Pro Packing: How to Select the Best Shoes for Europe

Throughout my travels, I have experienced epic packing fails.  Here are some packing hacks I’ve discovered over the years to help you avoid the same mistakes I’ve made.  That way you’ll look both stylish and comfortable and avoid this fashion nightmare:

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Ouch.

Tip #1: Understand your Trip Theme

Are you biking through France on a vineyard tour?  Are you being shuffled to an awards or film event where formal attire is often necessary? Are you with a Tour Group where you won’t be able to go back and forth to your hotel easily?  Take into consideration some of the logistics of your trip so you can better plan your footie attire.

Typically for European vacations (at least in my experience), a whole lot of walking is required, so my list caters to that type of itinerary.  However, if you’re attending a wedding in Paris or London, you will need more heels or other formal wear than my selections.

Seasons also come into play – in the winter and fall you’ll want those boots, while in the summer you’ll be looking at breathable sandals.

Tip #2: Neutrals are your BFF

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Like most twenty-something ladies of the world, I love a good red heel or lemon-yellow ballet flat. Although that ubiquitous “pop of color” has been a bit overexposed the past couple of years, it’s undeniable that a brightly colored heel is stylish and fun.

HOWEVER.

Most wardrobes consist of an array of colors, so revolving outfits around a bright color can prove challenging at times (unless you mostly just wear neutral shirts and pants already, in which case, you are gonna blend right in in Denmark or Germany and will have plenty of suitcase room for those neon oxfords! Cheers!).  Selecting neutral kicks helps maximize the number of outfits per shoe so you don’t have to choose 10 pairs to match each outfit of the day.

(If you really are a loyal pop of color girl, however, throw in one pair of bright flats into your carry-on. It’s your trip, loves)!

Tip #3: Test-Drive those Babies, because Comfort is KEY.

Aren’t cobblestone streets so charming and scenic? At least in my imagination.  However, in reality they’re death traps.  I remember many nights in Ireland after a few hours at the pub, hobbling back with my girls in heels and bracing myself for a broken limb.

Finding the perfect set of shoes for extended hours of strollin’ takes time, so plan a few weeks ahead for your trip and start gathering your potential shoe selections.  Once you’ve got some finalists, walk around your home for a couple of hours while you’re doing housework and make sure they stay comfortable.

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Exhausted from all the walking, but my shoes are still comfy! 2008 Barcelona

 Notice if they begin to pinch your toe or chafe your ankle, and knock those babies out of the running because you do NOT want blisters and aches on your European adventure. However, because you’re probably going to be walking 5+ miles a day, sometimes blisters are unavoidable, so be sure to pack a little “emergency kit” of neosporin and bandaids for a quick recovery.

Tip #4: Heels are Not Exempt from the Test Drive Rule

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I only need one heel pair! Which one should I take?

We always plan at least one more “formal” event, whether it’s a fancy restaurant or a night at the theater, so I can’t escape taking at least one pair of heels.  Especially since this trip is in the summertime and I’m packing several sundresses, I wanted a heel that could work both for casual and more trendy attire, so I kept true to my neutral rule.  I also chose heels that had a nice block heel to them.  There’s simply no way I’m stumbling on stiletto’s this trip. I like my ankles in tact, thank you very much!

Tip #5 Don’t Break the Bank

Although I do enjoy lusting over Gucci loafers and Ferragamo flats, I typically do not take my luxury shoes.  I have found that 1) most of the time they are absolutely ruined by the end of the trip. 2) No one notices them on these types of trips, which is half the fun of wearing brand-focused shoes.

Instead, I focused on brands that have a lot of bang for their buck in durability and comfort.  Some solid brands to research for your trip include Born, Aerosoles, Clarks, Keds, etc.  These are all brands that have stylish options as well, so don’t worry about looking like a Grandma with those old-school Crocs or anything. Head to DSW or TJ Maxx for extra deals on these shoes as well.  Every pair of shoes I’m taking on the trip cost me less than $50, most of them half of that amount.

I do usually take one of my “nicer” shoes for either my formal night or a day I know I won’t be walking a lot.  When I went to London for Fashion Week, I also did pack a few more trendy brands (which goes back to my first tip of Understanding your Trip Theme!).

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Barcelona 2008, where I wore Sperry’s 80% of the trip

Hope these tips helped you in your packing endeavors! What other tips do you have for travel shoes? Any specific brands or styles that you have found most useful during your trips? Comment below!

3 thoughts on “Pro Packing: How to Select the Best Shoes for Europe

    1. Thanks for reading!! It was a fun post to write. I have been very lucky that I grew up with parents who made traveling a priority, so now that I am out of school and working I also prioritize saving money for travel! One of these days I’ll get around to writing a post on how I save money for trips and get travel deals 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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