Are you one of the millions of American men who bring shoes with you on vacation?
I sure am. But I’m also one of the (maybe not millions, but definitely) thousands of American men who find it necessary to bring a plethora of shoes on vacation. My suitcase is overloaded with ’em. Shoes for travel days, shoes for city walking, sandals for pools, shoes for a casual dinner, shoes for a fancy dinner, it goes on. I regularly haul between five and seven different pairs of shoes for one little ‘ole vacation, all crammed into my teeny-tiny luggage allowance. Cue As-Seen-On-TV infomercial voice: But, there’s got to be a better way!
Well, gentlemen, there is.
In fact, I learned I only needed two pairs for my recent trip to the jungles, pools, restaurants, and sleepy colonial streets of beautiful Guatemala.
The First Pair: Nisolo Travel Derby in Slate Grey
Where They Can Be Worn: Airports, Casual Restaurants, Trendy Restaurants, General Wandering
An attractive shoe that was properly designed to fit most travel needs, the Nisolo Travel Derby is ultra-lightweight, easy to slip on and off, and can be dressed up or down. It’s completely collapsible, so if it needs to be packed, it takes up no more space than a pair of flip-flops.
Plus, as the rear of the Derby folds down, the shoe converts into a slipper. So when you’re stuck on a plane and feeling groggy from miniature bottles of booze and meat-sweating from over-salted slabs of pseudo-beef and need to wander to the bathroom, you can toss these on without having to contort in your seat, bending down with an index finger outstretched ready to shoehorn your bloated foot-sausage into a too-small shoe shell-casing. With these, you just slip ’em on, clog-style.
They’re comfortable and fit well and can be worn casually on a city walkabout. Toss on a decent pair of denim (think Rag & Bone or Kooples) and you can walk on into a trendy restaurant or bar.
In addition to travel days, I wore them to dinners in Antigua, an 18th-century Spanish colonial city thriving beneath a ring of volcanoes and organized around streets of chaotically uneven cobblestones where walking is guaranteed to be wobbly, even when sober. But, the Derbies stayed comfortable and got me to my dinners at Hector’s Bistro, a charming French eatery that’ll whisk you off to Paris, and Meson Panza Verde, a gorgeous fine-dining establishment in a romantically crumbling villa.
But you should note a couple things: They’re suede, so if you find yourself in a thunderstorm, you’re SOL; and though they’re a handsome shoe, they won’t save you at a formal event. For either situation, you might need to pack another pair. Sorry.
The Second Pair: Nisolo Huarache in Brandy
Where They Can Be Worn: Poolside, Casual Restaurants, General Wandering
It’s a classic and Nisolo makes a beauty—it’s attractive, sturdy, and, most importantly, so, so, so unbelievably comfortable. They come in three colors—in addition to brandy, Nisolo makes a tobacco version—and they’re easy to style with just about anything. Spend the day poolside in a swimsuit and these Huaraches or pair them with a t-shirt and linen trousers (Zara often has them for under $50).
I took them on a stroll through the hidden jungle pyramids of Tikal and then upon returning to my room at La Lancha, a stunning lodge overlooking Lake Petén Itzá, I wore them on my balcony while reading Under the Volcano. Later I wore them at La Lancha’s pool and again poolside at Casa Palopo, a chic Mediterranean oasis overlooking Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan highlands. And, again, in Antigua, they helped me navigate the cobbled streets and I wore them while stuffing my face at La Esquina, a delectable food hall that feels like it was designed with the sole purpose of looking good in your Insta feed. And, not to brag (but I guess, also to brag), all the while I looked damn good.
A wee tiny caution: If you’re a sporty person (I’m not) who likes to go to the gym while on vacation (who are you and why are you doing this?) or go on long, strenuous hikes (I get this, but also, guh), then you’ll obviously need a third pair of shoes, as neither of these will suffice. Sorry.
Well, there you have it, gentlemen shoe-hoarders, there is a better way. Suddenly you’ll be swimming with space in your luggage—giving you the perfect excuse to buy even more shoes on your vacation.