Fodor's Approved Series

Fodor's Approved: 15 Most Stylish Women's Shoes for Travel

Posted by Fodor's Editors on February 13, 2014 at 9:30:00 AM EST | Post a Comment

What’s a seasoned world traveler without the perfect pair of shoes? A traveler in need of some advice, in our opinion. The editors at Fodor’s trek all over the world, and our stylish kicks take us every step of the way. Here, we share the stories behind the footwear we can’t travel without, the pairs that help us look fashionable the second we step off the cruise or the plane. These favorite pairs have taken us on journeys both near and far, from Dublin to Haiti to Morocco to Montana. Some of us even wear these shoes on a daily basis, right here in our New York City office. With the help of our discerning female editors, here are some of the flats, boots, and heels you should consider packing for your next trip.

Want more from our Fodor's Approved series? Check out our reviews of the best carry-ons, travel essentials, checked luggage, and beauty products.

1. Ugg Australia “Alloway” Black Suede Studded Loafer

The Tester: Róisín Cameron, Associate Editor, Countryside and Adventure

Where did you go? I wore them on a short break in Hong Kong in the springtime with bare feet, and in Dublin in December with thick tights, when the sheepskin padding really came into its own.

The Review: The sheepskin lining means that the shoes ($140) are really breathable on bare feet—great for endless walking on hot days. But when worn with tights the lining makes them really cozy, and the padding feels great any time.

The Catch: They need a little thought as to what to pair them with—too casual and you risk looking like you’ve wandered out in your slippers. Ugg sells a protective sheepskin and suede spray, but I would still be wary of taking them out on wet days.

The Verdict: Comfort and warmth—Ugg knows what it’s doing when it comes to both.

2. Merrell, Barefoot Life Jungle Glove (Black)

The Tester: Linda Cabasin, Editorial Director

Where did you go? I’ve walked the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, explored small towns in Yorkshire, window-shopped on Seville’s Calle Sierpes, and stood in many a tasting room in Sonoma, to name a few spots. These Merrells ($100) are versatile.

The Review: Walking is my favorite way to explore any city or town, so I value comfort and support to the max. Sore feet are a real pleasure killer. These shoes are profoundly wearable even after five hours traipsing across cobblestones.

The Catch: Where did they come up with Barefoot Life Jungle Glove as a name? It’s a bit embarrassing, but okay. I also prefer regular leather to suede, but the comfort factor is so high that I overlooked it. These shoes come in a lot of colors and variations, so there’s also a bit too much temptation to buy another pair (or two).

The Verdict: They’re totally easy to slip on and off, and have a low profile that’s a bit more stylish or city-appropriate than other Merrell shoes I own. Plus these aren’t too bulky, making them easy to pack.

3. Toms Classics (All colors)

The Tester: Caroline Trefler, Senior Editor, Cities and Cultural Destinations

Where did you go? Wow, just about everywhere. Paris, Israel, Jordan, Tokyo, Rome, Florence, Toronto, Copenhagen, Jordan, Miami, New Orleans...everywhere I’ve been in the past four or five years.

The Review: These shoes (from $48) are super comfortable and they almost weigh nothing, so I can pack several different colors for different outfits.

The Catch: They’re pretty casual so I usually need something else for night time. Also, when they get wet they take a while to dry, so they're not the best for rainy destinations.

The Verdict: I literally once took 3 pairs. I can even stash a pair in my purse if I’m wearing heels and want an extra pair of flats.

4. Born Stowaway II Flats (All colors)

The Tester: Kristan Schiller, Editor, Cities and Cultural Destinations

Where did you go? All over Europe and the US.

The Review: These flats ($130) are extremely comfortable and versatile. Easy to slip on and off at airport security.

The Catch: Not ideal for inclement weather or hilly terrain.

The Verdict: Great city shoes that can be dressed up or down.

5. Cole Haan Manhattan Ballet (Black leather)

The Tester: Roxanne Chen, Senior Web Product Manager

Where did you go? I’ve gone to Istanbul, Tuscany, and Cusco in these shoes ($158).

The Review: If you have any issues with your feet swelling on long plane rides, this shoe is perfect! And there are lots of colors to choose from, or just stick with black if you prefer to pack light.

The Catch: It’s more understated but goes with many outfits.

The Verdict: Great for all seasons and super comfy since they’re stretchy and feel like sneakers.

6. Heyraud Botte Légère (Black)

The Tester: Erica Duecy, Deputy Editor, Fodors.com

Where did you go? I spotted these boots ($407) through a shop window in Paris and knew that I had to have them. I always wear them on the plane so that they don’t take up unnecessary space in my carry-on. So far I’ve worn them on trips to Chicago, Seattle, and Boston. In NYC, I wear them at least once or twice a week.

The Review: These are the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn. They’re lightweight and almost knee-high, perfect for trekking around a city, navigating through cobblestone streets, and up and down staircases.

The Catch: The leather is so soft (part of their appeal) that I worry about wearing these boots in heavy rain or snow. I don’t want to ruin them!

The Verdict: These are the slippers of the boot genre—but way more stylish.

7. Ariat Wexford H2O Boots (Black)

The Tester: Linda Schmidt, Managing Editor

Where did you go? London, Vermont, and Montana.

The Review: These boots ($119.99) are absolutely, totally waterproof, even in downpours, yet breathable because they’re leather, not synthetic.

The Catch: The leather is so durable that they never get a worn-in look. But the style is very understated, so they don’t stick out as bought-for-the-trip new.

The Verdict: Completely comfortable with no break-in period. Not dorky-looking, like a lot of waterproof boots are.

8. Camper, Palmera Boots (Black leather)

The Tester: Caroline Trefler, Senior Editor, Cities and Cultural Destinations

Where did you go? Paris, Toronto, Rome, Florence, Mexico City, Japan, etc.

The Review: Very comfortable. I can walk for miles and miles and miles. They're also versatile. I wear these boots ($160) with pants or casual skirts or dresses.

The Catch: These are for cooler weather. I don’t wear these to warm destinations or beach destinations. I wear them when it’s damp out, too. No, they’re not rain boots, but if it's just kind of yucky out, they’re perfect.

The Verdict: They last forever. I’ve been wearing mine for about 5 years!

9. Swedish Hasbeens Zip it Emy (Bordeaux)

The Tester: Jennifer DePrima, Senior Production Editor

Where did you go? England, Peru, Boston, NYC.

The Review: They’re a classic ankle boot ($194.50) that looks great with a skirt or jeans. There’s some height, but the heel is low enough to keep you stable. The Bordeaux/oxblood color is a little dressier than the other options and goes with everything.

The Catch: The leather is a bit stiff when they’re new, but very comfortable once broken in.

The Verdict: Believe it or not, they’re really comfortable for all-day walking! (Yes, despite the fact that they have un-padded wooden soles.)

10. Frye Smith Engineer Short Boots (Black or Tan)

The Tester: Linda Schmidt, Managing Editor

Where did you go? London and Edinburgh.

The Review: On two city trips last year, a total of one month, I walked at least six hours daily in these Fryes ($298) with no blisters, no discomfort of any kind. The leather is thick and beautiful, and the boots mold to your feet after about 10 minutes of wear. There’s rubber set into the leather soles, so they’re good on wet pavement. And they’re distressed right out of the box, so you will not look like a tourist who bought new shoes for the trip.

The Catch: Nothing. I love everything about them.

The Verdict: They get more and more gorgeous, the more scuffs you get, so you don’t have to treat them gingerly.

11. Aerosoles Roler Rink (Gray faux suede combo)

The Tester: Salwa Jabado, Senior Editor, Countryside/Adventure

Where did you go? I brought these shoes ($79) with me to Florence, Italy and survived the interminable walk to a romantic dinner via cobblestone streets. I was also sporting them at a dressy family lunch in Miami.

The Review: Aerosoles makes some of the most comfortable high-heeled shoes. These have a wide toebox, a chunky heel, and lots of padding making them so much easier on my feet. I like the black/gray combo—they are a little more fun than a standard black pump.

The Catch: The Mary Jane strap is not for everyone, but it suits me. I wouldn’t wear these all day (who wants to tour around in heels?) but they are a great option for a more formal evening out when you have to walk to your destination.

The Verdict: I’m wearing them today—they are as good in the office as they are on vacation!

12. Gap Leather Oxfords (Gray crystal)

The Tester: Róisín Cameron, Associate Editor, Countryside and Adventure

Where did you go? Recently I wore these oxfords ($69.95) on a very rainy New Year’s trip to London. They kept me dry and warm, though I wouldn’t go jumping in any puddles. They stood up well to a day at Tate Britain and shopping at Borough Market, and then a low key night at the pub.

The Review: These are lighter than many oxfords, which makes this pair very attractive for packing. The leather really stretches to fit your feet—after the first day of wear, I could hardly feel them at all, and the padded insole adds to the comfort.

The Catch: Nothing! I get compliments on them all the time.

The Verdict: The color is really versatile and the patent finish wipes clean easily.

13. Jason Wu Jean III (Gold Matt)

The Tester: Róisín Cameron, Associate Editor, Countryside and Adventure

Where did you go? I wore them almost non-stop on a trip that encompassed a couple of days in Belgium and Ghent (attending a fashion show one evening), a wedding in Morocco (lots of dancing) and a culture stop in Paris (lots of walking by the canal and museum wandering).

The Review: These flats ($105) are so comfortable, and the open design means my feet stay cool even on a hot day walking around. They are chic enough to wear for a day museum-hopping and then out to dinner and bars. I don’t feel I have to go back to the hotel to change.

The Catch: If you tan easily, you have to be vigilant—the criss-crossed pattern could result in some strange markings on your feet.

The Verdict: They’re very lightweight to carry as spares, and the gold matte color goes with everything.

14. Rocket Dog, Memories Thai Silk (Dark red)

The Tester: Amanda Sadlowski, Assistant Editor

Where did you go? They’ve basically been my go-to city travel shoe ($44.95) for the past four years—so all over Europe (Dublin, London, Paris, Prague, and more), Mexico City, and plenty of US cities. I also wear them at home in New York City constantly.

The Review: First of all, they're insanely comfortable—I can walk around cities all day exploring and they don’t mangle my feet like some other flats. You also don’t have to break them in—they’re good for long walks right off the bat. They’re very cute, and the bright red color makes a great addition to any outfit and can really make a look pop. People definitely notice when you’re wearing them, in a good way.

The Catch: They’re not the highest quality fabric and they tend to get rips/tears in the fabric relatively easily (especially if you walk in them as much as I do). And because they’re so inexpensive, it’s not really worth it to get them fixed by a cobbler.

The Verdict: They’re very affordable and while they can stain easily due to their fabric material, you can easily just throw them in the washer and dryer to clean.

15. French Soles (All colors)

The Tester: Arabella Bowen, Editor-in-Chief

Where did you go? Everywhere! Most recently, Tokyo, Venice, La Paz, Toronto, and Haiti.

The Review: I often get asked what heels I travel with. In fact, I usually pack flats; they’re a lot easier to fit in my carry-on. French Soles (from $130) are my year-round go-to’s: They are chic, comfortable, and super-light, with choices in every color and trend imaginable.

The Catch: They don’t fold up into a small pouch.

The Verdict: I can dress up an outfit or kick about town in a trendy pair. Buy them online or, better yet, visit their New York outlet for fantastic discounts.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Shirise, Inc.; Merrell; TOMS Shoes; BORN FOOTWEAR; Cole Haan; Heyraud; Zappos.com or its affiliates; Camper; Swedish Hasbeens; Zappos.com or its affiliates; Aerogroup International LLC; Gap Inc. Brands; Melissa; Rocket Dog; French Sole

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Member Comments (2)  Post a Comment

  • MissGreen on Mar 12, 14 at 05:31 AM

    95% of those shoes are so ugly.

  • naoma on Feb 22, 14 at 10:16 AM

    Oh, come on. A good pair of flats do not cost that much. I buy my shoes at
    DSW where you can get fine designer shoes at a discount. First quality and stylish. Who pays such money for such shoes?

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