A grown woman should not cry in a shoe store but I was tearing up in Benjamin Lovell Shoes in Philly when not one, but eleven boxes of shoes emerged from the stock room in my size. To understand this, you’d need to have size 11 feet like I do and forever hear “we don’t carry size your size” or “we can order that for you”. I was in search of the best travel shoes to bring with me on my adventures out West (Utah, Arizona, Las Vegas) and then to London. Almost every day in travel forums, I see women asking for the “best travel shoes” only to get a plethora of answers from the flimsy cheap flip flop (seriously?) to the ultra-expensive heels (who can walk cobblestones in those?). So what I’m saying is that everybody’s idea of best travel shoes is subjective. For me, as you’ve read, I walk A LOT – hours and hours – when I travel so I need sturdy travel shoes that are easy to pack and comfortable and it doesn’t hurt to hope for stylish.
In Search of the Best Travel Shoes for Me
I’ve fractured my foot in Malta, over exercised to cause planter fasciitis and walked so much at the Expo in Milan that I needed to book a massage at the Westin Milan to feel my feet again. With all the travels I’ve done, one thing I’ve learned is that shoes are an investment in comfort, health and long term happiness. You only need to hurt your foot/feet once to realize how key good shoes with support are for your health. Imagine my surprise when I was invited to the media preview of Benjamin Lovell Shoes in Philadelphia and later asked to test drive their shoe shopping experience in search of the best travel shoes for me. My first question was “do you have these in size 11 (European size 42)”?
Benjamin Lovell New Store Location
The fabulous new Chestnut Street location has Benjamin Lovell Shoes joining iconic Philadelphia clothing stores such as Boyd’s, Joan Shepp, Sophy Curson, South Moon Under and Skirt in the area. Di Bruno’s Italian Market is next door and The Continental Midtown across the street for pre/post shoe shopping drinks/foods. Chestnut Street is constantly evolving as a lifestyle center – one stop shopping for quality boutique fashions.
Welcome to Shoe Nirvana – Style, Brand, Choice – Best Travel Shoes
On my first visit to the store, I was overcome with happiness – happiness to see so many great travel shoe brands from around the world – fly London, Vionic (Australian brand and a recent Oprah favorite things), Waldlaufer and Rieker. This was in addition to the popular Uggs, Dansko, Ecco and Hunter brands. On my second visit, I would learn about new (to me) brands like Taos, Naot, A’rcopedico, L’Amour Des Pieds, each offering stylish shoe designs.
Men: Don’t worry there’s a small but fabulous men’s section of shoes in the back, highlighted by Samuel Hubbard shoes which give men a stylish comfortable shoe with plenty of options. Hey ladies, now you can both shop for fablous shoes together!
I wanted every shoe I picked up because the curation was on point – stylish and refreshing, shoes I probably won’t see my friends wearing but shoes my sister would definitely want to steal. To be honest, I was cheating on my Nordstrom shoe salesman the minute I entered the store. What I would quickly learn is that there is a place for both shoes stores in my life as each feature different brands. Benjamin Lovell showcases brands I should know about and their staff is quite happy to provide background into why. There’s also a higher chance of me walking into Benjamin Lovell and out the door with shoes in hand. Don’t underestimate a woman’s need for instant shoe gratification.
The Shoe Shopping Experience at Benjamin Lovell
I’ve long forgotten about what the shoe shopping experience should be as most stores don’t carry size 11 or have to order them, so I leave emptyhanded and wait on the FedEx man to deliver my shoes to try at home. The staff at Benjamin Lovell reminded me what I was missing as they embraced service from the minute I was welcomed to the store until the minute I left. The service was not intrusive so I was able to browse the shelves on my own and when it seemed I needed assistance, a salesperson approached me and motioned me to sit.
I was offered a drink before being asked to put my foot in the sizer (this is the point when I pray my big feet haven’t gotten bigger) which returned the size 11M that I had indicated when asked (they like to double check). Rather than go around the store and pick all the shoes I was interested in (I’m used to disappointment), I offered a challenge to my salesperson “I need a comfortable, durable walking shoe in black, size 11 for travel – basically the best travel shoe you have”. I figured he would return with two pair of black shoes and a brown pair to “try and we can order in black”. So when he came out with two arms full of boxes over his head, I was giddy.
He unlaced each shoe and placed my foot in each before lacing them up and ensuring fit. At first a bit weird because I’m long used to trying shoes on my own without assistance. It then quickly became “ok put that beautiful shoe on my foot please”. I was then asked to walk around the store for comfort. A few shoes ended up being too big! Imagine that?!
I was introduced to many brands I was unfamiliar with and the store is full of stylish travel shoes that are curated from well-known brands in the boutique shoe space. The shoes at Benjamin Lovell are an investment in your feet and your feet deserve quality materials and comfort with a dash of style. Even in black, shoes can differentiate themselves.
Top Three Best Travel Shoes
So out of the eleven shoe choices I had, I managed to narrow the choices down to three contenders – yes, three! It was a hard choice to make and a new place for me –stuck with choice! Were they stylish? Yes. Could they withstand all my walking? Yes. Easy to pack/fold? Yes. Were they the best travel shoes for me? Yes.
For my trip out West, I knew that I would be in a lot of sand, dirt and dust and the Taos boots were too pretty for me to subject them to that. Could they handle the hiking, the dirt and dust? Absolutely. I would need to wear them as packing would have been tough with carry on only luggage. It was me that didn’t want to get the gorgeous (and comfortable) boots dirty.
The vegan shoes from Portugal by A’rcopedico, fit like a glove, literally encasing my feet in comfort. They could easily fit in my purse but with the hours of walking planned over the two trips, I wasn’t sure about the rain and the torture I would subject them too. They would have been fine, again it was in my head. On the shelf, I wasn’t initially drawn to them so this is where a good salesperson comes into play. He understood my want for best travel shoes and included these in the mix. Good call on his part.
The Waldlaufer (German brand) shoe choices were plentiful so I tried a few pairs. They seemed like a casual sneaker with a punch of style. I don’t wear sneakers so it was an odd option for me to put in the top three for me. They were comfortable, the suede definitely put them in a “winter shoe” category (I was corrected and told they could be worn all year long) and the laces seemed like they might annoy me. Again, on the shelf, not a shoe I was initially drawn to so the salesperson again came through on this one too.
The Winner – Best Travel Shoes for Me
The German brand, Waldlaufer, was the winner. I chose the Waldlaufer Jasmine Black Nubuck shoes (I would double knot the laces). I was a bit apprehensive about the suede and the rain but after being caught in a deluge of rain in London, my feet were dry, the rest of me not so much. I easily packed the shoes in my suitcase and wore the shoes for a week’s worth of walking throughout London – on the streets, through the parks, up/down the stairs to the underground and through the tunnels to/from the trains. At the end of the day, my feet weren’t sore, which was a pleasant surprise. If you can pass the London test, you are a real winner and my feet thank you for that! When I left the Benjamin Lovell shoe store in Philly, I left a new customer carrying a bag with my first pair (not my last) of the best travel shoes for me.
Have you visited Benjamin Lovell shoes in Philly or online yet? Do you have a pair of favorite travel shoes you swear by?
Thank you to the staff of Benjamin Lovell Shoes in Philadelphia for their kindness in hosting me both at the media preview and during my test drive of the shoe shopping experience. I don’t joke when it comes to shoes so, as always, opinions are mine.