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Tips to prevent sore feet while traveling

When you take off for work or play, whether it’s a car trip to the next town or a long flight across an ocean, nothing can ruin a vacation jaunt quite like sore, aching feet.

Woman wearing sandals on vacation

Many variables can make or break the mood for your traveling tootsies, so let’s get up to speed on the best ways to keep feet happy and healthy while traveling.

Foot care

You may want to pay for a professional service in a salon or spa or perform your own pedicure the day before your trip. By making sure toenails are trimmed and dead skin is exfoliated (Use a skin care scrub or a foot file on any calloused areas. Using the foot file on DRY feet is the most effective way to remove dead skin. NEVER cut or let anyone else cut any of the skin on your feet with a razor device. They are awful and can cause a major foot injury, which is not what you need when you are about to leave town!) then moisturized, you set the stage for feet that are happy and healthy.

Dr. Andrew Weil, world-renowned integrative medicine doctor, recommends the following steps for happy feet at home or on the road:

  • Wash your feet daily with lukewarm water and mild soap; dry well, especially between the toes.
  • Use a cream or lanolin lotion to keep the skin of your feet smooth and exfoliate regularly especially around your heels and big toes; talk to your doctor about any cracks in the skin.
  • Never walk barefoot (which can increase your chances of contracting a fungus).
  • Don’t let your feet get too hot or too cold.
  • When selecting summer shoes and sandals, aim for those with a wide toe box and arch supports or orthotics that prevent the foot from rolling in when you walk.

It’s wise to pack a foot care kit with bandages, a nail file, nail clippers and a cooling foot lotion. Antibiotic cream is also a good idea.

Take precautions with air travel

Some people experience painful leg and foot swelling, especially during long flights. Preventive suggestions include avoiding salt and wearing support stockings if necessary. Taking the time to get up and move around while in the air helps to keep circulation going, making for less chance of swelling. You also should flex and extend your feet and ankles and even raise knees while flying if you have the room to do so.


As I’ve grown older and experienced a knee issue that required surgery a few years ago, I’ve truly learned that shoes do make a difference in how your legs, knees and feet feel on a daily basis. Taking a trip is the very last time you want to take any chances with shoes, period. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t plan to break in new shoes or wear shoes you already know are not very comfortable because they are “sooooo cute” as you jet off on your travel soiree. It’s best to opt for low-heeled shoes with arch and heel support.

On a recent trip, I walked all over town in a great pair of sandals from Orthaheel. I usually have to wear a knee support if I’m doing all manner of walking while on vacation but these well-crafted shoes provided an excellent level of support for my legs and feet that rendered my knee support useless! I can’t say enough about how comfortable and supportive they are, plus they look great with dresses or jeans. Podiatrist and Orthaheel founder Phil Vasyli has also created the Vionic, a sporty shoe choice, clinically shown to reduce pronation, which can improve foot function and relieve associated aches and pains. Another great option for shoes that support your feet and your sense of style is Aetrex Footwear. This leading orthotic and footwear company has combined their expertise in podiatry and fashion to offer sandals that are designed with memory foam, ensuring an equal distribution of pressure to the feet and an anatomically shaped footbed that eliminates pressure and friction.

You may need to add insoles or even custom orthotics to your own shoes if they are lacking in that department. Again, break these in long before you hit the highway or board the 747 for your vacation. Proper arch and heel support go a long way toward preventing sore feet, especially if you are walking on uneven surfaces. Ballet flats and flip flops come to mind when I consider some of the most unsupportive shoes out there, so you should certainly reconsider if those are your go-tos for travel footwear.

Making your feet a priority when you travel will certainly save you a lot of heartache and help you to enjoy your time away from home. Follow these easy steps to prevent sort feet while traveling and be sure to share them with all of your family and friends. Happy Trails!

More on foot care

Pamper and polish: Get your feet ready for sandal season
Easing foot pain: Best advice is change your shoes
Are your high heels hurting your health?

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