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Hari Nair | Take off your shoes. Experiences happen

Hari Nair | Take off your shoes. Experiences happen
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First Published: Thu, May 14 2009. 08 36 PM IST

Why is travel an essential ingredient in a light living plan?
Enough philosophers have said it for me to believe it—that the only things to do in life are those that you might regret not having done while you are on your deathbed. Another pair of Manolo Blahniks is unlikely to make the cut. Swimming with your kids while they are still kids probably will (at least for those of us who are parents). In short, dump the stuff, concentrate on memories. Live light. Travel can obviously be a prime constituent of a memory-intensive, light-life approach; if you do it right, that is.
Is there room for luxury when you travel light in terms of luggage and pocket?
The problem with luxury travel is that in its pursuit of exclusivity, it often excludes you from the real action. Great memories and wonderful moments can happen only if you let experiences happen. Take upper-class lounges at airports, for instance. On a frazzled day/night where you need the sanctuary of a quiet, efficient zone, they work great. But my experience is that 90% of the time I get terribly bored sitting alone listening to the quiet hum of air conditioning—I would much rather be out there amid the crowds. And hence my little axiom on luxury travel. Luxury in travel is the ability to get cosseting whenever you need it, not its compulsive need.
What’s your favourite tip for a pared down travel wardrobe?
Take off your shoes. From the time you were a six-month foetus in your mom’s womb, a lot of your memories got made from the sole up. Encasing this extraordinary memory generator in leather is worse than walking around with a mask over one’s eyes. So, take ’em off. And take delight in finding your own no-shoe zones across the world (which sometimes requires a complex algorithm optimizing across cleanliness, safety, etiquette and chutzpah). Incidentally, have you ever climbed a tree without footwear? Try it—if possible every time you travel. And if the gendarme in Paris looks askance, remember, nobody said this is easy. But of course, it is worth it.
Any advice on travelling light as a family?
Go alone. Drop the spouse, ignore the kids, walk off into the sunset—at least once a year. And when your mother-in-law explodes on hearing such errant nonsense, you can take solace in the fact that this singular addition to your already bulging guilt complex is unlikely to make much of a difference. But to your memories, it will. The lonely traveller needs the locals. And I have often seen that the wall of reserve around locals tends to crumble as soon as they observe that you are alone. Serendipity takes over, simple human connections are made, snippets of conversation occur and experiences happen.
Hari Nair is founder and CEO, holidayiq.com
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First Published: Thu, May 14 2009. 08 36 PM IST