Among the biggest petty travel annoyances in some countries is having to remove your shoes before entering various buildings. These no shoes inside customs are especially prevalent in Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia — where you often need to take off your shoes before entering hotels and restaurants let alone religious buildings. Simply traveling in these places often means removing and putting on your shoes dozens of times each day. My friend Andy Graham over at Hobotraveler.com just published one solution to repeatedly needing to remove your shoes when traveling, I’m proposing another:
What I want are shoes that I can quickly and easily slip on and off my feet yet remain secure when I’m wearing them. I don’t wear sandals. So I either wear slip-on boots or lace my sneakers with bungee cords. This tip is about the benefits of using bungee cord shoelaces, which are sometimes referred to as lock laces, rather than the conventional tie-up ones.
Bungee cord shoe laces look and pretty much function like standard tie up shoelaces, the only difference is that you tighten, loosing them with a spring loaded clip rather than tying them. I generally just set the clip at a comfortable tightness and leave it in this position all the time — preferring to just slip my foot in and out of the shoe without any extra ado. To insert my foot I pull up on the shoe’s tongue, which stretches the bungee cord, slip in, and then release the tongue — which the bungee cord snaps back into position.
These bungee cord laces never need to be tied, they generally don’t loosen up, and they are far more sanitary than tie up shoe laces. They can be attached to pretty much any type of shoe or boot with shoe lace eyelets, and can be purchased for around $7. I’ve also found them to be just as effective as tie up brethren.
These lock laces are also good for old(er) travelers or people with back problems, as they make it so that you don’t need to bend over as far to put on your shoes — and once you get use to slipping your shoes on you don’t need to even bend over at all.
One point of warning is to not crush the heels of your shoes when slipping them on in this way. If you do crush the heel repeatedly it will begin to break down and will soon not stay on your foot very well.
Even in countries, such as China, where you generally don’t need to remove your shoes before entering buildings, being able to slip your shoes on and off quickly is still a big convenience. I generally enter/ exit my apartment or hotel room around three or four times daily, and these bungee cord shoe laces save me at least six or eight times of bending over and tying/ untying my shoes each day. When traveling in shoe-taboo Asia this amount increases exponentially.
Being able to remove/ put on your shoes quickly and easily when traveling is an incredible convenience that I’ve not experienced until recently. I don’t think I’ll ever travel with tie up laces in my shoes again.