By Jane Lasky

A colleague who traveled with me in Madrid was quite the style maven, a full on fashionista. This sartorial slave changed clothes thrice a day and she changed shoes even more than that. After two transformations in a single morning, I began keeping tabs on this glam business traveler’s footwear. By the end of the four-day trip, I noted twelve different pairs.

Comparing my paltry trio of choices with her mighty dozen, I began suffering shoe envy. What I did not suffer was aching feet.

After more than three decades on the road–and usually on the run–what shoes to pack is one very important consideration. For me, this wasn’t always the case when looking pretty definitely trumped being comfortable.

No more. These days I am more apt to leave the land of style in order to get through my trip while still being able to walk.

Thank goodness for my Sketchers. Even though these shoes are technically sneakers, the versions I buy look appropriate for many work situations since they resemble traditional Mary Jane flats, equipped with small straps and Velcro closures.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that when I need to get my Sketchers off in short order they can be a real pain in the, uh, well you know…and hence why I own a pair of Hush Puppies ballet flats in shiny bright red.

These beauties stay on my feet as I begin to pass through airport security, a joy since they are easily slipped off and into the designated bin for closer inspection. Another plus is that the pretty patent shoes are not only orthopedically correct but they also give my all black wardrobe a punch of color and, thus, extra style too.

Then there are my traveling shoes that I depend on once air bound. Made by Bernardo, these pewter leather foot covers do the job of slippers yet still resemble dress shoes. Bendable thanks to pliable rubber soles, these wonders can be handily stowed in my carry-on in their own protective cover when not in use.

For sure, the right shoe worn for business travel is a fine way to keep your feet from failing you. However, there are other grounding aspects of foot fashion to consider, like:

* It is imperative to break in a new pair of shoes before taking a journey.

You only need to learn this lesson once, like I did in Paris where I purchased a beautiful pair of purple pumps on my first full day there. Eager to show these treasures off to colleagues, I put them on the morning I bought them and proceeded to wear them into the night. My feet festered with blisters which meant that the following day I could hardly walk, let alone put my feet back into the pair of shoes I so eagerly purchased the day before.

* There is nothing better for the prevention or cure of aching feet than a foot massage even if that means a quickie in the middle of the afternoon. I opted for that option on a Tokyo trip during which time fifteen-minute foot massages for weary shoppers were available in a mall within a minute’s walk from my hotel. I indulged, emerging with more energy than I ever expected. The treatment literally put a spring in my step.

* If you don’t have the opportunity to partake in a massage, try some simple exercises to get those old dogs into top shape. One I like means packing a golf ball which can be used to roll under one foot and then the other. To avoid getting hurt during this experience, I do this routine sitting rather than standing.

A second exercise means dropping some marbles or stones or any small objects on the floor and then picking them up, one-by-one, with my toes. The result? A foot work-out that tops my list.

* Go barefoot. A podiatrist once informed me that going without shoes can help build muscles, not only in the feet, but all over the body. So, as soon as I hit my hotel room, my shoes are shed only to make an appearance where other people are involved.

Image: Wikipedia