We have two popular posts about women’s travel shoes here— but the question we get asked all the time is what about travel shoes for men? Men arguably have a more difficult task when seeking stylish shoes for travel– their shoes are heavier, take up more suitcase space and are often more expensive (at least for a quality pair).
There is also just less information out there for guys about travel shoes– while my girlfriends and I have extensive conversations about what shoes we are bringing on our travels (along with articles and blog posts to read) I’m going to guess this is not a subject men discuss very often, if ever. In fact, when I asked a guy if he would ever google men’s travel shoes he looked at me in complete horror.
Fortunately, I happen to know a sartorial, well-traveled gentleman (“J”), who let me rifle through his shoe closet. I quizzed J about what men’s shoes work best for traveling for a classic European vacation— the kind that involves walking through big cities and small villages, but could still work for dinners out. These shoe picks aren’t intended for backpackers who are bringing one pair of shoes for months of travel, but for the average guy packing for a one or two-week vacation.
J offers a few men’s travel shoe-shopping tips to consider:
- Don’t be afraid to spend money on your shoes– even if it’s substantially more than your girlfriend or wife spends. Men’s shoes are an investment, meant to be worn for years, not just a season or two. Men are also harder on their shoes so quality is important.
- Unless you are wearing hiking shoes, don’t wear visible socks in the summer.
- Tall men (J is 6’4) should look for shoes with a high vamp– low vamp shoes can look too dainty on tall men.
- When you find shoes or sneakers that work for you, buy in multiples, you won’t regret it. J keeps duplicate pairs stashed in the closet for when other pairs wear out.
- It’s best to pack a few travel shoe options– there really isn’t one shoe that will work in all circumstances.
- Zappos is a great option for buying men’s travel shoes— shipping both ways is free and no hassle so you can grab a couple sizes and return the ones that don’t fit.
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1. Best All-Around Men’s Sturdy Travel Shoe– Alden boots
Alden makes a great all-around shoe that works in winter with jeans or in summer with thick socks and shorts. At about $500 a pop these shoes are definitely an investment, but are really high quality, made in the USA and can take a beating (and still look cool enough for New York City hipster set).
2. Best Men’s Travel Shoes for Light Hiking
If your travel itinerary includes some light hiking, the Aldens above will work great. But if you need a lighter option, pick up some streamlined sneaker-styled hikers like these cool Scarpas from Italy— perfect for navigating trails. While these shoes would also work on the streets of a small village, they aren’t the best bet for big cities like London or Paris.
3. Best Men’s travel shoes for Driving Through Tuscany
Men’s driving moccasins are meant to be worn for a specific purpose– driving. The lightweight, pliable sole is designed to allow your foot to make contact with the gas pedal so you can quickly react to hairpin turns along windy country roads. The cleats add traction. If you are spending your vacation in a rental (like a classic Alfa Romeo) navigating back roads and hill towns, then a driving shoe is the perfect men’s travel shoe.
But while men’s driving moccasins are great for traction and lightweight to pack, they aren’t a good travel shoe to walk around in all day– the cleats will wear out and the thin soles have no padding. But they are perfect when you need something appropriate for that short stroll to dinner and don’t have the space for a larger shoe.
J wears driving moccasins from Todd’s, but also likes these from Ferragamo— the flat tread makes them more wearable on the street than the classic Todd’s (but you still don’t want to over wear them). It’s worth splurging on high quality driving shoes because they’ll look great for years.
4. Best Men’s Travel Dress Shoes
When J visits European cities, he usually plans a few nice dinners out and prefer to bring a dress shoe for more formal dining occasions as well as plane travel. J recommends a sturdy Allen Edmonds slip on loafer to wear on the plane, and easy to take on and off through security and again on the plane when you are ready to put on your slippers. The same dress loafer can be worn out to dinner in London. Or go for a classic Cole Haan monk strap dress shoe in British tan. Both these shoes look great with jeans.
One downside to bringing men’s dress shoes for travel is that they are heavy. For a still dressy, but more casual (and lighter) option, opt for some lightweight loafers.
J has had his lightweight suede loafers for a couple of years, but you can find similar lightweight tassel loafers, perfect for travel, here.
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