These Shoes Are Made For Traveling: Lonely Planet Partners With TOMS

lonely planet toms limited edition shoe
Image courtesy of Lonely Planethttp://www.lonelyplanet.com

In celebration of Lonely Planet’s 40th anniversary, the famed guidebook publisher has launched a stylish partnership with traveler favorite shoe brand TOMS. The limited edition shoe features a variety of passport stamps on a neutral canvas, making it perfect for fashion-forward male and female travelers alike.

The shoe also celebrates the launch of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Responsible Travel, a mini-guidebook that offers tips for having a positive influence on the world while traveling.

We love TOMS shoes for travel, ourselves. They are lightweight, easy to pack in our carry-on, and most of all, comfortable. The brand is also famous for donating a pair of shoes for every pair purchased, so it’s easy to feel good and give back while looking stylish.

There’s a catch, however. The shoe will only be available for winners of competitions on both brand’s websites and via social media between now and August 15.

Gadling Gear Review: Luna Sandals Mono And Venado

Luna Sandals Mono Over the past couple of years there has been a movement in the outdoor community towards lightweight, minimalist footwear. Much of the movement stems from the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, which kicked off the barefoot running craze and created a whole new section in the shoe department of your favorite sporting goods store. The minimalist approach has had a dramatic impact not only on running shoes, but also hiking boots and travel footwear as well.

Now, Luna Sandals is bringing those same minimalist sensibilities to their impressive line of sandals that are designed to be versatile, comfortable and fun to wear. They have developed several pairs of lightweight shoes that are perfect for both the outdoor enthusiast and active traveler alike. Here are two of those products that will likely prove of interest to readers of Gadling.

Mono Sandal ($75)
Luna’s Mono sandal is its Swiss Army Knife of minimalist footwear. Designed for a wide assortment of activities, this shoe features a light, yet durable, Vibram sole that cradles and protects the foot from a wide variety of obstacles. It provides surprisingly good traction on a variety of surfaces, which makes it a great choice for the trail, beach, pavement or just kicking around the house. The pliable leather footbed does a nice job of molding itself to the unique contours of your foot, which improves the fit and comfort over time. That means, the more you wear them, the more you’re apt to love them.The Mono sandal also features Luna’s All Terrain Strapping (ATS) laces, which make them a breeze to pull off and on. The soft, nylon ATS system secures the shoes to your feet and keeps them in place no matter where you go. The laces are easy to adjust and lock snugly into place, without chafing or irritating your feet as well. That translates into being able to wear these sandals longer and in a variety of conditions, without having to deal with discomfort.

I have to admit, that I was a bit hesitant about trying these sandals when I first saw them. The minimalist approach to running shoes didn’t connect with me personally and I was afraid that these sandals would provide a similar result. But the Mono was the shoe that changed my mind. I am amazed at just how lightweight they are, while still being able to provide a high level of comfort. I haven’t always been a fan of flip-flops in the past either, but Luna’s ATS laces made these feel more like a regular shoe.

Frequent travelers will love these sandals, and not just because they take up almost no room in your pack and tip the scales at a mere 9.2 ounces for a pair. They make a great second pair of shoes for those who like to travel ultralight and can be worn in a variety of situations ranging from the backwoods to your favorite local hangout. Backpackers will find that they make an excellent camp shoe, while those heading to a beach destination will appreciate how well they function around sand and water. They are easy to keep clean, durable enough to shrug off most wear and tear and they actually look good too. In short, they’re just about everything you could want in a travel shoe wrapped up in a minimalist package.

Luna Sandals VenadoVenado Sandal ($65)
If the Mono sandal didn’t quite seem minimalist enough for you, Luna offers the Venado for those who want an even lighter shoe. These sandals still feature a comfortable and durable Vibram sole, but it is a thinner and less substantial than the one found on the Mono. The result is a pair of shoes that weighs even less (7.8 ounces) while still providing plenty of comfort and protection for your feet.

While the Mono is the rugged, go anywhere, do anything sandal in the Luna line-up, the Venado is a bit more refined in its approach. Designed for use on pavement or for very light-trail duty, this shoe provides the same level of comfort and durability that is found in Luna’s other footwear, albeit in an even more streamlined package.

Using the same ATS lacing system found across the Luna line-up, the Venado clings to the foot, even in wet conditions. That makes them great for wearing around the pool, short walks on the beach or trail, or while casually strolling around town. While the Mono’s are built for scrambling over rocks and hiking longer distances, these shoes are for those who don’t venture too far off the beaten path, but still want an incredibly light sandal that provides versatility when they need it.

As someone who is very active, and enjoys hiking, trail running and backpacking, I’m a bit partial towards the Mono sandals. They are the perfect size and weight for the activities I enjoy and are a great addition to my bag when I hit the road. But for those who don’t need the extra thick sole found on that shoe, the Venado is a lighter, more affordable option that is sure to serve you well both at home and while traveling.

[Photos by Luna Sandals]

Gadling Gift Guide: Family Travel With A Lap Child Under 2

After many trips around the world with a baby (we’ll board our 40th flight next week to Brazil), I’ve seen all manner of products labeled for travel. Many of them are too bulky, heavy or otherwise impractical when you are already dealing with a squirmy child, diaper bag, carry-on, and stroller, but I’ve discovered a few things that can make travel easier and collected many of them on Pinterest. Last year, I recommended some favorite gear and toys for young families, and this year, I’ve divided it by stage. From newborn to toddler, many gifts will work well beyond the early years and if you are traveling this season with an infant or small child, check out our tips for holiday travel with a baby.

For newbies (both parents and newborns):

Gift guide - travel bassinetQuickSmart 3-in-1 travel bassinet
Babies sleep a lot of the time in the beginning, and while they are still very portable and can’t sit up alone, they are often happy to snooze in a stroller or car seat. But when traveling, however, you are often faced with the problem of what to do with the baby without a stroller, such as in the airport or out at a restaurant. Enter this handy diaper bag that can unfold into a changing station or bassinet. You might want to stash a small reusable bag to store any objects in the diaper bag while unfolded.

gift guide Flye Baby seat
FlyeBaby hammock seat
Your flight isn’t long enough for a baby bassinet, you can’t afford a separate seat, and the plane is full. This is the perfect time to pull out this brilliant hammock-like seat, which can attach to your tray table and holds a baby up to 25 pounds, though babies able to sit up unassisted might not like being restrained. You’ll still have to switch off for mealtime, unless you want to eat your $8 in-flight sandwich off baby’s tummy. You can also use the FlyeBaby as a portable high chair, but we like the more squashable Tot Seat below.For babies six months to one year:

Gift guide - Tot Seat high chairTot Seat portable high chair
Most babies start on solid food by six months, when they can sit up and may even have some teeth to explore nibbles. Instead of toting around a huge booster seat or limiting yourself to “family” restaurants with high chairs, try this ultra streamlined “seat” that can be tied onto virtually any chair with a back, can be tossed into a washing machine for cleaning, and best of all, easily fits into a purse or diaper bag. It’s one of my favorite bits of gear, and with good reason, it’s ingenious and indispensable.

gift guide - Sophie giraffeSophie the giraffe teether
All over the world, kids and parents know Sophie. She was born in France and has looked the same for over fifty years. Sophie is perfect for teething babies (her soft rubber body is heaven for tender gums) to toddler age, but will be rediscovered and enjoyed when it comes time to play with dolls and stuffed animals. The classic Sophie teether toy can make a great stocking stuffer, but generous gift givers might also check out the Sophie play house.

For crawlers and early walkers (one year and up):

gift guide - Sidekick carrier and bagSidekick Diaper Bag and Carrier
Another cool combo product from the makers of the Travelmate car seat/wheelie bag gear, the Sidekick can be used as a hip carrier, shoulder or waist-strap diaper bag, or both. It’s good for when you want the option of carrying the baby occasionally but without extra gear, though the weight distribution might make this uncomfortable for a long day out. It’s also sleek and un-girly enough that either parent should feel comfortable about wearing as a bag or carrier.

gift guide - Bobux shoesBobux soft-soled shoes
Although everyone loves giving them as gifts, new babies really don’t need shoes. Babies taking their first steps might want a little more protection without too much structure, which is when these soft-soled shoes are perfect. Even as a confident walker, we still pack these for flying days, since they are light enough to be comfortable for a nap on the plane (and not bother the parent holding her), but give some traction and coverage for any airport explorations.

For older toddlers:

gift guide - Boba Air carrierBoba Air
For the first year and a half, the Boba wrap has been my go-to carrier and I included it in last year’s gift guide. As babies get heavier and more independent, parents will use carriers less and less, but they still come in handy in situations when you can’t use a stroller but need to keep your child contained. The Boba Air is a good option to keep stashed in a bag for when you need it. About half the weight (and price) of an Ergo, it can be folded into its own pouch when not in use, and worn as a front or back carrier.

gift guide - Leapfrog LeapPadLeapfrog LeapPad
I like to limit my daughter’s travel toys to things small and inexpensive, like a cosmetics bag with travel-sized toiletries, a deck of cards, or a metal pencil case filled with magnets, all available at a 99-cent store. But for really long-haul flights, you want to break out the big guns, and the Leap Pad learning tablets from Leapfrog are a good investment. Technically, they are for kids age 3 and up, but these days, as babies are able to operate iPhones practically out of the womb, toddlers can still find it entertaining. Yes, there are also plenty of educational apps and kid-friendly accessories for tablets, but if you’d rather keep your iPad to yourself and free from little fingers, this $79 (for the original LeapPad 1 shown here) device is a worth putting on your Santa list. Remember to keep volume low on flights, even though the sound beats that of a screaming child, it can still be an annoyance to other passengers until your child is ready for earphones.

For dreamers:

gift guide - map blanketSoft Cities blanket
Can’t travel this year or want to instill a love of maps early? Get a customized blanket with any map of your choosing. Enter your home address, or perhaps that of a dream destination, and you can add multiple “I am here” or “I was here” markers within a two-mile radius. Available in several color schemes for girls and boys, as well as a watercolor design, the blankets can be customized in different ways to create real works of art. It’s a bit late for this Christmas, but could be ordered for a 2013 trip!

gift guide - phonetic alphabet poster
Phonetic Alphabet poster

Know a frequent flier expecting a lap child? Future aviators and air traffic controllers will need to learn their Alpha Bravo Charlies early. It’s a cute way to show a little travel nerdery in your nursery without a too-obvious airplane theme or being oversimplified for kids. Other travel decor ideas might include airport codes, luggage tags or chalkboard maps.

[Photo credits: QuickSmartGo.com, FlyeBaby.com, Meg Nesterov, GoGoBabyz.com, BobuxUSA.com, BobaFamily.com, Leapfrog.com, SoftCities.net, AllPosters.com]

Gadling Gear Review: Shoes For Travel

Birki's Classic Skipper travel shoesFinding the perfect shoes for travel can be nearly as important as having the right luggage. A good pair of shoes can be the difference between an enjoyable trip and one that goes down in memory as one of the worst. Travel shoes should be comfortable, easy to pack, versatile and stylish. Here are two such options that would make good companions on your next excursion.

Birki’s Classic Skipper ($120)
Looking for a super comfortable shoe with a casual look capable of going with just about anything? Then look no further than the Classic Skipper from Birki’s. These shoes are 3/4 slip-ons that are easy to pull off and on as needed, yet remain securely on your feet even while staying active. That makes them a great option for everything from running errands around town to strolling the Champs Elysees.

Made with a canvas upper and a sole fashioned out of soft cork, the Skipper is surprisingly durable and rugged, especially considering they feel, and somewhat resemble, a comfortable pair of slippers. I was impressed with how well they weathered day-to-day usage without showing a hint of wear, which bodes well for their long term use while traveling. They are also easy to keep clean, which is always a big plus while on the road.

What I liked most about the Skippers is their solid cork footbed. They provide a surprising amount of support for both the heel and arch, which is much appreciated after a long day on your feet. Those same cork soles offer plenty of stability, even on wet, slick surfaces, which only strengthens the case for why these are such good shoes to have in your closet. Add in the fact that they are lightweight, easy to pack and are quick to slip off and on while in the security line of the airport, and you have a great pair of shoes for a multitude of travel adventures.Cushe Slipper travel shoesCushe Slipper ($50)
Cushe is a shoe company with a reputation for making comfortable footwear for a variety of activities and weather conditions. Their designs are stylish, affordable and fun to wear, earning them a loyal following amongst active travelers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. One of their more popular offerings is their Slipper, which lives up to its name by being a slip-on that feels like something you could shuffle around the house in, while being durable enough to wear just about anywhere.

This shoe is so lightweight that it is barely a step up from actually going barefoot. Its canvas mesh upper breathes well and provides plenty of ventilation while the molded, soft sole cradles the foot and offers more support than you would ever think possible for something that weighs so little. The interior of the Slipper is lined with a non-abrasive microfiber, which allows your feet to remain comfortable even while not wearing socks, which helps extend the feeling of wearing a slipper even further. The result is a travel shoe that is perfect to wear while in transit and is equally adept at walking through an open-air market as it is taking a stroll along the beach.

I found the Cushe Slipper to also be an excellent complementary shoe when on more active excursions. For instance, after a long day of hiking they make a wonderful pair of camp shoes for relaxing around the fire. After wearing a pair of heavy boots all day, there is nothing quite like slipping into these shoes to bring some instant relief to tired feet. They also score major points for being highly packable, taking up almost no room in your bag at all.

Perhaps best of all, Cushe has managed to make this shoe highly affordable. With a price tag of just $50, you’re probably going to want to buy them in multiple colors. For pure comfort and lightweight, these Slippers simply can’t be beat.

[Photo Credits: Birki’s and Cushe]

Gadling Gear Review: Tieks Foldable Ballet Flats

Tieks foldable ballet flatsShoes are always the packing puzzle I can’t quite solve. Travels that require evening dress are a struggle. I once gave up valuable space in my luggage for a pair of strappy platform sandals; the evening dress I packed took up probably a quarter of the space I needed for the accompanying shoes. I ended up carrying my shoes around later that night anyways.

Tieks by Gavrieli are foldable ballet flats that take up a tiny amount of space in your bag and they dress up very nicely. They’re cute – they come in a whole lot of colors and styles – and they absolutely work with your cocktail dress, the one that takes up no space in your luggage.

I was surprised at how little breaking in they needed, the pair I tried (I went with the sparkly Obsidian Black) were comfortable on my feet right away. They looked great with my evening event outfits (you really can’t go wrong in basic black) and my feet were much happier than they’d have been in heels. But they didn’t quite make it through the second night – my feet were tired after two hours on the reception patio’s concrete floor. There’s no arch support – that’s a sacrifice for a shoe you can fold in half.

Tieks come in a big array of colors and some patterns, you can have snakeskin or something floral or something blingy with sparkle. A basic solid color pair will set you back $165, the snakeskins run $295. You can spend a lot less on a foldable ballet flat – a quick search turned up a few brands that have a similar sturdy sole, but they don’t offer the range in style that the Tieks do.

Tieks are all about the style – they come with a carrying pouch and a reusable bag, probably for throwing your heels in when you’ve switched shoes at the end of the night. And they’ve made a nod towards comfort – the flats fit well and are really fine for walking in, though I’d not choose them for all day wear.

They’re cute, they look great and they fold up to pack away very easily. I’d think twice about making them my shoe of choice if I’m going to have to be on my feet for a long evening, but if I just need to make sure I have shoes for a dress up night out while I’m traveling, they’re a great option.

[Image via Tieks.com]