As a blogger writing in English about El Salvador, I often get questions about the safety of traveling in and about El Salvador. My usual advice is that travelers should rely heavily on Salvadorans they know and trust who can counsel them on when, where and how to go places in the country.
I may also point people to some practical advice written by a "gringa in El Salvador" at El Salvador from the Inside titled Colorful Safety Guidelines for visiting El Salvador (or moving here). Here's her tip about shoe choice:
Tennis Shoes / Sneakers
Men: leave expensive Adidas, Nike, and Air Jordan (or latest $150 craze) where they belong: at home in your closet, thousands of miles away from El Salvador. Buy a cheapo pair, and replace them with a standard brand that non-ostentatious people wear here after you arrive. It’s ok to look ‘cool’ at home, but here looking cool means “come steal my wallet.” Or the very sneakers you are wearing. People do wear converse style brand and knock-offs here.
Ladies: it is still not common practice to walk around with “exercise/walking” sneakers as a female in El Salvador unless you’re going to the gym, or wearing the “converse” style that are all the rage. Anything outside of that usually means, “Hey everyone, I’m NOT FROM HERE!!”
Example: At the Fiestas Patronales recently, it appeared a woman at the next table was ‘visiting.’ Looked like a Salvadoran, as she was among them; who else comes to the boonies in Agua Caliente, Chalatenango? The shorts she wore were shorter, but fair game for El Salvador. It was the paper-white legs inside them, along with American style walking sneakers at the bottom (eeeek! stop sign!) that were a dead give away. That, along with constant camera-clicking, and taking pix of poor children in the snack area. I wondered how many years those legs have gone without proper Tropical sunshine to have turned that hue.The rest of the tips are here.