5 Foot Care Tips For Travelling
For many of us, travelling also means we tend to do a lot more walking that we would usually do in our day to day lives. So that also means our feet are being put through a lot more stress than they would usually be accustomed to, so foot care is really important.
When we travel, we do a lot of hiking and even if we are exploring cities it is not uncommon for us to walk over 20 km each day. But it also means that the foot injury I suffered a few years ago can cause me problems if I do not take care of my feet.
I suffered my foot injury while running on a treadmill at the gym. Not the expected way to suffer an injury – I wasn’t running on uneven ground or running on a hard surface. But I tore my Plantar Fasciitis. This is the band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. It supports the arch and is designed to take a lot of strain and stress. Unfortunately, as we get older, it is harder for these tears to repair and it is now an issue I have to deal with on an ongoing basis.
Therefore, I am very careful to protect my feet when we travel. These five tips have allowed me to keep my feet in good condition and manage my injury while we travel.
Tip 1: Select the best shoes and socks for your feet
I regularly read in Facebook groups, questions about what the best types of shoes are for hiking. Whether it’s hiking or just walking around a city, the shoes you buy need to suit your feet. You need shoes to be properly fitted. A tip for when you are trying on shoes is to take a pair of the socks you will be wearing with them to make sure they are comfortable with those socks. Consider the purchase in investment rather than a cost.
Socks are also an import part of looking after your feet. Cotton socks hold moisture and therefore can contribute to blisters and foot fungus. If possible, find socks that have a large percentage of merino wool.
Also, break in your shoes before taking them away with you. You want to make sure that if they may cause blisters it will happen before you take them on your travels.
Tip 2: Be aware of infections
Foot diseases such as athlete’s foot or tinea are a common skin infection caused by a fungus. The fungus usually grows in warm, moist conditions such as shoes, socks, swimming pools and showers. It is common in warm and humid climates and during summer.
There are four things I do to try to prevent fungal infections in my feet while travelling:
- If I am showering in a shared shower, I always wear a pair of flip-flops (we call them thongs in Australia). That way your feet are not in contact with the floor.
- After drying my feet, I use foot powder to remove any remaining dampness.
- I never wear socks that are damp. I also try to give my shoes time to dry out if they have got wet from rain or from sweat.
- If my feet become itchy, I use a topical anti-fungal medication on my feet. This has usually stopped any itching. However, if it does not it is important to talk to a doctor.
Have you thought you’d like to try hiking – why not read my 10 Tips to Get Started Hiking.
Tip 3: Take care of blisters
What causes blisters?
Blisters happen when your shoes / socks rub against your feet. The thick outer layer of skin starts to separate from the more sensitive inner layer and a hot spot is created. After rubbing for about 10 minutes fluid builds up between the two layers of skin and you have a blister.
Prevention is better than cure
Shoe and sock selection is an important starting point in preventing blisters. Feet need to be kept dry and consider if you need supportive insoles (see Tip 5). Clip your toenails and use tape or band aids in areas that may get blisters to prevent them occurring.
Caring for blisters
If you have a hot spot or a blister appear, stop and check it straight away. Clean the area with antiseptic cream and cover it with a blister pad until you get back to your accommodation to check it properly.
Tip 4: Create a foot care pack
Make a care pack to take on all your travels. The care pack should include the following:
- Toenail clippers. Long toe nails can cause your toes to bleed as well as cause pain.
- Blister pads.
- Antiseptic ointment.
- A topical antifungal medication. You can usually purchase these over the counter at a chemist / drug store.
- Foot powder. Put the powder in your socks before putting them on to help stop them rubbing and causing blisters.
- A moisturiser specifically for feet to ensure that the cream penetrates the tough skin.
- Foot file. A foot file can be used to remove the dry, dead skin before moisturising.
- You can use tape or even band aids to cover areas before walking to avoid blisters (such as on your heels) or when you first feel the start of a blister.
Tip 5: If in any doubt, visit a podiatrist before travelling
If you have a foot injury or have had problems with your feet previously, it can be a good idea to visit a podiatrist before travelling. I see a sports podiatrist who has assisted me with my foot injury an foot care in general, by providing me with specially made inserts for my shoes that support my feet as well as specific exercises to do at the gym to help improve my core which in turn helps my foot injury.