We know sore, aching feet can put a damper on a night out (and darken a good mood), but it turns out they can ruin a night in, as well. “If feet are fatigued or swollen, the discomfort can affect the quality of your sleep,” explains Chicago-area podiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Kurtz. And bad sleep, in turn, can affect everything from your stress levels to metabolism. The sore feet-bad sleep connection can become even more pronounced when traveling, says the doctor, thanks to the combination of air travel (which can cause swelling) and days spent exploring cities, strolling the beach, or pounding the theme park pavement. To help ensure healthy, happy feet while on the road, we asked Dr. Kurtz and the American Podiatric Medical Association for their travel tips—then found stellar on-the-go shoe options (one open-toed, one closed) from two of our favorite eco-friendly brands.
• Pack a few pairs of supportive, comfortable shoes and plenty of appropriate socks. Make sure not to take shoes that have never been worn—wear them around the house before leaving—and also skip shoes that are old. Support and structure deteriorate with age, so re-consider walking or athletic shoes older than one year.
• When on the plane, get up and move around once for every hour in the air to temper swelling and prevent blood clots. Periodically flex feet at the ankles, wiggle toes, keep legs uncrossed, and loosen laces; if a flight’s longer than four hours, Dr. Kurtz recommends taking off shoes and wearing comfy socks with grips.
• If you’re going to the beach or pool, be sure to bring flip-flops or water shoes to protect the bottom of your feet from hot surfaces (and first-degree burns.) Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the tops of feet, too.
• If you’re going to be walking around a city or out in nature all day, it’s better to stick with a closed-toe shoe. Flip-flops can cause blisters after long periods of wear, and if you are going to be on your feet for a length of time, you need proper heel and arch support. Also remember that wearing open-toed shoes in the city means your feet and toes are that much closer to the pavement—and all the nasty things that live there.
• If feet and ankles get swollen, raise them for a while before going to sleep to help drain fluid. You can also give yourself a foot massage—start at the toes and massage towards the heart—or roll feet over a baseball or tennis ball for a deeper massage.
Shoes to Choose
Committed to creating shoes that are as close to 100 percent sustainable as possible—both in materials and manufacturing method—Simple uses things like bamboo, hemp, recycled inner tubes, and post-consumer paper, natural crepe rubber, and organic cotton in crafting their goods. Even better, their shoes are comfortable, providing breathability and cushy support, and stylish, with cool color combinations and silhouettes. www.simpleshoes.com
Available in eye-catching color combos like apple green / baby blue and black with bright pink, this comfy vegan sandal is made with eco-certified nubuck, biodegradable rubber, and water- (not petroleum) based glue.
Take On Ribbon ($55)
We’ve heard stories of people taking multi-mile walks in these shoes, with nary a blister in sight. Topped with PET grosgrain ribbon laces (made from recycled soda bottles), the eco-cert suede sneakers also contain organic cotton, recycled car tires, and a cushiony, supportive bed of latex foam. Color duos include purple with pale green ribbon, and nude with brown.
Popular in spas across the country, Oka B’s extensive line goes beyond the locker room with styles that can work just as well for a plane trip, resort vacation, or even beachy wedding (brides have been known to kick-up their heels in the shimmery, flower-topped sandals.) Boasting reflexology-inspired massaging, ergonomic foot beds, the machine washable shoes are non-slip, odor resistant, and antimicrobial, as well as vegan. They’re also recyclable: Customers can send well-worn shoes into the headquarters to be turned into new pairs. www.shoesthatloveyou.com
Each of these comfortable sandals has a slightly raised heel on bottom and a dazzling beaded chrysanthemum on top. The material of the flower changes depending on the color of the shoe; the dark brown flat has a unique coconut-shell appliqué, while the shimmery pearl and neutral camel shoes’ flowers are made from iridescent seashells and natural wood beads, respectively.
Boasting a ribbed, textured top, these waterproof, ballet-style mules come in popping colors like candy pink, kiwi green, and mandarin orange, along with classic black and brown. This style adapts with both casual and evening wear, making it a great multi-purpose travel choice.