Tips to stay on your toes while on the road

Published1/5/2008 3:36 PM

I was fascinated by a colleague who traveled with me for four days through Spain.

Quite the fashionista, she changed clothes often -- and her shoes even more than that. After two transformations in one morning, I started keeping tabs on her footwear; by the end of the trip, I noted 12 different pairs.


Comparing my paltry three choices with her mighty dozen, I realized I was suffering shoe envy.

What I wasn't suffering was aching feet.

To be sure, after some 30 years on the road -- and usually on the run -- one important consideration during trip planning is what shoes to pack. This wasn't always the case, when looking pretty trumped feeling comfort, but these days I am more apt to leave vanity behind in order to get through my trip while still being able to walk.

Thank goodness for my Sketchers. Even though these shoes are technically sneakers, they also look appropriate for many work situations since they resemble the traditional Mary Jane-style flats with little straps and Velcro closures.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that when I need to get my Sketchers off in short order they can be a real pain in the, uh, feet. Hence, I also own a pair of shiny red ballet flats made by Hush Puppies.

These beauties are always on my feet when I go through security at the airport since they are easily slipped off and into the designated bin for closer inspection. Another plus is that the pretty patent shoes are not only orthopedically correct, they also give my all-black wardrobe a punch of color and some extra style.

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Then there are my traveling shoes that I slip on once I am air bound.

Made by Bernardo, these pewter leather wonders act like slippers but look like dress shoes. They are bendable with pliable rubber soles, handily stowed in a small space in my carry-on when not in use.

To be sure, shoe choice is a good way to keep your feet from failing you during your travels. However, there are other grounding aspects to consider, including the following:

• Be sure to break in a new pair of shoes before you travel. This lesson is one you only need to learn once, such as when I went to Paris and purchased a beautiful pair of purple pumps. Eager to show them off, I put them on the morning I bought them and proceeded to wear them into the night. My feet festered with blisters, which meant that the next day I could hardly walk let alone put my feet back into the pair of shoes I so proudly wore the day before.

• There is nothing better for the prevention or cure of aching feet than a good foot massage (even when that means a quickie in the middle of the afternoon). That's just what I did during a recent trip to Tokyo, where a mall near my hotel featured 15-minute foot massages for weary shoppers. I was happy to indulge, emerging with more energy than I ever expected as well as a definite spring in my step.


• If you don't have the opportunity to partake in a massage, try some simple exercises to get those dogs in top shape. One I like means traveling with a golf ball, which I use to roll under one foot and then the other. I put pressure on the foot doing the work and I do this sitting instead of standing to avoid injury.

Another exercise that's kind of fun and challenging as well is to drop some marbles or stones or any small objects on the floor and then pick them up, one by one, with your toes. The result is a good foot workout.

• Finally, go barefoot whenever possible. A friendly foot doctor once told me that going without shoes can help build muscles not only in the feet but all over the body. So, as soon as I hit my hotel room, my shoes come off and they don't go on again until it is time for me to make an appearance where other people are involved.

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