Well, hello! Aaron and I just walked in the door from a trip to Florida (we enjoyed some time on the beach and took our nieces to Harry Potter World, eep!), and we’re about to turn around and head out again — this time to New York City for a little romantic getaway, just the two of us. Travel season has officially hit the Rector house, and smart packing is at the top of my mind.
I’ll share my packing lists from both Florida and New York soon. But in the meantime, I wanted to talk shoes and travel, since we all know shoes take up a chunk of real estate in the ol’ suitcase, and they can be tough to narrow down. Today I’ll share:
- The Wear One, Pack One formula I use to travel with just two pairs of shoes
- The type of shoe I pack for almost every single trip I take (spoiler alert: it’s sneakers!)
- Three guidelines to help you pick your ideal travel sneaker
Ready? Let’s jump in!
(And if you end up enjoying this post, you can shop it and support Unfancy at the same time by using the affiliate links throughout the post.)
THE WEAR ONE, PACK ONE FORMULA
I was introduced to the Wear One, Pack One formula by Jessica from The Belle Voyage, and it’s just as simple as it sounds. You travel with two pairs of shoes — a pair on your feet and a pair in your suitcase.
I try to use this formula for most of my trips. Not that I always meet that goal — sometimes it’s more like wear one, pack two…or three. :) To me, it’s not about adhering to a strict rule or forcing minimalism. Instead, I’ve found it to be a valuable starting point, no matter how many shoes I actually end up taking. It’s a fascinating thought experiment — it gets me thinking creatively and inspires me to do more with less.
Almost without fail, my Wear One, Pack One formula is:
- a pair of sneakers
- a pair of sandals (for warmer weather) OR a pair of booties (for cooler weather)
And that’s it! But notice, sneakers are the constant. They are my go-to travel shoe. No matter the trip, I always find them to be the most valuable + versatile shoe I can travel with.
Take a look below for a few examples of the Wear One, Pack One formula for different trips, plus styling notes on each one.
VISITING THE FAM
Treasure & Bond Slide Sandals (available in more colors) // I have these in black and wear them with everything — cutoffs, dresses, jeans, you name it. The cushioned footbed is super comfortable for walking, and somehow they are just the right amount of chic and easy. They work dressed up (with a cute dress for a family dinner) or dressed down (with cutoffs and a tee for a game of cornhole in the backyard).
Vans High Tops // I love a good high top, and a casual family trip is the perfect opportunity to break them out. I’d style this all-white pair with a short, casual dress for an afternoon of shop-hopping downtown with my sister-in-law, or pair them with black skinny jeans and a tee to go to the movies, or wear them with athletic shorts for a brisk morning walk with my mom.
Bryr Clogs (available in more colors, made responsibly) // Clogs for a wedding, sign me up! I imagine pairing them with a fantastic jumpsuit, like this wrap one or this yellow one. Plus I could style them with a bodysuit and wide leg silk pants for the rehearsal dinner, or with a tee and crop jeans for the post-wedding brunch.
Veja Sneakers (made responsibly) // When it’s time for the after party, I love the idea of slipping on a mini dress with clean white sneakers — so cool, low-key, and ready for a night of dancing. Plus, they’ll pair well with comfy joggers for the plane ride (or car ride) back home. I’ve had a pair of Vejas for three years now — I love ’em, wear them all the time, and they are holding up great.
TO THE BEACH!
Reef flip flops // Durable flip flops that can get sandy and wet without missing a beat? A must for any beach trip. But it’s also nice when they can pull double duty as a chic, minimal sandal. Just give ’em a good rinse and pair them with your favorite sundress for dinner.
Nisolo Slip On Sneakers (made responsibly) // Easy to slip on, easy to slip off — perfect for the airport. They’d also be great paired with cutoffs for a bike ride, market run, or whatever little jaunts happen to come up. Bonus: Nisolo sneakers have Vibram soles to keep your feet comfy and supported.
SIGHTSEEING IN THE CITY
Born Sandals (on sale, available in more colors) // These sandals may look minimal, but they are soft, cushy, and ideal for a day of walking. I love the nude color because they look a little chicer than they actually are.
Zuzii Grey Sneakers (available in more colors, made responsibly) // These are the sneakers I’m wearing in this post — clean lines and minimal design for the win! Plus the dark color means you don’t have to worry about getting them dirty in a big city. These sneaks are part of the Virtual Pop Up Sale that my friend Morgan of @thegarmentlife is currently hosting. If you’ve been around Unfancy for a while, you know Morgan hosts a Pop-Up each season to connect women with responsibly made clothes. So anytime between now and May 24th you can get 10% off these sneakers with code UNFANCY10.
HOW TO PICK A VERSATILE TRAVEL SNEAKER
Here are the three guidelines I like to keep in mind when picking out a travel sneaker:
- Look for a sneaker without any logos. If you’re considering a pair of Vans or Vejas, and going logo-less isn’t an option, look for a tone on tone shoe — like an all-white sneaker with white logos.
- Go with a neutral — white, black, grey, or tan — to maximize versatility.
- Try a slim-fitting, non-bulky shoe — they work with dresses just as well as they work with yoga pants.
What I’m wearing:Bandana by Madewell // White Tee gifted by Vetta (made responsibly) // Shorts by Aritzia // Grey Sneakers gifted by Zuzii (made responsibly, 10% off with code UNFANCY10) // Straw Bag gifted by Story Weaver Mercantile (made responsibly) // Sunglasses by RayBan
• • •
And there you have it!
So tell me, how do you choose which shoes to bring when you travel? Do you think you might try out the Wear One, Pack One formula on your next trip?
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the rest of Morgan’s Pop Up Sale if you’re interested. You can get 10% off at seven different small shops that focus on small batch, responsible clothing:
Zuzii Footwear (those grey sneakers I’m wearing, plus beautiful clogs)
Tradlands (tomboy basics with a Madewell vibe)
Winter Session (canvas and leather goods)
Jamie and the Jones (minimalist clothes in a rainbow of colors)
Encircled (soft knits, tees, and activewear)
Nettle’s Tale (swimwear)
Les Sublimes (french wardrobe staples)
Simply enter the code COMMUNITY10 at checkout to get 10% off your order — the same code works for any of the clothes in all seven shops, and it’s good through May 24th.
Any comfy no-show, no-slipping-all-day-long socks you can recommend?
I wear the smartwool hide and seek. I have them in natural and black for when I’m wearing white sneakers or black booties.
Ooh! Thanks for the recs! I’ll check them out!
Smartwool (and DarnTough) no-show socks! Harder to find DarnTough in neutral colors though. I live in these, even in the Summer.
Everyone’s feet are different, so it’s hard to speak across the board, but I love Smartwool and Pair of Thieves for no-show socks that stay in place. :)
Thank you! I’m going to try them. BTW– got Vejas because of you and love them.
just delighted to see an Unfancy new post!
I definitely subscribe to this philosophy but how do you work in room for workout shoes? The last trip I took (5 days 4 nights) I took a pair of sandals and wore my running shoes on the plane, and of course ended up wearing sandals all the time except for the 2 times I worked out… I packed a lo & sons omg bag and had a medium sized purse besides that so I didn’t have much room to spare…
Yes I definitely need to have a pair of work out shoes too. Not sure I could do the 2 shoe rule if working out on a trip… ?
Great question! I try to wear a sneaker that can pull double duty as a casual sneaker and a workout shoe. My travel workouts are usually centered around yoga, walking, light weight lifting, etc. and I can do just about all of those in the shoes I mentioned in the post. However! I totally get that running in those shoes wouldn’t be comfortable, so if that’s your workout style, they probably wouldn’t be the best option. :) If I do take a trip where running is probable, I pack my Nike Flyknits — http://bit.ly/2wYesCm — I wrap a compression strap around them so that they pack down super small and don’t take up much room in my suitcase.
This definitely breaks the 2-shoe rule, but I love Vivo Barefoot sneakers for working out on vacation and for my daily workouts, too. They are designed for barefoot running but can do a lot more. I’m a college professor in the city, and so pack all of my workout gear into a small wet/dry bag. I nest my gear into my work tote alongside my stack student essays, lecture materials, my lunch and my own research materials! Vivos aren’t for everyone but if you practice yoga, HIIT, or just run on the treadmill, I think they are great! If I forget my shoes I just do plyometric training in socks, but I’d clear that with your doctor or trainer first.
Traditionally, I am not much of a sneaker fan … BUT I just recently bought a pair of Supergra sneaks and they are my new FAVOURITE! I decided on white to keep in neutral and have worn them every day since getting them. This weekend I wore them with a jumpsuit (not something I would normally try) and loved the more casual look for a Sunday of errands and family time.
Great tips, Caroline. I love the idea of wear one pack one. Actually, on my last work trip, during the winter, I wore one and packed 0. It’s so much easier to pack light without having shoes in the equation!
Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 says
I usually do 3 pairs. For my upcoming Gulf Shores trip, I’ll likely do Supergas, Chacos, and a dressier pair of sandals or ballet flats. My feet need variety for comfort, and that way, I likely have at least two pair which are appropriate for any circumstance.
Can you comment on the sizing of the zuzii sneakers. I wear 7.5 but I see they only offer whole sizes. Do you size up or down?
I’m usually a 7 in sandals and a 7.5 in boots or sneakers, so I sized up to an 8. They are a teeny tiny bit loose — I have a feeling the 7 would have “fit” perfectly, but again, I prefer a little extra room in my close toe shoes because of a foot surgery I had years ago. I’d rather them a tad too loose than encroaching on my toes. :)
I tried them on at Morgan’s try on party. I’m a 6.5/7 and would have gone with a 6.
All great tips. Will remember these when I am trying to pack light!
What cute options!
This is such a great idea! I always think about packing less shoes but it tends to become ‘wear one pair of sneakers… pack 5 extra pairs in different colors just in case.’ To which I proceed to only wear my black converse the entire trip and regret bringing all of the extras ?
Ha, I think this partly depends on how big your feet are?!! I have ENORMOUS feet – so I very rarely take more than two pairs of shoes anywhere – always one pair to wear whilst travelling and one pair packed – just like you say in this post. The only really exceptions are maybe an extra pair of flip-flops if going to the beach, and slippers if going to see family….but even with big feet, they’re so skinny they hardly take up any room in my bag. So I reckon those of you with teeny tiny feet could easily squeeze in another pair if you wanted!
That’s so true! I have a European size 42.5 (US 11?) and I always wear one pair and pack one pair, or none, when travelling :D
I once ended up in a restaurant in my snowboots, but hey I was on holiday :D
Melanie D says
That outfit is such an inspiration, and that home decor….just love! By any chance, do you know the name of the paint color on the walls? I am in the process of renovating and just love it! Thank you.
Thank you! The paint color is Rare And Radiant from the Sherwin Williams HGTV line at Lowe’s. :)
Caroline, how do the Zuzii sneakers run? Did you order your true size?
I have been pining for a pair of clogs for a couple years now, but am so undecided as to which brand to go with. Have you tried the Zuzii clogs? I want a pretty clog, but not one so delicate that it’s not going to last. I’ve heard the Byr ones are beautiful, but don’t hold up as well as, say, No 6.
I haven’t tried the Zuzii clogs, but I do get the impression that they are the most comfortable clogs out of the bunch (Bryr, No. 6, etc.). My Bryr’s have held up great over the years, but I treat them a little more like occasion or dress shoes. Hope that helps! :)
Patricia Kay says
Always a fresh perspective from you & a boost of confidence in choices…. takes me into new territory & out of “stuck”!
Love the categories & the visuals & tips for each.
Excited to see the packing lists as well!
Curious about those Born sandals – they have a similar look to a pair of Nisolos that didn’t work out for me (plus Born products are SO comfortable). I may have to give them a shot!
First off, I love your blog! You have helped me get rid of so much unwanted/unneeded stuff in my house and helped me to realize how unneccessary the “extra shopping” really is. Quality over quantity!!! It’s been a process, and I always look forward to your new posts! I was wondering, do your zuzuii sneakers have much support? How would you rate their arch support? Love them so much, but worry about total comfort.
Thank you for everything you give us readers! xoxo
Just ordered the adorable shoes you linked with the coupon code – hope they are just as comfy as they are cute!
Can’t wait for your post on a packing list for your beach trip – prepping for mine coming up in a few weeks!
Kathy Sc says
I’m so glad you are posting. You find the cutest things that are … well, un-fancy,,, and make them look incredible. I just ordered the black slides.
Back to back travel is a constant for me. As we speak I’m in an airport at 5am for a flight. I’ve used the wear one, pack one theory for years. Shoes and clothes even. For a 3 day project site trip it’s amazing how pulled together we can be with a little planning. Plus so liberating to do a carry on that I can actually lift! Nice post! -Laurel
Love this post, Caroline! Especially your picks for travel sneakers – I just might have to add one of them to my shopping cart! I’m so glad you found my post helpful and thanks so much for sharing it with your readers :-). Sometimes people think I’m crazy for trying to travel with only two pairs of shoes….but I swear by it!
If you have to bring a workout shoe for running, as others have mentioned here, that definitely can throw a curve ball in your packing plans, but I do the same thing that you do with my Nike Fly Knits – I own them as well, and they’re amazing for packing because they’re so light. Enjoy the rest of your travels this summer!! Cheers, Jessica
How do you like the Vetta tee? I’m considering their Apron Jumpsuit but haven’t read many reviews of the company yet.
I normally go for the wear one pack one but, my one exception will be on our trip to Paris. I am so excited! I will wear a leather shoe of some sort on the plane this is after having someones heavy bag from the overhead bin land on my toe. The pain was so fun! I was wearing open toe shoes at the time. So I have found that most anything with some thick leather works well to avoid the oh my gosh I think my toe might be broken. Thankfully .
I just love your writing and how informative your posts are . Brava!
Dress The Part
Going on a trip this weekend with just handluggage, and that is no problem. BUT, we are going on a two week trip this summer with handluggage only, and that will be exciting! To Malta and Crete, so I am thinking summer clothes, casual but smart. Clothes should be fine, but shoes is always a bit difficult! Wondering if I can manage with two pairs only. Not much of a sneaker fan, but I love Toms and they actually feel very comfortable to walk in for long days, and I have very problematic feet…
I liked this post a lot. I am good at packing light and very often travel with just two pairs of shoes, but the fact of seeing it defined in the Wear One, Pack One formula helped me have a clearer vision. In fact I am leaving today for the weekend and if it were not for your post I would have probably done 1 + 2, but you helped me question whether I really needed that third pair (answer: no). So sneakers and ballerina flats it is! And I am really happy to see that you are back to blogging, I really missed your posts.
I love this formula! I always wear my heavier shoe when travelling, so as to save space. In the summer though, it’s a pair of Po-Zu sneakers and some simple flip-flops!
Besma | http://www.curiouslyconscious.com
Nathan Marshall says
OMG thank you so much for sharing this post! I’m going for a one week trip to Prague and I really want to pack light this time and will use your tips.
Great tips, I love the idea of wear one pack one. Actually, on my last work trip, during the winter, I wore one and packed 0. It’s so much easier to pack light without having shoes in the equation.
This is a great philosophy, because, HEY, shoes are HEAVY (and take up space!)!!! I, too, travel with two. For my summer beach vacation this year, I packed just 2 pairs of flip flops (American-made, of course! lol!), so that was quite minimalist for me! I’m getting better at this…
I use the pack one and wear one trick for other items too! Like jackets and thick sweaters. Such a space saver.
http://www.hintofgrey.com | Hint of Grey
I love the look of white sneakers like your Vans and Vejas, but struggle to keep them looking fresh and clean. Any tips? I’ve heard of having sneakers dry-cleaned, which sounds easy enough in theory but realistically I can’t see myself following through on that on a regular basis.