Blisters the size of small rodents start occupying your heel like the 99 percent on Wall Street. Laces break, sending you into a confused daze, until you’re pulling a Tonya Harding and crying to the judges.
Only there’s no re-skates on vacation. You can’t go back and hike the pyramids with less blister. When you’re having a once in a lifetime experience, you’re going to have to power through whatever problems your shoe might be causing.
Photo of “Sad Shoe” via Moonrat42 on flickr
A hole warn in a well-loved shoe can cause sudden giant blister onset. A pair of flip-flops that have held steady through thousands of beach walks lose their straps. A heel pops off those ‘great value’ boots you picked up in a street market in China. Yes, these have all happened to me, while traveling. I’ve never let these incidents slow me down, and you shouldn’t either.
You can thank me later for not actually posting a picture of the rodent-sized blister from my recent trip to Mexico, but I will vouch for it’s size by pointing out that I had to eventually pop it before its time had come because it grew large enough that I no longer fit into my shoes. I was a size bigger, what with the puss-filled extension on my heel.
Three tools to fix shoe and foot problems while traveling
1) Duct Tape
As a former ski racer, I live and die by the motto that duct tape fixes everything, but one spot it really excels at is blisters. Not only can you duct tape over holes in the shoe or hold together loose pieces with the sticky substance, it is the single best cure for hot spots and blisters.
The adhesive is strong enough that it is actually sweat-proof, meaning it won’t slide around in your stinky shoe, even when you’re hoofing it across town or up a mountain. The shiny side on the outside minimizes any friction, sliding in your shoes, instead of rubbing.
The sooner you get that duct tape on, the less likely it is to get to the stage I let mine get to—resulting in blister popping with an earring and antibacterial gel in a Mexico City hotel room. If you’re wondering, the Spanish word for duct tape is ‘cinta de ducta.’ and it can be found for 36 pesos (about $2.50).
2) A hairband Unless you’re one of those people with adorable pixie cuts that they never need to touch, you probably already have a hairband with you when traveling. What you might not have known is that it can solve any number of shoe-related problems. It was past 11pm on the streets of Rome when my friend’s flip-flop busted. We had a 5am train to catch and six hours of red bull and vodka ahead of us (we were 20, okay?). With the strap pulled out of the bottom of his flip-flop and our gear already checked at the train station, we needed to fix it. Hairband to the rescue. By doubling it round the strap, then slipping it over the sole, the sandal was, while not perfect, at least wearable for the evening.
A more common problem (you’re not often roaming Rome at midnight?) is the broken lace. The stretch of a ponytail holder is perfect for tying an entire shoe together. Cut it, lace it through the lace around the middle to top of the shoe, then tie it on. You’ll be golden until you locate the next shoelace store (or, in the case of much of the third world, a large general market).
3) A good pair of insoles Ok, I’ve told you about this before. A good pair of insoles can make any pair of shoes instantly more comfortable. It makes buying $7 boots at a Chinese street market way less risky. If, like me, you run an 0-7 record of spraining your ankle on cobblestone streets, having a solid insole can keep you much steadier. If you do start to develop a blister, changing the insoles can change how your foot sits in the shoe or boot and keep the hot spot from worsening. I’m not going to say that insoles fix everything, but they’re a little like the bacon of the shoe world. Everything’s better with insole. Not quite the same ring, but you get the idea.
Now that you’ve read my stories and heard my tips, I want to hear from you! What’s your worst shoe disaster? How did you fix it? What’s your top tip?
Add a comment