A journey of a thousand steps should start with a pair of these stylish, versatile shoes.
We were heading to Rome’s lovely Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea. But, somehow, a wrong turn on the walk over to the museum led us to a neighborhood in the bend of the River Tiber. Though an afternoon of art appreciation was ruined, we had on the right sneakers, lessening the sting of our 18,000-step mistake.
Good shoes aren’t merely lifesavers on vacations, though—they can be fashion statements, as well. The following 10 shoe selections certainly look the part, but they also prove extremely versatile, light enough to toss in an overnighter and, most importantly, super comfortable because heaven only knows the next time you’ll get turned around in Italy and need to backtrack your way out.
Top Picks for You
Clarks: Hero Air Lace
One of the things we’ve always loved about Clarks is its emphasis on comfort. So, the next time you’re on a cruise and have a day of pasta-making excursions ahead of you, consider something agile like the Hero Air Lace. This classic-looking, streamlined shoe (available in colors that range from olive suede to navy for all sexes) with Clarks’ Active Air cushioning fits the bill wonderfully as your partner for the day.
Adidas: Stan Smith, Forever
In an unofficial poll of pedestrians walking around central Barcelona one day, we estimated that roughly 45% of people were wearing Stan Smiths. Of course, we can’t blame them; the sneaker feels great on your feet and has a timeless look. These three new Stan Smith, Forever iterations continue the tradition of subtle elegance, but they do so with an End Plastic Waste initiative calling for recycled uppers and outsoles. Earth-inspired graphics and embroidery complete some of the looks while 90% recycled paper composes the box.
Allbirds: Tree Dasher
If you’re the only one in your circle who hasn’t joined the Allbirds flock, the time to migrate over has come. On the surface, the Tree Dasher is a performance shoe with a one-piece upper made of eucalyptus tree fibers, merino wool-lined heel pads, and rubber traction that’s perfect for a morning run. But, the thoughtful footwear has more on its mind than working out. With its seamless side profile and vibrant color options (see: women’s geyser and men’s flame), it proves a stylish travel companion, as well.
Nike: Air Max 270
When this shoe debuted back in 2018, most of the talk surrounded the oversized Air Bag on its heel. That signature attribute is still present in this latest version of the fun, breathable shoe. Only now, with a few years under its belt, the color selections have expanded. And you know what that means for the resort’s evening luau, right? You and your family can match with the black-and-white 270s or go classic with a blue-on-white pair.
Rothy’s: The Sneaker
If your boat shoe decided to go in for a mommy makeover, it would come out looking a lot like this shoe. Available in head-turning styles for ladies that go from the limited Anchor to the almost-luxe Camo Cat, the lightweight, slip-on Sneaker is a statement maker wherever it goes. But like every other environmentally conscious release from Rothy’s, The Sneaker’s loudest message remains in its makeup, where recycled water bottles are knitted to create the signature fabric.
New Balance: Fresh Foam 1080 V11
The 574 is New Balance’s iconic lifestyle sneaker. Ladies and gents can dress ’em up or down as much as they like. While we won’t go so far as to proclaim that labelmate Fresh Foam 1080 V11 has that kind of versatility, we wouldn’t hesitate to say that it’s so much more than a running shoe, either. With the responsive Fresh Foam and breathable Hypoknit upper, the shoe makes an ideal companion for long sightseeing days. Plus, the cool graphics and rigged foam sole give the sneaker movement—even while you’re resting on the hotel shuttle.
Everlane: The Forever Sneaker
It makes sense that the company that’s made a name off the transparency in which it runs its business would create a shoe that keeps things ridiculously simple. The Forever Sneaker doesn’t make many headlines with its vintage, Keds-like design, yet it’ll earn a place in your suitcase because of its durability (100% organic cotton upper), flexibility (easily pairable with shorts or a flowy floral dress), and cleanability (machine-washable).
Puma: Mirage Tech
When you visit major metropolitan cities, travel experts advise against wearing gaudy jewelry or showy clothing, as to not garner the wrong kind of attention. Luckily, the new Mirage Tech, a shoe inspired by the loud, vibrant world of EDM music, offers just the right amount of pop with its castlerock-elektro green or Puma black-high-risk-red colorway. You’ll turn heads with the hues and multi-layered design, sure, but the only people following you will be those wanting to ask where you purchased your kicks.
Though the Birkenstock name is renowned for its uber comfy sandals, it’s slowly making a foothold in the sneakers market now. Make sure the Bend is in your luggage if you’re looking for a shoe that delivers a strong, subtle silhouette that’s only enhanced by leather and suede uppers. Notice the band of cork around the heel? That’s not just a wink to the sandals’ famed cork cushioning; it’s an indicator that this gender-neutral shoe means business when it comes to shock absorption.
Toms: TRVL Lite Sneaker
Toms shoes always seem to work on vacations. They’re cute, no-frills additions to any carry-on bag. All of that certainly applies to one of the company’s newest releases, the TRVL Lite Sneaker. What we really like about this shoe is that it holds up after a long day on your feet. Credit goes to the patented dual-density cupsole for that relief. As for how the TRVL Lite Sneaker is able to somehow coordinate with half of the outfits you’ve packed, thank the neutral color palettes on the women’s and men’s sides for that convenience.