Ideal shoes for a holiday: Tips for both backpackers and fashion aficionados

You’re out of breath on a tough uphill climb and you find yourself saying: Why didn’t I put on a proper pair of sneakers!
That's exactly what your vacation this year won’t be like. You'll choose a pair of shoes that will make every trip of yours two times more enjoyable. Together, we'll focus on comfort and versatility.

We've got tips here both for travelers who like to pack light and those who love elegance.

Bare feet on the beach, next to them Ahinsa hemp barefoot sneakers
Stylish and comfortable. Let's choose a pair of vacation shoes that you won't want to take off.

The Ten Commandments of comfort: How can you tell which shoes won't ruin your holiday?

You've probably been there before. You buy shoes especially for a holiday and they let you down. You come back with blisters and chafed heels, feeling like you'd rather go barefoot next time. 

Where did you go wrong? You didn't follow the Ten Commandments of comfort, which can give you advice on what shoes you need for your holiday.

1. A wide toe box makes for comfortable shoes and nice-smelling feet

Most shoes pretend to be comfortable while constricting your toes. But after a day of hiking around, you can’t wait to get them off. You feel like your feet are in a vice.

That’s why you should choose footwear for your holiday that gives the toes enough room. In addition, shoes like this won’t make your feet sweat as much, because they allow air to flow around the toes. You might not smell like roses after a daylong hike, but you definitely won't be stinking up your hotel room either.

Barefoot Ahinsa sneakers on the beach

What does a properly wide toe-box look like? Like this. Your toes will feel good in shoes like this.

2. Flexible materials. Soft at first step – no need to "break them in"!

A shoe’s material should copy your movement. The moment you feel something pulling or constricting you, you're setting yourself up for blisters and chafed heels. Plus, your feet can't function naturally, which causes other parts of the body to be overworked. That's why your feet are hurting at the end of the day.

Focus on shoes that fit you perfectly the first time you put them on. Don't expect the material to stretch in over time – especially when you’re on holiday. Remember the last time you tried to "break in" a new pair of leather boots?

Our tip: For traveling, we like shoes made out of CF+ microfiber. It looks like leather, but it’s soft and pliable from the very first moment you put them on.

A man holding an Ahinsa shoe and twisting it

Can your shoes do this?

3. Flexible and non-slip sole. You never know what kind of terrain you'll encounter

You don't have to go out in your hiking boots if you’re only taking a short hike up a hill. But, in unfamiliar terrain, it's good to have shoes that won’t let you down. 

Fortunately, classic walking shoes like sneakers can do the trick too. Just look for non-slip ones – either because of their tread or the material they’re made of.

Ahinsa shoes have been tested in an independent laboratory. That's how we know the sole won't slip. They're not hiking boots, but they can easily handle a daylong hike.

A woman in barefoot Ahinsa sandals standing on a rock

You don't have to go out and buy hiking boots. Even a good pair of sandals will keep you firmly footed on the road.

4. Breathable footwear is a must for the summer holidays

Closed shoes are the most practical for hiking – especially if you don't have room in your bag for another pair. But how do you keep your feet from sweating in them?

Choose a breathable material. Linen, hemp, canvas, mesh. These are fabrics that will keep your feet happy even in the sweltering heat. 

Feet don't sweat or swell as much in breathable shoes, preventing blisters and bruising.

A woman in Ahinsa mesh sneakers sitting on steps

Try mesh – your feet will breathe in it.

5. Thin soles, if you’re used to them

Barefoot enthusiasts use their feet when discovering new territory. It's an amazing experience when the pebbles on the trail massage your feet! 

If you're used to barefoot walking, you don't have to buy thick-soled shoes for your trip. Your feet work best when you give them freedom.

A woman in barefoot slip-ons

Are you used to walking barefoot? Take a holiday in barefoot shoes.

6. Cushioning if you’re not used to walking barefoot

If you don't have any experience with barefoot shoes, your holiday isn’t the best time to start. There'll be a lot of walking involved and you won't have a chance to change your shoes. 

You're better off with footwear that respects the shape of your foot while protecting you from hard impacts. We recommend the Ahinsa Comfort line, which softens your steps with a layer of flexible Technogel.

A woman holding Ahinsa Comfort sneakers

Not used to walking barefoot? Ahinsa Comfort softens your steps.

7. The lighter the better. For your feet and your backpack

If your shoes are lightweight, you can fit three pairs in your suitcase instead of just one. Plus, your feet won’t feel sore after a trip. 

And how light are lightweight shoes? A whole pair should weigh under 600 grams. Flow summer sneakers, for example, weigh only 456 grams in a size 40.

A woman holding a Flow mesh sneaker

Flow sneakers weigh next to nothing. You'll appreciate them when you’re on the go.

8. Measure twice, buy once

Don’t rely on your normal size – it’s different for each manufacturer. Measure carefully and check the size charts.

Did you know that your shoes shouldn't fit you very snugly? In healthy shoes, the foot stretches and contracts, and that’s why you need 0.5 to 1cm of extra room for your toes. 

Reading tip: How do you choose the right size?

If you're ordering shoes online, allow plenty of time for exchanges. Read on to find out how you can tell if your shoes fit you properly. And if your Ahinsa shoes don't fit, that's okay. We'll exchange them in a flash and pay for the shipping of a new pair.

A woman lacing up her barefoot Ahinsa sneakers

Allow extra time for trying on and returning footwear. Your travel shoes have to fit you perfectly.

9. Recognize durable shoes by their reviews

You don't want to deal with a scuffed sole or torn fabric on holiday. So look for truly durable shoes. The best way to tell is from the reviews. 

Find out what others are saying about the brand you’ve chosen. Ahinsa shoes are known to last for years, and the reviews are proof of that:

"I just got back from the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage and I chose the Chitra City Comfort shoes for my journey. The pilgrimage wasn’t long (130km), but I faced all kinds of weather challenges - the rain, scorching sun, rocky paths and muddy areas. For the whole time, I didn’t have any problem with my feet, and the shoes got me reliably to my destination. I admit I was worried about making it, but in reality all my greatest expectations were surpassed. I can recommend these shoes to anyone who’s planning to take this journey. They’re light, safe and nearly maintenance-free!" Jan Bulawa

10. Too much support is harmful

You might be thinking that your feet will need as much support as possible when you’re on holiday. Bind the ankle, brace the heel, support the arch and cushion wherever possible. But your feet actually need the exact opposite.

Human feet have evolved for walking. That's why they work best when you give them maximum freedom. Don't constrict them, don't overdo the support and cushioning. Focus instead on giving the foot enough space to react to the terrain.

When you support your arch, you’re turning off the muscles that normally activate it. A muscle doesn’t work if it doesn’t need to, and this causes it to weaken.

A woman in barefoot trekking sandals walking on rocks

Even for hiking, the best shoes are ones that don't restrict your feet.

I'm packing light for the flight. What shoes should I choose for travelling?

A small backpack – and off you go! If you don't have room for a second pair of shoes, you’ll need:

  • versatile shoes
  • something stylish
  • and especially something comfortable 

We recommend comfortable mesh sneakers for warm climates. They breathe, which will keep you comfortable all day long. They're perfect for both long walks and going out to dinner. They're lightweight. And most importantly, they’ll adapt to your foot. 

Feet tend to swell slightly in the heat. You won't even notice this in shoes with a wide toe box and flexible mesh.


Don’t feel like tying your shoelaces? Instead of classic sneakers, choose slip-ons. They're versatile, and the navy blue will have you looking like the king or queen of the seas.

If you prefer natural materials, we recommend hemp. It breathes and keeps you cool. Just beware: If you step in mud, it’ll be harder to clean during your holiday.


I'm flying to the seaside and I've got some extra space

What shoes should you choose for a holiday by the sea? Be sure to pack lightweight slip-ons. You'd be hard pressed to find a more versatile pair of shoes.

They’re the perfect shoes for the beach. They’ll look good on you for a stroll around town in a casual outfit. If you have a pool at your hotel, they’ll be perfect there too. And if not, they'll come in handy when using the communal showers.

Are you already used to barefoot walking? Choose barefoot slip-ons. With thinner soles, you'll enjoy a foot massage at every step.

I'm going on sightseeing trips around cities

You can cover 20 kilometers a day while walking around the city. You’ll need shoes that are comfortable and breathable, but also stylish for the city.

We recommend shoes that will soften your steps while walking on the city concrete, and the Ahinsa Comfort line of sneakers is ideal for that: They’ll provide double cushioning for your step: with a layer of flexible Technogel and the foam insole.

Hemp sneakers are best suited for spring and summer trips. They let air in to the feet and wick away sweat. 

I need something elegant for the evening.

An elegant holiday? That sounds great! Whether you're planning a stylish dinner with a view of the sea or heading out for a formal event, wear a pair of chic Hava sandals. In classic brown, they'll go with both dresses and shirts. 

The ones we've chosen for you will also withstand (nearly) anything because they’re made from indestructible microfiber. You can enjoy a stroll in them during the day, and in the evening you can just wipe them off with a damp cloth and wear them for a formal night out. They’re the perfect shoes for traveling!

For the ladies, we recommend Hava strappy sandals, which you can fasten to your liking.

For men, Simple sandals between the toes will be more suitable.

I'm planning a big hike.

An active holiday walking dozens of kilometers in the terrain? In that case, you'll need boots that will keep you firmly footed.

And by "firmly," we don't mean by constricting your ankle. There's a myth that's been handed down for generations that you need trekking boots that bind the ankle and feet. In reality, the ankle needs room to function and respond to changes in the terrain. 

Reading tip: The best shoes for hiking? They’re definitely not hiking boots.

So how do you know which travel boots won’t let you down in the terrain?

  • A reliable sole. A flexible Vibram sole with a more accentuated tread has worked well for us.
  • A wide toe box. Your toes can help you navigate the terrain or support your grip while walking downhill. That’s why you shouldn’t constrict them.
  • Adaptable materials. A good shoe will copy your movements exactly. That’s the only way you can control how and where you’re stepping in hilly terrain.

Choose specific shoes depending on how challenging the journey is going to be.

1. I've got a light hike coming up

Choose trekking sandals. The Vibram sole will keep you firmly footed in the woods and on the rocks. The sandals are lightweight and you won’t even know you’re wearing them. Plus, you can fasten them to your liking. 

2. I'm going on a classic hike with cooler weather in the evenings

This is where trekking sneakers will come in handy. Like the sandals, they have a reliable Vibram sole that will grip to the terrain. 

The mesh fabric is breathable and wicks sweat away from your feet, but it can also handle cooler evenings. The microfiber strips also lightly reinforce the shoe.

3. I'm in for a challenging, advanced-level hike

It's time for trekking boots of the highest caliber. Durable, waterproof and with proper soles.

Hiker trekking boots are made from durable materials that will handle anything you throw at them. The Vibram sole can manage any terrain. Thanks to their membrane lining, the boots won’t get wet while still wicking away sweat. Plus, you won't scuff them thanks to the protective strip we’ve added.


I need comfortable shoes for the flight

You'll be spending hours and hours in the shoes you choose for your flight. The trip to the airport, the lines, the flight itself... So don’t compromise! You need shoes that are:

  • roomy – they don't cramp your toes together.
  • breathable – your feet won’t sweat in them.
  • lightweight –  you won’t even know you’re wearing them.
  • closed – because it's cold on the plane.

For the plane, we’d choose the same sneakers we recommend for a light holiday. Breathable, lightweight and soft mesh sneakers. The mesh is thick enough to protect you from the air-conditioning on the plane.

How should I care for my shoes while on holiday? 

If you only have room for one pair of travel shoes, you’ll need them to be in tip-top shape for your entire vacation. What can you do to make sure?

  • Treat / waterproof natural materials before your holiday. The shoes will be easier to clean.
  • Choose shoes made of materials that are easy to wash. Like CF+ microfibre, which doesn't absorb dirt, so one swipe with a damp cloth is all it takes to clean them.
  • Immediately knock off the sand or dirt that has accumulated from walking. Once your feet get sweaty, the sweat and dirt will form a sticky mess that’s hard to clean.
  • Give your shoes a good airing-out in the evening. If you can, put them on the balcony or a windowsill. 
  • Wet? Dry your shoes with newspaper or a hairdryer set on cool. 
  • Never dry your shoes with a hot hairdryer, in direct sunlight or on a heater.
  • Wear socks in your shoes. (Except for sandals – but there’s no accounting for taste... :))

Reading tip: How to care for shoes properly?

Travelling in barefoot shoes? Yes, if you’re used to it

We at Ahinsa love healthy footwear. That's why we love travelling in barefoot shoes. 

  • They're lightweight. You can pack three pairs in your suitcase instead of just one.
  • They're spacious. No more blistered toes!
  • They’re comfortable. You’ll be massaging your feet through the sole.
  • They're healthy. You’ll be walking in them the way nature intended. 

A woman holding Ahinsa barefoot sandals and showing their thin soles

Extra comfortable, lightweight and stylish. This is what barefoot sandals can be.

So are barefoot shoes suitable for travel? Yes, definitely – that is, if you're used to them. Barefoot walking is most natural for the human body. The problem is that we’ve been wearing tight, narrow shoes since a young age and we aren’t used to walking naturally. 

That's why you first have to get used to walking barefoot again. Then you can do a week of hiking in healthy barefoot shoes.

Barefoot Ahinsa sandals near a cactus

First get used to barefoot walking at home. Then enjoy it on the go.

What should you wear in the meantime? Comfortable footwear that has all the benefits of barefoot shoes but also protects you from hard impacts. You can find shoes like these in the Ahinsa Comfort line. They have a spacious toe box and they’re flexible and lightweight. But thanks to the Technogel layer, you'll be stepping softly.

Do you have a pair of your own yet?

PS: Are you a fan of slow fashion?

Learn how to choose shoes for travel that won't put a strain on the planet. We've compiled 17 steps towards slow fashion that won't cost a fortune.

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