Friends, I wear my thirtysomething badge with pride (really, who among us would want to be 22 again?!), but there are times when the reality that I’m not the spring chicken I once was really comes home to roost. And that fantastic trip I took this spring was one such occasion. Assuming you might have some summer travel on the horizon (perhaps even this weekend?), I thought the time was right to share a few secrets I learned about keeping my feet happy on any adventure. mfortable travel shoes
When I was 22, I could (and did) traipse around Europe in the flimsiest footwear imaginable, without a second thought. I once hiked the entire stretch of Cinque Terre in flip flops, for pity’s sake. It’s a wonder I still have feet at all. Now that I’m…well, not 22…the shoe is most definitely on the other foot. Not five seconds after I booked my tickets to Florence, I started frantically researching my footwear options (every obsessive mind needs a task to gnaw on, and this was mine). And in the end, I cobbled together a dream team that kept my feet not just blister-free, but entirely and completely pain-free for the entire trip. And let me say, friends, when you consider that I ate nothing but pasta, duck paté, croissants and pastry cream for two weeks and came back 3 pounds lighter? There was a lot of walking.
The first thing I realized was that I was going to need some insoles. I know…not the chicest conversation we’ve ever had. But these days, it’s a necessary one. Especially with some of those annoying health issues of mine, let’s just say my joints aren’t always my own, and there was a very real possibility I’d end up hobbling my way through Europe if I didn’t play it smart. I knew I was going to need something (besides a massive dose of painkillers) to get through those long days of walking, and there was basically no way I was abandoning my Rachel Comey boots for a sad pair of orthotics.
Turns out, the answer is this: Superfeet. I’m telling you, friends – these things are magic (and they come in fun colors and tech-y packaging, so you don’t feel quite so geriatric when you buy them). They’re vastly superior to any of the drugstore/bargain brands I tried, and utterly indestructible. Plus, I’m a sucker for customer service, and you guys, everyone at this company is so unbelievably nice! When I told them what I was after, they insisted on walking me through their entire line, explaining each style, decoding the cryptic tech-y definitions and letting me try out every possible option until I found the right fit. I had the Berry insoles in my sneakers, the super-thin Carbon in my Rachel Comeys, and these cutie little Delux versions in my ballet flats (bonus: these also keep the elastic backs on your ballet flats extended so they don’t dig into your heel). And all I can say is this: the one day I didn’t wear my Superfeet was also the one day I had to soak my feet in the hotel tub. They were such game-changers, I rarely leave the house without them these days.
Of course, I still needed sneakers for the longer days of strolling the city in search of souvenirs. Luckily, that part was easy – the answer is New Balance. I packed Converse too, but if I’m honest, I wore them maybe once. My New Balance 501s were so incredibly comfortable, I’m a little embarrassed to admit how often I wore them (but let’s just say my first order of business when I got home was ordering a second pair). Luckily, I wasn’t as out of place in sneaks as I’d feared – New Balance was everywhere in both Florence and Paris. And once I finally mastered the trick to wearing them, I was much less intimidated.
What trick, you ask? As it turns out, the secret to chic “street style” sneakers is wearing them with no socks and a flash of ankle. Seriously, look through all of the photos of stylish girls wearing trainers at Fashion Week – every last one is wearing them without socks, and with a sliver of ankle showing. Where was I when this memo went out?
But going sockless for 12-hour days of walking was a nonstarter. So, I sent a distress signal to my friends at Smartwool, who introduced me to their Hide And Seek & Secret Sleuth invisible socks. Friends, I have been a Smartwool evangelist for years – their socks last forever, never fall down during the day, and your feet stay dry and happy in even the grossest conditions. But still, I was skeptical about a no-show sock really delivering, without having that annoying quality of squiggling down off your heel and having to be retrieved every 20 minutes. So not chic. But I shouldn’t have doubted. Between the fact that Smartwool makes socks in actual sizes (instead of just hilariously general size ranges) and the fancy little nonskid science-y stuff they put on the heel, these babies didn’t budge. Not at all. They kept my feet blister-free (even on hot days), were completely and totally invisible under my tennis shoes, and don’t get crunchy when you handwash them in a hotel sink (unlike cotton). They’re a dream. (And PS, the Secret Sleuth version is so sneaky, it can even go 100% incognito in ballet flats. Not that I’d ever admit to doing such a thing.)
That’s my secret sauce, friends – what’s yours? I’d love to hear your “happy feet” tips – share them in the comments!