We Tried These Shoes Travel Experts Like Rick Steves Swear By. Here's What We Think

Despite working in the travel industry for nearly a decade — first as a flight attendant and then as a full-time travel writer — finding the perfect balance between comfort and style remains one of my greatest challenges when packing for a trip. Over the years, I've tried time and time again to master the art of packing light. Most of the time, I manage to stuff all of my belongings in one carry-on suitcase, regardless of whether I am embarking on a weekend getaway or a month-long adventure.

Selecting the perfect clothing to mix and match a variety of outfits comes easily, but I always run into a roadblock when it comes to packing the perfect shoes. I've long searched for the ideal kicks to help pare down my packing. Travel experts, including the iconic Rick Steves, often recommend a comfortable and stylish Danish footwear brand that's been around since the 1960s. I decided to take some of the expert's advice and try out a pair of Ecco's– and they might just be the perfect marriage between style and practicality.

Fashion and function

I love expressing myself through my personal style, and it isn't something I'm willing to sacrifice while traveling. Unfortunately for me, my favorite shoes aren't always the most practical choices. For years, I tried to get away with rocking cute heeled booties and platform espadrilles to every destination, resulting in multiple twisted ankles from walking on cobblestone streets. Lately, I began squeezing in a few more sensible options like Birkenstocks and the best hiking boots, so I've been hauling around four pairs of shoes nearly everywhere I go.

On my last big international trip, my carry-on was so overstuffed that I had to take a pair of shoes out and hold them on my lap for the duration of the flight so that my suitcase would fit in the overhead bin. Talk about embarrassing! I'm finally starting to realize that when it comes to shoes for travel, you want to find one pair that works in various scenarios to avoid overpacking your suitcase. Enter the Ecco Women's Soft 7 Sneaker. This sleek shoe features a cool Scandinavian design that is totally timeless. They pair equally well with my flowy bohemian sundresses and cute vintage jeans. I chose a pair in a rich brown color, but I may order a second pair in classic white. I wore them on an easy hike and they felt comfortable. They're stylish enough to wear while traipsing around Europe and popping into elegant cafés, but practical enough for spending a full day on my feet.

Comfort and durability

Ecco makes a wide range of shoes, including athletic-style sneakers, boots, ballet flats, and sandals. The company prides itself on quality and design and aims to be "the leading premium brand for shoes and leather goods," according to its website.

The Soft 7 Sneaker is available in versions for both men and women. They are constructed from full-grain and nubuck leather, which feel durable and high-quality right out of the box. If you want to avoid animal products, these shoes wouldn't be for you because the leather is 100% natural. That being said, Ecco owns and operates its leather tanneries and prioritizes sustainability. They've even developed a new tanning process that reduces waste and water usage. The shoes are crafted to last for many years, aligning with slow-fashion principles.

My Eccos were comfortable right out of the box and fit my (somewhat) wide feet well. I usually wear a U.S. size 7 ½ and ordered the EU size 38. I'd say size down if you're between sizes because they seem to run slightly large. I felt the leather was somewhat stiff when I first put them on, but I'm confident they'll break in nicely. Furthermore, they have garnered a cult following with over 4,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. A full-price pair will cost you about $170, but you can often find them on sale online and in-store. If you're looking for a great pair of multi-purpose travel shoes, it's worth giving the Ecco Soft 7 Sneaker a try.