I love shoes. I’m a shoe person. I will gladly bring my lunch to work every day for a month if it means I can afford those gorgeous Kurt Geiger shoe-boots with the studs. So when it came to assembling my travelling wardrobe, my main concern was:
How many shoes am I allowed to take with me?
So the general consensus among backpackers is less is more. Not a piece of advice I was willing to accept easily. I mean, you’re packing for a variety of climates, all sorts of social situations and you need shoes to go with all of the outfits you’re taking with you. How can you do that with the prescribed pair of hiker boots and a pair of Havaianas. Because I’ve actually heard people recommend this. Hiker boots for the Inca Trail and Havaianas for the beach, sure. But you can’t be expected to wear either when you’re exploring New York, partying in Sydney or taking Samba classes in Sao Paulo?
Now I know I’ve already discussed Heels. And I think I was pretty clear on the importance of carrying a pair of T-bars in your backpack in case of an emergency. So that’s one pair of shoes, to cover all western world partying, special occasions and maybe even job interviews if your WHV-ing it.
Next up, flip flops. Part of the cliche backpacker’s ensemble, you obviously need to bring a pair. I brought just the one pair – plain black Havaianas. Not setting the world on fire with those bad boys. But as I had limited myself to just the one pair, they needed to go with every bikini and every ‘bumming around Asia’ outfit, as well as being durable enough to endure everyday wear. And the super-cheap pedicures mean your brightly coloured toenails will make your feet look fabulous anyway.
Unfortunately , with the whole ‘take your shoes off before entering any building’ thing in Asia, someone walked off with my Havaianas outside an internet cafe in Vang Vieng! But it’s not like flip flops are hard to come by. I replaced them with a cheap pair from a market stall. But it’s probably worth mentioning that when you’re backpacking, your possesions tend to walk off (literally in this case), so don’t bring any shoes you can’t replace. Like those cute Missoni flip flops. Don’t do it.
Now some backpackers may suggest that those flip flops will cover nights out and exploring new cities with hot climates. But instead I opted to take a nice pair of pretty flat sandals. My gold strappy number from Topshop were just the ticket for drinking in beach bars when heels are inappropriate and flip flops are too boring. Plus you’ve been wearing those fellas all day and its nice to have a separate pair to change into. Then when you’re in a big new city and flip flops are too casual, those flat sandals are perfect for exploring. Comfortable but pretty!
Pair of shoes numero quattro: sensible shoes for activities. I just cringed writing the words ‘sensible shoes’ because who wants shoes to be sensible? Shoes should be fabulous! But anyway I digress, shoes for all the fun, crazy activities you’ve been dreaming about. I bandied about the words ‘Hiker Boot’ before because I’ve seen backpackers carrying these big clumpy things around with them, but unless you think you’re going to be climbing mountains on this trip, I seriously wouldn’t bother. Plus, they’re ugly. I know Teva do walking shoes that are slightly less offensive, but I really don’t recommend talking anything of the sort. The only thing I think you’re likely to do that would require this kind of thing is the Inca Trail. But those shoes are so bloody bulky, maybe it’s worth assessing at what point in your trip you will be doing it in case it’s worth buying some out there nearer the time. But for all of you less hiker-y girls, you don’t need hiker boots. Or walking shoes. Or trainers. I decided to bring a pair of Keds. Lightweight lace-up pumps that are comfy, not too sporty-looking, a bit more feminine than chunky trainers and are perfect for such exciting activities. I wore them for Quadbiking, Cycling, Exploring Gorges, and even wore them on planes to maximise space in my backpack! Went down a treat. Another option to go for would be Converse. Preferably those lightweight ones they do.
So that’s the 4 pairs of shoes I took with me. I actually think that’s really good of me. Considering my great love for beautiful footwear and the fact that my wardrobe is bulging with espadrilles, sandals and stilettos I was dying to take with me. But a pinch of practicality was in order.
I was also considering taking a pair of ballet flats with me. But decided that there wasn’t an occasion I would wear ballet flats where I couldn’t wear my gold strappy flats or my lace-ups. But saying that, I didn’t know I was going to be working in Australia. And once I had decided to go down the Working Holiday Visa route, I went to Ruby Shoes in Brisbane and bought 2 pairs of ballet flats (2 for $30!) to wear to work. I think this is a good option even if you know you’re WHVing it. Wait until you’re settled in the city you’re working in to get your flats. Then you don’t have to carry them around if you’re travelling beforehand. If you’re going straight out there, definitely take a pair of work shoes.
Although I think if you’re going to wait, it’s worth taking a look online and seeing what shops are out there and if you will be able to find shoes to your taste. Ruby Shoes is my big recommendation for Australia. On-trend and cheap. It’s what you want.
So there you go: Flip Flops, Flat Sandals, Heels, Pumps and Work Shoes if applicable. Don’t let anyone talk you into taking less. Don’t let yourself talk you into taking more.