As exciting as it is to pack your bags, grab your passport, and jet off to your destination, travel takes its toll on your body—especially your feet. Whether you're sprinting to catch a train or nursing swollen ankles mid-flight, the right pair of travel sneakers makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable.
Not every sneaker cuts it when it comes to travel. While rigid tennis shoes are supportive, they aren't the easiest to haul around after you've arrived at your destination. Slip-on sneakers are great, but the wrong pair can wreak havoc on tender ankles and sensitive arches, if you're not careful.
What to look for in a travel sneaker
Support, support, support. "If you’re going to be walking a lot when you get to your destination, you’ll actually want to stretch your feet (and body) as you would before a run or workout as the first line of defense to prevent foot exhaustion," says board-certified podiatrist Dr. Suzanne Levine, D.P.M., RPT, PC. "Additionally, look for a travel sneaker that’s lightweight with a good sturdy heel, and well-cushioned with arch support to help absorb the natural impact on your feet." The extra cushion and arch support will also better distribute your body weight when you're standing waiting for baggage claim and allow you to propel forward with greater ease as you walk around.
It's also important to consider the shoe's material, especially if you want to avoid a case of having smelly feet. Dr. Levine recommends breathable fabrics like cotton, which is naturally absorbent and helps to wick away moisture from your body. However, if your vacay destination is located in a wet climate like southern Florida, a polyester-based material is a better option. Not only is it breathable, but it's extremely lightweight and dries quickly.
Pro tip from Dr. Levine: "Try and wear your new sneakers for a week or two before you embark on your travels. If you find an area of the sneaker that is rubbing, try adding a small piece of moleskin (any kind will work) to get some extra cushioning in the areas you need to ensure a comfortable journey."
Finding the perfect travel-friendly sneaker is hard work—which is why we've done it for you. Before you board your next flight, checkout these ridiculously comfortable kicks, guaranteed to keep tired feet happy wherever you roam. Below, 10 of the best sneakers for travel to wear on your next adventure.
The best sneakers for travel
“Cloud Knit” is the perfect name for a pair of shoes meant for travel in the sky. New from Merrell, these sneakers are lightweight but supportive, complete with a foam sole that cushions you with every step. They’re eco-friendly, too, constructed of recycled materials to decrease your carbon footprint. Available in black, white, pink, and light green.
Slip this weightless sneaker on for long flights, train rides, and more. Made from a breathable, recycled knit materials, these sock-like shoes are featherlight and made for all-day comfort. The cushioning is a bit more flexible than previous models, giving just the right amount of give without ever compromising support. Choose from white, green, and black.
This cult-favorite sneaker is a must-have for seemingly endless travel days. Like the others on this list, they’re lightweight and cozy, keeping your feet comfortable while you wear. Allbirds are made of wool, meaning they’re durable enough to withstand your next cross-continental adventure—all while keeping your shoes odor-free from sweaty, tired feet.
If you want to slip on something more casual than a tennis shoe, Cole Haan’s court sneakers are beloved for looking as good as they feel. Featuring a memory foam footbed for maximum comfort, these leather sneakers are a dream for your feet, and are versatile enough to go with any outfit.
Perhaps the easiest sneaker to stroll through airport security, these stretchy shoes are lace-free, so you can slip them on and off in seconds. With a memory foam insole, textile lining, and flexible body, they have all the makings of a travel-friendly sneaker, without the expensive price tag.
What makes these shoes travel-friendly is how lightweight and stretchy they are, says Dr. Levine. The flexible knit upper fits securely on your foot while still giving you enough stretch for that ultimate Goldilocks fit. Not to mention, the shoes also have EVA inserts throughout the midsole for added cushion and flexibility as you walk.
Originally $65, now $55
“If you’re going to need to take your shoes off and put them back on as quickly as possible as though you’re in a game show (a.k.a. At airport security), make sure the sneakers you choose are easy to take off and put back on,” says Dr. Levine. And these New Balance kicks do just that. The Fresh Foam is super soft and helps to reduce impact as your foot strikes tough roads, fields or any surface.
For a more sustainable option, there’s no one that doesn’t quite the celeb-loved brand Cariuma. They pride themselves on their super comfy, eco-friendly materials that make your feet feel like walking on a cloud. These pair have a sturdy upper that hugs and a comfy midsole to help support your feet for hours. Plus, there’s really no break-in period.
For less time-intensive travel plans and quick road trips, check out Everlane’s unisex slip-on sneaker. Like the brand’s other recyclable style, these are eco-friendly, made of sustainably sourced cotton and rubber. Only difference is, these have no laces, making them easy to kick on and off on long car rides or other shoe-free jaunts. Choose from white, black, or light green.
Featuring an antimicrobial copper insole to keep feet germ-free, as well as elastic laces that only need to be tied once, Atoms are the crème de la crème of travel sneaker. Take it from this reviewer: “I walked 30,000+ steps (11.2 miles!) at Disney World. At the end of the day, my feet were not at all sore… If that’s not an endorsement of how good these are for walking, I don’t know what is…”
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