The ultimate guide to packing for study abroad: Part 3, SHOES

Now, gentlemen, don’t write me off because you think this is just going to be about which of your high heels to bring. Most of this will apply to you. You wear shoes, do you not?

So far we’ve talked about BAGS and APPAREL, so our natural next point is: SHOES.

Why are these so important? you ask. I’m not walking there. I mean, I’m going to a place where there’s great public transit. Any reason you can think of for not needing good shoes is nonsense. Here’s why: even if you don’t plan to walk very far, getting lost is a big part of being new in another country. Airports require a lot of walking, especially those international hubs. You will have to walk into class and maybe even walk to school. Sure, they have a tram system. Can you afford to take it every day? Do you even want to take it? Does it go the places you need to go?

Trust me. Take the good walking shoes. In fact, bring very few pairs of shoes that are not good walking shoes.

Which kinds? you ask.

  • At least two pairs of casual, tennis-shoe type, really supportive shoes that you could wear for at least three hours and not have much discomfort. Break them in before you go. Wear them to work at least a few times. Walk around your house in them. You don’t want to break in new shoes on your first few days. Why two? Because your feet need variety. Feel free to quote me on that one. Don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day.
  • Supportive walking sandals (unless you will be abroad in the dead of winter or in Antarctica) Again, if you bring those cute sandals that hurt your feet when you wear them for longer than like 20 minutes of walking, you won’t end up wearing them. You’ll instead start wearing your tennis shoes all the time. I have some Ecco sandals that are really comfy and have good heel support, so I actually wear them to walk. Even if they don’t look adorable, go for support. You probably won’t care what’s on your feet after a couple months, just as long as your feet feel good.
  • No more than one pair of fancy shoes Unless you have an internship or some kind of special circumstance that means you need to dress up frequently. If you really like going to clubs, too, then maybe you’ll need fancy shoes. But you’ll have to talk to someone else about what kind since I know negative zero about clubbing. I brought a pair of black flats and have worn them a total of maybe 3 times, but each time, I’m glad I have them.
  • Cheap flip-flops for showering at hostels, taking out the trash, running to your neighbor’s building, getting the mail, doing your laundry. Those are always good to have.
  • I also brought a pair of TOMS, even though they aren’t the best for walking long distances. They are mediocrely comfortable, so I can wear them for shorter errands or walks. I mostly brought them because they’re from an Etsy shop (ibleedheART, link to the shoes I have but she has tons of amazing designs!) and I love them.

Other tips about shoes:

  • For European adventures in particular, high heels aren’t practical unless you have great balance and thicker heels. Cobblestone, uneven streets do not lend themselves well to unbalanced walkers or stilettos that can get stuck between stones. More than that, tram lines and such make this kind of footwear even more dangerous. I’d forego the heels, even though I am looking forward to getting back home to mine.
  • Wear your most comfortable, bulkiest shoes on the plane. Kind of obvious, but it saves space in your luggage AND keeps your feet happy during a long trip. Double whammy.
  • Make sure you have enough socks to go with your shoes! Socks are important to not get blisters. Get good socks.

All in all, show your feet some love.

Got questions? Ask em in the comments! I love shoe questions.


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