Somewhere, there is a formula that calculates the number of blogging conferences I’ve been to times the number of shoes I’ve crammed into the volume of my trusty suitcase plus the number of blisters and bashed baby toes I’ve bandaged divided by two well-tended but roughed-up feet. Luckily, I am a writer and don’t have to do all that math. But I do have to take care of my tootsies, especially when I am speaking on a panel, meeting up with my very favorite bloggy ladies or dashing off to an event.
As a shameless shoe whore and lady who would really like to keep slipping on the platform peep toes when I emerge from my desk area in the dining room, I’ve compiled my very best field-tested tips here for keeping your feet in happy, healthy, working condition while at a conference. And since BlogHer ’13 is in my city very soon, here are a few more insider-insole tips from one of your windy city hostesses!
1. Save one side of your suitcase for shoes. I dedicate one whole section of my roller suitcase to shoes in part because I bring way too many pairs wherever I travel, but also because I think it helps to see them all together. And when you see them all tucked in next to each other, the visual will aid you in editing. It’s all right there — four pairs of animal print shoes? three kinds of flats? all wedges? — making it more obvious what you can pull out and what should stay. Keeping shoes separated from your clothing will also keep your dresses from getting dirty and open up some tiny in-between pockets to stick in hair accessories or other small things that don’t fit elsewhere.
2. When it comes to heels, choose wedges. Conferences like BlogHer are often planned at large venues, in hotels with expansive corridors or in separate event centers. Even if there is carpeting or you opt for elevator travel, you will be walking more than you anticipate. Wedges (like these) will look great with your casual wear, transition to evening wear and save your feet, at least a little bit, from the aches and pains of walking in heels all day and night. My nude patent-leather wedge sandals have escorted me through several conferences, so I can walk tall (literally), look pulled together and not hobble back to my room an hour into the day.
3. Carry foldable flats everywhere you go. Find a cute pair of foldable flats in a color that matches most of your outfits — black, nude or even a brushed gold — and tuck them into your laptop bag, carry on and your clutch. The moment you toss them out of your bag is the moment your toes will start sobbing for a change of shoe-wear, trust me. And since foldable flats have a pesky habit of pinching the heel where the elastic tightens, gently stretch the elastic a bit and then add a strip of adhesive moleskine or a bandage on the shoe itself to make it more comfortable.
4. Stock up on band-aids and foot cushions. The cheap kind. The best kind of blister and chafing bandages are the cheapy, store brand variety. Purchase the ones that look like shiny plastic (skip the clear and the fabric kind, which never hold as long as they promise). No need to buy the name-brand as the less-expensive store brands often work even better. Also, buy a few boxes of blister band-aids that have a super-cushy center that looks like a flesh-colored bubble. It’s just fine to buy name-brand or the generic kind, but do invest the extra six or eight bucks in these bandages. When your baby toe feels like it is going to fall off or you have to sit out the electric slide because your heels have been scraped off, you will be thankful you spent that money. Finally, buy a package of heel, toe and ball cushions for your feet. The variety packs are great. I also recommend the Dr. Scholl’s women’s inserts (in cute patterns and colors because they keep the style of the shoe and you while loving on your instep, not the weird white, holey kind) for every single pair you wear. Keep half of these bandages and an extra set of inserts in a snack-sized Ziploc in your purse and don’t be afraid to coat your feet in as many as you need. No one will notice or care.
5. IF ALL ELSE FAILS OR THERE IS AN EMERGENCY, and only in these desperate times, adhese a big old maxi pad to the inside of your high heels. Seriously, it works. It also absorbs sweat. And looks freaking crazy when you take off your shoes and leave them on the edge of the dance floor, so beware of that sitch.
6. Slick up your soles and stick them in socks. If your dogs are barking, give them a little love before bed. Soak your tired, achey, blistered, pinched, red-hot feet in lukewarm water. Gently massage them and, if you think to bring a long a pumice stone or foot brush, go over them lightly with a bit of soap. Carefully tug at each toe and soap up the space in between your tootsies, too. Place a thumb and your pointer finger just above each heel and press to massage and release those muscles. Next, slather your feet in Vaseline or a thick cream and immediately put on lightweight cotton socks. Sleep with the socks and ointment on, and overnight, your feet will soften up and feel much better for the day ahead.
If your feet are swollen or your legs are crampy, do some light stretching — I like downward dog, butterfly, and other hip flexor stretches and twists — and consider resting with your feet and lower legs propped up on pillows. Consider it all a mini-spa sesh for your southernmost parts.
7. Finally, give yourself the gift of super-comfy footwear for the trip home. Whether you are hopping in a cab or making six airline connections, get yourself from the hotel to your front door wearing shoes that feel good. Maybe it is a pair of sneakers, or possibly your favorite flip-flops. Even if it is a certain brand of rubber slip-ons with holes that should be banished to the garden or garage, I give a nod of approval to wearing a pair of soothing shoes when you leave. Consider it a gift to yourself for hobbling around so gracefully for several days.
Did I leave out any important tips for saving your feet at a conference? Tell us!
Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.