Gianni Melwani of Hybrid Group–the creative minds behind the largest wellness festival in Hong Kong Iris: Your Escape, tells us about his travelling experiences, travelling hacks and more.
I recently got back from a quick trip to London. Earlier this year I travelled to India, Bali, Singapore, China and Dubai for both business and pleasure.
I’ll be returning to Bali for a holiday with my family, and then over to Ireland for Christmas. I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with family as it’s been years since we’ve all travelled together.
What do you love the most about travelling?
Trying new foods and cuisines is something I really enjoy. Absorbing the little details different cultures have to offer, be it the language, habits, customs etc. And if in a beautiful location, simply taking the time to experience the environment using all the five senses. I also find something quite peaceful about long haul flights. There is a form of tranquillity being by yourself thousands of feet in the air without wi-fi.
Most memorable travel experience?
3 years ago I went to Tokyo with my girlfriend. Neither of us had been there before, but heard it was amazing and it lived up to the hype. I remember studying how to read the subway train map beforehand, which came in handy!
So many unique things happened–we got stopped in the king’s palace by 30+ guards because someone that looked like me jumped over a restricted area, we ate the best sushi at 5am in the morning at the Tsukiji market, the list can go on and on.
The food and people were amazing, there is a strong culture built around respect and honour. And another thing that I found fascinating was that there are no rubbish bins on the main streets, which prevents litter and waste.
And the worst?
After my first year at university in the U.S. there was a snowstorm that delayed flights across the entire East coast. Not only was my dormitory door stuck shut to the point where I couldn’t physically open it, but there were also no cars on the roads. I eventually managed get out and make my way to a train station that led to the airport. It took about 48 hours travel time to get from where I was to where I needed to be.
Three things you always travel with?
iPhone, Lululemon Surge Warm hoodie and a water bottle.
What do you normally read on the plane?
If I’m reading it would be an educational or philosophical book (most recently a book called Sadhana by Swami Rama). Otherwise I’ll either listen to music, watch a couple of films, work on my laptop or sleep.
Favourite travel companion?
My girlfriend. She’s a really good person to travel with and makes the most out of new experiences. There were times where I felt lazy and thought about staying in the hotel, and if it weren’t for her I would have missed out on some pretty special occasions.
Aisle or window seat?
Window. It’s nice to have the window to lean against and see what’s outside.
Favourite travel app?
Booking.com is great for figuring out where you want to stay. It’s easy to use and usually has free cancellation policies up until a certain date.
Google Maps is always a winner for on-ground navigation.
And Klook has some good deals as well. (I buy my Airport Express ticket using it)
Your best travel tip?
Pre-departure, prepare yourself well ahead of time so you don’t have to second guess yourself when you’ve left home. I am a minimalist when it comes to clothes, so I start packing the items I want to wear on my trip 2 days before I depart. I also keep a packing checklist of essentials on my phone notes.
Another key tip would be to make sure you are absolutely clear on your flight departure and arrival times! I’ve had friends and family who have showed up at the airport on the wrong date/time due to misreading their itinerary. This can be confusing if you have a night flight and there is a change in time zone.
But once you arrive safely at your destination, back off a bit with the “planning mentality” and surrender to whatever the experience has to offer.
Any tips on overcoming jet lag?
A really nice Yoga practice gets me back on track. Especially after sitting on a plane for so long, 1-2 hours of practice gets the blood flowing and mind attuned.
Photo: Courtesy of Gianni Melwani
What are the latest travel trends?
In recent years bloggers and travel influencers who document their experiences with high quality photography and review locations seem to be a strong trend. A lot of retreats, destination weddings and wellness experiences also seem to be upcoming trends that will not disappear any time soon.
See Also: Tatler Travel News: January 2019