The Best Shoes to Take Backpacking

A girl can never have too many shoes, right? Wrong! When you’re carting everything on your back, the best shoes for backpacking are usually the ones that are on your feet!

Still, a girl can’t exactly go globetrotting barefoot either – so which shoes should make the cut?

Read on to discover which shoes are destined for a lifetime of adventure and wander, and which ones are best left at home to keep an eye on the socks.

Adventure and Sightseeing
Walking sandals

A decent pair of sandals, ones you could walk around in a city all day without killing your feet, are a great buy if you’re heading to warmer climates and are some of our personal favorites when it comes to travel shoes. You can opt for the traditional strappy walking sandals, or try something a bit more fashion-forward.  I’ve discovered that there are some very comfortable wedged, gladiator sandals around that can take a day’s sightseeing and still be suitable for a night out on the town. How’s that for multipurpose?

Boots or Trainers

Whether you favor walking boots, hiking boots or trainers (tennis shoes, running shoes, sneakers, etc.) depends on the amount of walking and other activities you have planned. Just make sure they’re a good fit and well-worn in before you leave home, and you should be good to go!

A word of caution: many travelers tend to pack a pair of walking boots, because that’s what they think they’re supposed to do, without really giving it any thought. But they’re a big commitment! They’re heavy, they’re hot, and they take up a lot of your already pretty limited space. Not to mention the fact that they’re usually not all that attractive. Realistically, do you see yourself doing anything on your travels where something smaller (like trainers or some sturdy sandals) would suffice? If not, they might be best left at home.


Pumps are a great choice for when you need something a little extra, but still want to err on the casual side, during your travels. They’re small. They’re affordable. You can wear them day or night. Yeah. Go ahead. Take the pumps.

A Night On The Town
High heels

Quick question. Do you normally wear high heels for a night out at home? If you’re not the type to rock a pair of heels for your typical night out, then definitely don’t take them with you now. We know, we know, they might get the odd wear on the occasional night out, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that high heels are expected backpacker party wear. Dress up your pumps or gladiator sandals and away you go.

However, if you’re one of those girls who wear her high heels all the time, and they don’t hurt because your feet have evolved from years of walking on your toes, and they’re just an essential part of your wardrobe: fine. Maybe then it’s worth slipping a pair into your bag at the expense of something else. But only then.

On the Beach

Flip-flops are a beach necessity for a reason: they’re perfect for lazy days spent wandering around in the sun, sea and surf.

If you’re planning to spend a considerable amount of beach time on your trip, it’s definitely worth throwing in a pair. Especially since these are the type of shoes that are cheap and easy to replace, super lightweight and can be used in some of the more unpleasant hostel showers. Just don’t plan on doing any significant amounts of walking whilst wearing them!

What shoes do you take traveling? Are there any you would recommend? Let us know!


About Author

Leah Eades is a compulsive traveller and freelance writer, whose adventures so far include working in an Italian nightclub, contracting a mystery illness in the Amazon, studying at a Chinese university, and cycling 700km along the Danube River. She blames cheap Ryanair flights for her addiction. Having recently graduated with an English degree, she is currently based in Florence, Italy.


  1. This was such a cute article Leah! I think pumps and sandals are my personal faves, but I usually bring a pair of boots just in case too. I never ever wear high heels, so I never travel with them either!

  2. Great article. For the first seven or so trips I took, I always made the mistake of packing my highest heels – I wanted to look good for all the exotic foreigners, after all! Never used ’em. Not ONCE.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.