In the competition for suitcase real estate, beautiful shoes often lose to practical ones. But what if you could explore all day on foot in travel shoes that are both comfortable and stylish? With the following impeccably designed pairs, it’s a real possibility.
Best travel shoes for women
1. Bells & Becks Mirella mule
Buy now: $355, bellsandbecks.com
A mule is the footwear equivalent of a sleeveless coat; warm yet airy, it’s a chameleon fit for many climates and occasions. Designed in California and produced in Italy, Bells & Becks Mirella mules, are hand-stitched and constructed using an old-school Italian technique. They hug the foot just right with a flexible sole and a soft, forgiving upper. Available in a variety of colors, the attention-grabbing mules are also adorned with irresistible tassels.
2. Rothy’s The Point flat
Buy now: $149, rothys.com
Flats are are rarely considered long-distance walking shoes, but Rothy’s, a San Francisco–based brand that crafts sustainable shoes out of recycled plastic, has created a shoe that beats the odds. Flexible, nearly weightless, and moisture-wicking, Rothy’s shoes can go from the countryside to the museum; a quick spin in the washing machine will erase any signs of dusty roads. The Point, a style that comes in dozens of hues and patterns, is especially chic and works well with jeans and dresses alike.
3. Nisolo Heeled Chelsea Commuter boot
Buy now: $220, nisolo.com
When it comes time to explore a city’s nightlife, the black ankle bootie is the one thing you’ll always regret leaving behind. This heeled Chelsea boot—from Climate Neutral Certified brand Nisolo—destroys any assumption you might have that boots aren’t made for walking. Despite its three-inch heel, the waterproof leather boot provides sturdy support, and the elastic side panels ensure that the shoe works with you, not against you. Dress it up, dress it down, wear it day to night.
Best travel shoes for men
1. Plae Mulberry sneaker
Buy now: $180, plae.com
Not all travel-friendly kicks are created equal. Plae, an environmentally friendly brand based in San Francisco, makes tech-forward unisex sneakers for kids and adults that are a cut above the rest. Both gorgeous and cleverly constructed, the slick Mulberry sneaker is perfect for fast-paced trips; it’s equipped with a single-motion fastening mechanism, a breathable sole with good traction, and a customizable modular insole.
2. Pikolinos Caceres boot
Buy now: $220, pikolinos.com
Whether your travel plans include hiking or clubbing, you should always pack a reliable boot. Pikolinos, a Spanish brand with a charitable side (the brand frequently collaborates with NGOs around the world to launch collections that benefit at-risk communities) makes boots that look seasoned and ready for action. Its Caceres boot, a leather lace-up style, features a flexible sole, calf support, and an elegant look that is still rugged enough for the wilderness. The high-cut style can work well with jeans or with hiking shorts, and the leather will still look great with some wear and tear.
Buy now: $195, sabah.am
What shoe seamlessly works itself into all vacation looks, from poolside to happy hour? That would be Sabahs, a lace-free unisex slipper handmade in Gaziantep, Turkey. Crafted out of leather and available in a rainbow of colors, the shoe’s slip-on design is perfect for airports. The shape is roomy yet chic, and the sole is rubber for traction and durability. The brand’s earthy tones go with everything, while the trendy patterns and bold colors photograph well on foreign sidewalks.
Lyndsey Matthews contributed reporting to this article.
This article was originally published in 2018; it was updated on October 20, 2022, with new information.