Going into debt for Africa?

Mar 29th, 2005, 04:45 PM
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Going into debt for Africa?

Reading some of the posts at the end of the thread on the recent rise in the Rand prompted me to make this new post.

Are you willing to go into debt for travel to Africa? To what lengths will you go to be able to travel to Africa?

While I would never ask about your travel finances in person, I don't consider it rude or intrusive to post this question here.

Personally, I work several part-time jobs in addition to my real full-time job, buy clothes at Goodwill and shun restaurants, opting for my own beans and rice instead, to be able to travel to Africa and elsewhere. I've never traveled on borrowed money, though.

Just curious about you all.
atravelynn is offline  
Mar 29th, 2005, 05:26 PM
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Good question. I, too, work more than one job so that I can travel. While I think we must be financially sensible, I also do not want to find myself in a small corner of a nursing home wishing I had gone somewhere. And if it is true that in old age we revert to the past for our memories, I want to make sure my past memories are rich and varied. I'd rather have the memory of a graceful giraffe loping across a savannah than one of four walls because I didn't go anywhere or experience anything. And since I'll probably end up on a park bench in St. Petersburg, Fl with a tin cup, I'll need some exciting memories!!!
birder57 is offline  
Mar 29th, 2005, 07:25 PM
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Very wise not to borrow money, full stop. I think the only time one should be for buying a house of starting a business. The amount of people who get in trouble money wise paying for lasts years holiday, xmas etc is insane. Better to own what you have, even if it is only a little.
rdkr is offline  
Mar 29th, 2005, 09:51 PM
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For my wife & I the urge to visit Africa at least twice a year overrides the money worries!

In a good year, we will happily splurge a bit and visit private reserves and 5* properties on a fly-in basis. Sometimes for curiosity more than any other reason but many of these top places are addictively romantic and certainly help to keep the marriage strong!

2 out of 3 trips, however, have budget restrictions and we really enjoy living "local". Self-drive, no (or limited) guide services, B&Bs with charming hosts, public game parks and unknown restaurants filled with locals (and no tourists) have become our thing.

Visiting Africa will always be a financial burden but it has become manageable once we accepted that the most expensive experiences are not always the best for us. In June, for example, you won't find us at my beloved Serengeti Grumeti Camp. Instead, we will be fly-camping nearby with 2 Maasai friends who I trust can help keep the wildlife away at night!

When we started our own business we suddenly had more time to do the things we love, but with less disposable income. Nowadays, you won't read about Mombo, Mnemba or 12 Apostles in my trip reports!

With our limited budget we are discovering a whole new Africa and I can hardly wait for our trip to Tanzania and South Africa in June!
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 12:03 AM
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Personally, I prefer to live life as if I may be hit by a bus tomorrow, and that applies to more than travel, but also in general lifestyle. My only saving grace is the fact that my wife and I each earn better than average incomes and that we own a couple properties. I like to think that my savings is in my second property, although it would be nice to be more "liquid."

Perhaps I am foolish, but I do have faith that my lavish spending on African and other things will not come back to haunt me.

I do think that it is within my grasp to start upping the ante, with a visit to Africa possibly every 8 months or so, God willing. I just feel such a pull to Africa, and while it is mostly related to the wildlife so far, I am sure that will expand in time to the people. There is just nowhere else that I have visited that even comes close.

Who knows, if the economy improves, along with the U.S. Dollar, I may just buy a modest property in South Africa. I did strike a deal on my first visit, in March 2002, on a wonderful plot of land in a gated seaside community in Hout Bay, but I foolishly dropped out of the deal when the Rand went from about 11.7 to about 11.2 in a matter of days. It would have cost me about $70,000 USD for a 1/3 of an acre plot of land, and probably not more than another $130,000 to build a very nice 2,500+ sq. ft. home. So, for $200,000 USD I would have owned my own home in the Western Cape.

My dream would be to have about three properties in the Los Angeles area paid off in full, and one property in the Western Cape paid off in full. I would keep one Los Angeles residence as my own home, and would have the freedom to alternate between Los Angeles and South Africa, all while drawing in a nice income from my two rental properties.

Although I have not yet done so, I do think I would be willing to forego the luxury cars and careless spending in order to preserve annual visits to Africa. While some men are into sports, other than a good championship boxing match, I have no such interest, and gladly focus all of my attention on Africa...either totally immersed into a book on Africa, planning my next holiday or talking about it with my fellow Africa addicts on this board!
Roccco is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 04:04 AM
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I wouldn't go into debt to buy anything or go anywhere. We have always lived within our income, and seem allergic to doing anything else.
abram is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 04:34 AM
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z is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 05:50 AM
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Just an interesting observation...if you look at the thread history of the last two posters, it doesn't seem that they have been able to leave the United States too much, or at least their threads have not been lucky enough to do so!

And, I guess the true definition of debt would be a positive net worth vs. a negative net worth. That being the case, I suppose I could sell each of my properties and go on a luxury safari for each of the next 50 years, providing I was willing to live in a rental until I bought another property with money other than my newly created African Safari Windfall.

So, technically, I am not going into debt, I am just not adding to my savings or buying more property for the last couple years.
Roccco is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 06:51 AM
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Without a doubt I would - and have done so to a small level. Wildlife Biologist is one of those jobs that I feel is pretty important but economically it is not very valued. I wish Africa was a choice between a trip and a Mercedes but sometimes its a choice between a trip or paying down some debt. The fact of the matter is I can live without huge financial security but I cannot live without experiencing the world -- especially Africa. It is the only thing I have ever bought that touches my heart every day. And the fact is of my many peers not one of them has been, well worth a little risk to me.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 07:04 AM
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I certainly wouldn't but at the same time I wish Africa was more affordable! The number of people who would love to visit but simply cannot afford the prices. I would always love to take the family there but it's a simple no-no. I wish someone could recommend how we could do it on an accommodation budget of about $60-$100 a night for a family but from what I have seem it's not possible at all. I often look here to see if anything comes up.
JamesA is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 08:21 AM
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My perspective: Using debt to finance the acquisition of a tangible asset (education, house, automobile, business, etc.) that will yield future benefits is sensible. Using debt to finance consumables (clothing, vacations, etc.) isn't sensible.

One could argue that a trip to Africa yields an intangible asset (long lasting memories while you sip applesauce through a straw in the old folks home). I'm not in this camp.

In the final analysis, if it feels right and you won't regret it later, do it! It's interesting to see others' perspective on this topic. Good question atravelynn.
Avogadro is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 08:42 AM
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James - There are certainly ways to go to Africa for less.... You didn't say where you want to go, but here is some food for thought.

Have a look at the tariffs for accomodations in the SA national parks.

Check out flatdogs in South Luangwa - http://www.flatdogscamp.com/?pname=/welcome.htm

And, have a look at the self-catering apartments - this is an example http://www.dewaterkant.com/RATES.HTM

dreaming is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 08:45 AM
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No, I would not go into debt to travel to Africa. But, luckily, I don't have to. I think one of the advantages of living in a major urban area (I live in San Francisco) is the hight cost-of-living and the requisite high salaries. Having lived in SF my entire adult life, my notion of "expensive" is somewhat skewed. I'm not shocked that 850 sq. foot homes sell for $850,000+ (it is insane though!). Many people are leaving the Bay Area for more "affordable" places. However, the salaries in those places will reflect the cost-of-living in those areas. A trip to Afric costs the same no matter where you live.
I guess we all make choices and sacrifices for what we love and the freedom to pursue those things. I don't have children, so I can afford to travel to Africa once or twice a year. I don't need a car, I use public transit--one less expense which allows me to travel. While it would be nice to splurge on a luxury safari every year, there are more affordable options. Rather than go into debt to travel to Africa, I'd go with a scheduled group safari or go on an Earthwatch project. Or, I could always sell my 1500 sq. foot loft....
phernska is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 09:50 AM
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As my desire to go to Africa became stronger and stronger, I left my Mediterranean life that Iíd been fighting for my whole adult life and returned to my parents in northern Europe. Otherwise I would never had got the money. At my age itís not socially acceptable to live with your parents Ö Iíve been able to visit Kenya twice and Iím going back this year even though Iím now out of work and applying for really disgusting jobs without success. If things donít improve this will be my last trip to Africa. Iíd definitely get into debt, but who lends you money if youíre completely broke and own nothing? Iíd never get into debt for holidays or other consumables, but Kenya is something completely different.

What I really would like to do is to go and live in Kenya, but it seems like Iím not welcome unless I invest a lot of money and give employment to Kenyans. If I get a job Iíll be able to do that when Iím 400 years old Ė on condition that I donít spend any money on trips to Africa. Also, I could marry a Kenyan. On the coast ďeverybodyĒ propose after 5 seconds, but I suspect thatís because they think Iíve got a lot of money. Living as a normal Kenyan without money, Iíd never even get close to the game parks. Maybe if I marry a driver/guide - theyíre all married, but I would consider a polygamous marriage Ė I think Ö

Atravelynn, good question Ė finances is a very big issue for most Africa addicts. As Iím kind of anonymous here I donít mind exposing myself as a whining loser.

JamesA, because of the park fees and game drive costs itís impossible in national parks to get accommodation for an entire family on a budget of $60-$100 per day. But Iíve found this place www.whistlingthorns.com at the foot of the Ngong Hills. And, thereís Fishermanís Camp and other places around Lake Naivasha. In towns and on the coast you can easily find accomodation in your budget range.


Nyamera is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 10:18 AM
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I wouldn't go into debt to go to Africa, but I do scrimp a bit on some things all year long so as to have more travel money. I think we all spend on what matters to us, and save on things that don't. I love a bargain, so it doesn't seem like scrimping to me to wait for a sale rather than buying a fantastic new outfit at top price. However, I want a nice bottle of wine with dinner, so I spend for that.

JamesA, I think it's possible to do a self-catering self-drive safari in South Africa at a price affordable for a family. For example, last May our accommodations ran like this:

A 4-bed hut in Umfolozi, suitable for 2 adults and 2 kids, was R530, about $75-$80. In Kruger we stayed in park accommodations for 2 people for an average of R400 per night. Add 50% or so for larger accomodations, and you're still under $100. In Swaziland we had a fabulous, luxurious cottage for R275, and in Johannesburg we had a 1-bedroom self-catering apartment with living room and kitchen and bath for R400; a 2-bedroom apartment went for R600. It was in a great part of town.

It was in late May and early June, not high season, but the game viewing was great. The parks accommodation is as good as good American parks, and the Jo'burg flat was similar to a Holiday Inn, except that it was lots bigger and had a kitchen.

You'd be giving your family a wonderful experience, and you really don't have to break the bank. E-mail me if you want to know more specifics.
Celia is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 11:43 AM
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Thanks Celia, good to know there are some cheaper options, whats about the fame parks as taking the family to see the game is the main thing, flying from Thailand so air fare not too bad ( about $650 return ). I was originaly from SA so would love to take the family there but of course the kids just want to see Lions and Giraffes!
JamesA is offline  
Mar 30th, 2005, 12:49 PM
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I will not go into debt for travel, even though it's my passion. Nor would I ever consider going into debt for clothes, home improvements, a new computer or any of the other myriad purchases so very many of my peers take out loans for at the drop of a hat.

Living within one's means is somewhat fundamental to my mindset (and to my husband's too) and I would be loathe to do otherwise.

What I WILL do however is sacrifice other things in life in order to have the funds for travel and those include anything from the little luxuries in life (eating out often, new clothes) to the larger expenses (such as home improvements, new cars every couple of years etc). A few years ago we'd saved up several thousand to get our garden redesigned from the ugly, unused, unkempt patch to an attractive and usable space. The money was spent on safari instead.

Some things are not sacrificed though - such as savings, pension plans and investments for our future, money spent enjoying activities with friends and family and anything health related.

Because we're both self-employed income is variable and unpredictable so purse-strings are tighter some months than others. But we're generally lucky enough to have skills that are in demand and our income allows us to enjoy daily life (by going out for dinner and to shows etc), save for the future, spend money on and with friends and family, pay for the most desirable/ urgent home improvements (our house is about 110 years old and we had to completely replace the tile roof two years back) and have enough left over to indulge our travel whims.

I am also fortunate enough to have kind and extremely generous parents who contributed heavily to our 2001 Africa trip and who gifted us the recent Antarctic trip, both of which we could not have enjoyed otherwise.
Kavey is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 08:07 AM
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I'm with Celia and Kavey on this issue. As passionate as my husband and I are about travelling (he claims he's married a gypsy at heart), we would never contemplate debt as a means to finance any travel. We, too, look for somewhat less expensive ways to do the things we enjoy (both while travelling and at home), so we can continue afford to get away. We also realize that we need to save for retirement, etc., so we can continue to do those things, including those bottles of good wine! I also have to say that I found Rocco's comments on 2 posters' "thread history" somewhat disturbing. Everyone is entitled to their express their opinions, and the fact that people might not add a lot to threads doesn't mean that they don't travel.
KT_Tomlinson is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 08:25 AM
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They are just really good at keeping secrets, right?

I could be reading the original post wrong, but I do not necessarily think that the original question of this thread was meant to ask whether or not people would literally go into debt, but rather whether or not they would allow themselves to suffer financially in order to visit Africa.

Personally, I suffer financially, but I do not go into debt, at least not by its literal tranlation of having a negative net worth. That would be silly.

But, I do suffer financially in order to make my trips a reality, and I never am able to just put up the money upfront 12 months in advance, but do treat it as my ROTH IRA, making monthly payments. I will be on my 4th trip in as many years to Africa, while also mixing in Italy, Costa Rica, Quebec and Chile inbetween those visits.

Yes, I could have probably had a nice down payment on another property with all that I have spent, but I would also be miserable and less healthy (stress).

I just find it sad when people have the means to travel but do not. At least a couple times a month, I cross paths with a guy around my age that is driving a $110,000 Hummer, featuring a bumper sticker that says Lake Havasu. Lake Havasu is fine, I guess, if you are 16 - 21 years old, but it is a pretty sad destination, otherwise. I would doubt that this guy has ever left the continent, yet less been to Africa.

Don't even get me started with the people that tell me they would NEVER visit Africa, as if it is some pariah. I, on the other hand, find it hard to visit anywhere else, now that I know of Africa.
Roccco is offline  
Mar 31st, 2005, 09:21 AM
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I used to feel as Roccco does about people who have the means to travel but don't. But then I realized it means fewer people gazing at the rose window of Notre Dame when I'm trying to see it myself, so that's ok with me. Or as Roccco said in a post recently, "more Africa for me"! Lots of my friends think I'm odd to want to go to Africa, much less (heaven forbid!) RETURN to Africa -- "you've already been there, why would you want to go back?" -- and I usually don't try to explain in detail, unless the person really does want to know.

When I was a kid and people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I answered "I want to go to France!" I do think the world would be a better place if more people traveled, but I've realized that those don't have the wanderlust, just don't have it. Those who do (lucky us!), do.
Celia is offline  

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