Yesterday I suddenly became truly at ease with the Aussie way of life and walked barefoot. I walked from the car to the cash desk in the servo (service station, get me?!), and popped from the car to the convenience store for a litre of milk. On the way back to the car I stood on a bottle top, stubbed my toe, and swore never to walk barefoot again.
Why walk barefoot?
Since being in Australia I’ve noticed a large number of people walking barefoot; I don’t just mean on the sand at the beach.
Yesterday, I had a very busy day so I think that’s why I ended up doing some foot commando. There didn’t seem enough hours in the day so pausing to slip shoes on was far too much bother.
The simple truth is that going barefoot is convenient; it saves time searching for and putting on shoes. It also feels natural. Walking to the convenience store, I didn’t exactly get chance to feel the sand or grass between my toes, but my feet were airy and free.
In Australia, “50 percent of the country’s houses sit less than 8 miles from a beach.”* The Australian beach lifestyle, with a close connection to water, whether swimming, surfing or sailing, means that people get their feet wet regularly. This is another reason why people forego footwear. Rushing from the sea, to the shower, to the car, many people drip dry along the way; footwear is a hindrance, even the Aussie staple of thongs (that’s flip flops, slops or jandals depending where you’re from) can seem like a hassle.
Is walking barefoot a good idea?
I have to admit when I see children walking along the street without shoes on my British instinct wants to tell them to watch out for broken glass and rusty nails. The first time I saw a man strolling around the shopping mall with no shoes I thought there must be something wrong with him, perhaps he’d been robbed of everything, including his shoes?
The argument against walking barefoot
A short while ago, I bumped into a friend at the beachfront walking in her husband’s shoes. She went the beach, the Aussie way, leaving her shoes at home and wanted to visit the public toilets. Unless you want to indulge in a disinfectant foot spa, having a pair of shoes handy for public toilet visits seems vital.
Talking of disinfectant…I recently stopped to chat to a neighbour, walking barefoot in the street with her son; they were heading to the beach so it made sense to leave their shoes at home. As we were talking she stepped in dog dirt. I’ll save my rants about dog dirt in our particular area of Sydney for another time, but stepping in it with bare feet isn’t a good way to start the day.
The argument for walking barefoot
Having said that I personally don’t feel comfortable walking bare foot, I’m aware that barefoot walking is healthy. For children, wearing shoes too early in life can hinder muscle development.
If you’re keen to read more about the pros and cons of walking barefoot, there’s a blog, Living barefoot, that is dedicated to this pass-time. The dangers of barefooting – how to start off on the right foot makes interesting reading, especially if you’re considering ditching shoes altogether.
Will Mum be walking barefoot again?
Walking barefoot, or letting your children do so, is a personal choice. I won’t be doing it again because I have a plaster on my foot, and when I showered yesterday evening I had to scrub my feet for much longer than usual. For Mum, the time spent putting a plaster on and cleaning my feet is far greater than the time saved not wearing shoes.
If you’ve being travelling barefoot since living in Aus, we’d love to hear how you’re getting on. Was it an easy transition to make? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
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