I Made the Mistake of Wearing These "Practical" Shoes at the Airport—Never Again

I recently went over the carry-on bag I ditched to make airport security more of a breeze. (Sorry, open tote bags.) Well, on a recent trip, I quickly realized that there’s another popular travel item that just doesn’t work for me. Yep, it’s those open-back flat mules that are officially a no-go.

Okay, let me dive into this a bit further. I’m actually a champion for this shoe silhouette in my day-to-day for running to get coffee or leisurely strolling around for an afternoon of shopping. But for travel? Well, while they seemed practical in theory thanks to the easy, slip-on nature—ideal for removing swiftly through security and on the plane for those long hauls—they ultimately just seemed to slow me down. I found myself awkwardly shuffling between terminals trying to grip my toes to keep them on my feet rather than being able to normally keep up with the pace of those in my party.

The issue only escalated when walking on that slight incline on the jet bridge with all my luggage. I just ultimately felt I was working too hard trying to keep the shoes on my feet to avoid tripping—when in reality, I could’ve just worn shoes that have the same ease but don’t make getting around as awkward. So for me, I’ll be reserving those flat mules for my non-travel life and opting for other shoe styles instead. On that note, I rounded up celeb airport-style inspiration to highlight said footwear picks and shopped out similar silhouettes if you’re also looking to streamline your next jet-set outfit.


(Image credit: Backgrind AU/Backgrind)

On Elle Macpherson: Hermès bag; Chanel flats

Classic loafers are in the same family as backless mules, but just a bit easier to deal with for travel. If I’m looking to bring not only comfort but an extra dose of sophistication to my travel outfit, this shoe silhouette will do the trick.


Slip-On Boots
(Image credit: Backgrind)

On Rihanna: Raf Simmons shirt; Dior tote; Ugg Classic II Boots ($160)

Leave it to Rihanna to inspire us all to try slip-on boots like Uggs at the airport. You basically can’t get any cozier or cooler than with a pair of furry or Chelsea slip-on boots.


(Image credit: Backgrind)

On Kaia Gerber: LHLL Vintage Crewneck ($168); Nike sneakers

Sneakers may seem like a no-brainer, but what can I say, they’ll always be a no-fail shoe pick to get through the airport with ease and comfort. FYI, I’m particularly into those more timeless picks (like Nike, and Vans) at the moment.


Black Ankle Boots
(Image credit: SplashNews.com)

On Anne Hathaway: Monse jacket; Victoria Beckham tee

If I need a more dressed-up travel look because I’m heading straight from the airport to a social function, I’ll usually go for a pair of either flat or block-heel ankle boots for a forward yet practical silhouette.

Next, check out a stylish celeb-inspired airport outfit to inspire your next travel look.

Bobby Schuessler
Market Director

Bobby Schuessler is a fashion editor with over a decade of editorial experience covering shopping, style, and beauty. He's spent over seven years at Who What Wear, currently leading the market team to deliver highly covetable and convertible content. He creates data-driven shopping guides featuring top retialers like Nordstrom, Shopbop, and Net-a-Porter and is at the forefront of Who What Wear's shopping tentpole strategies, including Amazon Prime Day. He also works on branded content initiatives and appears on camera in video and shopping livestream franchises. He has also worked across a variety of other media brands and fashion retailers like Refinery29, PureWow, Men's Health, and Gilt covering commerce, trend reporting, women's and men's fashion, home, and lifestyle.