When we drop out of house renovation mode and back into day to day mode we realize we have not touched our African travel plans in 2 months and the time is neigh to pay the balance on the safaris. We start immediately and it is a good thing we do because we are very tired and our travel planning skills are very rusty.
First thing is to review our file and check on what we have done and what will be needed before we leave, items both pressing and not so much. First on the list is to pay the outstanding balances on the safaris because if they do not get paid doing the rest of the listed items would be for naught. We confirm the amount, make sure we have sufficient funds in the proper accounts and contact our travel mates L & R to coordinate payments. If we send one wire for both our balances the cost of the wire is shared and although it is not much I really hate to pay bank fees and will go to great measures to minimize them.
Aardvark first, they prefer a bank draft for their payments and that is very easy to acquire. A trip to the bank, write a short note, lick the stamp and the payment is jetting (if indeed the postal service uses jets) it’s way to Victoria in California. Botswana Safari done!
Next, the payment to African Travel Resource. Their preferred payment method is for us to wire the money to their bank. If we use a credit card they add a 2% surcharge along with the 2.5% visa charge for converting to a non Canadian currency and it adds up quickly and it is not the way I do things. L goes to her bank and gets a bank draft made to me and I’m off to my bank to send the wire. Tanzania done!
Both payments make landfall in a couple of days, meaning as long as we get to Africa we have transportation, accommodation and a guide to facilitate our wanderings into the ‘wilds.’
Debbie ticks payments off the list. Item 2 – appointment to get poked. We have enough shots to travel most anywhere but there always seems to be that one more and of course there is the ubiquitous malaria pills. For the first time we are entering an area with endemic yellow fever. Zanzibar requires a yellow fever certificate. The appointment is made and marked on our calendars.
We need to establish our cash budget. First to get an idea of what is needed and second because travellers cheques are not universally accepted we plan to take cash so we are trying to minimize the amount we are going to have to carry. We lay out a plan on one of Debbie’s famous spreadsheets and start to plunk in numbers. We have some exact values, like a couple of hotels but other numbers we use are from our past travel experiences. Like food costs, $10 CDN for breakfast, $15 CDN for lunch and $25 – $35 CDN for dinner. In the next couple of weeks we will refine the values, I do not expect it to cost too much to eat in Africa. Five star hotels will cost what we estimated and more but we are reasonably adventurous and do not frequent those establishments.
As we are slowly ticking things off our preliminary and by no means exhaustive list we get an email from our New York dive friends, P, V, S, and K. “Hey guys we are booking our scuba diving trip to Little Cayman in the spring, the hotel is filling up. Are you in?” The wheel is spinning faster and faster now. It is time to pick up the cadence.