First of all, I want to specify that for now this post is mainly about women shoes (some models are unisex, but not all of them), simply because it’s kind of hard for me to test out men shoes (sorry, it’s nature’s fault). But, if you are a man and have some good tips on cruelty free travel shoes, I would be more than happy to include them, just contact me right here !
You’re a girl and you need shoes. In this simple scenario, we’re already facing drama.
Now you want shoes to travel with. Things are getting even more complicated.
Now you want travel shoes that are cruelty free. And you’re on a budget.
And now you’ve got it : a big old headache.
This post is the result of my own hours spent on the internet, searching for the ideal travel shoes, comparing websites and models till my eyes went blurry. So I wanted to make it really simple for you, and that’s why I’ve only selected one pair of every kind of shoes.
These are the ideal shoes, don’t over-think it.
First, let’s take a look at the criteria for these travel shoes :
- We want shoes that are practical and comfortable.
- We want them to be as lightweight as possible, since there’s a good chance we’ll be carrying them around ourselves.
- We want the price to be reasonable (without that criteria, it would be really easy).
- We want them to be solid and lasting. Firstly because they have to be able to withstand extensive use or times spent crushed at the bottom of a backpack. Secondly because that’s the first ecological problem with shoes : they’re not meant to last (come on, be honest with those ballet flats, they’ll be done at the end of the month) and they’re really hard to recycle.
- We don’t want to be wearing dead stuff, so obviously no leather.
- We don’t want them to be made by underpaid children in a far off country.
- We don’t want them to be too ugly (Hey, that’s a reasonable criteria !)
As I travel carry on only, I always limit myself to two pairs of shoes : a heavy one that’s on my feet on plane days, and a lightweight one for relaxing. The two pairs I pack change from time to time, depending on the climate of the country I’m going to and on what I plan to do there, but you can basically put them in three categories :
As I’m a rather outdoorsy traveler, it never happened to me yet to leave my hiking boots at home. Although they’re heavy, they’re also really comfortable and they protect my ankles. Hiking or trekking shoes are the one pair where you have to spend a little more to get a good quality product. Think of it as a backpack, it is essential and will certainly last you all your life.
In this particular case, these boots are family hand-me-downs, which, although it’s a very good way of being green, is not going to help you a lot since I have no idea what store they’re coming from. But I still did some research to find you the perfect boots, the ones I would buy if my own pair suddenly vanished, so here they are, the perfect, indestructible, unisex Veggie Trekkers.
If you don’t plan on heavy trekking and just want a lighter pair of shoes that’s good for day hiking, you can opt for trekking or running shoes instead of hiking boots, in which case I recommend the Merrell All Out Blaze, available for men and women.
This shoes are mainly for city trips. They still need to be comfortable since walking around a museum can kill your feet and back just as effectively as a hike through the mountains. You can also need casual shoes if you know in advance you’re attending an event where you have to make yourself presentable and not too backpacker-looking.
Surprisingly, I found my ideal shoes in the Crocs collection. Crocs is not entirely dedicated to making ugly clogs anymore, and makes now pretty shoes that are unbelievably lightweight and made entirely out of croslite. The good thing with their 100% croslite shoes is that they are made of one mold, which makes them indestructible. But then, what happens if you tire of your shoes or you think the sole has become too smooth ? Crocs told me that they are in the process of installing recycling bins everywhere (right now there’s only one in the Netherlands), but otherwise since your shoes are still wearable, you can simply donate them to a charity, or give them yourself when you travel to a country in need of such things. To end my love letter to Crocs : their products are really cheap.
Here is the model I use.
In cold countries, I take these instead of sandals. This way I have some nice shoes to wear to go out or relax, without my toes turning blue.
I also have this model, less pretty but even more comfortable, and that I can also wear in hostels’ showers (see next category).
SANDALS AND FLIP FLOPS
My advice if you’re sleeping in hostels is to always have some kind of shoes you can wear under the shower, which is exactly what the shoes in this category are (you never know what’s going on with your bunkmates’ feet, it’s gross). They’re also perfect for the beach, being lazy and really hot countries.
Once again, I found my dream shoes at Crocs. They are perfect for lazy days, but I can also walk around all day in them without hurting my feet (a relief in hot countries where hiking boots can quickly become tiny feet-saunas). You can find them here. I’ve been using them around the world for two years now, and they’re still looking new (except for some color that won’t leave since Holi)!
Don’t forget to buy your travel shoes way in advance so you have time to break them in and to always carry some blister bandages in your bag (and the good stuff, not the cheap kind). Painful feet can seriously ruin your travel experience !