Ohhhhh…My Aching Feet!

Put your best foot forward! Have aching feet almost ruined your vacation? Well, never again!

I’m always amazed at how Italian women can navigate those cobblestone streets in high heels! And often with leather soles. My tootsies ache just thinking about it!

Well, you can try, but even in sensible shoes, I’ve seen more than one traveler take a  pratfall or nearly twist an ankle on uneven, steep, and/or slippery walkways and stairs. And I’ve also seen more than one traveler (ummm, ok, including me) with toes, heels, etc.wrapped in bandages from shoes they thought were comfortable enough to wear all day long sightseeing…

Of course, your choice of shoes depends on where and how you’re going as well as what you will be doing once you arrive… hiking, camping and adventure travel are a different animal so I won’t address that here.

For a recent month-long in Italy, I packed only my most comfy, supportive and broken-in sandals, I still found myself having to be very careful and committed to religiously pampering my hard-working feet every night.

I also believe that you can be practical and fashionable. I guess I’m just not one to wear big clunky shoes or athletic shoes.  But that’s just me. I like to be comfortable and blend in.

Wear comfy shoes and take frequent breaks.

Wear comfy shoes and take frequent breaks.

Ultimately, you have to choose what will work best for you, but here are a few guidelines that have worked for me and that I hope you will find helpful:

  • Don’t wait until just before you trip to buy shoes for your trip! New shoes are one of the biggest culprits of new blisters. Buy them and wear them several weeks, a month if possible before you leave home.
  • Before you pack them, wear your shoes a LOT: in the morning and in the evening (remember your feet swell at the end of the day)…on uneven surfaces, going up and down stairs, just standing…and, if possible on surfaces similar to where you’ll be traveling.
  • I don’t care what anyone tells you, bring at least two pair of  very comfortable broken-in shoes so that you can alternate them and aren’t wearing the same shoes every day. If possible I will change shoes for going out in the evening, too.

    Comfortable, broken in shoes with rubber soles are great traveling companions!

    Comfortable, broken in shoes with rubber soles are great traveling companions!

  • Rubber soles ONLY! Leather soles are only for dress shoes for special events (e.g., dinner on a cruise). And I am NOT talking about flip-flops! They provide absolutely NO support so save them for the beach or pool.
  • Before you leave, get a good pedicure. Yes guys, you too!  Potential ingrown or poorly trimmed nails as well as calluses, etc. can become problematic. It doesn’t matter if anyone else is going to see your feet or not, take care of them!
  • Look for shoes with padded insoles (unless you put liners or orthotics in your shoes) for optimal support and insoles that absorb/wick away perspiration.
  • Be sure your shoes fit properly. Nowadays I find that I may wear a different size depending on the brand/style of shoe. Be sure you have tried them on and that they are a perfect fit. Today both online and department stores have generous return policies. Just be sure to keep the original box/packing and only wear them inside your house. I always do this now and I’ve returned more than I’ve kept!
  • Take a break now and then. Stop, take a break, take a load off! Kick up your feet, have a cup of coffee, some tea, an ice cream, whatever…and try to stagger long days of walking/standing with some less ambitious stuff (i.e., a picnic at a park, a sightseeing tour where you are sitting, a day on the shore…)
  • Pack bandaids, neosporin or antibacterial, sox, heavy duty  foot cream (I love Burt’s Bees), and a pumice or footscraper. At the end of the day, for swollen feet, stand in or soak in cool water, give them a scrub/pumice, then slather with lotion before bed. You (and your feet) will be renewed and ready for the next day of sightseeing!
  • Invest in really good shoes. This is not where you want to go cheap (unless, of course, they are on sale). Good shoes really are like having great sports equipment – invest in the best. (After all, you wouldn’t put cheap, second rate tires on your car, would you?)
  • Watch your salt intake. Salt/salty foods can result in swelling -including feet, ankles and toes. When we’re traveling we have less control of how much salt is in the food so before you pick up that shaker, test taste and maybe ease off salt and salty snacks if you’ve been experiencing swelling.  Again, soak or rinse with cool water and elevate.

    Give those hard working tootsies a break!

    Give those hard working tootsies a break!

  • Watch your step and take your time.  Look where you’re going, slow down, be careful…enjoy!!

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3 Responses to Ohhhhh…My Aching Feet!

  1. Well, my friend, you have done it again! Fantastic advice! This trip I almost slept in my Birkenstocks! They are so comfy…may not be glam. but no foot problems for this girl…took a second pair of shoes for going out in the evening. I remember, painfully, the last time we were in London, a nasty callous that put a bit of a damper on things. Taking breaks is a must and slowing down allows one to check out the scene unfolding before you! The only other thing I would suggest & not for feet but for knees or other things that are bothersome, is a freezey pack, wow did that come in handy! After a day on my “pins” I looked forward to cooling down the joints and they liked it too!

    • Thank you so much, Phyllis! Having “been there, done that” it was a topic I felt well worth writing about. Nothing can spoil your long-awaited vacation like blisters and the like! I, too, have found my fav comfy shoe (NAOT). I love the suggestion about bringing a freezey pack (and a heat pack wouldn’t hurt for other aches and pains).
      Safe and wonderful journeys…

  2. Pingback: Italy Travel Tip: Watch Your Step(s) | PostcardZ from Victoria