The Pains of Travel – When Shoes Aren’t Made For Walking

If there is anywhere you can travel in the United States and look absolutely as bodacious or hellacious as you wish, it is New York City.

I personally like to land somewhere in between a ragamuffin and royalty, which leads me to dress simply yet stylishly. Looking fashionable in New York in the winter means boots on the feet, so this is what I wore on my last day trip to the city with my boyfriend. We like to walk rather than take the subways or cabs, so for New York purposes I own a couple pairs of stylish yet perfectly comfortable boots. Very unfortunately, on this day I chose a different pair that, although previously worn when walking the city streets, now lashed out at me. After an hour, the soles turned to steel, the leather hardened into concrete and what had been boots morphed into foot severing devices. I wanted to rip them off my feet and throw them to the ground. So I did.

On the floor of a shoe store is where I actually hurled them, an emergency pit stop that saved the day. “Come on, pick them up,” my boyfriend said, as I walked away, leaving them alone on the floor to die. “Later you’ll be glad you have them.” So I threw the things in a bag as I walked out of the store wearing my newfound best friends – $30 cushiony pillows of joy known as sandals. With these and a pair of newly-bought thick socks to shield my feet from the cold, I felt like I was walking on sponges. The relief was intense.

Traveling solo around the world - my new sandals

My New Best Friends

If you’re planning on doing a lot of walking when you travel, here’s some advice to help you avoid sinking so deep into a pit of pain that you have to unexpectedly spend money just to put one foot in front of the other.

1. Think. Before you walk out the door for even a half day of walking, ask yourself are these comfortable shoes for traveling more than one mile? (that’s approximately two kilometers to everyone but us Americans). If the answer is yes, ask yourself again. Really? Am I positive? Have they caused me even a little pain before? Minor discomfort while strolling the mall can turn into fiery jabs that feel like death knells when roaming around all day.

2. Bring relief supplies. Namely, Band-Aids and a pair of socks. Seriously. Band-Aids might cushion any blisters or cuts well enough to get you through the remainder of your day. If you’re wearing sandals, bring a pair of socks in case the sandals begin to hate you. If you’re wearing shoes with a pair of thin socks, thicker socks could help lessen the blows of the shoes if they begin to attack your feet. If the socks you started out with are thick, a thinner pair might help, as they won’t shove your feet quite as tightly into the offending shoes.

3. Carry backup shoes. Chances are if you’re on a day-long walking excursion you’ll be carrying a small backpack or a large bag anyway. So throw in a pair of comfortable walking shoes like lightweight sandals or sneakers. If you’re concerned about appearances, rest assured you’ll look better wearing these than you will hobbling.

As for my scythe-like boots, am I glad I didn’t leave them lying on the floor where I threw them? No.

Five-inch heels thumbnail photo by Northhampton Museum

10 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Janz says:

    Nice tips! I’ll keep them in mind. Also one thing I’ve learned is to make sure to check the weather before deciding what footwear to use. One time in DC, i wore my boots (those that can get wet) and it rained hard. My boots were soaking wet and even my feet got wet. Good thing I had extra shoes in the car otherwise I’d be walking with wet feet.

  2. Flip-flops, the primary means of transportation where I live. And we have these 5 toe socks for when it gets cold !


  3. Sabina says:

    That is a good idea. I haven’t run into water-related issues with my footwear, but I imagine it would not be a good time.

  4. Sabina says:

    I remember five-toed socks! You guys actually wear them to protect yourselves from the cold. Cool.

  5. Good tips Sabrina. I’m ensuring I wear my walking shoes in before leaving for Europe as I’m only taking them and a pair of flip flops. The last thing you want as a traveller is sore feat.

  6. Sabina says:

    Hi, Chris! Only two pairs of shoes? I wish.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  7. Nancy Harder says:

    Good. Tips. What I wouldn’t give for some of those hours spent walking around with stabbing foot pain. (Isn’t pain more painful when it’s for vanity?) Those flip flops look heavenly.
    .-= Nancy Harder´s last blog ..What Comes First? Finding Yourself or Finding Your Voice? =-.

  8. Sabina says:

    Thank you, Nancy. Those flip-flops were a great find.

  9. Dina says:

    Hahaha, I know exactly what you mean! I have this black sneackers with me that have been my best friend for more than a year on the road. I do wish to look more stylish time to time, especially when I’m wearing my cotton summer dress, especially when we go to fancy restaurants or theatres. Yep, during backpacking. We watched Ballet at the Paris Opera for example. But man…. with walking extensively instead of taking rides, it’s becoming painful after a while! So yeah, most of the times I stick with my casual sneackers. Very rarely use the girly ones! I’m now looking for something look nice but compact and comfy.
    .-= Dina´s last blog ..Friday Photo: Kyoto Imperial Palace’s Beauty Secret =-.

  10. Sabina Lohr says:

    I like sandals a lot. I’m sure you can easily find a pair that’s stylish and comfortable for all-day walking.

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