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Ever wondered what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a travel journalist? Yours truly has the answer. For nearly a decade, I’ve been dispatched all over the map with one mission: Return home with more stories than passport stamps. Assignments have taken me across six continents (I’m coming for you, Antarctica) to cover hotly anticipated museum openings, off-the-grid jungle treks, groundbreaking archeological digs, and other soul-enriching memories. But you might be more interested in another kind of “sole”—what it’s like to literally walk in the shoes of a consummate traveler. That’s easy: Get a good pair of comfortable walking shoes.
If you’ve ever found yourself plagued by foot pain or blisters while exploring a new city, you know all too well that finding a capable pair of walking shoes can make or break your trip. While I always encourage stepping out of your comfort zone when venturing abroad, I recommend the opposite approach for shoes—those should be a comfortable safe haven for your feet.
Features to Consider When Shopping for Walking Shoes
Ample cushioning and a wider footbed are key comfort-focused features to look for in walking shoes for travel; it’s also a good idea to pick shoes that are easy to get on and off. Ideally, your walking shoes will also have grippy outsoles in case you’re confronted with the unexpected: cobblestone streets, gravel paths, or a delayed flight leading to a sprint across slick linoleum airport floors.
For some, packing efficiently can also present a challenge. I always suggest wearing your go-to trainers on travel days if they’re heavier, or opt for a lightweight pair that can be squished into a suitcase or rucksack. And lastly, consider aesthetics—you don’t want to ruin your look by trotting around in unattractive orthopedic shoes. Pick up a streamlined pair that can complement multiple outfits, or alternatively, choose a retro-inspired walking shoe with statement-making appeal. Either way, you won’t be cropping all your trip photos above the ankle.
Here are 15 walking shoes to consider for your next trip.
The Best Walking Shoes for Traveling in 2023
Following extensive research on the science of walking, Keen has stepped up its game by introducing a totally new walking sneaker packed with cutting-edge features. The WK400 is designed specifically for smooth strides while walking: The sole has a “constant curve” rocker shape to encourage easy transitions from heel to toe, and the EVA midsole cushioning is paired with a full-length plate for a springy, responsive ride. It also comes with a lugged rubber outsole for good traction across terrain types.
Size Range: 7-15
Allbirds shoes get rave reviews for their superior comfort and machine washability, but this pair is a real gem because of its convenience. The slip-on Tree Dasher Relay is featherlight and flexible enough to pack in a suitcase, and the lace-free design makes it easy to take off at airport security checkpoints. It’s also constructed sustainably: The one-piece upper is crafted from leftover yarns and FSC-certified eucalyptus tree fiber, while the cloud-like midsole is made from carbon-negative EVA cushioning foam.
Size Range: 8-14
Reebok’s Floatride Adventure shoes are what I throw on to glide from the airport check-in counter to the gate—a potential odyssey if you’re departing from a colossal airport like Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson. Though these running sneakers are built for speed, the rugged outsoles are inspired by gravel bikes, so they offer plenty of durability for long days on your feet.
Size Range: 7-12
All the elements that make this New Balance pair an outstanding running shoe also make it a superb travel sneaker—plus it has an attractive, streamlined aesthetic. A bootie design keeps the shoe snug around your foot, and breathable Hypoknit upper bends and stretches where you need it most. The underfoot cushioning, already a superb feature in the previous version of this shoe, was further refined using intricate pressure mapping data. It ensures a comfy ride whether you’re heading out for your morning jog or exploring a new city on foot.
Size Range: 4-16
Whether you’re going on a trip or just running around town, this trend-forward twist on Hoka’s popular Clifton is the trainer to beat. The Clifton L Suede retains the brand’s cherished ultra-plush cushioning and thick footbed while reinventing its appearance with an all-suede upper. Opt for one of the monochromatic colorways to make a style statement.
Size Range: 4-14
It’s always a good idea to plan for inclement weather while traveling, and when the forecast turns rainy, you’ll be glad you packed a pair of waterproof shoes. Skip the rain boots and opt for a pair that’s versatile enough for nearly any activity: light hiking, city walking tours, you name it. On engineered the Cloud 5 Waterproof for a cushioned, stable ride, and it comes with a no-knot lacing system, so you can wear it like a slip-on (traditional laces are also included).
Size Range: 7-14
Inspired by archival designs from the early aughts, these hardworking Salomon kicks combine breathable mesh with durable nubuck for a stylish look that’s tough and functional. The clunkier shape is trendy, but it also makes these shoes harder to pack. As a result, I tend to fly with these on my feet. A molded EVA sock liner conforms to your feet for optimal on-the-road comfort, and a sturdy midsole frame and grippy Contagrip outsole ensure all-terrain stability and grip.
Size Range: 4-13
Veja’s outdoors-inspired Dekkan is where high-performance footwear meets eco-minded innovation. The sturdy upper is crafted from breathable Alveomesh, a tech fabric spun entirely from repurposed plastic bottles; sugar cane and recycled polyester are used in the insole and midsole. The brand also collaborated with Vibram on a unique outsole formulation that uses Amazonian rubber and rice waste. In other words, you’ll go farther with a smaller footprint.
Size Range: 6-11.5
Merrell’s latest Novas are even better than before: They now come with beefed-up uppers for added protection and FloatPro Foam pods under the heel and forefoot for a responsive ride. They also feature a Vibram TC5+ outsole (a Merrell exclusive) for top-notch traction as well as Cleansport NXT odor control. It’s tough to say who will appreciate that last feature more: you or your travel companions.
Size Range: 7-15
Sandals aren’t suitable for every adventure, but fortunately, Birkenstock’s legendary shock-absorbing cork footbed can also be found in a minimalist leather lace-up. The shoe’s flexible, lightweight design accommodates the natural movement of your foot, while the footbed provides excellent arch support and helps improve posture and alignment.
Size Range: 6-17.5
Here’s a way to pack efficiently: This new style from Columbia pulls double duty as a walking shoe and an all-weather hiker. Its water-ready mesh upper promotes quick-drying breathability, while midsole ports facilitate airflow and water drainage to keep your feet cool and moisture-free. With its responsive Techlite midsole and grippy outsole, you’ll have enhanced traction and a comfortable ride no matter where your adventures take you.
Size Range: 7-15
Elevate your expeditions with the Danner Trail 2650, a shoe inspired by the storied Pacific Crest Trail. Expertly designed for navigating varied terrain, it combines lightweight construction with an airy mesh upper for optimal breathability. The mdisole shank and heel cup keep your feet stable and planted within the shoe, even on rough ground. Crafted with Danner’s legendary durability, the Trail 2650 is the discerning adventurer’s companion.
Size Range: 7.5-11.5
The Apollo Galaxy from Israeli shoemaker Naot personifies indulgence for your feet. This slip-on features a removable cork and latex footbed that cradles your foot for maximum comfort, and the sole is designed to flex easily with the natural movement of your stride. It also earned the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), which means it has been independently vetted and found to promote good foot health.
Size Range: 7-14
The Arc’teryx Norvan SL 3 is a great pick for those who prefer a more minimalist shoe. At just six ounces, it’s incredibly lightweight—a boon for speedy trail runners and also travelers looking to lighten their baggage load. The woven Matryx upper is made from polyester fibers wrapped around a nylon core, which gives it a superior blend of flexibility and durability. The thin midsole provides a good feel for the ground, and the Vibram Megagrip outsole delivers solid traction on any hard-packed terrain.
Size Range: 7-13
Cariuma’s Naioca masterfully harmonizes sustainability with classic aesthetics. These vegan kicks feature a plimsoll lace-up design, and they’re made with organic canvas uppers and natural rubber soles. A cork insole amps up the comfort for walking.
Size Range: 5-13
Hey Dude’s Welsh is a more performance-oriented take on the iconic boat shoe silhouette. At just 4.2 ounces, it’s exceptionally lightweight, and the upper is made with a breezy mesh fabric to promote good airflow and keep your feet cool and dry (the insole is also machine washable, so you can keep these shoes smelling fresh). On the bottom, a full-length studded outsole serves up dependable grip on docks, city sidewalks, and beyond.
Size Range: 7-14