Pack Leader: Samsonite's Subrata Dutta On Travel & Tips
For the past 110 years, Samsonite has been at the forefront of innovative and groundbreaking travel pieces, and as Subrata himself says, "Anything you see in a luggage bag today has been invented by Samsonite." Back during his visit to Malaysia, we managed to snag a bit of his time to pick his brain on his travel experiences and packing tips.
You travel a lot. How do you beat jet lag?
I never have jet lag, actually! But I do have two tips to share:
- Whenever you get on the flight, set your time to match the destination. I fool my mind into thinking that I’m already there.
- Second is, no alcohol. You’ll already be dehydrated while travelling, so alcohol is a no-no.
What has been your most recent memorable trip?
I live in Hong Kong and I don’t go back to India often. But when I did a few months back, I went into a village area. There were a lot of folk artistes who sang and played a lot of musical instruments. I loved every moment of being there and spending time with them. One interesting thing happened when I asked someone there about what he does. He told me he sings. The thing is, he’s actually a farmer, but when you ask him about what he does, he says he sings, because he loves doing it. He says what he does for enjoyment. This is such a hugely philosophical thing! I mean, if you ask me about what I do, I’d say I work for Samsonite and I sell bags. I won’t tell you that I write, or read, or sing. But this man was very clear about singing—not growing paddy or wheat. And he said it with so much delight.
The thing is, he’s actually a farmer, but when you ask him about what he does, he says he sings, because he loves doing it. He says what he does for enjoyment. This is such a hugely philosophical thing!
— Subrata Dutta
Worst travel experience?
I won’t name the airline; but I was going for my daughter’s graduation from Mumbai to Chicago and then Purdue after. This was in the winter. I planned to go in my best suit for the graduation. And the airlines lost my bag. I never got it back.
Where would you recommend parents take their children to?
Without naming the countries, but with children it’s always good to go learn the culture of a place. It makes sense for Europeans to come to Asia for a holiday and vice versa. It also makes a lot of sense for those in a developed country to go to a less developed one – that’s when the mind understands the diversity of the world.
What are five things you must have when travelling?
- I need two books. One serious book, and one for light reading. I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to read either book though.
- Next, some food stuff, because I don’t know when I’ll have a long period of travelling and waiting. Therefore, I carry some chocolates.
- I also make sure that I carry my passport and purse, even if I’m just going to the office. I’m a very impulsive traveller. There have been instances when I left home in the morning, went to another country and came back in the evening.
- I’ll also make sure I write down, in the local language, the address of the hotel, so I won’t have trouble making my way back.
What are your packing tips?
- Get everything ironed properly, and then pack. It’s never a good idea to not fold properly and pack although it saves a lot of time if you just throw it in.
- Next, pack as if you love the stuff you are packing – a lot of care, a lot of gentleness.
- Keep thinking about how everything is like a jigsaw puzzle. Not everything is flat so pack to fit different shapes in.
- While packing, keep at it as if it’s the last cubic centimeter that you have. Use every single nook and corner. It’s better to have space at the top, than at the bottom.
By the way, what do you do when you test bags produced by your company?
I have to give it the ‘shock treatment’; throw it around, drag it up the stairs, pull it behind me and go around rocking and dropping it on the staircase. Because ultimately, if it survives, then it is a good product. I’m always checking in my bag not because I want to check them in, it’s because I need to see how it survives.
Why should people invest in great luggage?
Travel is not about reaching a place. It’s about enjoying the journey. You need to travel without any headaches about whether your personal belongings will reach there. It’s very important to carry a bag which won’t let you down!