Should I Stay or Should I Go: A Trip of a Lifetime Update

From by Leah Walker
Should I Stay or Should I Go: A Trip of a Lifetime Update

Sometimes even the best-laid plans go array, especially when it comes to travel. Since December, I’ve eagerly awaited the time when I could announce where I’d take my niece for her 18th birthday.

In case you missed it, I decided in 2011 to give my niece the gift of travel. She and I would take a trip together anywhere in the world, before she went to university. Having never left the USA, except for a Mexican cruise port stop and maybe a walk across the Texas-Mexico border, I wanted her to have a passport, as well as a small taste of the world, before starting her studies.

I finally let her in on my little secret via this blog post on her birthday. In that letter, I asked her to narrow her choices to three. At Christmas, she’d decided on Patagonia, Iceland, or Kenya. Given the timing of the trip, I eliminated Patagonia, since it would be the middle of winter. Given her love of the outdoors, I found Iceland to be a very intriguing choice. However, I thought she’d have a greater chance of taking that trip on her own or with friends. Finally, there was Kenya. It wasn’t so much Kenya she was interested in, but rather a safari. Having raised and been around animals most of her life, I thought it was a perfect choice.

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In January, I began laying the groundwork for the summer 2016 trip. Piece by piece, the plans started coming together. There were a few hiccups along the way, but nothing that couldn’t be adjusted with a bit of effort. Once the ten-day time window was confirmed, I purchased the flights.

The plan was for her to fly from Houston to a destination that also connected to Kilimanjaro. I wanted her to get on the plane in Houston and step off and see my face. From there, we would fly to Africa. To keep the number of legs to two, we had four options: Doha, Dubai, Amsterdam, and Istanbul. I also had to account for our intra-African flights. With two flights per day on small planes, availability is limited. Given all of these parameters, Turkish Airlines into Istanbul was the very best option.

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Over the last six weeks, I had plenty of oh shit moments. Nervous already, I knew that my niece and her parents would be very concerned given the recent events in Turkey. Between the explosions in the city, the bomb outside the airport, and the coup, it was more than a novice traveler {and her parents} could take. Even though we only have short layovers in Istanbul, she recently decided that she would not go to Africa.

Of course, I am terribly disappointed. Not only did I want to share this special time with her, but I also believe this experience could open doors to opportunities she never would imagine. I’ve tried to put myself in her place in order to understand. We spoke, and although it’s not a decision I would make, I do respect it. I didn’t try to change her mind. The last thing I want is her boarding that Turkish Air flight because she feels pressured. Rather than cancel the trip, I’m continuing, not only on principle, but also because it’s absolutely a kick-ass trip.

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What exactly have I been planning the last seven months? On August 1, I’ll leave Paris for Kilimanjaro, where I’ll take a tiny plane to Seronera, an airstrip in Tanzania. From there, I’ll be whisked away to Four Seasons Serengeti. For four nights, I’ll experience game drives, a walking safari with a naturalist, and possibly a sunrise hot air balloon safari {fingers crossed for this one}. In addition to the nature aspect, I’m thrilled to be a guest at another Four Seasons, one of my favorite brands in the world. I’ll also be working on a multi-media story for Four Seasons Magazine, so stay tuned for that.

This isn’t the situation I wanted, but it’s the one I’m left with. Rather than allow the possibilities of what could happen derail these plans, I’m choosing to move forward with them {with a few amendments}. Rather than my niece, I’ve got a friend who will accompany me. It won’t be the same experience or have the same impact, but I’m still thrilled to finally step foot in Africa, despite the bittersweet taste in my mouth. I do hope my niece gets the first stamp in her passport soon, whether I’m with her or not.

Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat {LeahTravles} to see my Serengeti adventures unfold.LeahTravels_Snapchat

Photos copyright of Four Seasons

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