Traveling Shoes for Women: This Summer’s Best

Laura Lopuch

Cinderella had it easy.

Here’s your pair of shoes for the night — tailored to your feet and destined to never blister. Just be home before midnight to avoid any drama. 

As a woman, it’s hard to narrow down the endless possibilities of shoes to find the one that always fits, flatters, and is comfortable.

When you’re going to spend hours on your feet — facing slick cobblestones in unexpected downpours, or an impromptu dinner at a semi-fancy restaurant — you need great shoes. Add  to the mix the sweaty heat of summer, and you’re liable to get arrested for indecent olfactory exposure if you don’t pick the right summer shoes.

You know what I mean.

At the risk of my shoe budget’s health, I’m here to shave hours off your summer packing with the best women’s summer shoes for travel for every type of trip.

Pro tipZappos has free shipping and returns. Try on all the shoes you want in the comfort of your home, then return the rejects for free.

Next best thing: Amazon Prime with free shipping and returns. Be still my beating heart.

Sandals

Fancy: Naturalizer Pressley ($89) 

You can dance all night long in these strappy black sandals at this weekend’s destination summer wedding.

With N5 Contour technology’s dual density cushioning in the sock liner and added cushioning in the heel, arch and ball of the foot, your feet won’t tire at midnight. These sandals are flexible, lightweight, and designed to keep you balanced. Regardless of how many drinks you’ve had at the reception.

Casual: Birkenstocks Milano ($90-130)

Sure, you probably thought “hippie” as soon as you read Birkenstocks. I did too. But you don’t have to even like granola to appreciate these sturdy, comfortable sandals. “Soft foot bed,” “great arch support,” “easy on and off,” and “great looks” are what the wearers of these sandals say. With a sturdy leather heel strap and a leather-lined, contoured, foot bed, you can sprint for that last train into the countryside and not leave a shoe behind.

Wedge: Michael Kors Damita Wedge ($99) summer shoes

Summer isn’t summer without some espadrilles. 185 of Zappos’ highly-selective customers rated these sandals as their top 5 out of 5 starred pick. Comfortable for long walks in the city and over tricky cobblestones that usually trip up stilettos. Opt for wedges to get the height and sexy summer vibe.

Casual Shoes

Running + Walking: Adidas Adipure 360.2 ($90) summer shoes

Super flexible so you can do it all: run, walk, or just meander. The open mesh vents on top cool down sweaty piggies — especially good in the warm summer months. With the extra stability in the mid-foot to the heel, you’ve got a solid foundation. Go ahead: wander that new city for lunch, or jog through its quiet dawn streets. This shoe does both.

Walking Only: Superga Unisex 2750 Cotu Classic Sneaker (around $100)

Urban legend tells of a girl who walked 7+ hours in brand-new pair of these sneakers. Only that urban legend is true. With its thick, cushy sole (thicker than a Converse’s paperthin sole), these sneakers are seriously made for walking.

Insert an insole with some arch support (these shoes don’t have much), and you’re ready to hit that second cathedral, climb every mountain, and ford every stream.

Boots

Frye Smith Engineer Short Boots (starting at $145)

Don’t leave your boots behind even though it’s summer. A good pair of boots is perfect for destinations that are chilly even in summer. I’m looking at you Alaska, Ireland, Canada.

Thick, beautiful leather molds to your feet. Rubber in the soles make slick sidewalks and cobblestone safe to navigate. Since they’re distressed right out of the box, you don’t have to treat them carefully. Throw them on with a cute dress and go.

Flats

Fancy: Rockport Total Motion Hidden Wedge Pump ($120)

summer shoes

A slim, waterproof flat with a flattering hidden wedge that gives you an extra lift. ADIPRENE by adidas gives max shock-absorbing heel cushioning and all-day comfort. With a layer of retention foam and foam-backed lining, you’ll pack these leather beauties for every trip.

Casual: SoftWalk Napa ($100)

Breathable leather flats with soft pigskin lining and a cushy memory foam footbed. Meet your new favorite shoes and — excuse me while I hit “purchase” — it even has arch support, a rarity in ballet flats. The flexible soles move with your every step. I own a pair of SoftWalks and love the cushy footbed that safeguards against aching feet.

Heels

Fancy: Nine West Able Platform Slingback ($70)

Reviewers say this high heel doesn’t feel like a heel. Too good to be true? Even the mother of the bride danced the night away in these heels, and woke the next morning to pain-free tootsies. Plus, the cut-out over the toe makes your legs look a million miles long. Perfect for a fancy night out at an expensive dinner, or a ball gown wedding.

Casual: Clarks Artisan Delsie Bliss ($65-120) summer shoes

Need a black heel wardrobe staple that’s actually comfortable? These pumps heard your cry. Supple leather form fits to your foot. Thanks to synthetic lining, your feet can breathe — no more sweaty toes. You’ll love the ortholite insole that adjusts to your foot’s natural shape and the rubber outsole for slip-free walking.

Adventure & Hiking

Shoes: Oboz Luna ($125) summer shoes

Lightweight, yet flexible, with a meaty tread make this shoe perfect for your mountain hikes. Beware, they need a breaking-in period. So, don’t buy them new and take them on a trip right away. Once you loosen them up, they’re comfortable for years.

Over five years, I’ve hiked countless miles on Colorado mountains with these shoes. No matter the miles — 2, 5, or 10 — my feet are supported and comfortable. Plus, they’re not heavy like hiking boots.

Sandals: Keen Whisper ($90)

2,232 reviews rating these adventure-ready sandals a 5 stars out of a possible 5 stars. Sandal but with closed toe. Water-friendly for those Hawaiian hikes. Anti-odor protection (oh thank heaven). Rubber sole for traction. Meet your hot weather hiking friend who’s always game for a cool dip in a hidden spring.

Top 2 Shoes to Pack in Summer

Flats: Aerosoles Solitaire ($69)

Like the look of Toms but not the super-flat sole? Here’s your alternative. These shoes feature memory foam footbed and microfiber sockliner. And, this crazy diamond pattered sole whisks friction away from your feet. I didn’t know that was possible, but reviewers concur: these shoes are comfortable.

Sandal: Naot Footwear Tahoe ($125) summer shoes

Leather strap with an adjustable buckle for a custom fit. Shock-absorbent sole with a flexible bend. My favorite: an insole that adjusts to your foot, so these sandals get more comfortable the more you wear them. How’s that for long days of strolling along sunny boardwalks? They score a stunning 5 out of 5 stars with 85 very picky customers over at Zappos. Now we’re talking.

Best Summer Women’s Shoe Brand: Naturalizer

Strappy, cute sandals that you can’t stop wearing because they’re so comfortable. Need I say more? Most of their shoes are priced below $100. And, they’re made from premium materials — like leather — that are good to your feet.

TL;DR

You ain’t Cinderella and packing shoes for a trip is difficult. The array of choices is endless, and there are good reasons for each choice; mix in the driving question of can I pack cute AND comfortable shoes? and no wonder your packing takes hours.

Here’s the quick and dirty list of great summer women’s shoes for travel: