Your feet are probably the last thing you think of when packing for a vacation. But foot discomfort can spoil an otherwise well-planned trip. As you prepare for travel, the editors of Consumer Reports Travel Letter say you should prepare your feet as well.

Begin with a daily walking program for a week or two before departure. As with any exercise program, start slowly and gradually increase your distance and pace. Extra walking is especially important if you lead a sedentary life and you expect to be on your feet a lot during your trip.

Try to lose a few pounds before the trip if you are overweight. Less weight means less wear and tear on your feet.

If you have a bunion, a bone spur or other serious foot disorder, have it attended to well before leaving.

Bring along a pair of roomy shoes or slippers to wear during the long hours on a plane or train. That can make traveling much more bearable for those who are pregnant, elderly or tend to experience swelling of the feet after prolonged sitting. Also, make a point of walking about the plane or train periodically to help your circulation.

If you need new walking shoes, several were highly recommended by Consumer Reports:

For men, the Asics Tiger Ultra 1000 and the Saucony America are good both for walking and jogging. They both have cushiony mid-soles, roomy uppers and good breathability.

For women, the Saucony Lady America and the Lady Shadow are comfortable walking shoes.

If you'll be bringing new shoes, wear them before you leave to make sure they're comfortable. And remember to pack "sensible" shoes, with broad heels and flexible uppers and soles for everyday use.

In warm climates, open sandals or shoes with woven or mesh tops are useful. Sandals with protected toes and heels may help guard against trampled toes and minor bruises in crowded areas. Plan to alternate your footwear daily, if possible.

For proper hygiene, change socks or hose more than once a day. Wear cotton or wool socks in warm climates. They absorb perspiration readily, are comfortable, and discourage the growth of fungi.

Wear clogs, flip-flops or beach sandals in shower and pool areas to avoid athlete's foot. In the tropics and subtropics, use protective footwear near freshwater rivers and lakes where parasites lurk. You may also want to use travel slippers in your hotel room.

Bathe your feet daily, dry them thoroughly and use talcum powder to absorb perspiration. If you have athlete's foot, use a fungicidal powder on feet and in socks and shoes to keep it under control.

By far the most common foot problem encountered by travelers is simple foot fatigue -- discomfort or even pain brought on by too much pavement pounding. The obvious solution is rest, even if for only a few minutes.

Elevate your feet at every opportunity to prevent or reduce swelling. Simple exercises can also be useful, such as shaking the feet, rotating them, or stretching and curling the toes. Massaging them may also help.

1987, Consumers Union