Why Clogs Are the Perfect Travel Shoe

There’s a type out there for everyone, whether you’re traveling by train or plane, or heading to the beach or bar.

Bright green clogs of a person walking on tile floor

Calzuro clogs were invented in Italy in 1983.

Courtesy of Calzuro

As a kid, I never quite got the appeal of clogs, which my parents wore seemingly everywhere—gardening, the grocery store, work. But decades later, I know now what my parents likely knew then: that clogs are extremely versatile. Decades later, yes, I have multiple pairs of the shoe in a variety of colors, shapes, materials, and makes.

And clogs are also an excellent travel shoe. They can be slipped off and on easily, and there are no pesky shoelaces to trip over or come untied. In a solid color, they can easily be dressed up or down; it is not out of the ordinary for me to wear a pair of rubber clogs to the beach, rinse and dry them, then pair them with nice slacks or a dress for dinner. Here are a few of my favorite pairs.

Yellow SeaVees Bodega Clogs on white circle on pale blue background

The Bodega clog comes in eight colors, including “Calendula” seen here.

Courtesy of SeaVees

Bodega clog by SeaVees

With a shoe made of recycled rubber and a pull tab of recycled cotton, these clogs are inspired by the terrain of Northern California’s Bodega Bay, and it shows—they’re the perfect mix of rugged yet cool. They have excellent grip thanks to a low, ultra-grooved heel, and this (plus their durability) makes them my pick for walking on more challenging surfaces—whether it’s slick cobblestone streets or bumpy fields—and in weather that changes in a blink (hello, Iceland). Even better? For every pair you buy, $1 goes to the Ecology Center, a 28-acre farm and education center in Southern California.

Blue Calzuro clog with ventilation holes on a white circle within a yellow background

Calzuro clogs are available in more than a dozen colors, including the royal blue seen here.

Courtesy of Amazon

Classic clog by Calzuro

When I first showed these clogs to a friend who lives in Italy, she said: Those look like the ones Italian doctors wear. She was spot on: Designed in Italy in 1983 for medical professionals, Calzuro clogs can be bleached or washed in a dishwasher or washing machine, and getting rid of sand and dirt is as simple as putting them under a hose. Thrillingly, the clogs also come in a number of colors: sky blue, sunshine yellow, orange. (My latest pair is bubblegum pink.) With a 1.5-inch heel, the slim plastic clogs are lightweight, and available with or without ventilation holes in unisex sizing. Most often, I wear these in transit or to dress up for an evening out—most recently, at an art performance in Oakland. Note that the nubbled footbed can take some getting used to.

Birkenstock Tokio Super Grip Black shoes on a white circle on a blue background

The Birkenstock Tokio Super Grip is available in black leather, seen here, as well as white leather.

Courtesy of Birkenstock

Tokio Super Grip clog by Birkenstock

If there were a Clog for Creatives, lately, I have an inkling one might be it: I’ve seen artists, curators, and chefs wearing the Birkenstock Tokio Super Grip leather clog in Brussels, New York, and Athens (not to mention the chefs from The Bear). These take some time to break in, but are a worthy investment: Over years, the natural leather on both the upper and lower parts of the shoe adapt to the wearer’s foot shape. The cork footbed is springy and supportive without being uncomfortable, and the adjustable strap means the shoe can be tightened to adjust for sock thickness (or lack of). Touring on dry days and cooler months, I wear these most often for long days of walking around town.

A single black Dansko professional clog on a white circle surrounded by a yellow background

The Dansko Professional clog comes in more than a dozen colors, but the black oiled version seen here goes with everything.

Courtesy of Dansko

Professional clog by Dansko

Among these choices, Dansko’s Professional clog is unique for a few reasons: It’s got the highest heel (two inches), a closed back (with extra heel support), and worn correctly, a roomy toe box and heel (your foot is meant to slide in and out). It is also designed with a bottom that rocks, meaning that you will feel propelled forward. The design is smart and all there, so much so that the shoe has been given a seal of acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association; it helps that the shoe is also stylish. I’ve had my black oiled pair for several years, and the leather upper still looks almost as good as new, thanks to the 3M Scotchgard treatment, which protects against stains and scuffs. I’m not the only one: AFAR contributor Ashlea Halpern recently wore them dressed up for dinner on a cruise and told me, “They’re heavy to pack but so versatile and pretty waterproof if I get stuck on a rainy day. Chefs wear them all day for a reason!”

Katherine LaGrave is a deputy editor at AFAR focused on features and essays.
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