Travel Shoes for Wide and Problem Feet

Posted by Brette in Travel

Shoes_All_3We’re getting ready for our big summer trip. We do a lot of walking on our vacations, so having shoes that don’t hurt is crucial. That is easier to say than to achieve for me. I’ve got wide feet, a high instep, and a Morton’s neuroma (basically a bundle of nerves between the first and second toe inside the foot that screams if it gets squished). I also am at the point in my life where I am simply not ready to suffer for beauty. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good, but I’m just not willing to sacrifice comfort for looks. I want a compromise. All of this presents a challenge when finding good travel shoes. Here are my criteria:

  • Comes in wide or double wide
  • Does not pinch my toes together
  • Has a very solid cushion on the ball of the foot
  • Is not hard, rigid, rough, or sharp anywhere
  • Has some give
  • Has room for my high instep
  • No heels. I can’t walk in heels
  • Offers the comfort of a sneaker without being a sneaker

While this is a long list, you would think it would be achievable, particularly since there are quite a number of companies that now specialize in travel shoes. For some reason Clark’s and Tevas never fit my feet, so I don’t even bother to try those on anymore. Birkenstocks hurt my feet. Dansko clogs are fantastic for standing, but not for walking long distances, so they don’t work for travel for me.

In the past, Propet was my savior. I always buy Propet athletic shoes and those still work for me, but all of their “fun” shoes have been redesigned so now I’ve got issues with them. The past few weeks have seen a flurry of Zappos boxes at my door and I also made a trip to the Easy Spirit store as well as Famous Footwear. I continue to fall into the trap of a shoe that feels fine at home, but when I take a walk, about halfway through I realize it’s not going to work. The result is I still have no shoes I feel 100% comfortable with. This is the tale of 8 shoes. And let me be honest, I know I sound like a crazy, uber-picky lunatic, but there is nothing worse than trying to spend an entire day walking in shoes that hurt or give you blisters.

Shoes White SneakerFirst off are my trusted white walking sneakers. They’re comfortable and I can go long distances in them. However, I want to look somewhat decent in Paris. Therefore, they are being packed to wear in the countryside but not in the city. Next up are the shoes that saved my butt last summer.


Shoe_Blue SneakerThese blue shoes are Propet Travel Walkers. I wore these all over Italy. They are lighter than my sneakers, more breathable, and at least are not glaringly white. Fantastic. Except one shoe leaks up through the sole when it rains. So I wanted to buy a new pair.


Shoe_Gray SneakerWhich brings us to the Propet Travel Walker IIs. Yes, they changed them. I had to order a double wide in this and they made the toe cap a little bigger and of harder plastic (see how it’s shiny?). Therefore, my big toe rubs against it. I am certain I will get a blister if I wear them for a full day of walking.


These blue suede shoes were last year’s purchase. They’re comfortable, but aren’t perfect forShoe_Gray w Straps a full day of walking. The bottom of my foot rubs and gets irritated. I can wear them with one of those little nylon stocking footie things and do ok, but it’s just not ideal.


Shoe_Black on Black w strapThe black Skechers are also from last year. I’ve turned to these shoes when my bad foot really hurts because they are well-formed and keep everything in place. They’re not good for long treks though. Too tight.


These black Mary Janes with white soles are Propet shoes. Cute, light, breathable – Shoe_Black w Strapseverything good that the Travel Walker I had, however they have the same toe cap as the Travel Walker II and thus my toe rubs when I walk.

Shoe_Gray with Pink StrapsIn an attempt to expand my horizons, I ordered these Easy Spirit Escape shoes. They had everything I wanted. I wore them around the house for a day and was pleased. Then I wore them on a walk and I realized that in the right shoe (my problem foot) the inside of the toe part of the shoe is coming apart, so it catches my big toe and pulls. Only the right shoe is defective. Unfortunately, by the time I realized this, I could not get a replacement in time. Interestingly, the shoes that Zappos sells are apparently old styles because this is no longer sold at my local Easy Spirit store.


I went to the Easy Spirit store anyhow, hoping to find something – anything. My apologies Shoe_Graw w Purple Strapsto the saleswoman who brought out about 20 different shoes for me to try on.  By the time we were done she thought I was the pickiest person she’d ever met, I am sure. I ended up buying these shoes. I had buyer’s remorse after the fact. They are low cut in the back, like a mule or a clog and so when I walk, that slaps against my foot. I can’t imagine dealing with that during a full day of walking. I also realized when I got home that they really do look like sneakers. Sigh.

So where does that leave me? Honestly I don’t know. I am packing as I write this and I will probably bring several of these shoes along. I will likely give in and wear my Travel Walker Is since they are so comfortable and if I get wet, I get wet. The new flapping Easy Spirits will likely come also and the blue suede shoes. And there is no doubt my white sneakers will be packed. I wish I had cute shoes to wear in Paris. Maybe next year I’ll find something cute and functional. If you have wide and difficult feet what brands work for you for travel shoes?

Update: I ended up taking the white Propet sneakers, black Skechers, blue suede shoes, both Easy Spirit shoes, the blue Propet shoes from last year, and a pair of sandals to wear to dinner. I determined that the white Propet sneakers are making my hip click – I’ve been wearing them for 6 months without a problem but they must be worn out, so those stayed in the suitcase. The Easy Spirit Escape shoes cut into my heels and gave me sores. I wore them for several days and I couldn’t get past it. The black Skechers are not good for walking, but I wore them a few times at night to dinner when my feet hurt. The blue Propet shoes worked ok, but irritated one toe so I couldn’t wear them every day. The new Easy Spirit slides at first made my toe hurt, but eventually became broken in. They were probably the most comfortable, however after several days of wearing them without socks they smelled pretty badly. The blue suede shoes are comfortable but don’t have a lot of padding on the bottom, so they aren’t ideal for tons of walking. They were great for days when we weren’t walking all the time though. The end result? None of these were perfect.

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8 Responses

  • I so truly feel your pain. My foot problems are almost the same as yours. I finally had to get orthodic inserts. Not just the one in the drug store. These are made from a cast of my feet. I get walking shoes–Reebok –in black. Look slightly less dorky.

  • Margie says:

    I have similar problems and usually turn to New Balance running shoes and Merrell clogs. Since nothing stays the same, I’ve ventured out recently to Asics. I wear the same Skechers you have for short walks, and a pair of DKNY rubber soled shiny cloth flats. I’ve never tried Propet. I also cannot wear Clarks.

    Years ago I always tried for wide athletic shoes, but then they started making the heels too wide for my feet. Does anyone remember the days when shoes came in combinations of alphabetic widths, one letter for the forefoot and another for the heel??

  • Brette says:

    I used to wear Asics as athletic shoes but they didn’t seem to last – I put on lots of miles and they just didn’t hold up. I’ll be posting about what shoes actually ended up working for me on the trip!

  • Reading the first half of your post I found myself nodding my head in agreement with everything you’ve said. I thought I was the only one who is super “picky” about comfortable shoes and owns so many not for fashion because NONE ARE COMFORTABLE PAST THE INITIAL FIRST WALK AROUND THE HOUSE!! I think I wear the same pair of shoes for all of each season and then switch to a new pair. I’ve never heard of Propet before, but it looks like it could be a good one. Where can you find them in stores?

  • Brette says:

    Hi ALex. I buy them through Zappos. Last time I bought sneakers I switched to Asics and have had a lot of luck with those, but I ordered 10 pairs from Zappos before settling on one that was right. I really want to try to find some shoes that are comfortable that are not sneakers though. I recently ordered a pair of what are called “gatas” from Lands’ End. I wore them for a day on vacation and they were fantastic. The second day I wore them they gouged a deep hole in my heel. I bled all over the darn things. Upon inspection, I determined there are two hard parts of the shoe sides that meet at the heel in the back. They don’t seem to be sewed or attached. The more I wore them, the more the outer material stretched and these pieces moved apart, with the corners digging into my feet. Not a good thing. Lands’ End took them back though!

  • Sally says:

    I love this post. I am 25 and completely and utterly sympathize. I had a bone spur surgically removed from my right pinkie toe (which I had broken as a child) and finding a shoe that does not rub but is also somewhat supportive, can be nearly impossible! I bought a pair of SAS Pampa sandals which have been good, except after wearing for a few months I’ve noticed recently my right calf gets very tight. Not sure if that is the sandal’s fault or my own calf issues. I have hear good things about Arcopedico…..anyone have thoughts about the brand? My most comfortable pair of shoes is Nike Womens Free TR Twist ( the grey and pink ones); it’s essentially a sock with a supportive athletic sole.

  • Cam (none) says:

    I also have picky feet! Most shoes don’t fit my feet, including most running shoes. Many shoes are much too narrow. I have knee problems (blown both ACL’s, no cartilage in left knee), high arches, + some low back issues.
    I finally found a pair of running shoes called Altra. They’re a zero-balance shoe with a wide forefoot and narrow heel. I added a bit of an arch support. They are shaped like a foot should be shaped. I wore them around Disney for 9-12 hours each day and my feet were very happy; no aches or pains anywhere in my body. I’ve also tried Kuru brand shoes and like those as well. Kuru’s are very comfy.

  • Brette says:

    I will look into that brand Cam. Thanks for the tip! I bought a pair of Rykas and they are the best sneakers I’ve ever had so far. I still struggle with finding something that is comfortable for walking a lot that do not look like sneakers/athletic shoes. I just can’t seem to find anything that I can tolerate for long hours of walking on trips.