My Long and Storied Relationship With Travel-Shoes

Yesterday’s post was pretty much all about my worst sightseeing day ever… which was also incidentally my very first day out all day on my feet… which taught me the vital importance of traveling with comfortable footwear.

orange

Like these!

stockfree

Or these!

feet

Or maybe these beauties!

Hahahahaha JUST KIDDING!  THOSE ARE ALL TOO HIDEOUS TO WEAR!

*pause*

Or… ARE they?

Frankly, my feet hurt so terribly on that first day in Paris that I would’ve happily traded those wedges in order to garb my feet in any of these pediatrist-approved wonders.

For the first few trips after that, I tried Sketchers maryjane flats in black, because they promised to be comfy while at the same time relatively cute and versatile, fashion-wise.

sketch1

They were something like this.  I’d get a new pair before each trip, obviously.

I bought the new incarnation of the Sketcher maryjane every year.  I think the first year I bought them was my most successful.  They were the most comfy, and the insert truly felt like a cloud.  Plus, when it rained, I could easily remove the insert and they’d be completely dry by the next morning.

Which reminds me… I developed a rule: to always bring two pairs of trustworthy shoes, and alternate each day.  Because after a long hot day on my feet, they’d inevitably swell and some irritation would occur, which could possibly lead to blisters.  I found that if I switched off, it would give my feet a sort of break… so basically different parts of my feet would become irritated on different days.  It seemed to work okay.

Which reminds me… this also comes in handy when traveling:

bandaid

It’s suggested that you apply the friction-block to your skin… which is fine.  But I amp up the situation by also coating the inside of whatever part of my shoe offends my foot.  It’s kind of gross to do… makes it kind of weirdly slimy… but ultimately it’s soothing.  A good thing to toss into your luggage if you’re headed somewhere hot… or somewhere that’ll have a heatwave while you’re there.  (At least in my opinion.)  Other brands make this too, same basic idea with the same basic result.

Anyway, I continued with the Sketcher maryjane thing until one year, when the only ones I could find were mesh.  It seemed like a good idea, being all breathable… but this mesh rubbed my feet kind of raw — and that was just from me testing them out walking to work.  And so I knew… my time with Sketchers maryjanes had come to a close.  It was time to move on.

So, in my pursuit of the ultimate in comfy footwear, I bought… Birkenstocks!

birks1

Just like these.

I figured they weren’t the very ugliest, and the white struck me as kind of vacation-y.  For the most part, I liked these a lot.  They felt great for walking around on hot dry days.  But I’d heard that they should never get wet… so the idea of rain stressed me out a bit with these.  Also, that black part on the bottom is super-slippery on certain flooring and stone.  (Plus, I’m kind of clumsy… so this is a bad combination.)  In addition to this, I one day ran about a mile and a half in the blistering Grecian sun in my “Birks” (long story, to be told another time, possibly), and received a tremendous blister.  So… Birkenstocks make terrible running sandals.  Not that they ever claimed to be great for running… this was just me and my circumstance.  But nevertheless, they gave me a blister, and I always think of that when I look at them now.  It feels like… betrayal.  “But you said it would never come to this!”  *sob*

And so!  Moving on to the inevitable… Croc.

croc

Oh yes I did!

Yes.  Out of a desperate bid for feather-light, bouncy, waterproof, COMFORTABLE footwear, I tried Crocs.  But you will notice, the Patricia is not the original Croc.  Oh no… the Patricia is a thing of beauty… at least to my eyes it is.  I find the strap pattern relatively attractive, and there’s just a hint of a wedge, which adds a bit more cushioning when I walk.  Each step feels glorious.

Well… okay full disclosure.  There are some drawbacks to even my beloved Patricia.  First… yes even though Crocs are waterproof, they do get super-slippery when they’re wet, and I do sometimes slip off of my Patricia Crocs… which could potentially cause an ankle sprain… but hasn’t so far.  *knock on wood*  Also, on a busy crowded Saturday night on the Bund in Shanghai, someone stepped on my Croc as I was sort of slipping out of it anyway, and the strap that’s closest to the ankle just broke.  So… that’s not good.  But this isn’t enough to make me disown my Patricia’s.  I’ve bought new ones before three different trips, and it always seemed like a 98% fantastic idea in hindsight.

This leads me to my ultimate favourite travel shoe to date:

merrell

My most beloved travel shoe — the Merrell Hurricane.

Yep… these shoes are kinda ugly.  They really are.  But I couldn’t deny just how fantastic they feel.  And the fact they’re good for land AND sea.  And they still have that maryjane style I apparently love… you know, so I can fool myself into thinking I’m still looking kinda cute while at the same time maintaining mobility for miles upon travel miles.  I have to say, they’ve never let me down.  And, I’ve worn the exact same pair for at least three seasons of travel.  Never a blister.  Never a worry in a downpour.  I need to run up and down stairs suddenly for whatever reason?  No problem, I’m wearing my Merrell Hurricanes!  The streets are completely disgusting and I can’t believe I have to wear my soiled shoes for another day?  No worries!  I can wash ’em completely and they’re totally dry the next morning… and even if they aren’t — hey, who cares?  They’re meant for water OR land!  Yay Merrell Hurricanes!

Beyond my search for a good solid basic travel shoe, I’ve also come to toss these into my luggage for those fancy restaurant dates Andrew takes me on:

flats

Those stupid wedges of my travel-past?  They can bite it.

Yeah.  You had to know that was coming.  Fast flats.  Foldable Flats.  Whatever they’re called or marketed as, they’re essential to my packing list, they weigh nothing, and take up virtually no space.  WIN.

Oh, and one more thing… this is a crappy distant picture of them… but this past trip to Peru and Argentina, when I was understanding it was winter for them, I decided to simply bring a pair of random black ankle boots I found at the local thrift shop for two bucks.  They were a little large on me — just the right size to accommodate my orthotics (ha! how elderly am I?) —  and I wore them pretty much all the time.  They were perfect for every occasion.

tree

Even for climbing a tree in Colonia del Sacramento.

I’m still on my travel-shoe journey… constantly on the lookout… always full of hope that I’ll find a BETTER shoe for the next trip.  (Sorry, Patricia… I have roving travel-shoe-eyes.)

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