Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Holiday Fluctuations

I thought this was going to be a depressing post ... who knows how it'll turn out now tho.

Last night I got a response back from Natural Habitats regarding my query about their Polar Bear trips. They have availability on the trip I wanted to do ... my heart lept for joy. And then I started doing the calculations. I don't know what I did before when I did the exchange rate calculation, but it obviously wasn't right. USD 6000 is NOT R30000. It's a helluva lot more. And I know that as much as I'd love my Mommy to join me on this trip, she's not going to. She can't justify the expense. She'd rather spend the same amount on a holiday somewhere in South Africa for all of us. Which I can totally understand and makes complete sense ... although I'd love for her to join me. We've never done a trip together, just the two of us (us going away for a weekend while she is visiting me in Joburg simply doesn't count!). So I'd be going on my own ... and that means I now have to factor in that annoying "single supplement" fee.

Eurgh. I was shattered. I was questioning if I should do this. I mean it does seem sorta crazy, right? Being willing to spend 50K on a 7 day holiday half way across the world. That's way more than I'd normally spend for a 3 week holiday even!

Let me take a moment here to mention that I know that's a jaw-dropping amount to spend on a holiday. I wouldn't normally be able to justify it. I'm not entirely sure I can at the moment (but I'll try in the next paragraph!). But it's all about priorities and everyone's are different. Mine are to a) currently not own a home (a monthly saving) b) not drive the fanciest or most expensive car (another monthly saving) c) not have kiddies yet (a giant saving) and d) wanting to travel as much as possible before I settle down to spend my money on the things listed above. So please do not consider me completely wasteful. *This* is what *I* save for. Ps. If anyone girls wanna come along & join me, it'd save us both that pesky single supplement ;)

But here's the thing: Varen & I are doing a 7 day trip together, which means if I do a trip on my own it's gotta be roughly 7 days as well, cause I simply don't get that much leave (factoring in the overflow of leave I used up on my trip last year and the 4 days over Xmas we're forced to take that I want to spend in Cape Town this year). So there are plenty of other great places I'd love to travel to ... but it'd simply be a waste to go for a mere 7 days. When I travel I like to know everything got done and there's no need to go back (cause I have a long list of places to visit and things to do and not going back to places is the only way to ensure everything gets done at least once). This is one of those trips that'd be completely and fully "done" in 7 days - assuming I wasn't supremely unlucky and didn't see a single Polar Bear (tell me that can't happen!). The other thing is, I have to weigh up the cost of crossing 3 things off my life list (I have high hopes for the Aurora Borealis, although it's not guaranteed - isn't that picture beautiful?). But if I don't see it, I'll have another chance when I tick off my "stay in an ice-hotel" item ... hopefully ;)

So last night I went thru all the trips again, looking purely at price and the minimum things I wanted to do on the trip (the 3 things from my list) and got in touch with a few other companies that had trips in my price range. Let me tell you, there are not a lot. I was (am) beginning to doubt if this trip will happen. And if it doesn't happen now, when will it? Once I have children I doubt I could justify this kinda expense.

This morning I'm a little more hopeful. I got the link to apply for a $1000 discount voucher on the Natural Habitat trips I'm most keen on (although the Tundra Lodge one is still out of my budget ... the Classic one may now just be achievable!). So I've choosen the dates I'd like to travel and am waiting to hear about flights. Another step that could turn this trip to dust :( My most important factor with these flights is NOT going via Heathrow or anywhere else that requires South African citizens to have a transit visa. I've got to spend about the same as a Schengen visa on the Canadian Visa (almost a grand once you factor in the courier costs, because Why. The. Hell. are all consulates in freaking Pretoria?!), so I'm sure as crap not spending another bundle just so I can see the inside of Heathrow airport :P

Anyhoo, so I wait. It could all come together in the next 2 weeks, or it could come to nothing and I'll start hunting for an alternative. But I'm hoping it'll all work out and I'll be able to stick to my budget and have a trip of a lifetime! Fingers crossed, people ... fingers crossed!

Oh, last night we ate the Tomato Bredie I made on Monday evening. Yeah, I definitely don't know if what I remember as Tomato Bredie actually was Tomato Bredie. It wasn't that great (for me ... Varen ate a whopping two full bowls!). Varen's Oxtail was definitely the better meal that's required 'long-term cooking' so far in our house!


Alfie said...

Beacause freakin Pretoria is the CAPITAL of SA. That. Is. Why all the Consulates are there.

phillygirl said...

That's all fair and well ... but they really should have "visa collection agencies" conveniently situated all over the country. Taking time out of my work-day to drive all the way there & back to submit an application and then do it all again to collect it just does not seem like a smart way of operating ... generally us folks whorequire travel visa's are hard-working and need to be doing that during the day-light hours. OR the government should factor in "visa" days ... additional leave days you can use to drive *all that way* and stand in those queues so that you can actually use your leave to go traveling. Sigh. As such I'm left no other option but to use exorbitantly priced Visa courier services :(

Tamara said...

Why is Pretoria the capital anyway? There's more of us in Jozi! I say please the masses and move the consulates ;-) (I can just imagine the wrath that would incur)

Pity about your mom not going with. But I get that you have different priorities and life lists.

I think yours is awesome, btw. It may just inspire me to write my own.

. said...

I say go for it... Although I hope u read reviews on the potential destinations you're interested in. That's what I do before I purchase anything, even mascara ;) The trip sounds very expensive but I am sure it will be an exhilarating experience and very much worth it!

Best of luck with all the planning!

po said...

I am puzzled as to why you would need a transit visa?! I travel via European cities fairly often and so far I have never needed a transit visa if I am connecting to another flight. Are you sure you need a transit visa?

phillygirl said...

@po - yep, regarding the UK, the law was changed earlier this year (see my post). I also looked into flights via the US and those also require us to have a visa even if you're just enjoying the insides of their airports. Annoying.

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