One of the questions I see a lot on travel forums (and one that I, too, have tried to find the answer to) is: “What shoes should I take with me on my trip to [fill in the blank]?” Unsurprisingly, I have only seen that question posed by a woman. Apparently men aren’t endlessly pondering what footwear they should be packing for their next trip. Fools.
Let’s be honest, any day that I come home to find a Zappos box waiting at my front door is A GREAT DAY. And I admit, there have a been a lot of great days over the years. Today was no exception. I received my latest attempt at an answer to the Great Shoe Question:
These are ECCO Rise GTX slip-ons in black. I tried them on and they seem promising! Very comfortable and very supportive…at least while walking about fifteen steps across my kitchen floor. How they hold up on the cobblestone streets of Rome is a question to be answered next month.
I have tried many different shoes over the years – Naot, Dansko, Reiker, Aquatalia, Clarks…the list goes on. So far, I have not found any that really (pardon the pun) knocked my socks off. After a day walking for hours over uneven cobblestones, or even regular sidewalks, my feet always hurt. I’m hoping that these ECCOs, which are very well-reviewed, will be the ones I have been searching for.
I realize they are not the most stylish, but when have “stylish” and “comfortable” ever really gone hand-in-hand? And even though gym shoes are becoming more and more prevalent in Europe (even amongst the locals), I just don’t feel right lacing up a pair of Nikes…although my feet would probably thank me for it. That’s just my personal preference. It’s not that I believe I will “blend in” with those fashionable Italian ladies while wearing shoes like these, because, honestly, they’re walking around in knee-high boots with four inch heels. (Plus, I’d need liposuction and a complete fashion makeover to even come close to resembling any one of them, except maybe some of the signoras carrying their sacks of fruit home from the market.) It’s just that I, personally, like to be a little more dressy while in Europe, so I don’t wear t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies or gym shoes.
So, what is my answer to the question of what shoes to bring on your next trip? It’s simple: Take whatever you feel comfortable in! If you want to wear your favorite pair of flats, boots, sandals or gym shoes…wear them! As I mentioned before, gym shoes are becoming more popular and nobody will stop and stare at you if you are wearing Nikes or Reeboks or whatever. If you are hesitant and feel like you’ll stand out as a tourist if you wear white gym shoes, get a pair of black or dark-colored ones. But, trust me, if you are a tourist, the locals will know it when you open your mouth and speak…they won’t have to look at your shoes.
Whatever shoes you decide to bring, just remember that it’s your feet that are going to suffer if they aren’t sturdy, supportive and broken-in. The good news is that shoe stores like Geox, Clarks and tons of stores selling gym shoes can be found in most of the bigger cities around the world. So if you find yourself in a place like Paris with sore feet, you have a perfect excuse to buy a new pair of shoes! Even if they are Nikes…they’re Nikes from Paris!
Over the next month, I’ll break in these ECCOs, and then they will make the journey to Rome with me. After that, I’ll let you know if I’ll be placing another order from Zappos or not.
Oh, who am I kidding? It’s only a matter of time before another box arrives…
UPDATE: Just as Albus Dumbledore once said: “The best of us must sometimes eat our words”, now I must eat mine. A very last minute purchase prior to my trip to Rome was a dark gray pair of New Balance gym shoes. I wore the Eccos shown above on the first day of our trip, and wore the New Balances every day after that. The Eccos weren’t bad, but at the end of the day, my feet hurt. With the gym shoes, I walked all day, every day and never had achy feet. And everywhere I looked, there were gym shoes of all brands, styles and colors being worn by tourists and locals alike. I am so very glad I made that last minute decision!