For anyone planning a trip with kids, I urge you to plan ahead for footwear. Blistered, aching, uncomfortable feet can ruin your vacation. And it’s even more so when you are traveling with children because they will just refuse to walk! When it comes to kids travel shoes – think COMFORT above anything else!
We have three active boys who just don’t understand the concept of taking care of their shoes. It’s a real challenge to find good quality/ price shoes that will hold up to the abuse our kids give them. On top of that, quality shoes for kids are not cheap. It’s almost impossible to find the right shoes that will fit all kinds of different occasions and with three fast-growing kids our garage often resembles a shoe store… Slippers, shoes for school, rain boots, winter boots, summer sandals, sports shoes, soccer shoes… And just when you think you have it all covered, your kids’ feet grow and you can start all over again…
You cannot really pack seven pairs of shoes for every child and every occasion when traveling, so it’s important to pick the right shoes depending on your destination and the type of vacation you are planning. Depending on your travel plans, you may need to buy a good pair of hiking shoes for one trip, a pair of water shoes for another destination and a pair of smart shoes for yet another trip. Or you may need all three in just one week…
Why it’s important to pick the right travel shoes for kids
One of our worst travel experiences with kids was due to the wrong shoes our son was wearing during a short hike in Corsica. He got such a big blister under his toes that we ended up going to hospital every day for the whole second half of our vacation. It was so bad that the doctor insisted on seeing the wound every day and changing the bandages himself! He just couldn’t believe it started with a simple blister – the whole foot was blue and black…
Our son couldn’t walk, he wasn’t allowed to go into the water and we had to change the whole vacation planning completely! Luckily, we were staying close to Ajaccio – one of the biggest towns on the island – and the hospital was nearby. Also, my husband speaks French and we had no trouble in communicating with doctors and pharmacists… We also had a stroller with us for our younger twins and so we could still do some sightseeing in between the hospital visits with our oldest son riding in the stroller… So it could have been worse, but needless to say our vacation turned out to be very different from what we had planned…
After this experience we are even more careful when choosing the right shoes for our kids when we travel. We try to always travel light which usually means we pack two pairs of shoes per person. However, depending on our destination, we now sometimes take three or even four pairs of shoes, because we know from our experience that wrong footwear can ruin the whole trip.
So here is some advice to help you pick the best shoes for your children for any kind of a family trip.
Complete guide for picking the best travel shoes for kids
Our favourite kids’ shoes – at home and when traveling
Our all-time-favourite shoes for kids are Crocs. I used to be sceptical about crocs, but they are by far the best investment you can make when it comes to kids shoes. They are so versatile that our kids wear them all the time – at the beach, at the pool, in the garden, at home (instead of slippers), in the hotel when we travel and even on ski holidays!
In fact, crocs are perfect to wear in the hotel in winter – you can easily slip them on with thick ski socks, it doesn’t matter if they get wet, they are washable and they have a good grip.
Last summer we were vacationing in the mountains in Switzerland and one day our kids wanted to join the river-dam building activity. We didn’t have water shoes with us, but crocs saved us once again.
Like with all quality products, there are many cheaper brands available, but I suggest you buy the original crocs for the best quality. I lost count on how many pairs of Crocs we have had up to now and never – not once – did we have any issues with them. We just wash them and use them again.
What kind of kids shoes to pack for summer vacation
Summer is here and it’s time to look for new footwear for your kids. Depending on where you live or travel, this might be an easy task or an almost impossible assignment. For now I’ll focus on the best kids shoes for summer – the real summer, not the one we typically have here in Belgium.
Closed-toe sandals for kids
If you buy just one pair of shoes for your kids in summer, closed-toe sandals are probably the best option. Most of the closed-toe sandals for children have adjustable rip-tape which means they suit any foot. The sole has a good grip and your kids toes are also well protected. On top of that, they are lightweight, breathable, extremely comfortable and can be used on so many different occasions.
Children’s summer sandals
Our kids’ favourite summer shoes are Geox Junior sandals – we had at least nine pairs during the years and we just bought three new ones for this summer. We once tried a cheaper pair, but quickly realised that sturdy sandals with a comfort sole and a good grip are well worth the extra price.Buy GEOX sandals for kids in the US or in Europe.
Well worth a few extra dollars are children’s water shoes. You don’t have to worry about sharp stones at the beach, hot or slippery tiles around the swimming pool, or your kids stepping on a sharp coral when snorkelling.
While we always pack flip flops for ourselves when traveling, we never take them for our kids. Granted, they take less space in your luggage than crocs, but we always prefer crocs for our children due to their versatility and comfort. Active kids and flip-flops just don’t go well together.
Best kids shoes for an active vacation : walking, hiking, kayaking, camping
There are four main factors to consider when looking for good shoes for an active vacation. First, what exactly are you planning to do on vacation? You don’t need to buy really expensive hiking boots if you only plan to make one or two short walks with your kids. Better get sturdy walking shoes that will fit most occasions. Second, you have to make sure the shoes are comfortable and sturdy enough so you don’t have to fear twisted ankles. Third, make sure the shoes have good grip. And fourth, consider that the shoes will get wet outdoors – choose waterproof shoes for most outdoor activities and shoes that are water-friendly when kayaking or camping by the river.
Best kids shoes for a winter break
If you buy just one pair of winter shoes for your child, make sure it’s not only water proof, but also sturdy and has a good grip. We don’t buy Moon Boot- type of shoes for our kids anymore – we opt for one pair of really good winter boots instead. These shoes are ideal for ski vacation and any cold-weather destinations like Canada, Alaska or Iceland.
Best children’s shoes for a city trip
Any city trip is synonymous with walking. Lots of walking. You definitely don’t need hiking shoes in the city, in fact it’s better you chose light-weight comfortable shoes for your kids. I would recommend sneakers. Not the Converse type, but good old-fashioned sneakers with a good sole and breathability.
Best kids shoes for Disneyland and other theme parks
I’m leaning towards sneakers as the best shoe option for theme parks. However, if you like water rides a lot, you may want to consider water-friendly sandals instead. Sneakers take a long time to dry and it’s no fun to be walking around in wet shoes.
Travel shoes for girls
We have three boys and try to always chose comfort above style. Luckily they are not (yet) very picky when it comes to clothing. I know that this is not always that easy when you have a girl. Nevertheless, there are many stylish comfortable girls shoes available so you should have no difficulties in finding good travel shoes for your girls. Here are some examples of comfortable girl shoes for your next vacation.
Smart shoes for kids
You may want to pack a pair of smart kids shoes if you are going on a cruise or if you are staying at a really luxurious hotel. In those situations, you may want to pack a really nice outfit as well. Go for good-looking shoes that don’t cost too much as your kids will only wear them on several occasions.
All the recommendations in this post are based on our personal experience when traveling with our three young boys. I hope you find this list helpful!
Here is what we usually pack for our kids when traveling: crocs, sandals and walking shoes or sneakers.
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