If you’re anything like me, packing the right travel shoe always takes much longer than you anticipate. It’s an equal challenge for shoe minimalists as it is shoe fanatics.

On the one hand, you want something classy and versatile. On the other hand, you’ll probably be doing a lot of walking, so you want them to be comfortable. And not just “oh sure, these heels are so comfortable…for heels” comfortable. You want “I could trek up and down hills on these Portuguese cobblestones all day without even feeling it” comfortable.

And that, my friend, is hard to find.

Historically we have come up with two mediocre options:

  1. The white Reeboks

    One way I can always identify a fellow American abroad is by their footwear. Blindingly white, outlandishly large sneakers, perfectly paired with thick white crew socks. It’s scary how consistent it is and yet, sometimes, how unavoidable. Do I want to look like a crazy American tourist, both outing myself and making myself a target for petty street crime, but at the same time have the happiest feet in the world? I admit, there have been times when I’ve sucked it up for the purpose of comfort.

  2. Everything else

    “Reasonably” comfortable sandals. Flats. Wedges. Something local that you pick up at the nearest pocket-sized shoe store. Whatever it is, it’s ok, it’s stylish, but it’s not a godsend. It’s not going to get you through exploring a new place and looking reasonably nice for lunch in between. And you’re probably going to have to bring a few pairs, because they won’t go with everything.

This is where CMUK. comes in.

Sportin’ our CMUKs at the Women in Travel Summit 2015 in Boston. Photo by Marissa Sutera.
Sportin’ our CMUKs at the Women in Travel Summit 2015 in Boston. Photo by Marissa Sutera.

I discovered CMUK at the Women in Travel Summit, where they offered me and the planning team a pair to try on for size (see our disclosure statement here). What I didn’t know was how much I would actually fall in love with them. CMUK. is easily one of the best travel shoes on the market, and the fact that they’re such a new company means there’s still lots of room for perfecting the recipe.

Here are three reasons why CMUK. will become your new favorite travel shoe:

  1. Ok, I admit. They’re cute.

    I’m not a person who cares too much about “cute” things. I always choose functional over beautiful, especially on the road. But there’s something about looking like a local that’s important to me when I travel. I don’t want to stand out. I don’t want to be targeted. I happen to enjoy being asked for directions in places that I’m not from, as if it’s a nod to my ability to seamlessly integrate.

    And let’s face it, locals look cute. They’re not dressed like “travelers”. They’re not wearing fanny paks and limiting their jewelry supply and carrying a rain shell “just in case”. And there’s nothing wrong with doing those things, but sometimes I like to look like I just sauntered over from my apartment down the street. And having a classically cute, functional yet trendy pair of sneakers allows me to do that. I can pair them with a dress, or a pair of capris, or use them for a light jog. And I look like I’m from there.

  1. They’re extremely versatile.

    Of course, I recognize that the day of a traveler is very different from that of any “regular” person. We’re exploring, and that takes quite a bit of activity. We’re walking miles and miles of city streets, or forests, or beaches. We’re popping into coffee shops, musing over museums, meeting new friends for dinner. We don’t have a lot of time to change, and we’re doing a million different things at once.

    It’s great to have a shoe that you can take along for the ride. I’ve hiked with my CMUKs on the hillsides of Hawaii, jogged through the busy streets of Boston, and even paired them with a conference dress (though even I admit that the latter was a bit of a stretch). Regardless, you can use them in a variety of environments, which is just what we need as travelers. AND they’re both hand- and machine-washable, so you can keep them squeaky clean even in your hotel room.

  1. They pack well

    When you’re flying RyanAir or Spirit and every inch of space in your carry-on matters, there are two reasons why you’re going to love CMUK. First of all, with shoes that fit a variety of outfits, you only need to pack one pair. Second of all, they pack incredibly well. You can flatten them almost entirely just by smushing them down with your hand and, unlike other comparable shoes, these will spring back to life once your [very full] suitcase is opened.

Not only do I love CMUK, but I’m proud to share that they’ll be our special guest at this week’s upcoming #GirlsTravel chat on Twitter. We’ll be able to talk about “exploring feet first” and meet the CMUK team.  Make sure to join us on Monday at 6pm GMT (currently 2pm Eastern) using the hashtag #girlstravel to participate – they might even be giving away a pair of CMUKs to one lucky winner.

Not only that, but CMUK is our newest preferred partner in the Wanderful membership program, and they’ve offered a special discount to all of our pro members. That’s how much they love our community of women who travel.

Have you ever tried CMUK? What’s your favorite travel shoe?