Choose your shoes wisely
Fashion is not a good thing when it comes to wandering soles -- pick a pair of style-unconscious shoes that do the ahhh thing to aching arches, like Birkenstocks, or provide breathing room in wide toeboxes, like Tevas. Of-the-moment boots and almost anything with a real heel -- yeah, not so much.
Don't bring more than one pair, either, or your back will wish you hadn't. I've (expensively) shipped a second pair of shoes home rather than continue to haul 'em -- learn from that mistake: traveling shoes does not mean they should be abroad alone in the mail because you're sick of stuffing them in your pack.
I've got a pair of supremely comfy Teva shoes that do dual duty as fungus-avoiding hostel shower wear by means of flip flops hidden in the inner sole, and I dig 'em, but my always, all time fave footwear will probably remain Birkies forever. Don't like the Birkenstock sandals-wool socks-old hippie connotation? The company periodically puts out some closed toe shoes that look reasonably normal. If you're a diehard flip flopper, check out Sanuk sandals -- the name means "happy" in Thai, and that's what feets are in these gems.
- Read a Birkenstocks review and compare prices
- Campus: Birkenstocks or flip flops?
- Read a Teva flipsoles review
- Read review: wonderful walking flip flops from Sanuk
Wool -- it's what for feet
Fortunately, I've got the good stuff with me sockwise, or straits would be far more dire at this crucial blister juncture: Smartwools.
Smartwool socks are the best travel accessories since the compass. The company started mixing up the no stink, no shrink sock medicine in a basement in my hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado several years ago in a quest for the perfect ski sock, and they're now covering continents with no-itch wool gear that rocks my world.
Warm, soft, padded, cushy... choose your description and Smartwool socks will fill the prescription. Mine dry in a couple of hours and have decorated some of the finest radiators on the planet. Throw away those stink-prone synthetic socks and load up on Smarties.
Even the best laid plans for holding blisters at bay fail; if it happens, treat 'em with Brave Soldier antiseptic ointment and pad with a little moleskin (duct tape in a pinch). The Brave stuff is too good -- a mix of 4% lidocaine soothes any travel sore and comfrey promotes healing. I've used Brave Soldier goop on road rash, burns, and cuts -- made ouchies feel better fast and helped prevent scarring. I've also walked in comfort despite some serious blisters after slavering 'em with Brave Soldier. I never travel without it and I've never had an infected wound with it.