As the children’s author Dr. Seuss wrote in The Foot Book, “Left foot, Right foot. Feet, Feet, Feet. How many, many feet you meet.” On Everything To Sea trips, we do meet a lot of bare feet on board our boat. In fact, the first thing we tell our travelers when they step onto the deck is, “Guys, shoes off please!” In this blog post, let’s take a peek at the subject of living life barefoot through the mind of Max, co-founder of Everything To Sea.

I’m always barefoot. And the men who’ve traveled on our voyages know this well. Regardless of gravel, rocks, or grass, I am walking everywhere on the bare pads of my feet. Surprised travelers often ask me, “How are you doing this right now? Doesn’t it hurt your feet?” It spills out of me every time: “Well, how do you become better at anything? Simply do it. Over and over again.”

Ok, allow me to fully explain. In order to do so, we need to travel back in time to my childhood. Ever since I was young, I loved being barefoot in the house or outdoors. Even in the frigid German winters, I’d stay barefoot at my house, waltzing around happily on the freezing cold floorboards. I can still hear my mother urging me to put my socks on, because, per the old wive’s tale, I would get sick if my feet were too cold.

In the summertime, I couldn’t wait to go barefoot outside again, especially at the public swimming pool. I loved to kick my feet in the cool water, run along the sun-warmed concrete, and stroll on soft patches of grass. The public swimming pool was like a nudist resort for my feet… 

Unfortunately, outside of my home and the public swimming pool, I had to squeeze my feet into little torture devices commonly referred to as shoes. I’d always found shoes restrictive, and even painful on my ankles. Needless to say, living in Western society didn’t support my barefoot-ism. It was the bane of my existence: walking to work every day in a stiff Hugo Boss suit and tight, lace-up Oxfords.

Later, I quit my 9-5, traveled through Asia, and moved permanently to Bali, Indonesia. In the tropics, there’s only two types of weather. Sunny and warm, or rainy and warm. It was the prime spot for me to walk barefoot all year round. Occasionally, I’d see some other people going barefoot on the street, but I was the anomaly. Indeed, for the last several years – no matter where I am on the island – I only wear shoes when absolutely necessary, like in upscale restaurants, airports, and government buildings.

I feel good living my life barefoot. I know it’s the natural state for human beings. It’s the way we were born, naked, and barefoot, and ready to explore the world. Just like this Everything To Sea traveler who was on our recent October trip:

This practice of barefoot walking – also referred to as “grounding” or “earthing” – isn’t just some kooky trend that I’m spearheading. In fact, more and more scientific studies are backing it. In 2014, multidisciplinary research revealed that “electrically conductive contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth (grounding or earthing) produces intriguing effects on physiology and health.” And further research has shown that it stimulates healthy immune responses and wound healing, while alleviating chronic inflammation.

From my personal experience, I’ve found simpler benefits to walking barefoot. Perhaps the most obvious one is that I’m more mindful when I walk.

I take care where I’m stepping. Because of that, I have less accidents. For example, making a wrong step could lead to twisting an ankle or tripping over something. I’m actually less clumsy barefoot than when I wore shoes. And guess what? Reflexology’s now a regular feature of my daily existence! But ultimately, having direct contact with the earth just makes me feel more grounded to life on this planet.

Let me know in the comments what you think about going barefoot. If you’ve never done it, be sure to start with safety and precaution. Have I inspired you to give it a try?