Let's face it. The real reason you have to check your bag is shoes. Shoes take up a lot of room, especially when you need to be prepared for a variety of activities and weather conditions. Don't fret – packing light is possible.
Here are 10 hard-working pairs that can get you through pretty much anything (and won't take up your entire suitcase). To them, the world is flat.
Royal by Pikolinos
Honestly, if you had a wardrobe of nothing but Pikolinos, you'd still get through life happily. The all-around best shoes I've found for traveling, they're made of buttery soft leather and crafted in the juiciest hues. They're super-comfortable and supportive, whether running through airports or strolling unpaved streets.
And even when you're wilting, they look smart and fresh, thanks to the signature cleaning sponge that comes with each pair. I love this slip-on so much, I've worn it with jeans, leggings, dresses, pajamas...you name it.
Sloop by French Sole
The shoe equivalent of the little black dress, these little black flats are a basic necessity. Okay, they also come in a kaleidoscope of gorgeous colors and I couldn't resist giving you a taste.
French Sole has been making ballet flats for more than 30 years, and no one does it better. Don't mistake their good looks for lack of substance, though. A cushioned rubber sole gives them major street smarts.
The Point by Rothy's
What could be better than shoes that not only look good and feel good, but also do good? You would never guess that these knitted beauties by Rothy's are actually made from recycled plastic water bottles.
They're surprisingly soft and as comfy as slippers. And tossing them in a carry-on – or a washing machine – is as seamless as the shoes themselves, making them the perfect travel companions.
Alta by Khombu
The official brand of the U.S. Ski Team, Khombu makes boots that not only keep your feet cozy and dry while you play in the snow or "ooh" and "ah" over the Northern Lights, but also feel just as good aprés cold-weather activities. Lightweight and easily packable, this mid-boot is lined in faux fur and features a draw-cord closure to wrap your legs in warmth.
Vienna by Yosi Samra
Having to attend formal events during a trip used to add a whole other challenge to packing – until now. These velvet Yosi Samra ballet flats in jewel tones like teal, mink, ruby and, of course, black are dressy enough for almost any occasion and – wait for it – they're foldable! It's like a holiday miracle!
Note: They also come in dozens of other styles, fabrics and colors so you can keep a pair in every bag you own.
Star by Taos
Living up to their name, these great-looking Taos canvas sneakers are likely to become your star go-to pair, whether you're traveling around the corner or around the world.
The Curves & Pods premium removable footbed provides balance, stability and amazing arch support. You'll be glad they come in more than a dozen colors and patterns since you'll want more than one pair.
Elias by Sigerson Morrison
If you're lucky enough to be traveling somewhere warm, these pretty lace-up flats from Sigerson Morrison will keep your feet looking and feeling cool. They add a touch of sophistication to shorts and t-shirts, but are equally at home going out to dinner at the trendiest new spot in Rome or Sydney. Plus, they take up practically no space in your suitcase.
Dakota by Therafit
Therafit knows that nothing ruins a trip faster than aching feet, so they've created shoes that let you "customize" the level of support that works best for you.
This suede ankle boot, accredited by the National Posture Institute and approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association, will get you through the winter and help relieve pain from plantar fasciitis and other heel and arch ailments. Happy feet in fashionable shoes? Now, that's a real feat.
Eliza Hegli by Waldläufer
This modern take on the iconic penny loafer, from Waldläufer, combines patent leather and nubuck in an orthotic-friendly shoe that gives you the freedom to walk all day – and night – in style and comfort. Penny for your thoughts? You'll likely be thinking how grateful you are to be wearing these as you run from one Paris museum to another.
Horizon by Bzees
Bzees Cloud Technology and Free Foam Footbeds give your tootsies a rest even when you're playing tourist non-stop. These water-resistant boots can be smushed into your suitcase and, when they're covered with dirt from a walk in the woods, they can be thrown into the washing machine and ready for your next adventure in no time.