After 3 Years On the Road, What’s In My Bag? (Part 3: Shoes)

Rose Ernst
7 min readSep 20, 2023
© Rose Ernst, 2023.

Can you imagine how easy packing would be without shoes?

Many autistic people hate wearing shoes, so deciding what shoes to pack for travel seems like a double insult!

One can dream, but in my experience of full-time traveling for four years, even the most minimalist among us probably still needs two pairs.

How do I (almost) achieve packing light? For me, it’s sneakers (comfortable walking shoes), flats, flip-flops, and slide sandals.

But if I had to narrow it further, I could get by with (1) sneakers and (2) walkable waterproof sandals.

Here’s my equation for packing travel shoes: comfort + compact + practical = best shoe options.

So what are the best travel shoes? Read on for my shoe capsule wardrobe reasons.

You can also read about which clothes and tech gear I pack as a nomad.

The Wild Card For Packing Shoes: The Weather

Before we get into my full-time nomad packing tips, let’s discuss seasons and weather.

If you’re traveling year-round in a tropical location, then lucky you — you might get away with a well-built pair of sandals. Or, you might be nomading in an icy climate, which means you’ll pack winter boots.

Packing shoes for a Europe trip is a different matter, however. Even warm climates like Italy, Albania, Turkey, Portugal, or Spain have colder, wetter weather in the winter months.

Here’s my (imperfect) solution.

1. Sneakers

© Rose Ernst, 2023.

I’d love to have more stylish sneakers, but (a) I wear out sneakers very fast, (b) they need to be relatively inexpensive, and © they need to be light.

Since sneakers take up the most room of anything I own, I wear them on travel days (except for a few hot days in the summer).

Scottish weather is the reason I have this pair: a tiny hole in the bottom of my shoes led to soaked socks, which led to a desperate…