As pre-Boomers, we hadn't had many opportunities to travel outside of California. But travel was definitely on our Bucket List of Things To Do Before We Die, so much of our retirement plans centered on being able to go out and see the world.
Many of you will think this was quite a leap, given that we had not traveled much outside of the United States at this point in our lives, and in fact, it was! But we had experienced a major life event, and it quickly became very clear to us: if we had a dream, it was our responsibility to see to it that the dream became reality. No one else was going to do it for us!
My dream had always been to travel to Africa and go on Safari; to see the wildlife of Africa in its native habitat. My husband's dream was to save me from myself and keep me safe. So, off we went to Africa. It really was that simple.
As you might imagine, we learned a few life lessons along the way.
Lesson #1: Nothing happens without action
Once we'd made up our minds, we started looking for a way to make it happen and soon the way presented itself. We found a trip that we felt comfortable with, at a price we could afford, that promised the adventure we were looking for. We were off on the safari adventure of our lives.
Lesson #2: Know what language is spoken at your destination
We made a lot of mistakes on that first trip. For instance, as we were about to step off our British Airways flight at Jomo Kenyatta Airport to meet our guide, I started to stress out big time. It suddenly occurred to me that we had no idea what language they spoke in Kenya. We hadn't thought to research that before leaving home. What if the signs weren't in English? How would we find our way through the airport and customs? The signs - they were in English.
Lesson #3: It's okay to have a little (or a lot of) faith
We had booked an all-inclusive guided trip through British Airways, figured out that we needed passports, visas, and inoculations, and taken a peek at the itinerary, which included safaris, safaris, and more safaris. That was all we needed to know.
And as it turned out, we had an absolutely dream-come-true experience. We encountered four of the Big Five of Africa's wildlife during our first afternoon game drive and we were booked into beautiful lodges out in the middle of nowhere that gave us that Out of Africa experience while nestling us in the lap of luxury. Exactly what we had hoped for.
Lesson #4: Be open to surprises and embrace them
My dream had been about safaris and wildlife - big cats and rhinos; elephants, zebras and giraffes; baboons and jackals. Apparently, there weren't any people in my dream. But we met the people of Kenya and they made as lasting an impression as did the wildlife - they were warm and welcoming and charming, and we learned so much about their lives and their cultures. Meeting the people of Kenya enriched our lives for ever more.
Since that first trip, we've traveled as Baby Boomers to Australia, South Africa, the Caribbean, Belize, Costa Rica, Florida and The Keys, France, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Greece, Great Britain, and most recently to Ireland. During all of our travels, we can honestly say that these four lessons have stood the test of time and experience.
"If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears." ~ Cesare Pavese
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