Actor, entrepreneur, former Miss Universe, wife of a retired international tennis player, and mom to a seven-year-old, Lara Dutta Bhupathi has her hands full with roles to play. But she manages to squeeze in one more, that of a curious traveller. Let’s find out how she keeps her wanderlust alive. By Sushmita Srivastav
1 What’s your idea of the ideal holiday?
The ideal holiday is a trip after which you don’t need another vacation to recover from it! (laughs) Over the years, I have been a solo traveller when I was footloose and free, then I turned into a traveller with an infant and got restricted with the things I could do. Now, I am a traveller with a hyperactive kid, so I am constantly under pressure to keep her entertained. So, for me, an ideal vacation would be where I can have some downtime, bond with my family while being able to explore new places, and discover things on foot. I have been able to pass the same love for travel to Saira [my daughter] as well. We did Italy and Croatia last summer, and this seven-year-old child walked with me to absolutely everywhere! I think there’s no better way than exploring a new destination than on foot.
2. What are your preferred destinations for family trips?
In the initial years, our travel routine used to be set around Mahesh’s tennis tournaments. I have been very fortunate because even before I won the [Miss Universe] title, I had gotten to travel quite a bit around the globe. So, it’s always a challenge to find a place that we both haven’t visited yet. For family vacations, we love going to the UK. There’s so much for kids to be involved in and for families to do together. We usually base ourselves in the UK and then go to Europe or Scotland.
3. Did you travel much as a child? Any memory that stands out?
We were a family of five, and flight tickets weren’t cheap in those days. So, most of our holidays used to be road trips. We have had great adventures at a young age, and learned how to make the most of any situation. Whether it was a flat tire in the middle of nowhere or delays in the flights we took back in the day. We mostly based ourselves in Bengaluru, and went to either Ooty or Coonoor, or this little hill station called Kemmangundi. Once, my elder sister and I got stuck in a paddleboat in the middle of a lake in Kemmangundi, and we couldn’t paddle our way back for at least three to four hours. I was terrified because I was quite young at the time, but it was also adventurous [in hindsight]!
4. As a celebrity couple, how do you handle fans’ attention on holidays?
Both Mahesh and I are big-time Airbnb users. The idea is to stay away from crowds and to have your own space. It lets you relax with your family, cook whatever you like, play with your child, and do things without your privacy being invaded. We planned our entire summer vacation this way last year. There are so many options to choose from—whether I want a house with a pool, or one with a beautiful forested park behind it so that I can go on an early trek.
5. A city you most identify with?
I have gone back to Jaisalmer many times. I have absolutely no connection or background to that place, but whenever I travel to Jaisalmer, it feels like coming back home. I feel grounded. Perhaps, it’s the vastness of the land or the enormous open sky above. It is by far my favourite city in the country.
6 A city you love for its food?
7. Essentials in your travel wardrobe?
There was a time when I could not live without wearing heels all day, but once you become a mother, all vanity is thrown out of the window. So, to start with, a pair of wedged heels, because I feel they are most comfortable and elegant for walking around, my Arias Superlight Sunscreen, a good pair of sunglasses, a white shirt, a basic pair of blue jeans, one black dress that doesn’t need to be ironed, my toothbrush, and my credit card.
8. Which places have made for your favourite shoot locations?
I have shot quite a lot in South Africa—Cape Town is my favourite shoot location. I have also shot a film where we spent over 10 hours a day underwater in Bahamas, for almost 30 days. It was like diving into a lovely warm bathtub!
9. What’s on your bucket list?
I have been putting it off for quite some time now but I have always wanted to get to the base camp of Mt Everest. I will take Saira to see the Northern Lights some day; it will be our little mother-daughter adventure. Also, I have been to Bhutan many times, but I’d love to go back there.