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Deciding which shoes to pack for a trip can be stressful. Every pair you choose should make a living in terms of versatility and comfort (suitcase real estate has value!). And the shoes you actually wear to travel? They have to be winners: perfect for walking miles in the airport (and then later in beautiful places) and breathable so that you don’t sweat your feet on the plane. Even better if they can be paired with a sundress for casual outings when you reach your destination.
After repeatedly making the wrong choice, we asked someone who knows how to pack light and well – flight attendant Gemma Brazier, who has over 20 years of experience in the business – for advice on travel shoes.
“When I’m traveling, it’s essential for me to have a versatile pair of sneakers that I can mix and match with various outfits and are also super comfortable when I’m out exploring,” says Brazier, who has traveled to the Brazil, Kenya, China, Australia and beyond. She told us a pair of stylish quilted leather sneakers by Veja: “I love these Veja Esplar sneakers because they look so stylish and go with everything.”
The Esplar sneakers are made from premium leather (from Uruguay) with suede details and a rubber sole. Padded inside, they feel great on the foot. They are coated with water repellent oils to protect them from light rain. Available in 17 options (white or black base, different colors on the heel and logo), so you can find something to match your wardrobe.
“Packing light can often be a challenge,” acknowledges Brazier, pointing to the value of items that perform double or triple duty. “They are perfect to wear with dresses or jeans.”
The brand is radically transparent about its production process, revealing its raw material costs and sharing information about labor standards at its Brazil-based factories.
Several colors, including white, are sold at Saks Fifth Avenue and are popular with critics:
“Completely in love with my Veja Esplar trainers in the teal/deep green colourway,” reports a satisfied customer. “I always wear them with low cut socks and leave the top row of holes unlaced. Doing those 2 things made them very comfortable from first use. The insole is high quality but I was happy to be able to remove them easily and add in my own inserts that fit my high arches – a perfect fit!I just wore these while walking for several days on vacation and were comfortable the whole trip.
Another says: “I bought these sneakers for a trip to New York and was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable and durable they were, riding for miles across the city. They even held up to the rain. They were cute with a jeans or a sundress. My only suggestion is to size down.”
If you’re looking for a sportier shoe, the Veja Rio Branco Hexamesh sneakers offer plenty of traction and a retro color scheme. There are five color options sold on Amazon. Says a customer: “I was happy to find that they looked as good in person and on my feet as they did in the pictures! I’m so glad I took the advice of other reviewers and ordered a size larger (11) than I don’t normally wear (10)!Think this also fit my slightly wide feet.I spent two days on my feet, moderate walking, wearing these shoes and can’t fault the comfort.
The reviews quoted above reflect the most current versions at the time of publication.
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