Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Bag Lady thinks about Africa

Back in August we were excited to be planning a trip to East Africa for next summer. We'd had houseguests, Ed and Jeri, who said it was the trip of a lifetime and referred us to a friend, Tom, with a direct connection to an outfitter in Nairobi. We were fascinated by the stories and started corresponding with George, the outfitter.

The price quotes came back disappointingly high. The amount of that one three-week trip would exceed our yearly travel budget. We'd need to dip into spare money. And what if we needed it later on? After a lot of thought and a couple of months we decided to forego the custom trip to Africa and take a group tour. I sent an email to Ed, Tom and George last week and thanked them for their help.  Then we decided maybe we should wait a bit before signing up to go to Africa at all. I was disappointed, but felt comfortable taking my usual play-it-safe position.

Then I read a recent blog post by Bob Lowry at Satisfying Retirement. I've been following Bob for a couple of years now. I like his informative style and his attitude about retirement and his ideas about finances. He's sensible about money and he has the same kind of curiosity about things that I do. He was a careful saver and he and his wife are now benefitting from that.

Bob and his wife Betty recently rented an RV for a few weeks to see how they liked it. They loved it. They loved staying a few days and getting to know a place, and discovering new places. Now they are considering taking a risk. Should they buy an RV and travel for several months a year?

I read Bob's post with fascination. My Bag Lady read along with me. It was very clear to both of us that Bob's well planned retirement makes a lot of sense, and we could completely understand his hesitation about buying the RV.

But there was not a doubt in my mind that he and his wife should buy it and go. Not a single doubt. I commented, "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for."

Then I thought about our Africa trip. I wondered how it differed in the least bit from Bob's pending RV purchase. I couldn't come up with a single difference. Both are somewhat of a splurge in a carefully planned retirement.  Both will undoubtedly yield pleasure and personal growth. And, most likely, neither will turn out to be the boondoggle that transforms us from retirees in a decent space to Bag People.

I said I'd told Ed and Tom and George we'd changed our minds about the personalized safari.  Both Ed and Tom responded immediately. They talked about the difference between a customized safari and a "group grope" one. They talked about the quality of the trip that the outfitter would create for us. They said that, for this once-in-a-lifetime trip, we should do it exactly the way we want it rather than going along with the more generic group itinerary. They told me we could shorten the trip or economize in other ways. They both said, "Don't give up on this dream. Go to Africa."

I ran it by the Bag Lady. She reminded me that, after all, we don't live on a shoestring budget, and there are other ways to pay for the trip than by holding a cardboard sign at the freeway offramp. She actually was a little curious about all those animals.

So yesterday I sent another email to Ed and Tom and George. I said "yes". Tom made a few suggestions for changing the original itinerary: forego three days at an orphanage in Nairobi, consider dropping Tanzania. Ed added an idea: visit the British ex-pat working farm. I told the men we'd like some Kenya culture included, and I'll be calling Tom later today to talk about possibilities.

We're personalizing this trip.  It will still be expensive. But I think the Bag Lady will enjoy going along. She likes animals - especially giraffes and elephants and the creatures who move outside a tented camp at night.

The risk may not be a trip to East Africa or an RV. It might, instead, be a flight across the country to visit grandkids, or dinner out and a movie, or a pair of comfortable shoes.  It's good to be reminded that we're all in this together.

Thanks, Bob.






20 comments:

Terra said...

I think the bag lady will have a glorious adventure in Africa, and now I will visit the blog you suggested.

Bob Lowry said...

Wow! The power of a post!

I completely support your decision, Linda. Art and you are smart about money and have taken the right steps to have a satisfying retirement. Just like the analysis I went through with the RV decision, you obviously carefully weighed the pros and cons of fulfilling a dream.

Go for it. Looking back years from now I am sure you will decide your decision was the right one.

MerCyn said...

Glad you are going for it. We all only live once and should make the most of it. Good luck and have a great time. Can't wait to hear all about it.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Good for you! It will be such a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I can hardly wait to read all the blog posts about it and see all your pictures! And I must check out Bob Lowry's blog! Thanks so much for the inspiring post!

rosaria williams said...

What a wonderful idea! These experiences are valuable on so many levels, and waiting for a good time is not the answer. Go for it!

Barbara Torris said...

I think you have hit the nail on the head. Bob is following a path that my husband I followed 10 years ago. I do not regret even one minute of it. We have taking a path that allows us to do the extraordinary by living a simple life.

We had no idea that we would travel to China, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam when we retired. The opportunities presented to us were too good to pass up.

Enjoy that trip to Africa. It is a dream worth pursuing. After all we cannot carry our money into the grave. And why should we?

b

Linda Reeder said...

Live your dream.

DJan said...

I am not at all surprised that you and the Bag Lady have finally come to this decision, and I'm glad for you. I know you will not regret it for a minute! I look forward to hearing how it all unfolds. :-)

Olga said...

Wow! You keep right on grabbing for that brass ring. I just love your spirit.

Judy and Emma said...

I'm glad you chose to leave a safe harbor. What an adventure it will be!

Out on the prairie said...

nice area to go to, I have on;ly been to Morrocco

Ms Sparrow said...

I'm happy for you that you conquered those nasty doubts and decided to "Go for it"!

Suzanne and Malcolm said...

Sometimes all it takes is just a little nudge from a friend and a reminder that life is short - live well.

Chris Loehmer Kincaid said...

I am so glad to hear that you have decided to go for it. You will not regret it for one second. Having been to Kenya once, and hoping and praying to go back again, I can tell you that you will have a fantastic time and it is sooo well worth the money to take a customized trip instead of going in a group. I am so happy for you! Keep us posted!

Retired English Teacher said...

I think the best part of this is that you took the time and the energy to really think out all the options on this decision. Too few people do this. I'm happy you are doing this. I know you will not regret your decision.

Grandmother said...

But to leave the safe harbor takes courage and good for you for your bravery. As my grandson would say: Let's go have an adventure!

Galen Pearl said...

I read Bob's blog, too, and like you, I find that he has a very sensible approach to retirement, and to life in general. My "RV" or "Africa" purchase was a cabin in the mountains. Yes, it was a big splurge, but I have gotten so much pleasure from it over the years, it was a bargain. So good choice to go to Africa! (By the way, I lived in West Africa for two years. Very different culture and no exotic animals, but still fascinating. And I have some friends now living in Tanzania. You'll have a wonderful time!) Bon voyage! And in the meantime, I'll look forward to reading all about your plans!

Dee said...

Dear Linda, your posting makes so much sense to me. I'm so careful about money--always worrying that I'll need any I might spend now when I'm older. But I've gotten in touch with my fear and I'm going on a small trip the last week of November. I'm staring out small, just a drive with two friends to the Lake of the Ozarks for a two-night stay. I'm hoping that little steps likethis will lead me to big steps later. Your fortitude and common sense and wisdom just shine through this posting. Peace.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Sometimes if you don't leap you won't even see that the net was there to catch you the entire time. I am excited to hear you're doing this after all. We get one life on this planet and all of us should make the most of what we have. Enjoy the journey because its the only thing that counts. And now I can't wait to hear all about your trip as the details fall into place! Congrats on your decision to go :-)

Pamela said...

My husband was in Africa this year and went on a delightful safari in an open vehicle. He loved it. You'll love visiting. I'll be eager to read the account of your trip.