Souvenir Collection: Shopping for Sneakers Around the World

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Today’s guest post comes courtesy of friend and blogger Sofie of

Do you know that feeling when your feet are absolutely comfortable, bouncing off the ground without feeling any of the knobs or bumps in the road. When your toes can breathe but are never cold. When your heels remain undamaged throughout the day. Blisters are a thing for those who wear heels.

I don’t wear heels. I wear sneakers. And I buy them all over the world.

My sneaker collection

In all honesty, I think my dad’s the one to blame. He’s the one who took me to London when I was twelve and introduced me to shopping abroad. That trip ignited my wanderlust and was the start of a long-held tradition of city trips we did together. Now, as I grew older, those trips became more and more about sightseeing and discovering local eateries, but when I was a teenager? You bet they were mostly about shopping.

Unfortunately, our choice in sneaker stores is rather limited in Belgium and while there are, of course, some cool shops that sell exclusive models or a different collection than what you can find at Footlocker – the main and maybe only sneaker chain store in Belgium – their range is often limited and they aren’t that easy to find. Not to mention they rarely do big sales and exclusive sneakers aren’t that cheap.

Luckily, Belgium is a small country and it doesn’t take me too long to get to the Netherlands or Germany where there are simply more shoe stores and they all have a different collection of sneakers.

I rarely travel somewhere merely to go shopping, though. If you go somewhere with the aim of buying something specific, you usually don’t find it. That’s how it works for me, at least. So whenever I go somewhere, I just keep my eyes open. I fact, I’ve developed quite the sneaker radar and can spot a good shop from the corner of my eye while eating an ice cream and talking to someone. Well, not while eating and talking at the same time. That would be gross.

And so it happens that I now own some Nikes from Dรผsseldorf, Cambridge and Maastricht, but also three pairs of other sneakers from Los Angeles. There have been others, but wear, tear and smelly feet meant the end of them.

I currently own six pairs of sneakers I bought abroad and six pairs I bought in Belgium. The ones from Belgium are a bit special too because most of them I bought together with my mom on or bi-annual shopping trip to Antwerp, the Belgian fashion capital.

It was never a conscious decision to collect sneakers on my travels. I’d never even looked at them as being souvenirs until I wrote this post. But now that I think of it, it is kind of cool that I “wear” a different travel story every day.

About our Guest Author Sofie

In 2012, Sofie launched her travel blog as a passion project. Since then, she’s turned it into her full-time job and has successfully collaborated with over 80 brands and destinations worldwide. All while wearing sneakers, of course. She writes practical travel stories with a personal touch, helps travelers plan their itineraries and is a regular contributor for Expedia and Discover Benelux. Traveling the world, crafting articles or taking a dance class when she’s home, Sofie loves it all… as long as she can have a cup of tea first.

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3 Responses to Souvenir Collection: Shopping for Sneakers Around the World

  1. Sofie Couwenbergh 01/06/2017 at 8:08 am #

    It’s official, I’m a sneaker addict ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks so much for letting me out myself on here! ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Shepard C Willner 01/06/2017 at 1:20 pm #

    Hello, Ms. Sophie. You write a great post. I first visited Europe in 1974 as a 17 with a group of special ed adolescents. I resumed visiting the Continent in ’94, 95, 2000, and again during the period of 2010-present, usually while on cruises. Regarding sneakers, I thought the new name for them is “athletic shoes.” I’m glad that you don’t wear heels. As a guy, I’m puzzled why any woman would want to wear shoes with very high heels. Don’t they hurt your feet?

    As for athletic shoes, I would think you may have learned they’re called “trainers” in Merrie Olde England, and they’re called something else on the Continent. I stopped wearing shoes that required tying the shoelaces (bowling shoes are the exception to that rule) over a decade ago. If you’re wondering, if I stopped tying shoelaces, how are the shoes fastened on top? Simple: I wear shoes that have Velcro straps. When you’re shopping for shoes in the UK, you ask for a lower shoe size than in the US, right? But in Europe, the shoe sizes are in the double digits. So you really need to know your shoe size when you want to buy shoes across the Pond. In Asia or South America, when you’re buying shoes, what sizes are equivalent to US or UK shoe sizes? I’d want to know that info in case I ever need to buy shoes in an emergency situation, e.g., a suitcase gets lost en-route to my destination.

    • Sofie Couwenbergh 01/06/2017 at 1:35 pm #

      Hi Shepard!
      I actually have sneakers – or trainers – with Velcro too ๐Ÿ™‚ They’re not in the photo as I bought them here in Belgium ๐Ÿ™‚
      I’m afraid I haven’t bought shoes in South America or Asia yet, so I can’t help with that. I think it would be best to look it up or ask, as not all countries in a continent may have the same sizing system. Just look at how the UK needs to be the difficult duck in Europe ๐Ÿ˜‰

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