Traveling with more than a couple of pairs of shoes is difficult, so planning for a trip demands comfortable, practical footwear and a jack of all trades.
Different types of travelers will have different needs, and some folks may need to bring more than one pair, no matter how hard they look for the one perfect travel shoe. For example, business travelers often need a formal option but still bring athletic footwear to stay active away from home. To address as many types of travelers as possible, we’ve presented our top picks in a range of categories below.
Our testers took 19 shoes and boots and put them through their paces at home and while traveling to evaluate comfort, style, durability, and value. Keep reading to learn why our testers loved these top picks to find the best travel shoes for you and how you travel.
Hoka One One Clifton 9
The Clifton from Hoka One is the running shoe that made the brand the footwear juggernaut it is today, and the plush comfort of the ninth iteration of the shoe makes it our top overall travel shoe pick. The shoe provides breathable all-day comfort and does double-duty as a training and running shoe while on the road. While Hokas gained popularity with runners at first, the legendary comfort has gained the brand devotees from outside the running community, and our tester appreciated the all-day comfort of walking around a city, exercising on a rec path, and even indoors.
The shoes haven’t lost any running cred, and the rockered sole makes for cushioned, efficient runs, and the durable outsole helps them last for more miles, whether walking through an airport or running park paths. They’re also great for general training, so you won’t need to switch shoes to hit the hotel gym. Hoka’s are known for a somewhat narrow fit, but luckily the wide sizes are widely available if you have a normal to wide foot or just want a roomier fit.
Price at time of publication: $145
Sizes: Men’s 5 to 16 (regular and wide) | Materials: EVA midsole, mesh upper | Sustainability: recycled materials, vegan
Best Overall, Runner-Up
Allbirds Mens Tree Dasher 2
Allbirds Tree Dasher is a running shoe, but the single-color all-fabric mesh upper disguises that fact enough that it doesn’t scream running shoe and can double as a casual fashion shoe perfect for travel. We also appreciate the company’s sustainability commitment, though you wouldn’t know from wearing it that the materials are all plant-based.
Our tester appreciated how breathable the TENCEL mesh upper (made from eucalyptus tree fiber) was and said they “almost feel like socks.” Because of this, they were concerned that they might not be as supportive as a stiffer, more traditional running shoe, but they didn’t find any durability issues during testing.
At just above 10 ounces, the Tree Dashers are slightly heavier than the Hoka Clifton and don’t quite have the running pedigree of those shoes, but they also look less like a runner for those that want a less sporty look while traveling.
Price at time of publication: $135
Sizes: Men’s 8 to 14 | Materials: TENCEL Lyocell upper, EVA midsole, rubber outsole, merino wool heel lining | Sustainability: Climate Neutral-certified, bio-based materials, recycled materials
Vans Comfycush Old Skool Sneaker
While they look just like classic Vans, these are the Comfycush update of the original which adds a springier foam midsole, padded heel collar, and removes some rubber to make the shoes lighter. Our tester had owned several pairs of Vans in the past and said the Comfycush update was noticeable in terms of comfort but also made them feel more durable despite being a budget option.
The classic skate shoe style goes with anything (if your style is casual) and is light enough for all-day wear. The limitation of these shoes is that they aren’t great for running, though you could certainly wear them for a light workout. The waffle-pattern sole also doesn’t provide much in the way of off-road traction, but the rubber does offer good grip.
Price at time of publication: $75
Sizes: Men’s 5 to 14.5 | Materials: canvas upper, foam midsole, rubber outsole | Sustainability: N/A
Best for Running
On Running Cloud 5
You’ve likely seen Swiss-engineered On shoes on commuters, in the gym, and at the airport, even if you don’t know the brand name. These are athletic shoes, and the brand calls itself a running brand, but the style and comfort have brought them to the masses for everyday wear and especially travel.
The Cloud 5 is the latest evolution of their core running sneaker, and our tester appreciated how lightweight they are even when running errands around town. They also liked how easily they slip on and off, which comes in handy hustling through airport security. (The Cloud 5s come loaded with On’s speed lacing system but are also packaged with traditional laces.)
The signature CloudTec soles with their hollow cylinders are the defining characteristic of these runners and provide much of the comfort (along with the Zero Gravity foam midsole). But as anyone who’s worn On Cloud’s knows, these holes and the trench down the midfoot of the sole can pick up debris, such as rocks, while walking or running.
Price at time of publication: $140
Sizes: 7 to 14 | Materials: recycled polyester upper, foam midsole, rubber outsole | Sustainability: 44 percent recycled materials
Best Hiking Shoe
Altra Lone Peak 7
Wide at the toebox and throughout helps boost comfort
Can easily double as hiking, trail running, and casual shoes
Our outdoor gear editor calls these kicks the best travel shoes he’s owned. And for good reason. These wide, zero-drop shoes are super comfortable and allow room for foot swelling during long flights or road trips. They also serve as a do-everything shoe as certain colors look good enough for casual office and dining settings, and the trail-running nature of the shoe makes them ideal for hiking and off-road running. (They’ll also work for running on pavement.)
The zero-drop (there is no difference in height from your heel to your front foot) may not be for everyone, but we dig the minimalist feel and design. But if you’re looking for a shoe you can wear from the plane to the trail, we can’t think of a better option.
Price at time of publication: $150
Sizes: Men’s 7 to 15 (regular and wide) | Materials: Altra Ego midsole and Maxtrac outsole | Sustainability: N/A
Blundstone Men’s Classic 550 Chelsea Boots
Tasmania, Australia’s Blundstone has been making boots like these for 130 years, so their classic Chelsea boots provide a proven, stylish design and a record of craftsmanship and quality. Unlike some urban boots that require weeks of heavy use to conform to your foot, our tester appreciated the “out of the box” comfort of the Blundstone Chelsea boots.
That comfort is thanks to a Shock Protection System (SPS) Max Comfort system paired with a comfort footbed (they come with two different footbed options to select the one best for your foot shape). A TPU midsole paired with extra foam padding in the heel strike zone sets the Chelsea boots apart from many other urban boots that look cool but skimp on comfort.
Because of their classic style and comfort, these boots can be the only footwear you need for a trip. They obviously come up short for any athletic pursuits, though the lugged outsoles are capable enough for light hiking. But packing a lightweight pair of trainers might be the only addition to your luggage if you continue to train or run while on the road.
Price at time of publication: $220
Sizes: Men’s 4 to 14 | Materials: leather upper, TPU outsole | Sustainability: N/A
Best Hiking Sandals
Teva Hurricane XLT2 Sandals
Sandals, in general, don’t make great travel shoes. They might be comfortable for passing out on an airplane, but they show their shortcomings when walking between terminals or around a city. Teva first solved this problem in the 1980s with its distinctive hook and loop strap system, which secures the rugged sole to the foot and makes them an all-day option well-suited to warm temperatures and time in and around water.
The Hurricane is a classic Teva style, and the XLT2 is the latest update, incorporating recycled materials and comfort upgrades in the heel strap and sole. Our tester loved the fit of their hiking shoe-like soles out of the box, which they noted only improved with break-in time.
They’re great for beach vacations, and our tester gave them a go on a trip to Los Cabos, Mexico, where they appreciated their versatile comfort, especially on beach walks in coarse sand where bare feet hurt and flip-flops don’t provide enough structure. The tester’s biggest challenge was dialing in the strap system, and they recommended leaving the heel strap alone once you’ve found the ideal setting.
While the Hurricanes are great for travel, walking, light hiking, and water sports, they’re limited in cooler temperatures, though you can always wear warm socks with them (embrace the dad look) to extend their practical range. They also aren’t always appropriate for more formal occasions, dinners, and such, so you likely will need to travel with another piece of footwear unless you’re on an exclusively casual trip.
Price at time of publication: $75
Sizes: Men’s 5 to 17 | Materials: REPREVE polyester webbing, EVA midsole, rubber outsole | Sustainability: recycled polyester webbing, recyclable, vegan
Best for the Environment
Allbirds Mens Wool Runner Mizzles
Allbirds footwear is generally sustainability-first, and these wool casual running shoes are no exception, with recycled and bio-based materials throughout. They also offer great casual style and, as our tester exclaimed, “the comfort of a slipper without having the appearance of a slipper.”
Allbirds calls these a runner, but they’re more a casual sneaker in a runner’s style. For a running shoe, the soles are basic and smooth, and the soft wool upper lacks structure and support (though our tester noted that they lace up very securely). While you could run in them, and the SweetFoam midsole provides enough cushion, these are probably best for walking, an occasional light run or hike, and low-intensity training. Because of the slipper-like upper, our tester pointed out that the shoe developed some folding and wrinkling, and high-intensity exercise would likely only exacerbate the issue.
While Merino wool is excellent for natural breathability and anti-microbial properties, it might not be your first choice for durability and weather protection. Thankfully, Allbirds addresses this with a bio-based waterproofing treatment to the wool to help keep your feet dry.
Price at time of publication: $125
Sizes: Men’s 8 to 14 | Materials: ZQ-certified wool upper, EVA midsole, rubber outsole | Sustainability: Climate Neutral-certified, bio-based materials, recycled materials, FSC-certified rubber
APL Mens TechLoom Tracer
Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL) is a “luxury performance” brand that sells $400 basketball shoes (banned by the NBA!) and a wide array of running and training shoes with premium proprietary materials and premium price tags to match.
Even though the TechLoom Tracer is more of a performance training shoe, you can see a bit of the basketball shoe roots in the shoe’s profile. While distinctly a sneaker, it may appeal to folks that like Nike style but want something more subdued and comfortable. (The APL logo is tastefully small and keeps the look neutral.)
The shoe is very structured compared to most running shoes and casual sneakers, which is a boon to performance and will likely help the shoes hold their shape over time and use, though dedicated runners may want to stick to actual running shoes. The aggressive lacing system also allows you to crank down a secure fit, making them an excellent option for people needing to stick with high-intensity training even while traveling. Our tester noted that the shoe initially felt stiff but broke in over the first few wears to settle into more all-day comfort.
The biggest hang-up on these shoes is the price tag, and $250 will knock these out of the running for many. But if you don’t mind the spend and need a travel shoe that can stand up to wear and high-intensity training, the TechLoom Tracers may be worth the investment.
Price at time of publication: $250
Sizes: Men’s 7 to 15 | Materials: Propelium midsole, Lycra collar, TechLoom upper, rubber outsole | Sustainability: N/A
Other Travel Shoes We Tested
Adidas Men’s Ultraboost 22 Running Shoe: A good all-around athletic shoe, but our tester struggled to put them on and didn’t appreciate slippage in the heel during use.
York Athletics The Henry Runner: Billed as the only shoe you need, these sneaker hybrids were comfortable, but our tester didn’t love the “restaurant worker” appearance of the all-black model.
Kuru Atom Shoes: An all-around casual sneaker that didn’t differentiate itself from its competitors in our testing.
Kane Revive Active Recovery Shoe: A Crocs-style sneaker designed by a sports podiatrist to provide comfort in a simple, injection-molded design. A more practical choice for athletic types that like the comfort of Crocs but want more of a sneaker for travel.
Tropicfeel Canyon Sneaker: Our tester loved the look and feel of these sneakers, but we didn’t feel comfortable recommending them since the insoles had the nasty habit of sliding around to the point where they’d actually come out of the shoe while walking.
Thursday Boots Low Top: These dressed-up leather sneakers provide versatility in where and how they can be worn, but our tester didn’t love the breathability and lack of support from the insoles.
Koio Capri: Another stylish leather low-top with breathability issues.
Olukai Mōlina: We loved this waterproof hiker that’s stylish enough to wear out but capable enough for rugged hikes. It may get warm/sweaty in certain environments.
Cole Haan Men’s Howland Penny Loafer: An attractive shoe that’s great for more formal trips but not ideal for all-day walking comfort.
Nisolo Lightweight Flex Derby: A great-looking shoe that nonetheless comes up short in terms of support and comfort for travel.
Merrell Men’s Burnt Rock Travel Suede Hiking Shoe: A more casual offering from hiking footwear brand Merrell. Our tester liked the look and feel but had issues with traction from the fairly smooth sole.
ECCO Men’s Sandals Multisport Outdoor Shoes: Though billed as a “multisport” sandal, our tester didn’t feel they lived up to the billing in terms of fit and capability.
How We Tested
Our testing pool included more than a dozen testers from different areas of the country who tested 21 shoes close to home and on the road, from city streets to sandy beaches. We tested a range of footwear, from boots to penny loafers to running shoes, and evaluated each pair for the same criteria, including comfort, style, versatility, value, and quality.
What to Look for When Buying Travel Shoes
Type of Shoe
For many people shopping for a travel shoe, the type of shoe they need will be the easiest way to narrow their search. If you normally travel by plane with nothing more than a carry-on and need a single shoe you can wear for travel, business meetings, and everything in between, a neon running shoe might not fit your needs. Conversely, a fashion-first boot isn’t a great fit if you only travel for pleasure and like to stay active away from home. Weather is another easy way to eliminate contenders. If you live and travel in cold and snowy regions, boots are likely the only option, while tropical travelers will want to consider sandals or other lightweight, breathable options. Broadly speaking, most footwear that’s in the running for a good travel shoe falls into a few categories: athletic sneakers, formal shoes, sandals, and boots.
For most people in the US, a reasonably fashionable sneaker is acceptable in most social settings and can serve multiple purposes for commuting, eating out, and more active pursuits. For this reason, our top recommendations tend to favor this footwear style since it can accommodate a broader range of travelers’ needs.
Sport sandals are a great vacation option as they are walkable and play nice in the water while letting your feet breathe. In colder climates, boots are your best option, and they generally do double-duty as a more formal option for business travel. If you’re mainly shopping for business trips, you may want to consider sacrificing some comfort to look the part, though if you can afford the space, consider carrying two pairs of shoes: one for exercise and comfort while commuting and the other when you need to dress things up. Your feet will thank you.
Depending on the style, most shoppers can expect to pay between $70 and $200 for a good travel shoe. Cheaper options are available, but the savings will often be at the cost of comfort, style, or both. More expensive options usually fall into the formal shoe or boot categories, where you’ll pay a premium for style and quality. For the casual athletic footwear featured prominently in our top picks above, expect to pay between $90 and $150.
Most sneaker-style shoes are fairly comfortable directly out of the box and don’t require much break-in. If they aren’t reasonably comfortable on first wear, there may be a fit issue, and your best bet is to try another model that fits your foot better. If you have a store nearby where you can try several pairs of sneakers to compare fit and comfort, do it, even if you ultimately buy online.
Boots, especially leather fashion-first options, require more break-in and may not feel plush until you’ve logged some serious miles on them. That said, if comfort is a top priority for you, consider a boot with sneaker-like comfort, such as the Blundstone Chelsea boots we recommend above.
If you’re looking for footwear that can handle your athletic pursuits in addition to providing comfort on the road, you may want to start with sport-specific footwear such as the Hoka Clifton, or On Cloud 5s we recommend above since they’re running shoes that just happen to make great travel shoes as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many pairs of shoes should I bring on a trip?
Some people would say, “bring as many as you can carry”, while the more minimalist traveler might say, “only bring as many as you need.” The ideal scenario, of course, is to have one pair of shoes that work for all occasions and this is easier to do in certain climates and for certain types of travelers. Because shoes are generally space-eaters in luggage, we recommend trying to bring two to three pairs of footwear at most, if possible. Usually, most travelers can get by with two: one pair of sneakers for activewear and comfortable travel, and another pair to dress things up as needed. This is easy for me to say as a man whose style is casual and doesn’t change a whole lot depending on the venue. Still, as a veteran traveler, I can confidently say that you’ll be glad if you can minimize your outfits and footwear (and thus luggage weight and volume) while traveling.
How should I clean a pair of travel shoes?
Cleaning and care of footwear is going to be unique to the types of materials used and you should always consult manufacturer recommendations for cleaning since they know exactly what materials are at play and what cleaning methods will be safe.
As a general rule, leather footwear needs fairly regular cleaning and treatment to get the best comfort and to extend the life of the shoes or boots. Saddle soap is a great all-around cleaner and conditioner that provides some water resistance.
Sneakers tend to use a mix of materials and are harder to clean, but there are lots of generic sneaker cleaners on the market. I like Pink Miracle for my sneakers, but you’ll want to be sure it’s safe for your particular brand and model.
Simple footwear such as Crocs or Kane’s Revive shoes have the advantage of both not really showing dirt in the first place and being very straightforward to clean when they do. If you don’t want to go that bare bones for your travel shoes, look for shoes that are darker in color and/or are straightforward to clean and, ideally, stain-resistant.
What shoes are best to wear through airport security?
Shoes and boots that slip on and off easily are your best bet for dealing with TSA protocols. We highlight this aspect of several of our picks above including the On Cloud 5 running shoes and the Blundstone Chelsea boots. The worst choices for the airport are boots and shoes with complicated laces or those that need to be laced tight since you’ll need to undo them on one side and redo them on the other. It’s also nice to be able to easily kick shoes on and off when you get a moment to kick back.
Why Trust TripSavvy
Justin Park is a veteran traveler who has visited five of the seven major continents and used to log nearly a half-million miles in air travel annually for business. He considers himself a minimalist in travel but isn’t scared to check a bag and usually travels with two pairs of shoes. His current go-to travel shoes are Danner Trail 2650s, which are comfortable and sporty enough for hiking and running but not quite a sneaker in terms of style.