Before heading out on my last trip, I completely panicked and worried about what footwear to bring. Not necessarily because of trying to look fashionable (although that’s always a concern) but because I didn’t want blisters or back pain!
Years ago when I went to New York City for Fashion Week, I wore the most uncomfortable shoes to walk in. Not only did my back hurt at the end of the day but I had pain in my hips and blisters all over my feet that required multiple trips to Duane Reade for band-aids and blister care!
I ended up wearing cheap flip flops which weren’t much better by way of support.
Now if I know I’m going to be on my feet a lot, I look for shoes that have support…and if you have ever sought out cute shoes that offer support, you know its like finding a unicorn. Not easy!
Let’s get right down to it. Here’s what has worked for me.
I discovered the brand Ahnu Karma while searching Google for comfortable shoes with support.. These caught my eye right away. I love the look of a modified Mary Jane, I also like my toes and heels to be covered if I am walking on a city street.
I really love these, they have decent support in the foot bed, are very comfortable and bonus! – there are adjustable velcro straps. The actual shoe is flexible so you can exercise easily in them. They look cute with casual sundresses, jeans, shorts…they are also flattering to the leg.
I put them to the test with a lot of walking and standing and they held up very well. They are light to pack which is a necessity when you are going on vacation and trying to pack as much as you can!
The way these shoes are designed is to cradle the foot, support the foot bed and provide comfort in the toe-bar area. Its astounding that such a simple shoe can provide so much comfort and stability.
I highly recommend the Ahnu Karma brand of shoe, they have a variety of styles to pick from which you can see here.
Here are my other picks for city walking/vacation (photos are all mine from various places)
Walking Long Distances
I have owned a pair of Birkenstocks for a long time and have worn them all over New York City. I dislike having dirty feet…and walking in a city in open sandals, its guaranteed that you will end up with dirty feet. BUT. These, although not the cutest and most feminine shoes, support my feet and hips, lower back and legs.
I was able to do a lot of walking in the Birkenstocks and I have to admit, these are extremely comfortable. I wouldn’t wear these with a dress or skirt but with shorts or cuffed jeans, they don’t look too bad.
And sometimes, having comfy feet trumps looking cute. Good thing “ugly” shoes are in this season!
Lots of Walking/Running
Nike Free sneakers are very comfortable and don’t give me blisters, I basically bought these, wore them and never turned back.
I need more arch support than what these give but the simple black and white style works with quite a bit of clothing. I can work out in these and also walk around a city in the them making them ideal for packing.
Wear with yoga pants, shorts, jeans- basically anything but a skirt or dress. My favorite is a tank top, cuffed jeans and my Nike sneakers. These hold up well and last forever.
Light Support, East to Pack
TOMS are my go-to for very light, very comfortable and easy to pack shoes. I like them with jeans and I tend to wear them at the airport because you can slip them off and on in seconds. I wear sock-liners like these when I wear my TOMS.
While I don’t think TOMS are great for walking long distances, I did wear these all over San Francisco and didn’t have achy feet or a sore back.
I like the special TOMS that come from Nordstrom, for some reason they seem to be made with a little more care and are sturdier than the other TOMS.
Born Crown Vintage sandals are very well made, are soft and easy to walk in. While I wouldn’t walk excessively in them, I have strolled around in them with no blisters or pain.
The gladiator style I have in my closet is cute with skirts, shorts and jeans. For a little walking and shopping, they are perfect. Born shoes have a great reputation and I’ve had mine for a few years and barely show any wear and tear.
I love a ballet flat and the Felicia style from Sam Edelman gets an A+ from me. If you aren’t walking much- maybe a block or so, or getting from a hotel into a car, these are great. I have worn mine out for a day of shopping and walking around with no problems.
They do not have arch support so if you are spending a day on your feet strolling around, I would point you to the Ahnu Karma or Birkenstock shoes.
Light to Moderate Walking
Goes with almost everything, looks good, wears well and lasts for years…maybe even looks better when older than new, I’m talking about Converse All Stars.
I love these and have worn them frequently over the years. They don’t go out of style and where ever I am, they seem ideal with jeans and a tee shirt. They are also pretty convenient to pack in a suitcase.
I recommend Converse (I also really like VANS) for light walking. I always wear little socks, like the ones I pointed out in the TOMS feature above. By light walking, I mean strolling for an hour around a city, maybe walking around the zoo for a few hours. They keep feet covered and protected and are not too thin on the bottom so you won’t feel every stone and pebble through the bottom of the shoe.
They do not offer much arch, toe, or foot bed support so if you plan on doing a lot of intense walking, its probably better to bring out the Birkenstocks or sneakers.
What are your favorite shoes for city walking?