The UK is full of "walking cities", but if you are heading for one of them, you'd better have a few cures for sore and tired tourist feet.
Locals will tell you that the best way to see London, York, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Bristol, Lincoln, Cambridge, Oxford, and dozens more popular cities is on foot. Then there's slogging through enormous museums or around charming - but huge- street markets and discount shopping villages. And don't forget a five-mile hike or two in the Lakes, the Peaks, or the South Downs. If by the end of a day or two your feet aren't screaming for mercy, then you are not doing your proper job as a tourist.
It's easy to forget those hard-working puppies when you are planning itineraries, organizing spending money and packing. But spare a thought for your feet. If you don't, they'll exact a nasty revenge.
You'd think comfortable, sturdy shoes would be an obvious choice for sightseeing. But you'd be amazed at how many visitors we see pounding the pavements in popular tourist spots wearing canvas espadrilles, flip flops or absolutely flat flatties. You can tell by the pained expressions on their faces that they are already regretting their choice of footwear.
By all means, stock up on bargain-priced Louboutins during the Harrods sale or make a pilgrimage to the original, and incredibly snooty, Manolo Blahnik shop off the King's Road in London for killer stilettos. But take them home and save the blistering pleasure of wearing them for later.
Okay - you've got the sensible shoes but you've still got swollen, tired feed. Have a look at some of the following tried and tested remedies.
Nurses and other workers who stay on their feet all day know that support hosiery is not just for pregnant ladies and postmenopausal women. The gentle pressure of a good pair of support stockings, tights or knee socks helps prevent swollen feet and tired, aching calf muscles. These days they look just like regular stockings, tights, and pantyhose. You can even get them as sexy, lace-topped thigh highs. And they also masquerade as lightweight knee socks you can wear under trousers or jeans.
Maybe you've already bought a pair of the kind of compression socks recommended for long distance flights. Pop a few extra pairs into your luggage to wear during your travels.
If you value your comfort, don't be too macho to try support socks for men. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors - from ankle socks engineered to support ankles and arches to knee high trouser socks and specialist sports versions for cycling and hiking. Go soft, silky or thick and warm. Choose wild colors or opt for businesslike blacks and navy blues. Nobody but you knows that you are wearing support hose - and your feet will thank you believe me.
We love the idea of these unisex Hot/Cold Therapy Booties from NatraCure. They're soft, fleece lined ankle socks - the sort you might slip into to pad around your hotel room after a long day on your feet. But what makes them special are the gel packs - a pair of them come with each pair of booties. Heat the gel packs in a microwave or chill them in the freezer. Then slip them into the integrated sleeves - top of the foot, around the heel or under the forefoot - to deliver warm or cool relief where you need it. If your room isn't equipped with a microwave or fridge, ask your hotel or B&B hosts to do it for you.
Toss one of these knobbly polyethylene devices into your suitcase and you can have a deep tissue massage on call whenever you need it. The 6" long massager looks like a cross between a football and a hedgehog. You can warm it up in hot water, chill it in the freezer or use it as it is. Roll it around under the arch of your foot and apply as much pressure as you want and all those little knobbly bits stretch and pummel the tension and swelling right out of your tired feet. The more pressure you apply, the more ultimate relief you get. But be prepared, like any other deep pressure massage, the harder the pressure the more it hurts!
As we've already said, it's hard to believe how many people visit the UK in the summer and try to wear flip-flops or flat soled thong sandals all day. If you must, these thong sandal gel inserts, from Natura Cure could help. They have a low profile that supposed to distribute the pressure around and, being gel, they are soft and cool. These clear inserts also surround the thong itself with gel so reduce friction and pressure between the toes. Personally, we don't see why on earth you'd be sightseeing in thong sandals anyway. But these can help relieve the pain and aggro caused by your footwear vanity.
Why Not Get on a Bike?
Perhaps the easiest way to spare your hardworking feet is to give them a break now and then by choosing some other form of transportation. Most of the UK's larger cities now have bicycles you can rent from street stands in the city centers. Or you can rent from a city or country cycle shop. Even electric bikes are not available to rent for taking the strain out of those uphill climbs. Cycling puts far less pressure on your feet than constant long distance walking and lets you get in a bit of fitness training while you are seeing the sights.