There’s no good time to get a foot injury. It’s always a bummer. You may have to wear a walking boot for your next holidays, or for many weekends in a row. Does it jeopardise your trip? You’ll surely have to make a few adjustments, but it doesn’t mean it’s totally ruined. If it’s your first time, you’ll need to know a few tips for wearing a walking boot.

I play soccer and had leg and foot injuries more times than I can count. A few of them involved crutches, and once I had to wear a walking boot. It was right before our Christmas break. Although I had to change our exciting plans for our trips to the Mornington Peninsula and the Blue Mountains, I still managed to have fun travelling while wearing a walking boot.

I hope my experience can help other injured travellers stay positive and look forward to their trip despite the unfortunate situation. I’m sharing below some tips for wearing a walking boot and examples of activities I managed to do on holidays while wearing a walking boot or being on crutches. The information provided on this blog is for information purposes only, and readers of the blog rely on this information at their own risk.

While reading this list, please keep in mind that every condition is different. If you have an injury, you should always ask for advice from a healthcare professional – and follow their orders – before considering any of these activities while wearing a walking boot.

Tips for wearing a walking boot when travelling

1. Talk to your doctor

Again, the best person to provide tips for wearing a walking boot is your doctor or physio. I felt I didn’t ask enough questions to mine. They know your injury and can advise you on what you can and cannot do, what you can try to do, and when you should stop. You should always ask a healthcare professional about the activities you can do while wearing a walking boot.

You may not like their responses: your injury may be worse than you think, or they may be conservative. I am glad I found a physio who was happy to work with me to identify activities I could do (after the required resting period, of course) and who took the time to go through the warning signs to help me decide when I should stop an activity. I’m happy to take risks to do fun activities when going on holidays, but I wouldn’t want to make an existing injury worse.

2. Learn how to use the walking boot before the trip

It’s quite simple to wear a walking boot, but there are a few tricks that you should know to be comfortable. It’s too sad to find them out along the way when discomfort appears, and you may have fewer options available to fix it.

A few tips I wish I knew about how to use the orthopaedic boot before going on holiday:

  • Start to close the straps on the toes and then move up;
  • It’s an art to have the straps tight enough to avoid movement but without cutting off the blood flow – so check your foot often, don’t wait until it hurts;
  • The air chambers can help limit movement, and it is sometimes enough to inflate/deflate as the swollen foot evolves, rather than redoing all the straps;
  • Wear a shoe balancer* on the not-injured foot if you plan to walk, so your leg height isn’t uneven, and you avoid hip and lower back pain;
  • Wear high large socks to limit your sweat on the liner of the walking boot as it’s not easy to clean (and dry!) – soccer socks* worked well for me;
  • Protect your boot with a cover* if you plan to go to areas with sand and/or dust.

3. Be mindful of the floor surface

When you are in a familiar environment, you are so used to the floor surfaces that you don’t even think about it anymore. When travelling, you encounter different floor surfaces. Some can be slippery. Some can be uneven. You’ll have to take extra care as a walking boot isn’t like your usual shoe sole. It may have less grip, for example, and your balance is also affected.

Woman posing with a walking boot in the Blue Mountains (Australia) with Pulpit Rock in the background

Tips for wearing a walking boot when flying

First of all, go back to tip number 1: have you confirmed with your doctor that you could fly? Most of the time, if you haven’t had surgery, it won’t be an issue. But better be safe than sorry. Your doctor may even have special tips for wearing a walking boot tailored to your particular condition.

You don’t want to just show up at the airport with your injury as a surprise. It will be a bad experience both for you and for the airport staff. Call the airline before your trip to let them know about your reduced mobility and special needs. They are often willing to make efforts, so your trip is more comfortable.

Ask for a wheelchair

No one likes the idea of going in a wheelchair. If you can walk, you may have the feeling that you’re making your injury bigger than it actually is. When all you wish is to go back to walking normally, accepting a wheelchair ride feels like regressing. But do yourself a favour and ask for a wheelchair at the airport. Keep your energy for activities that are fun and worth making effort. For most injuries, resting is required for a quicker recovery, so you may want to avoid walking when it’s not necessary.

At the airport, you may have to cover long distances to your gate, and you may also be happy to avoid potential stairs. Being in a wheelchair and getting assistance from staff will also make it a lot easier, especially if you travel with a carry-on bag. I never like being in a wheelchair, but it has one perk: it cuts down a lot the time you waste standing up queueing at the airport (when going through security, when boarding the plane…). Without a wheelchair, you may not even be able to find a seat during these waiting periods.

Make sure you arrive early and don’t have a tight schedule when you land. You sometimes have to wait for transfers or the lift to the plane, and you may be the last person out.

Be prepared for airport security

I read that some airport security might ask you to remove your walking boot. If that’s not an option for you, it could be helpful to carry a letter from your specialist doctor to support your claims during the discussion or reconsider travelling.

I’ve been asked not to go through security with my crutches. They offered a cane, but I still had to put my foot on the ground, so it wasn’t a perfect solution at all. Luckily, it wasn’t a problem for me to put weight on my foot for a few steps at that time.

Different rules apply to different airports, so checking in advance with them what will happen is always a good idea.

Find legroom on the plane

A corridor seat is tempting as it will offer more space to extend your leg in the aisle and move. However, in such a narrow environment, it comes with the risk of someone stumbling upon your injured foot. And it isn’t ideal if you have people sitting by your side as they may need to pass over you to get to their seats or move during the flight. As I’m short and didn’t need elevation or movement, I felt more comfortable with a window seat with my injured foot protected against the wall of the plane.

If you can pay the extra fee to get a seat with extra legroom, that would be the most comfortable option. Remember the exit rows are out of the question as you are unable to assist during an emergency.

Did you injure your foot during your holidays? Check if your travel insurance can cover an upgrade to business or first class.

Suggestions for fun activities to do when travelling with a walking boot

Most destinations offer activities for people with special needs. Depending on your foot injury, you may be able to do activities that are accessible to people in wheelchairs, families with strollers or seniors with reduced mobility.

I recommend looking for resources about accessible travel in your destination. Tourist information centres may have something ready. In Australia, the Good Scout is doing an amazing job.

I highly recommend calling operators to ask questions about accessibility and reviewing photos when you are making travel plans.

1. Road trip

A road trip is ideal as it doesn’t require using your legs most of the time. There are some road trip destinations where you don’t need to walk for too long to get the best views. You can hop off the car only a few metres away from a stunning lookout.

For some injuries, you will need to keep your leg elevated. It will be challenging in most cars, so keep this in mind before planning to spend a lot of time in your vehicle.

Panoramic photo of the Three Ssters at  Echo Point in the Blue Mountains (Katoomba, Australia)
Echo Point lookout in the Blue Mountains is easy to access

2. Walking

How far can you walk in a walking boot?

For some injuries, no weight-bearing is allowed with the walking boot (at least at the start of the rehab). But if your injury isn’t too bad, you may be allowed to walk as much as you want with the walking boot. Ask your doctor about how far you can walk in a walking boot. Mine was okay with no limit, as long as I was cautious, of course, and listening to my body. My walking boot totally removed the weight on the part of my foot that needed to heal.

It’s not the case for every type of injury, unfortunately. Some will need more rest than others. Or it may be too soon in your healing process to walk a lot in a walking boot. You don’t want to make your injury worse, so ask a healthcare professional. If your doctor clears you for walking, make sure you don’t walk too far too quickly though and have the right equipment (see tips below). You should not feel pain with a walking boot. Keep this in mind and if you feel pain, stop the activity you’re doing and talk to your doctor.

Go progressively and have the right equipment

If you plan to walk in a boot, make sure you wear a shoe balancer*. I didn’t realise the walking boot was making my legs uneven before I had terrible hip pain. A shoe balancer* rises the foot that isn’t injured so it’s at the same height as the foot wearing a walking boot. I couldn’t find one straight away as we were travelling, so I managed to add some extra soles in my left shoe to rise my leg. The relief was immediate.

When you start walking in a boot, you want to go progressively to test your resistance. Flat accessible tracks like boardwalks are the best to begin with. You may even want to bring your crutches when you start in case you feel you walked too far with your walking boot and need to stop using your injured foot.

I was able to hike at Wentworth Falls and Pulpit Rock with an injured foot and a walking boot in the Blue Mountains, but I started with flatter and shorter wheelchair-accessible strolls!

3. Canoeing/kayaking

You don’t need your foot to paddle. However, it may be challenging to get in the canoe. It will be easier if you can get in from a pier. If you’re embarking from the shore, you may need someone’s help as you don’t want to get your walking boot all wet. Putting a plastic bag or a cover* around it protects from splashes but won’t resist submersion.

When I went canoeing near Coffs Harbour with my walking boot, I removed it while on the canoe and placed it in a waterproof bag. This way, it wouldn’t get wet, but I still had it with me should something happen that would require me to walk. Again, I asked my physio for approval beforehand. Some injuries require wearing the boot at all times.

You’d need to stick to places with no current and wear a life jacket as swimming isn’t an option and it’s not the right time for an adventurous expedition.

4. Joining a boat cruise

That’s even easier than canoeing. Once on the boat, you need to find a great spot and stick to it. It only works if you have someone willing to bring whatever you may need. Indeed, finding your balance may be challenging if you try to walk while the boat is moving and even not recommended for your injury.

As often, the best is to call the operator and explain your condition. If they know in advance, they should be able to arrange a few extra services to make your cruise more comfortable.

I ended up having crutches for our trip to Sydney for the Vivid Festival. There was no way I could deal with hoping in the crowd and standing up for hours. So we ended up booking a cruise around Sydney Harbour to view some of the light shows. Although it wasn’t our initial plan, we had a fantastic time, and it was a nice way to visit the city.

5. Snorkelling

If you are wearing a walking boot to avoid putting weight on a particular area of your foot – which was my case with my midfoot injury – you might be able to snorkel. Ask your doctor about it.

Like for canoeing, the access will be challenging. And you’ll have to choose a safe and easy place without current, so you don’t need to use your foot. With a flotation device and a line, or a friend (or a guide), you won’t need to make many efforts with your legs. If you are not an experienced snorkeller, you’ll surely want to wait for a better time to try this activity.

6. Paragliding and parasailing

During a paragliding tandem flight, you kind of sit, relax and enjoy the views. The take-off and landing will be challenging parts, especially with an injured foot. In Rainbow Beach (near K’gari/Fraser Island in Australia), my instructor could handle take-off and landing with me just lifting my legs so I wouldn’t use my injured knee.

However, being able to fly like this may depend on a few other things that I’m not aware of. The best way to know if it can work with your particular injury is to ask!

7. Skydiving

You don’t need your legs to free fall from an airplane, right…? And your instructor will manage the landing. Isn’t it incredible that you may be able to do one of the craziest things ever while wearing a walking boot? I have a friend who did this in New Zealand when she injured her ankle just before her trip and had to wear a walking boot. Like I did when I went paragliding, she lifted her legs for landing. Of course, this activity, again, will not be appropriate for any type of injury (some cannot even go on a plane) – make sure you ask your doctor or physio and the operator.

8. Eating and drinking

It could be the most appropriate time to enjoy a foodie experience. Some destinations are all about food and drinks. You should be able to access wineries, breweries, and restaurants with a walking boot without too much effort. Bonus: if you cannot use your foot, you won’t have to take part in the debate about who will be the driver!

In the Mornington Peninsula, we spent some time visiting a distillery and a winery.

9. Going to the beach

Depending on your level of mobility, you may not be able to go to any beach, unfortunately. Walking on sand is a lot harder than on a hard, flat surface. I tried with crutches, and it was a full-on workout session for my arms; I wouldn’t recommend it.

Some beaches have beach mats that make them accessible for wheelchairs. It’s also a lot easier to walk on the beach mat when you have a foot injury.

If you have good mobility and your healthcare professional is happy to clear you for walking on sand, your main challenge when going to the beach with a walking boot is not to let sand come inside your boot. Your skin may get irritated and itchy if sand comes in, and sand gets everywhere… You may want to add some protection with a cover for your walking boot like this one*. As it doesn’t take the bottom of the boot, you won’t lose the grip. Those taking the full boot can be very slippery, and I would not recommend them for walking.

10. Cultural activities

I’m a huge fan of outdoor activities. But I sometimes enjoy going indoors for an opportunity to learn more about the culture of the destination I’m visiting. If, like me, you’re not fond of museums, how about art galleries, shows or even classes? They are calm activities that you can do when wearing a walking boot.

Some museums and art galleries are big and require a lot of walking and standing. You may want to ask before signing up if there are some seating opportunities during the visit.

What clothes to wear with a walking boot when travelling?

I found out I could not wear most of my usual pants and socks with a walking boot; they were not comfortable. As mentioned before, you should wear a shoe balancer* on the non-injured foot if you plan to walk. A high-breathable sock to reduce sweat and friction on the liner of the boot is also recommended; I found my soccer socks* did the trick. If you cannot find socks that are high enough, leggings* may work well. Then, it’s all about being comfortable rather than fashionable. I recommend avoiding pants that you’ll have to fold in the walking boots or above it; it won’t be comfortable at all.

That’s why I really liked wearing leggings or breathable hiking pants with my walking boot. The clothes you wear with a walking boot when travelling will obviously depend on the weather. If it’s hot, shorts or skirts can be a good option (as long as you have high socks).

If you want to wear pants to cover the walking boot and look more elegant, wide-leg pants* and elephant pants* can work well for women. My walking boot was black, and I found that wearing black pants worked better to blend the walking boot in with the pants.

Have you ever travelled when wearing a walking boot? Share your tips in the comments below!

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Martha Hall

    Thank you I plan on asking for a wheelchair at the airport after reading your blog.

  2. Suzanne Betts

    I’m such an active person and my new injury on my right foot means I’m not out hiking, and not even driving! Thanks for the post, it gives me some ideas to enjoy some activities and how to be comfortable (raising the shoe on the non-affected foot is a great suggestion). Thanks again.

  3. Kelly Garvin

    Thank you for your encouragement. No fun with a summer foot injury. You brought some hope and insight.

  4. Sue

    Thank you for your post! Fractured my leg day before trip to St John. I agree don’t be embarrassed to ask for help or accommodations. People have been wonderful and gracious and want to help! Also 1000x yes to wheelchair through the airport. Get one! Also agree on walking on sand. Not worth the risk of injuring something else!

  5. Debbie

    I have a broken ankle , and live out in the countryside so have been trapped here really . Have had a few outings when husband feeling benevolent 🙄.I find it difficult to get housework done etc so it’s frustrating that for once I have an excuse not to be zooming about busily but still can’t manage to do spring cleaning safely . I can’t wait until I can drive again 🙏. 4 weeks in now so hoping by six weeks will be safe . – sure I have put on lots of weight because I am usually so active . Daren’t walk around area here as ground very slippery and I broke ankle slipping down drive in wet weather . The boot is uncomfortable and rubs on ankle but at least is not a plaster cast so I can take it off at night . You have done so well having little adventures and travelling around. I am determined not to do this again 😂. One good thing is it makes you more sympathetic to others less mobile . Always a silver lining 👍

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