The Best Travel Shoes EVER

Two years ago, I got a new pair of shoes for my birthday. They were from some trendy, new company out in San Francisco. I didn’t really know anything about them, but they seemed soft and fuzzy. I tried them on and they fit well, but for some strange reason I didn’t really wear them that often. Little did I know they would become the best pair of travel shoes I ever got.

The Problem

Flash forward several months and I was now living in London. On a normal day, I was walking a minimum of five miles. On travel days though, I’d walk as much as fifteen miles. Regardless of what you do, that’s a lot of time to spend on your feet. Unfortunately, I usually had to decide between comfort or fashion.

I loved my Nike Free sneakers, but they were starting to show their wear. I couldn’t really get away with wearing them for multiple purposes. They needed to be retired to the “gym only” part of the closet.

Unfortunately, my loafers were awful for traveling too. If I needed a decent pair of shoes for dinner, they were great. Otherwise, I’d end up with blisters and aching joints the whole next day. (Yeah, getting older sucks)

Carrying around at least two pairs of shoes wasn’t exactly the most travel friendly solution. For short weekend getaways, it seemed downright silly. There had to be something that served multiple purposes.

Enter Allbirds

Remember those shoes I mentioned at the beginning? For the beginning of their life, they were used solely like my loafers. If I wanted to wear something fashionable, I’d wear those. There had to be something that covered both needs in one. Little did I know I had them all along.

What Makes a Good Travel Shoe?

They’re also incredibly comfortable in Delta One

There are several criteria that make a good travel shoe. First, it needs to be comfortable and supportive for long days walking through airports and exploring new cities. It also needs to be lightweight and multi-purpose for packing. When packing every inch and ounce counts. You don’t want to have to bring five pairs of shoes for one weekend. That’s another part of what makes Allbirds so great. The shoes can easily pass for casual or a slightly elevated evening out. While $95 might not make these the cheapest shoes out there, they more than justify the cost in durability and functionality.

On top of all this, Allbirds also has a great mission. The company focuses on using renewable and recycled materials to make a great shoe. Their motto even says, “lighten your footprint”. I appreciate the pun just as much as the mission. On top of that, the shoes are made mostly of wool, which makes them washable (if you’re not dumb like me). Plus, the wool is really soft and comfortable.

The Converts

I met up with Jon and Ben in Nice last February (so fancy, right?). While I was there Jon asked about my sneakers. I told him they were Allbirds and gave a ringing endorsement. Fast forward a few months later to a meetup in to London. Sure enough, I spot Jon wearing his Allbirds. In just a few months, he’d already gotten two pairs. Yeah, I’d say he’s converted.

A Tragic (Self-Inflicted) Error

After a particularly muddy day, I decided my Allbirds needed a good washing. No biggie. I’d done it in the past without issue and my Allbirds came out looking as good as new. Allbirds‘ website even says they’re machine washable. I’d done it once in the past and the shoes came out looking like new. There was only one problem – me.

Unfortunately, our place in London has a washer-dryer combo machine. For those in the States that aren’t familiar, it’s just one machine that does both tasks. It saves on space, but it’s not terribly effective at washing or drying. Maybe you can see where this is going…

Anyway, I threw my Allbirds in the machine and  came back a few hours later. When I went to reinsert the inserts, I realized they didn’t quite fit right. I looked and the soles just didn’t look quite right either. Then it hit me. I forgot to turn off the dry cycle and the wool shoes had shrunk. 🤦‍♂️

I tried to wear them on several occasions over the next few weeks, but they just weren’t right. At this point, they were nothing more than glorified slippers. The looked and felt like them too. If it rained, forget about it. You might as well just stick your feet in sponges for the rest of the day. Eventually, I gave up and left them in the closet.

I was gutted. These were easily my favorite travel sneakers and just couldn’t find anything else to replace them. I’d become accustomed to this lifestyle of comfort and fashion. I had a didn’t have to sacrifice good looks for comfort.

The answer was staring me right in the face (or feet?) – just order a new pair. Sure, I could do that, but that would make too much sense. Why do that when you can be stubborn and cheap?

Finally, Salvation

Fast forward a few months to this past week. I finally gave in and ordered a new pair of Wool Runners. I’m not sure why I waited so long, but I did. The box arrived and I felt immediate satisfaction. It was like reuniting with a good friend you haven’t seen in years. You just pick right back up where you left off without missing a beat. Life may have changed, but the two of you haven’t.

Reunited and it feeeels so goooood.

Final Thoughts

A good travel shoe needs to be comfortable, lightweight, and fashionable. Allbirds check all those boxes for me. On top of that, the company has a great mission that’s easy to rally behind. They’re hands down my favorite pair of travel shoes I’ve ever owned.

Author: Stephen Hoechst

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6 Comments

  1. I agree. Fantastic travel shoes with one caveat. I LOVE how comfortable they are with or without socks. But if you plan on walking a significant amount, their lack of support will get you. For a big walking trip, not the right shoes. For going through airports and working, 100% love them.

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    • Paul – I haven’t had many issues with them, even on 10-15 mile touring days. That said, I also didn’t have an issue doing that with the Nike Free and those have zero support haha. If you’re looking for something that’s great for support, I love the ON Cloud and Cloudswift shoes. They look and feel a little different, but holy cow are they comfortable.

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  2. Allbirds insoles are removable so… I simply replace with my own orthotic inserts and I have the best shoes ever!

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  3. I’m a convert, great shoes…and the Mizzle line is water ‘repellant’…not 100% waterproof, but very good.

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  4. I’ll go with Mephisto but am willing to try Allbirds.

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  5. I’m a big fan of the Cole Hann GrandMotion Woven Sneakers… comfy and they look good.

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