6 Shoe Types You Should Avoid Wearing When Traveling

Travel can be equally exciting and stressful. No matter where you're headed or for how long, there's a certain amount of planning involved. Of course, you're probably putting some quality research into the sights you want to see, restaurants or bars you want to visit, and maybe even some quality photo spots to get those all-important vacation selfies. On top of that, there's also the logistics of the travel itself.


We're not just talking about booking tickets and hotels — there are also less obvious considerations like staying safe during solo travel adventures or avoiding common packing mistakes. You may even have pre-planned your travel outfit to avoid clothing items you shouldn't wear on an airplane. But have you considered how your choice of shoes can also impact your travel experience?

Whether you're traveling for work, vacationing with friends, or even taking a trip to get over your ex, you surely want everything to go smoothly. As such, it's important to avoid any of these shoe types that could add stress or discomfort to your journey.

Flip-flops and slides

First things first, let's address the common misconception that easy, slip-on sandals are the perfect travel shoe. While flip-flops and slides are certainly easy to wear, they actually have a ton of disadvantages during a busy day of travel. For one, the openness of such sandals leave your feet defenseless against cold temperatures. You may be traveling to or from warm destinations, but planes and trains tend to crank the A/C — and no one wants to freeze their toes off for hours on end.


In flip-flops or slides, you'll also have trouble hurrying if you're running late for your departure. Bear in mind, even leaving early isn't a guarantee that you'll be able to stroll along and take your time. You could get hung up at security, or have a delay in your itinerary that causes a domino effect for any scheduled layovers. In that case, you'll want to be able to move quickly.

And while the chances of an emergency may be slim, flip-flops and slides will be the opposite of helpful if you have to evacuate a vehicle safely, as you might lose a shoe in the scuffle. So if you are committed to wearing sandals, at least choose something that fits onto your foot more securely, like some flat slingbacks or dad sandals.


Tall, uncomfortable heels

You may be one of those lucky, graceful people who feel right at home in a pair of 5-inch stilettos. But for many of us, wearing statement heels is a conscious sacrifice in the name of looking fabulous. As such, they violate the primary rule of easy travel: to dress for comfort and ease of movement.


Like flip-flops, these shoes are impractical if there's an emergency, or if you need to hurry to catch your ride. As flight attendant Andrea Fischbach tells Who What Wear, "If there is an evacuation and slides are required, your high heels will have to come off, as they can puncture the slide. ... Plus, they aren't very practical running gate to gate."

Imagine trying to dash through an airport terminal or train station in your tallest heels. They probably aren't very stable, right? At best, you'll be slowed down and risk missing your connection. At worst, you could easily take a wrong step and end up falling or injuring your ankle. That's hardly the way you want to conclude — or, even worse, begin — your trip.


Of course, this doesn't mean you have to eschew cute shoes altogether. If you love heels, consider swapping your sexy but unwieldy stilettos for a pair of lower, more practical heels with a sturdy base. These will be more comfortable but still look stylish. It may also help to ensure that you're picking the right heels for your foot shape. And if your itinerary includes any outings or events that absolutely call for killer shoes, throw a special pair in your bag instead of wearing them while you're actually traveling to or from your destination.

Shoes that are difficult to get on and off

To reiterate, the key to breezy traveling is comfort and ease. However, some shoes can be a whole production to get on and off. If you're considering footwear that requires extensive shimmying, buckling and unbuckling, or adjustment of laces, bear in mind that many transit hubs still require you to remove your shoes as you go through security. Not only will difficult footwear leave you holding up the line, but getting them on and off could slow you down as you're trying to reach your gate quickly.


For your own comfort, you may also want to remove your shoes for part of the trip — especially if it's a long journey. But most modes of transportation are tight on space, so if you choose a pair of complicated shoes, it can be an absolute chore to get them on and off without leaving your seat. For example, good luck getting that pair of lace-up knee-high boots off without accidentally elbowing your neighbor or hitting your head on the seat in front of you. As great as they may look, maybe stow them in your bag next time.

Shoes that aren't breathable

It can be really handy to have a pair of shoes that hold up to any conditions. But that impermeable finish comes at a cost, and if you've ever spent much time wearing a pair of thick, impenetrable shoes, you've probably come to realize that a little airflow is a good thing. For happy feet throughout your trip, don't imprison yourself in thick, airtight shoes while traveling. It may seem like a good idea to don resilient footwear, but remember: Depending on the distance you're traveling, you could be stuck in them for hours. And if any moisture gets trapped inside — even a little bit of sweat — you're creating a breeding ground for bacteria.


As Voyage Healthcare points out, a buildup of bacteria around your feet could not only lead to some unpleasant odors later, but may leave your poor tootsies susceptible to issues such as fungal infections. Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, you probably don't want to invite athlete's foot along for the ride.

Open-toe shoe styles

While airflow and breathability are imperative for your ideal travel shoes, this doesn't necessarily mean defaulting to open-toe styles. As with flip-flops, this could lead to chilly feet during the journey. And if it turns out to be raining at your destination, you could be risking wet feet, as well — a universally uncomfortable sensation.


On top of that, many modes of transportation tend to be crowded, and it can be all too easy to get your foot stamped on in cramped conditions. This is never pleasant, but the consequences and potential injuries could be more serious if your toes are left out in the open. Flight attendant Amy Caris makes it a habit to avoid open-toe shoes just for this reason. But as she recounts to Reader's Digest, "I've broken my own rule and worn sandals before. ... As I was standing in the aisle waiting to get to my seat, the person in front of me backed up onto my foot and bent my nail back. Ouch. It was a good reminder as to why I should stick to my rules of flying!"

Finally, it's worth pointing out that transportation bathrooms are not always the cleanest. Probably everyone on the planet has seen something awful in the restroom at a gas station, bus terminal, or airport. And in-transit bathrooms, which can already be a tight and uncomfortable experience, only get worse when you introduce your bare toes to the mix. Let's just put it this way: The natural movement of buses and trains can lead to shaky aim from other passengers, and the less said about airplane turbulence, the better. Are those cute open-toe shoes really worth risking cross-contamination from a less-than-hygienic bathroom floor onto your exposed skin?


Shoes made with metal

For people who like to pack lightly, one common trick is to wear their bulkiest garments while traveling to save space and weight in their luggage. But if this involves putting on a pair of seriously solid, metal-containing shoes, you may want to reconsider. At many airports and other departure points, getting through security already takes forever. The last thing you want to do is get pulled aside for an extra search after setting off the metal detectors.


Plus, any shoes with significant amounts of metal — say, steel-toed boots or shoes with tons of decorative buckles — can weigh you down during travel, when you probably want to be energetic and light on your feet. Travel can be exhausting as it is, so why carry an additional burden?

Just to make this tip trickier, not all metal-bearing shoes will be obvious. It's easy enough to recognize that you shouldn't go click-clacking through the security line in a pair of cleats or tap shoes — but more shoes contain metal than you might expect. For instance, many high-quality heels and loafers feature nails to hold the heel in place or a metal shank beneath the insole for stability and arch support. If you suspect that your preferred pair of shoes includes hidden metal components, think about throwing them into your bag rather than wearing them on travel day — or, at least, leaving extra time in your schedule in case you get pulled aside at security.