The Essential Travel Shoe: Allbirds Wool Loungers

By Nanette Wong

The following post is brought to you by Allbirds. Our partners are hand picked by the Design Milk team because they represent the best in design.

As I travel more and more, traveling light and efficiently have become my main priority. Gone are those days of lugging giant suitcases filled to the brim with clothes that are never worn. Instead, I’ll now go to Europe on a ten-day excursion with just a carry-on and my backpack.

However, that does mean one thing—I can no longer bring excess clothing or multiple pairs of shoes for those “just in case” situations. You know—one ‘stylish’ pair, one everyday pair, one pair for in case my everyday pair starts to hurt my feet, and one more just for fun. Like furniture, I need shoes that combine form and function—all day comfort, and can be worn from daytime sightseeing to nighttime bar hopping. I have multiple ‘stylish’ sneakers, but you never know what the rules are in different countries, and if I might get kicked out of a fancy restaurant for my sneaker faux pas. So now what?

Enter, the Wool Lounger from Allbirds. You might remember me raving about the Allbirds Wool Runners last year (in fact, half of our team owns a pair and Jaime has two!), so to say I was excited about their latest shoe is an understatement. It combines the comfort and softness of a slipper with the style of a trendy, slip-on shoe. They have more of a clean, polished look that can carry you to more places (stylistically) than the Runners can. With an upcoming trip to Paris and Berlin, two very different cities with very different styles, it was the perfect trip to take my new Loungers for a spin.

Off the bat, the Loungers were already so easy to travel with. Because they don’t have any laces, they can be compressed very tightly and don’t take up much space. Also, because you don’t need to wear socks with them, that means less to pack. Since I had one other pair of bulkier shoes, I wore those for the plane and packed my Wool Loungers. However, they would’ve been great for the airplane, since they’re essentially like socks! For reference, I packed for the 10 days and two different weather climates into one carry-on.

My adventure began in Paris, style capital of the world. Fortunately, you can see the Loungers fit right in with the cool kids. More importantly, no blisters or wrecked feet despite hours of walking. The Loungers maintained all day comfort, and my feet weren’t super sweaty, despite the warm spring weather.

I was able to wear them successfully to a high-end restaurant as well, without being asked to leave ;). What also stands out about the Loungers is their ability to adapt to microclimates. Due to their superfine New Zealand merino wool, the fabric of the shoe regulates temperature and moisture, helping you move through various climates comfortably. That means they’re breathable enough so you’re not dying in warm weather, yet still warm when the sun sets and there’s a chill in the air.

Next up, a vast change of pace as we headed to Berlin. I left the romantic, cozy avenues of Paris to hit the gritty, raw streets of Berlin. Here, not only would I be walking around a lot, I also planned to do some urban exploring in an abandoned spy station. The Wool Loungers were definitely about to be put to the test.

The Loungers fit perfectly with the minimalist, clean look of our Apartment Hotels in Mitte. Since I only wear black, white, tan, and denim, the Loungers in Slate was an obvious choice. If you’re worried about their light color, don’t be. Another great part about the Loungers is that if you step into a muddy puddle, you can just pop ’em into the washer and voila! Good as new. (I speak from experience.)

Not only are Allbirds good for a leisurely stroll, they also live up to more adventurous activities. I took them through the woods, to Field Station Berlin Teufelsberg, a former NSA spy station on a buried Nazi college. This meant climbing into abandoned buildings and through various foliage. In this excursion, the Loungers were just as comfortable as tennis shoes, and I didn’t have to worry about getting them dirty because you can throw them in the wash on the wool /delicate cycle and they’re good as new (just don’t forget to air dry).

There you have it. My feet were blister-free (for the first time on an international trip!) despite walking an average of eight miles a day. The Wool Lounger’s best qualities make it an ideal travel shoe—lightweight, extremely comfortable, easy to clean, and can be worn a variety of ways. I also preach what I say, considering this is the third pair in my Allbirds collection. Once you start, you can’t stop!

Now go on, get a pair. You can thank me later.

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