Why Cheap Luggage Can Be a Plus

Victor Foo is the Singapore-based founder and CEO of the Singapore Precious Metals Exchange, a private platform that allows investors to buy, store and trade metals such as gold from anywhere in the world. The Malaysian executive spoke to the Journal about finding Tokyo’s best ramen, owning luggage that sticks out like a sore thumb, and tooling around Italy in a Lamborghini.

On a weekly basis. I’ve been traveling weekly for the last 52 weeks—there was only one week in July that I didn’t fly.

Where do you go most?

The Asia-Pacific region—places like Bangkok, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, Vietnam, Cambodia—and to the UAE.

Favorite airline?

I tend to mix it around. It depends on the destination. I’m a bargain hunter, so I go with whichever is giving me the best deal.

Don’t you miss out on miles?

My own theory is that based on special rates I can get through various airlines, it works out better than the free upgrades.

Victor Foo: ‘I have an army green [bag] that no one else wants, but it makes it easier to identify.’

Singapore Precious Metals Exchange

Best airport?

Hong Kong. You walk pretty far but there’s a lot to do. Everything is very up to date.

Best taxis?

Of course, Singapore. I don’t drive here. Other than that, Hong Kong. Taxis there are ample, they’re easy, and they don’t give you a hassle.

Favorite hotel?

It depends on the city. I’m still a bargain hunter. I try to stay in the Starwood group or tend to go to Hyatts or Marriotts. When you travel, you want to make sure that when you reach your destination, you get what you’re used to. When you’re on business, you don’t spend much time in the hotel room anyway.

Which country in Asia has the best food?

I go to all the local haunts in every country. I try to stay away from franchise restaurants, and I get our local hosts to take me to the most obscure places where real locals go. Japan is my top choice. I look for different ramen shops every night I’m there. I [have] lists now with restaurants that some locals don’t even know about, and I take some local guys to my ramen shops. They’re very unique and localized. Each shop has its own secret flavor and style of making noodles and broth.

Tips for fighting jet lag?

Try to adapt to the local time whenever you are there. That’s the fastest way. Don’t drink alcohol on board. The best thing to drink is water, nothing else.

What are your packing essentials?

I pack super light, with only small carry-on baggage. If I need anything more, I just buy it as I go along. When you’re traveling on business, you want to be on time. Not checking bags avoids delays.

Packing strategy?

You need to be aware of different materials. I don’t like wearing wrinkled clothing, so I have a particular type of cotton that I get my shirts made of. I also have my own self-pressing mechanism: I unpack my shirts, hang them on a hanger and hang it in the shower, then turn on the hot water for about three minutes and steam out any wrinkles.

Cheaper luggage is the go-to choice for Singapore Precious Metals Exchange CEO Victor Foo

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Favored luggage?

I’ve had a Tumi bag for almost a decade. I also go for bargains—the off-color bags are the ones that sell the cheapest. So I have an army green one that no one else wants, but it makes it easier to identify.

Where haven’t you been that you’d like to go?

The north and south poles. I want to go one day just to experience it.

As an experienced traveler, what’s your travel advice?

Know where you’re going. It’s good to have local tips on where to go and where not to go. It’s also good to have local currency, as certain countries’ currencies aren’t readily available to change. Having a few greetings in local languages also helps a lot. The most important thing, everywhere I go, I make sure I have a local contact to help me move around.

Best travel experience?

Just after the global financial crisis, I took a short holiday to Italy and went to a little town that is the birthplace of the Lamborghini brand. I visited the factory and went on a tour, and to my surprise there was this legendary test driver who was retired but happened to be in the lobby. I went up and asked him if he would take me for a drive and he said yes. I had the ride of my life. After that, I came back to the factory and bumped into the nephew of Mr. Lamborghini. He took me about an hour away for a personal tour of Mr. Lamborghini’s personal museum.

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