For trips of most lengths the rule of thumb is 3 pairs of shoes. For Round the World travel this is a very strategic and important decision and an area not skimp on quality. TravelFashionGirl.com has a great article on shoe combinations to meet your needs depending on activities planned for your trip (http://travelfashiongirl.com/what-travel-shoes-should-i-pack-for-a-round-the-world-trip/). Everyone’s feet are different so you have to actually try on shoes until you find comfortable ones. Then test them out for comfort and blisters before any travel. A well-travelled friend once told me, “if you start a trip with blisters, you’re going to end your trip with blisters on your blisters.”
Walking shoes: I’ll be using the Skechers Women’s Go Walk 2 Super Sock Walking Shoe for this trip. These are so comfortable they feel like wearing slippers, but offer the support you need to be on your feet all day. I wish I had found these while I was a teacher! The material is stretchy so there’s no issue with blisters or the fact that my feet are two different sizes. The look is stylish enough to wear with pants to a restaurant in Venice or walk the streets of Tokyo for the day. The shoes can be washed and hung from the holes on the back to dry, plus they’re made of a quick dry, odor resistant material. They’re also lightweight and squish for packing purposes. The Charcoal gray color should hide dirt and match almost every outfit. These are my new favorite shoes.
Sandals: I have 3 pairs of Tevas on order from Amazon so I should know in a few days which shoes make the cut for this trip. Previous trips have used leather walking sandals from Born brand (handmade, high-quality shoes), but this trip will feature enough water time that leather sandals might not make it. Keen and Chaco also make excellent waterproof sandals, but I find Teva to have the widest variety of comfortable (and sometimes even cute) options for women. Update: The Teva Women’s Kayenta Studded Sandal is the winner for this trip! Cute and shockingly comfortable, these sandals stood up to the climbing-the-side-of-the-bathtub test since I didn’t have that great fake rock at REI to test them on.
Hiking shoes: Some people might choose cute shoes, boots, heels, or sneakers as their 3rd pair of shoes, but I tend to end up hiking and mucking around more than anything else. Whether it’s climbing the ruins of Tikal, scrambling over rocks at the Grand Canyon, or even navigating cobblestoned European streets, good hiking shoes work well anywhere. My KEEN Women’s Targhee II Waterproof Trail Shoe hiking shoes carried me around the American West last summer with daily hikes of 5 to 10 miles. They replaced an earlier pair of similar Keen’s that lasted 5 years and made it through Thailand, India, Hawaii, and countless weekend hikes in Los Angeles. Water-proof, small enclosed toe, neutral colors, and they took NO breaking in. All around excellent option.
Flip Flops (Thongs): I know I said the rule is 3 pairs of shoes, but rules were made to be broken. My Teva Women’s Mush II Flip Flop are comfortable enough to wear all day, slip on and off faster than anything else (key at airport security and on overnight trains), and can be used as shower/boat shoes. I didn’t bring flip flops to Thailand my first time and found myself regretting it and buying a cheap pair there. Thai flip flops are NOT the same quality as Tevas. I actually had to buy 3 pairs during the 3 weeks we were in Thailand because the shoes kept breaking (and 2 of the 3 pairs were men’s because that’s the only thing that would fit on my giant feet). Lesson learned: don’t beach or budget travel without flip flops!