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Walking shoes - yet again!

Hi. I'm a young 50-something planning my dream trip with a friend - six weeks in France and Italy. In the time that it has taken for my dream to come to fruition, my feet and back have betrayed me. I'm looking forward to miles and miles of walking - but I have bunions and require substantial orthotics for distance walking due to bad lower back pain. Now to my question - has anyone come across suitable shoes that would be comfortable for a lot of walking and versatile style-wise? (We leave at the end of April, so I don't need warmth.) My other disability is that I find it hard to surrender fashion totally for practicality. After waiting 30+ years to return to Europe, I can't imagine strolling through April in Paris wearing huge clodhoppers! HELP!

Posted by
6898 posts

Susan, if you type "walking shoes" in the search window in the upper right corner, you will be blessed with 239 threads on this subject. :)

Posted by
359 posts

Larry is dead on, check the threads. I'm a firm believer in Ecco shoes, as is my better half. I've got wide feet, hers are narrow, and even in our small, isolated town, we can get Ecco stuff. Guelph (beautiful town) should have a retailer who can advise you. Ecco's are not clodhoppers by any means but I don't know about their orthotics (check the Ecco web??).

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you. I don't need new orthotics - I have my own. The issue is finding a shoe that they will fit into comfortably. Probably the shoe would need to have a removable insole so that I could put them in, unless they had such good arch support that I didn't need the orthotics. I will check around here for that brand.

Posted by
4555 posts

Susan....try Etonics, comfortable, well-constructed and light-weight, all with removable inserts so you can fit in your orthotics. Check with your local orthotics provider, or with Billings Orthotics on Gordon street, which stocks them. You'll also find them occasionally at discounters like PayLess.

Posted by
16855 posts

Susan, I feel your pain; I too have bunions (bad ones) and I like to walk a lot. I can hike for many miles in the mountains in boots, but finding something to wear for walking in the cities of Europe is tough.

I just bought a pair of Mia T-Straps by Spira, and they are about the most comfortable shoe I've ever worn:
http://www.zappos.com/n/p/dp/18786235/c/3.html Page back and read about the technology---they have springs in them!

My old trusty stand-bys are Dansko, not the clog but the "Golden Gate" line of sandals. I happily walked all over Paris in my Lolitas: http://www.dansko.com/flash.aspx#Collections,0,2,3
Unfortunately you wouldn't be able to use your orthotics in a sandal like that, but maybe you wouldn't need them. This shoe is very supportive.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks for the very specific suggestions! Those Dansko sandals look very nice, but I'm amazed that those straps work with bunions! I've never tried ordering from Zappos - didn't know it was available in Canada. Unfortunately, we don't get the free shipping!

Posted by
712 posts

Hi Susan, Have you ever checked out this web site - http://www.footsmart.com/ -
I have researched this web site a little for my self and my mom. We both have problem feet with totatly different problems. What works for her doesn't work for my feet. You should go into you local foot store and get an exact "Current" measurement of you feet. Looking for shoes with no seams over your bunions might be a help in elevating pressure points.

Posted by
16855 posts

Susan---yes, straps can be an issue with the bunion, but the Lolita straps hit just right---maybe because they criss-cross and can be moved a bit. By contrast, the Lorelei shoe didn't work at all---the straps were too tight.

Woven leather usually works well too, as it adjusts ans stretches more easily. Unfortunately Dansko discontinued their woven slide sandal.

I've found that proper support for the bunion joint is a very important consideration---lots of shoes that feel comfortable at first don't work after an hour of walking. I have spent a small fortune on shoes because I've had to give up on many. But the Golden Gate line of Danskos have never let me down.

Posted by
37 posts

Hi, Susan - I am also a 50-something woman with bunions. I lived in my Birkenstocks two years ago in Europe. I brought both my sandals and also a pair of "dressier" black shoes, which they call "Footprints". I bought them for the trip, but now I live in them and will be taking them back with me to Europe again this summer. I know they are expensive, but the tradeoff is being able to walk and walk without discomfort. And after more than two years, they are still in great shape. Have a great trip!

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks so much for all the input! Keep those suggestions coming, as not everything mentioned seems to be available here. The Footprints collection of Birkenstocks, for instance, I only found on one website, and it says they're not ordering any more of them and just have a few left in stock. One local store appears to carry some of the Dansko line, so I will check them out.

Posted by
153 posts

I got back from a 11 day trip to Europe (Munich, Venice, CT & Nice) and wore Ecco Neoflexor shoes. They held up well on the uneven streets and worked well on the CT trails and protected against wet streets. One good thing also is the fact they have one piece bottoms and the European airlines did not require me to remove the shoes when going through security.

Posted by
515 posts

For my picky feet, I choose Keen, Ecco, Merrell, and Easy Spirit..my newest love is Easy Spirit Traveltime. You can find tons of styles and sizes on Zappos site. And they have free shipping both ways.

Posted by
11 posts

Not for Canadians, they don't! But I will check out these brands in stores here. Thanks!

Posted by
258 posts

I recommend Earth shoes. They have done wonders for my back aches. I wore the "Ivy" for 4 weeks in Europe/Africa and never once were my feet sore. I didn't even break them in too much before I left (I know that's a no-no). The Ivy is a mary-jane type shoe.

Posted by
11 posts

Wow! I haven't had Earth shoes since the 70's, and had no idea the concept of the negative heel was still accepted! I'll have to check them out for sure.

Posted by
875 posts

You certainly won't be the only tourist in Paris in clodhoppers. If your feet hurt in stylish shoes, you will be miserable. I just bought a new pair of ECCOs for Paris this year, and my husband says I look like a stormtrooper in them....but my feet won't hurt, and he says he doesn't care what they look like if I am comfortable. Obviously I take a dressy pair of shoes for nice evenings out.

Posted by
21 posts

Susan, I also have bunions and require a wide shoe. I've had some success with a company call comfortcorner.com, which specializes in comfortable clothes and shoes for women. They carry some shoes described as "added depth", due to larger interior size or else remove-ability of one or two insoles, or both. I just visited their web site and, in the shoes section, viewing all, toward the bottom of the list are some styles by the brand name of Drew which describe themselves as added depth. Most all of their shoes have a very rounded toe or a large toe box for folks like us who need the room. When I travel I always take 2 pairs of walking shoes, as I feel the need to trade off daily to keep my feet from hurting. I don't pay much attention to high style, as I find I almost never notice what people are wearing on their feet, as long as their clothing is nice--I figure they do the same toward me.

Posted by
2 posts

I also have foot issues and wear orthotics - especially for arch support. A few years ago we spent 3 weeks in Europe - I took 2 pairs of Dansko (sandles and a closed toe slip on style). This is the only brand I can wear without my orthotics. I had no problem - and we walked a ton!

Posted by
6 posts

I love Teva walking sandals work well with a dress or pants casual or can look dressy. i also have orthotics in my regular shoes but did not need anything with these. Wore them for 17 days in Italy feet never hurt. I get them at REI they are called Teva pretty leathers come in brown and black. Will be taking a pair to Spain in late April. Have a great trip and hope you never have a bad foot day. Another thing I do when walking a lot as we all do when we travel is soak my feet in warm epsom salt water in evening then cold water for a few minutes. then lie on floor or bed and extend feet up again wall. In China we were able to get the best foot massages not sure if this available where you are going but wonderful if you can do that . Good Luck