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What travel shoes to pack is always a major dilemma for the traveling fashionista. It’s so hard to find shoes that are both practical and functional while still maintaining your personal sense of style.
Traveler Tara Simmons share her experience dealing with fashion vs function. Find out the pros and cons of traveling with Chacos.
Travel Shoe Dilemma: Chacos, yay or nay?
Written by: Tara Simmons
The dilemma of choosing shoes for travel may seem daunting at first, but don’t worry, you can have comfort and style without carrying a million pairs of shoes on your travels. A very controversial topic of travel shoes always seems to include the not so stylish, but sturdy sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.
For my travels, I chose to pack only 2 pairs of shoes: trainers and Chacos.
A friend whom had previously traveled to Southeast Asia had highly recommended these substantial sandals to me, explaining that they were absolutely the only shoes I would need while backpacking through Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.
I was skeptical at first, only wearing flats and boots in my daily metropolitan lifestyle, but quickly began searching for the perfect pair of Chacos. There are slight variations due to the style of straps (the traditional thick, skinny straps or the updated designs for more flare) and I spent probably way too much time analyzing each style and color so that I would not regret in investing in an item I have no experience with.
I ended up going with the traditional black, so I could wear them with any color clothing, and with the thinner, double straps as to appear more feminine and stylish. I also chose a pair without the extra strap around the big toe because although they looked more fashionable, I was concerned it would create discomfort which would defeat the purpose of getting practical shoes.
I headed off on my travels and as soon as I hit the tropically humid air of Thailand, I was extremely thankful to have these sandals in hand. They have truly proven their strength and durability throughout this trip.
Chaco Zong X Ecotread Sport Sandal
They’ve allowed my toes to breathe while trekking through the streets as well as off the beaten path for day hikes. They are very secure on your feet with easily adjustable straps, and their thick rubber soles provide great arch support so you never have to worry about your feet and can instead focus on the beauty and the travel experiences that surround you, something I had issues with before when not packing practically.
Sandals are an absolute must in tropical climates. Trapping your feet in sneakers is hot, sweaty, and produces lots of dirty socks which are totally unnecessary.
While it is understood that sandals are essential while traveling, did my Chacos prove themselves to be the all-purpose pair – Unfortunately, no.
Excellent for hikes and long days of walking, but as for lounging, beaching, and heading out into the nightlife, my Chacos were one of the last things I wanted strapped to my feet. This was due to the fact that after wearing them around sightseeing all day, I didn’t want to stick my feet right back into the dirt and sweat collected earlier.
They are also a bit heavy and bulky, although with great soles, they do not go well with flirty skirts and dresses for the nights if you don’t want to feel like just a “practical” traveler.
And lastly, when going to the beach or showering in those lovely hostel bathrooms, something that is easily slipped on and off like a pair of flip flops dries quickly and is a much better option.
As much I highly recommend these shoes as a practical part of your travel wardrobe, a pair of fun, simple flip flops is absolutely required. They will barely take up space or weight in your pack.
Feeling prepared as well as comfortable when you are on the road can really make or break your daily activities. As much as I love my Chacos, a pair of flip flops is definitely recommended. Three is the magic number for travel shoes.
More color options:
TFG Recommends: iPANEMA’s hybrid sandalsfor stylishly multi-functional flip flop style sandals for travel.
Thanks Tara for sharing your experience with your travel shoes! For more travel shoe stories to help you decide if you can find your own balance between function and fashion, check out the articles below.
What’s your travel shoe dilemma? Share in the comments!
For more tips on travel sandals, please read:
- 21 Most Comfortable Shoes Travel Bloggers Swear By
- Don’t Break these Travel Shoe Rules
- The 10 Best Sandals for Travel this Summer
- 13 Comfortable Walking Sandals that Don’t Sacrifice Style
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Author Bio: Tara is a native Californian and newbie world traveler, having just backpacked through Europe and continuing on throughout Southeast Asia. Enthusiast of all things organic; she also loves to read, write, and bake in her spare time and currently keeps her own travel blog Traveling Days.
I’ve worn Chaco almost exclusively since 1998. Only snow and job interviews get me out of them, and then not for long.
I don’t have them yet, but I think one of the solutions will be a pair of Tieks – flat, packable ballet shoes that are actually substantial and walk-worthy. They pack/fold to nearly nothing, there are tons of colors (including metalics, sparkly), and from what I heard they are great for walking a lot around cities. And they are pretty and dainty and dressy enough to polish things up. Of course, there are tons of different brands and styles – I think the key is to get some with a sturdy, padded sole so they hold up to travelling.
I love my Chacos for two reasons. One, I can wear them all day and my feet never hurt, and they’re great for long walks. Second, they are adjustable (although adjusting them is not a one-second task), so if your feet swell (on planes, in humidity), no problem. When I was pregnant, they were essential for that reason. But are they the only shoes you will need? No. A pair of flats or something similar is essential for nights out.
The perfect balance doesn’t always come in the same pair of shoes so long as you make a little room for a cute pair too 🙂
I’m doing a month in Europe this summer and I’m probably going to bring a pair of my “Formal Birks”, along with all black low-top Chucks. I have this silver pair zappos.com/birkenstock-mayari-sangria-birko-flor and a similar style in navy. I get compliments on them whenever I wear them out. They’re both super comfortable and I even did some light hiking in them once without issue. I probably should have them resoled before I head off though.
Great choices! I’m also going to get some Birks for this summer too. thinking about their Gladiator style…
Yes, shoes with sturdy soles are a great idea no matter where you go 🙂
Forgot to mention the countries: South Africa and Swaziland. 🙂
My class will be going on two safaris and several outdoor excursions to see various types of landscape, including the Drakensberg Mountains, a lion park, and at least one beach in Cape Town to see the penguins. But we’ll also spend a good deal of time with cultural activities within cities and museums. I kind of feel like I need to pack for just about anything rather than limiting my attire to just athletic wear or just city clothes. So maybe two different wardrobe capsules? I’m not sure.
Anyway, when I get a more specific itinerary, I will send you an email. Thank you so much!
Hi Angela! Cape Town packing list coming soon 🙂 Did you check out my safari packing list? https://travelfashiongirl.com/safari-clothing-packing-list-what-to-wear-on-an-overland-africa-trip/
I bought myself what I thought were the perfect fashion / comfort sandals before a trip to South East Asia a few years back. But what I didn’t take into account was that my feet swell in humid weather and are at least a size bigger. The result – blisters!
Now I just pack my trusty Birkenstocks. My feet have the room they need to grow and I think they are stylish in a geek chic kind of way.
That’s a great point Bianca! Buying shoes in SE Asia is always difficult for that reason too, especially when you’re having them custom made…
What Birkenstocks style do you prefer?
Thanks for commenting!
I just love my chacos! The show dilemma is serious, though. 😉
haha – not such an easy choice to make 😉
which style do you wear?
I’m headed to Africa this summer and feel like which shoes to pack is my biggest challenge. I am most comfortable wearing heels at least two inches high; in fact, my ankles often hurt after I’ve been walking in flat shoes for too long. But my typical go-to wedge sandals, which I’ve often walked in for miles on city streets, don’t seem to be quite as useful for safaris and hiking around the bush.
Any thoughts? I think your articles are great! I discovered your blog while researching for my Africa trip, and I’ve found so many of your tips to be quite useful. Thanks!
Hi Angela, thanks for your comment! Africa is an incredible place – what countries/activities are you planning? That’s what your shoes really depend on. Last time I went I only used my tennis shoes a couple of times because I spent 21 days basically sitting in an overland truck so I just wore flip flops most of the time. In that case, your feet won’t be hurting in flats – it will be your bottom from the bumpy roads lol. I’m not a tennis shoe person myself and have only started wearing flats because I travel so much. Do you like boots?
Have you seen my Safari packing lists?
Since you’re going there during the Winter you have to dress warmly – jeans are a must! If you’d like to give me more specifics about your trip, shoot me an email and I’ll go over more options with you 🙂 travelfashiongirl at gmail dot com