I’m a femme who loves traveling and gorgeous shoes. However, combining these two passions over the years has led to some serious foot health problems. Travel shoes have never been my forte. For over 20 years, I dismissed my femme elders’ advice on proper foot care and instead have commuted in Manhattan on the daily, as well as globetrotted during seasonal vacations, in stacked stilettos and poorly made sandals. The result: I require surgery on my right foot. SURGERY! I now have no choice but to take better care of my feet; however, I am still learning how to do that without sacrificing style for comfort. For example, today, out of sheer stubbornness, I made the mistake of walking through the stone and brick streets of Prague in stylish, yet painfully tight flats. I’m now back in my Airbnb flat, suffering with icepacks on my feet, which is the only reason why I have time during my five-country European vacation to author a piece on functional, fashion-forward femme footwear that is appropriate for travel. Here are my tips. Apply generously.

Upgrade Your Lace-Up Sneakers to Slip-On Sneakers

I recently published a piece on dapperQ about the slip-on sneaker trend that is all the rage right now. Because they are so popular, brands are trying to outdo one another with chic designs, so now’s the time to invest in a few pair. What I love most about slip-on sneakers is that (1) they are easy to get on and off in airport security and (2) they can be worn with pants, skirts, shorts, and rompers. Dress em’ up or down!

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Photo Credit: Visual Therapy

My favorite two brands for slip-on sneakers right now are BucketFeet and J/Slide. BucketFeet is a shoe company that offers limited edition sneakers (including slip-ons) created by artists around the globe. BucketFeet has an open platform approach where anyone can submit a design. Currently, they work with over 20,000 artists from 100 countries. Their network includes artists in every medium: painters, graphic designers, graffiti writers, street artists, photographers, and the list goes on. Everyone is welcome to join them in their mission to connect people through art.  J/Slide  is a New York based company that creates timeless, fashion-forward slip-ons that are a bit dressier than BucketFeet. Sneaker styles come in classic woven leather with a standard size sole, to more modern, normcore inspired designs with a thicker sole. J/Slide footwear is a proud contributor to the American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood, and other charities that promote tolerance and empower women.

Upgrade Your Flip Flops to Jellies

I get it. When it comes to beach footwear, it’s hard to invest more than $.99 on a pair of shoes that will be constantly exposed to the sun and sand. You’re also not quite ready to go the Teva and Birkenstock route for comfort. So, I say split the difference. Upgrade your flip flops to modern jelly sandals. While they may not provide the same support and comfort as a Birkenstock, they are functional. A good pair of fashionable waterproof jellies will take you directly from a stroll on the shoreline to Hvar beach bars in style. Check out Refinery29’s “11 Waterproof Sandals For Stylish Summer Strolling” for inspiration.

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Photo Credit: Frugal Fashionista

Hike in Style

I’m originally from New Mexico and I try to visit home at least once a year. When I’m in New Mexico, I know my way around, so I feel even more comfortable flying by the seat of my pants and not sticking to a rigid itinerary. For example, last time I went home, I visited the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe and then was inspired to just jump in my car and drive 1.5 hours to visit O’Keeffe’s studio at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu. Then, I suddenly decided to go for a quick hike at Abiquiu Lake and do some cliff diving in its glorious waters. After I dried off, I headed to Jemez Springs for another hike. After working up a healthy appetite, I wanted to grab a bite in downtown Santa Fe. Now, is it superficial that I would want to look fashionable while doing all of this? I suppose. But, it’s not impossible to be both museum and hike ready while also being comfortable. Lately, I’ve been eyeing these Danner Mountain Light Cascade boots that were featured on Reese Witherspoon in the movie Wild.

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Photo Credit: Danner

Swag Out Your Ortho Heels

Can’t stop, won’t stop rocking heels? Try a pair of Aerosoles, Rockport, or ECCO pumps for your travels. I finally broke down and purchased a pair of Aerosole heels when my partner got sick of having to follow me back to the hotel just so I could switch out my daytime city exploring flats for a pair of dinner stilettos. The brands suggested above have a bad reputation for being boring, orthopedic shoes. But, I promise you can find the perfect pair at one of these retailers and style them to fit your personal, fashionable aesthetic. Just take a look at these ECCO gems I found on Lookbook.

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Photo Credit: Ecco

Ok, I think my feet are ready to start exploring again. Next stop, Vienna. Are you ready boots? Start walkin’!