your trip? And how big is your suitcase? 😊

For Switzerland, I am wearing a pair and brining a pair. And it’s the same kind of shoe—Brooks Ghost. It’s the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn. I’ve always valued comfort over style. We don’t plan to eat at any fancy places.

Can you narrow it down to two—one for walking and one for the nice dinners?

Posted by
2762 posts

Looks like you have 3 categories - hiking, general walking/touring, and able to be dressed up for dinner. So assuming you need hiking shoes, the Keens stay. Then can you get away with just the Clark’s? Are they comfortable enough for every day, along with being able to be dressed up? If so, that’s your minimum. Adding one more might give your feet a break. Will you prefer sandals to have something less constricting on your feet, or the tennis shoes? I’m assuming the sandals take up less space, so that is another factor. Pick one - sandals or sneakers - not both.
Obviously you will wear shoes on the plane. If you can manage it, wear the keens - then they aren’t taking up room in your bag.

Posted by
2216 posts

I have a two shoe rule. They just take up too much space otherwise. We do carryon only so I’m pretty restricted.

I’d pitch the sandals and either the Birks or the walking shoes. They’re both walking shoes IMO.

I’m never really that fashionable when I travel but I don’t think anyone really notices.

Posted by
3243 posts

I would take 3 pair. Two that work well for walking with one of the two acceptable for a nicer dinner. I personally would take my rarely off my feet, flip flops. I can slip them in any slender outer pocket of my carryon or personal item for packing and they don’t weigh much.

I walk 5 mile stretches in my neighborhood (town walking) in flip flops and I always want something I can slip my feet in and out of during the day without having to Velcro things. I’d like to think I’m not a noisy flip flop wearer too 😅.

Posted by
458 posts

The Keens have to stay as they are outdoor and they will be worn a lot, including on the plane and all the trains because they take up half a darn suitcase. Yes, the sandals don’t take up much room but if it’s not over 80, maybe they should go? Between the Birks and the Clark’s I guess wearing wise I would probably keep the Birks but then any nice dinner I will have to wear white Birk ked type shoes with my nice black pants. I am also thinking because of weather maybe I should just ditch the one black reversible dress too. Mostly 60s and 70s with rain on and off. But I don’t want to be wearing the Keens with dress pants, plus they will need to dry on the hiking days. So maybe Keens and white Birks? Gosh shoes are a struggle, at least for me. Trip is almost a month.

Posted by
21470 posts

I don't think long-range forecasts are anything other than historical averages. I don't know how far out you can get a forecast that's actually based on observed weather patterns.

Posted by
1847 posts

Which model of Birks are you wearing? Right now white tennis shoes are being worn with everything, including dresses.

Posted by
10226 posts

I'm a 2-pr person as well. What do the Birks give you that you don't get with the Clarks? Since the Keen's are a must, I'd ditch the sandals and either the Birks or the Clarks depending on function and which is more comfortable. Can you walk as far in the Clarks as the Birks?

I'll also add that if the sandals are small (as opposed to Chaco type hefty sandals) and you plan to wear them in the hotel room, etc, then I might keep them in. I'll also admit to not being a sandal wearer on a Europe trip. My feet just can't walk in them any more!

Pam

Posted by
2233 posts

I'm bringing one pair of Earth platform walking sandals. These have an athletic shoe platform, but look good too, with dresses. I walk hilly streets in my neighborhood here all the time, so they have been street tested for several months. In fact, they will be thrown out at the conclusion of this trip, which will give me more space for whatever comes home. [ I'm sure it's too late for you to road test new shoes.] I also like L'Amour Des Pieds platform walking shoes; again, athletic platforms but casual uppers.

Will probably bring either my Hokas or my Brooks walking shoes, and maybe my Oofos sandals for the end of the day to relax my feet.

I'm afraid to start packing yet- so hope your trip happens!

Posted by
458 posts

They are the Easy Low I think? Their white sneaker. And very comfortable. I need to decide if I take three, I think the sandals are out. One issue for me is I have to have an outer built on lift for my left foot which is 1/2 inch shorter due to femur fracture as a kid. So I only buy good shoes I will wear for a long time because the lift is $50+ for the one shoe, even all my flip flops. So the left shoe is always just a hair bigger. Biggest thing right now is actually going to be wearing shoes! We live in flip flops 9 months of the year here in SoCal, lol. Any other ideas let me know, having to take the pillow has cramped me a bit this year and since on and off trains still trying to keep it down. I did have to buy a slip on tote bag that will go over my roller bag, but just don’t want everything too heavy.

Posted by
465 posts

I'll add my thoughts. I usually take 3 pairs of shoes (4 IF you count the Crocs I take for the hotel room).
"IF my feet ain't happy, I'll be miserable and won't be able to walk far." And I do take a carry-on size suitcase (which I check) with a tote that slips over the handle.
Like you, I take a hiking shoe that can double for casual street-wear, as well as slip-on Clarks. I also take a sandal just to give my feet a break, but I don't like to walk far in them. Several years ago, I developed problems with my Achilles tendon after walking on uneven surfaces, such as cobblestones. So for me, comfort is more important than fashion.
So, my vote for your shoes is: Keen (of course), Clark's (closed toe always good if rainy and wet), and whichever takes up less room, sandals or Birks. Sandals might be good because you are traveling to warmer countries than just Switzerland.

Posted by
891 posts

One question to ask: do you plan on doing lots of shopping to being back home? If so, then ditch the sandals. Check the weather the day before you depart, and then decide whether to place the sandals back to your bag. Shoes indeed take up lots of space.

In fact, depending on what you enjoy doing in Europe, you may end up buying new shoes to bring home. I always go shoe shopping while in Spain, Portugal, or Greece. Prices in Switzerland and Austria aren't low, but if you have slender feet, you may find a pair of nice shoes on sale there.

Posted by
812 posts

Caution, this is the thinking man's view:

I have a pair of sketchers lightweight semi-athletic shoes with part mesh and part leather uppers, which comfortably work well for everyday wear and walking. I have seen my mom wearing a similar pairs of sketchers, and a pair of nike walking shoes; they make women's versions of what I have. On my most recent major trips I have worn black slip-resistant sketchers that were meant to appeal to janitors and retail workers, and other sketchers that felt ok but didn't have the mesh like my current pair and probably were heavier. If you are not sure what to wear you can't go wrong with a dark colored or black pair of something with the characteristics of a good walking shoe: flat or very close to flat, a little foam cushioning, completely lace up and not slip on, the sole a little bit flexible, close-toed, thick enough to protect your feet from the ground but not those ridiculous platform shoes that some women might wear to make themselves look taller, and so on.

And just take one pair, the one you wear to the airport. No sandals. Perhaps my view has something to do with according to gut reaction, looking at women's upper body and face and not finding the feet to be that titillating or attractive, or maybe i just want to know that in case I ever meet a woman for a date, that she can walk a little with me.

Please take this with a grain of salt, this is just the thinking man's view.

Posted by
79 posts

If your sandals are “nice” enough for dinner I would leave the Clarks behind. Then you’d have two comfortable pairs for walking (Keens and Birks), and the sandals will take minimal space in your luggage.

Posted by
414 posts

I noticed at least three times, cchapin, you mentioned not taking the sandals. I think you need to let those sandals go! How far out do you pack your bags? If you pack a few days in advance, you'll have a better idea of how things will fit. Listen to your own counsel--ditch the sandals.

Posted by
458 posts

Lol, Lindy! Yes you all are helping me process this. I used to travel 200,000 miles per year internationally for business. That, of course, is an entirely different wardrobe. But what I did in those days is pack early, then think about it, then repack at the end after figuring out what I REALLY needed. Those days it was 100% carryon, small size. These Europe “fun” trips are a different animal but I still do the early pack/late pack trick. Since we’re leaving in a few days this is my end stage packing and the shoes have been my biggest struggle! You all have been quite helpful. I think the points about happy feet are well taken. Also the points about how long can I walk in each pair. Yup, sandals are OUT. I think I may take all the other three—Keen, Birks, Clark’s. I can ditch something else to make up for three shoes. Probably dress and scarf and a couple of other things. Tomorrow I redo in earnest. THANK YOU ALL for your help and ideas.

Posted by
2233 posts

CChapin, pls keep us posted throughout the course of your trip! I hope it will be a wonderful adventure and all goes well!

Posted by
61 posts

I think a lot depends on the type of sandal. I guess that I may be an anomaly, but between the original pair and its replacement, I have logged hundreds of miles in my Munro Pisces sandals. Granted, I did not do mountainous hiking in them, but they were easily the most comfortable shoes that I took on many trips, and they were acceptable in dressier occasions. Now, a trip is planned for Italy in late October to mid-November and I am wondering what I can find to replace them.

I typically wear one pair of sandals that are durable, have a significant tread or sole, and a heal/ankle strap is a must. That’s it. No bulky socks, no other footwear. Works for me.
(Brands I have worn: Ecco, SAS, Naot, Walk-the-Walk.)

Posted by
13295 posts

Hey, I live in Washington State and still live in sandals all summer, and I cannot travel without them. My minimum for a European trip (which always includes some serious hiking) is 4 pairs: my Salomon hiking shoes, a pair of “city sneakers” (Dansko, Cole Haan, or other) for walking, another pair of leather walking shoes (Romika) that can be dressier with long pants and nice jacket, and either one or 2 pairs of sandals, one of which is dressy enough to be worn with . . . A dress!

I wear either the sneakers or the leather walking shoes on the plane. The rest go in the 24” roller bag. But I have small feet (size 6) so they don’t take up a lot of space. Well the hiking shoes do, but they are not optional.

Posted by
3744 posts

I have big feet, size 9.5-10 or 40-41, depending on the manufacturer. And I'm a 2 pair person.

I've found that the best shoes for me in Europe are actually breathable waterproof lace-up ankle boots. I wear them all day no matter what I'm doing -- with my beloved medium compression Sockwell socks which I have in many colors and designs. No matter the time of year or the temperature, I've never packed the boots. The ones I'll be taking on my trip to Ireland and Wales next summer are these Keens.

I never wear open-toed shoes of any kind on trips. The last thing I need is to stub my toes on something. So my "nice" shoes always have an enclosed toe. These Danskos are probably what I'll take for dress up and keeping in mind that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, they will be used very little.

About being a 2-pair person, on a trip to Amsterdam and Scandinavia in 2018, I experienced some very slick shower pans and bathroom floors. That led me to try some amazingly quick-drying non-slip shower shoes on my next trip. Now I won't leave home without them. They fold up into a quart size ziploc bag, taking up less room and weighing less than flip flops. They are similar to these, but lack the strap.

Posted by
1046 posts

Hi. I looked at the brands you mentioned and checked out some of the styles. I think keeping the sole of the shoe in mind is important when visiting different walking surfaces. I agree you should keep the Keen - though you may want to explore in the future one of the Keen sandals. I have lived in Keen Newport H20 sandals for 20 years and have taken them to Switzerland. The soles are superb and grippy. Now, granted, I walk rather than really hike. That may be different for you.

The Birk sneakers I could see online looked to have smoother soles and I would wonder if they are slippery on some wet and tiled surfaces? Maybe you already know they are fine.

Of the pairs you list, I imagine I would choose the Keen and the Clark's. I weigh my shoes and feel for you with the potentially heavy Keens, but if those are the choices....

I would add: a pair of flipflops. You mentioned you live in flipflops for many months. Your feet may appreciate having these in hotels and showers. And, they may come in handy if you hit a warmish day. I pack mine in my carry-on these days. Once, my luggage got delayed, and like you, I had worn my heaviest walkers on the plane. Oh my, how unhappy I was till the suitcase arrived with a change of shoes. In hindsight, I should have sprung for the very pricey flipflops in the Frankfurt airport, but at the time, I was being frugal. I vote take some flipflops as your third backup.

Posted by
2233 posts

For those you may take "flip-flops" for the shower/hotel room, may I recommend the OOfos lines? These were designed for folks suffering from planter fasciitis , but are great because of the arch support, cushioning under the balls of the feet, and slight rocker bottom. A little expensive, but feet are worth it. These were the ONLY shoes I could wear for months after my foot surgery a few years back.
Safe travels!

Posted by
3243 posts

Pat, I just bought a pair of those for my granddaughter yesterday. She loves them!

Posted by
1002 posts

I, too, always have a pair of flip flops in my bag. I wear them to breakfast and around the hotel to give my feet some air. They take up no room. In summer, I have sometimes taken a pair of sandals but I've found I don't wear them much. They aren't comfortable for any distance so are more just to give my feet a break. Flip flops work better. We're traveling this winter and I'm probably going to wear my normal walking shoes (asics runners) and take a pair of black ecco slip ons that will work for walking or dressing up. And the flip flops. :)
If I were you I'd ditch either the Birks or Clarks, and the sandals. Add flip flops.

Posted by
8 posts

Not for your upcoming trip, because you wouldn't want to add anything that you haven't thoroughly tried, but I find that Allbirds Tree Breezers serve me well as a barefoot flat for walking on reasonably smooth/paved surfaces, and for niceish dinners. I've walked hours and hours and hours and hours in them without blisters. So unless I'm expecting a lot of unpleasant wetness (they're not remotely waterproof or even water resistant--but water doesn't harm them either) they can be my only shoe for trips that lack rough terrain or cold weather, and my only packed shoe (wearing the galumphy shoes in transit) for most trips. And they crush pretty flat.

Posted by
1277 posts

I'm w Ellen, I did a 14 day bus trip (6 countries) w the same style birkenstock sandal in 2 colors. More recently, it's one pr birks and one pr lace up sneakers, but the original birks have been resoled several times and are now 20 or 25 yrs old.

Posted by
458 posts

So we are back now and here’s what I did vs what I would do next time.

I took all three pair of closed toe and did not take the sandals. So I had the Keen hiking shoes, the Clark’s black semi-nice shoes and the white Birkenstock sneakers. I did wear all three BUT I found I used the black Clark’s much less. Right now, white lace up sneakers are “hip” and are worn with everything over there, as I think someone on this thread said. I wore them for daily street shoes and even for nice dinners. So next year when I head to the UK it will be two pair of shoes, one of which will definitely be the white Birkenstock’s.

Thanks again for all your input!

Posted by
106 posts

I just bought a pair of Keen H2 Newport sandals. Sturdy sole, closed toe. I am hoping these will handle a trip to Rome next May. Also taking a pair of Fit Kicks to let the piggies breathe a bit when not walking far. We have only traveled to cooler climates (ENG, IRE, SCTLD) so hoping the Keen sandals will be sturdy and stylish enough to do double duty during a warmer trip.

Posted by
10226 posts

Yes, thanks for coming back to report on what worked for you! It’s fun to read the before and after.

I also suggest you make a note to yourself on your packing list and bookmark your thread so you can review before your trip next year, lol!!

Posted by
812 posts

Here is the concise thinking-man's answer, for future travel, based on what you learned:

Wear your Birkenstock flat tennis shoes, or something very similar, to the airport. Do not pack any additional shoes.

Posted by
7855 posts

Hmmmm funny because I think the thread was addressed — in its very first word — to women.

Posted by
5697 posts

In regards to Keen H20 sandals -- I live in mine all summer including camping/ light hiking. Sturdy soles, good treads and toe protection.