Barefoot Travels

I told the Put Foot mission close to my heart, so when the Put Foot Foundation announced they were launching a National Barefoot Day, I had to join in.  Similar in principle to TOMSOne Day Without Shoes, going barefoot for a day helps to raise awareness about how we can prevent certain illnesses brought on by parasites which enter our body through the feet, and improve the overall lives of children in poor areas, with something as simple as offering them a free pair of shoes.

While you can get away with being barefoot in lots of places around Cape Town (including the supermarket), I received a few curious looks from strangers here in the States.  It got me thinking about being barefoot, and how different things feel when you're not wearing shoes.  Here are some of my own travel experiences, made memorable because I was barefoot:

Climbing up to Dune 45 at Sossusvlei to watch the sunset over the Namib Desert was an unforgettable experience.  The top layer of sand is still cool from the overnight drop in temperatures.  As your feet sink in with each step, you feel the warmth from yesterday's radiating heat is still held within the grains of sand.  I recommend climbing this dune and the dunes at Dead Vlei barefoot, unless you enjoy sand inside your socks and shoes.

It was my second visit to Victoria Falls, and my first time on the Zambian side (and barefoot).  I'll never forget how uncomfortable the pebbles embedded in the walkway are to walk on.  The walkways are also quite slippery, whether you're barefoot or wearing shoes, so do be careful.

The dirt in Zambia was hot and dry, and I was on the lookout for thorns.  My crew spent hours trying to find the entrance gate to Lower Zambezi National Park and were unsuccessful.  As a last resort, we approached a private luxury lodge to ask for directions.  We were lucky they didn't have any guests because they didn't seem too thrilled to see us!  Nevertheless, they were incredibly helpful and let one of their driver guides follow him down the right route.  We all let out a sigh of relief when we made it to this gate.  Little did we know, we still had a very long day ahead of us.

Also, congrats are in order to all those celebrating the finish of Day 1 of the 2013 Put Foot Rally today!  For more info on the best social rally in Southern Africa, you can check out the Put Foot Rally video I made or follow along with their adventures on Twitter or Facebook,  #putfootrally.

Marie Frei

One Carry-On is a blog managed by Marie Frei, a travel expert and photographer with a passion for exploring off the beaten path locations. The blog covers honest and personal stories about living and traveling as an American abroad, shares her global appreciation for culture and design, and promotes traveling to far-flung destinations with a carry-on as fun, affordable, and easy.