How to Choose the Best Kids’ Travel Shoes, According to a Foot Surgeon
Nothing spells doom for parents quite like having to shop for kids’ shoes. Who likes dragging their kids to a mall and waiting around as they try on several pairs?
Unfortunately, it can’t be avoided, and if you’re planning a family vacation, your kids are going to need comfy shoes. The right shoes will vary by activity and climate, but there are some guidelines you should know about to ensure they fit well.
Related: The Best Kids’ Luggage
“In general, when shopping for kids’ shoes, look for lightweight upper materials such as soft leather, canvas or cloth, so their feet can move and breathe,” said Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, a board-qualified foot surgeon in Manhattan, in an email. “The soles should be rubber, which allow the best shock absorption and cushioning for children while providing the support they need.”
And when it comes to girls, don’t fall prey to fads. “Avoid very thin, trendy flip-flops, ballerina flats, hand-me-downs, and high heels,” Dr. Sutera warned.
Likewise, consider going lace-free, as your kids may still be learning to tie. If your child’s feet are different sizes, make sure you buy for the larger foot — don’t be tempted to buy shoes in a larger size because you think she’ll grow into them. And lastly, buy shoes that fit when they’re tried on in store.
With these guidelines in mind, here are 12 comfy kids’ travel shoes to consider for your next family adventure.
Timberland Adventure Seeker Closed-toe Sandal
Who knew closed-toe kids’ sandals could look so cool? Perfect for everyday wear, these water-friendly grippers feature an EVA footbed and rubber console to keep feet comfy. Two adjustable straps and hook-and-loop closures provide a great fit so sandals stay put.
To buy: amazon.com, from $19
See Kai Run Kids Sawyer II
These sneakers have a casual slip-on style and canvas upper for a comfortable fit. Great for a day of exploring, they feature a flexible rubber outsole (the insole is cushioned). Budding skaters will love the Vans-inspired style.
To buy: amazon.com, from $30
New Balance Cruz Sport Running Shoe
Let your little one break a sweat in these on-trend running shoes. Designed with comfort in mind, they feature a breathable mesh upper and a cushioned EVA midsole. They also run true to size. Some parents love them so much they order a pair for themselves! New Balance actually has a Match Your Mini section on its site that lists the bestselling pairs for both adults and kids.
To buy: newbalance.com, $65
Columbia Youth Rope Tow Lii Waterproof Snow Boot
Rubber soles? Check. Leather upper materials? Check. These kids hiking boots meet Dr. Sutera’s requirements and come in four stylish colorways. (We’re big fans of the blue pair with lime-colored laces.) Going skiing? No sweat, the waterproof exterior will keep little feet dry all day long.
To buy: amazon.com, from $35
Keen Kids Newport H2
Embrace the great outdoors in these comfortable closed-toe sandals. A non-marking rubber sole provides traction on wet and dry surfaces while cleaning is as simple as swiping a soft, damp sponge. The cord-lock lacing system and hoop-and-loop closure keep feet secure. And the color options are practically endless.
To buy: amazon.com, from $40
Stride Rite Alex Moccasin
Parents have trusted Stride Rite for generations, and for good reason: They make solid shoes. These slip-on moccasin slippers are great for evenings spent by the fire, or a quick dash to the car for the iPad. The decorative tie over the middle keeps feet snug.
To buy: zappos.com, $24
Ikiki Squeaky Shoes for Toddlers
Flaunt your love of the animal kingdom with these colorful, squeaking sneakers. Breathable materials provide a roomy fit while each soft sole has a different color so little ones can find the right shoe. Good news, parents: The squeaker turns off with the flip of a switch.
To buy: amazon.com, from $31
Pediped Kids’ Flex Dani School Uniform Shoe
Make a statement at school, the airport or playground with these versatile Dusty Rose sneakers. Approved by the American Podiatric Association, they’re not only chic — see that velcro enclosure — but benefit growing feet in need of lightweight support.
To buy: amazon.com, from $57
See Kai Run Kids Slater
These adorable brown leather booties are perfect for fall. For those learning to tie, the adjustable hook-and-loop closure has him covered while the lightly padded footbed will support him through a long day of walking or playing in a pile of autumn leaves.
To buy: zappos.com, from $48
Stride Rite Spider-Man Web Warrior
Impress comic fans young and old with these stylish kids sneakers. Allover web detail completes the Spider-Man look while textile lining and insole provide maximum comfort. Bracing for combat? The hook-and-loop closure makes it easy to get into costume (web-shooter sold separately).
To buy: zappos.com, $55
Geox Kids Jr Strada 11 Sandal
Health-conscious parents will appreciate these Geox sandals, whose rubber soles help little feet breathe while wicking away moisture. Ideal for tropical climates, they also feature removable insole leather, heel and toe protection and ankle support. Comes in two earth-inspired colors with yellow or blue stitching.
To buy: zappos.com, from $40
Pediped Isabella Flex
For dressy occasions, you can’t go wrong with the classics, like a black pair of Mary Janes. They go with everything, and this leather pair comes with parent-approved extras, including a textured rubber outsole that helps little feet flex properly while walking and shock absorbing cushions for heels.
To buy: zappos.com, $55