Socks are travel’s unsung heroes. On long flights, the right pair of socks can fight blood clots. They can keep your feet cool and dry on long walks, and make you comfy as you explore the world. Even the best travel shoes are nothing without a great pair of socks. Here are seven types you can trust to accompany you on your world wanders.
Compression socks do double duty on trips. Not only do they reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when you’re sitting on long flights, they also promote circulation and prevent swelling when you’re walking a lot. There are a lot of great compression socks out there, among them Wanderlust Air Travel Socks, which come with built-in arch support and other comfort features.
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Feet smell. We know this. Which makes socks with built-in stink management technology a gift to us all. Carhartt’s Men’s All-Season Cotton Crew Work Socks are sturdy socks that fight odors and have extra padding for comfort. They come in black, white, and gray, and even come in men’s XL for larger feet.
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Socks don’t need to be seen to be appreciated. Smartwool Women’s Hide and Seek Socks may be minimalist, but they still offer serious comfort. The socks are low-profile, hitting below the line of most shoes, and the non-scratchy merino wool, nylon, and elastine blend with internal heel grippers keep things cool and in place.
Silicone-Backed Sock Liners
Socks may be useful, but they’re not always sartorially appropriate. Enter sock liners, those tiny half socks that cover the soles, heel, and toes without peeking out of the shoe itself. The problem with sock liners, though, is that most don’t stay put, and require a lot of adjusting throughout the day. But thanks to elastic tops and silicone backs, Hue’s Women’s Hidden Cotton Lines Socks stay put and provide comfortable coverage all day.
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High-performance athletic socks are a great choice for travelers who will be walking a lot. Designed to perform under intense conditions, socks like Smartwool Women’s (and Men’s) PhD Run Light Elite Micro Running Socks deliver durability, cushioning, ventilation, and moisture wicking to travelers who rely on sustained comfort for their world explorations.
Socks for Foot Problems
Travelers with foot problems spend a lot of time shopping for the right shoes, but often neglect to harness the power of travel-friendly socks to help alleviate foot pain. Sox Sport Plantar Fasciitis Arch Support Low Cut Socks use compression technology to relieve pain and discomfort. Bonus: The sock material is wicking and quick-drying, and prevents bacteria and fungus growth.
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A Sock Alternative
If socks are going to ruin your look, but you still want some cotton comfort, consider Pedag’s 196 Washable Summer Pure Cotton Terry Barefoot Insole. The insoles are padded with latex for cushioning and lined with pure cotton terry, then grooved and perforated to keep air moving in your shoes. They can be washed and dry quickly for odor control, and offer a sockless alternative to shoe comfort.
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Christine Sarkis has made emergency sock purchases in many countries. Follow her on Twitter @ChristineSarkis and Instagram @postcartography for more advice about making every vacation the best vacation.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.