Before the world shut down earlier this year with the pandemic, my husband Dave and I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya for a “bucket-list” safari trip with friends. I’d done a fair amount of traveling, but not yet to Africa. One of our travel friends is a former zoologist (and now a nurse) — this was a trip he had been planning in his head for decades. The trip finally became a reality, and Dave and I were lucky enough to be invited along.
The adventure was amazing, and the country beautiful. We traveled about 24 hours each way and crossed eight time zones. We visited five diverse regions of the country. We’ve created countless memories, and we hope to return in the future.
Writing this post has been on the list ever since returning, but until now, it didn’t seem right to blog about travel. I’ll share some of the life lessons I’ve taken away from the experience, and a very cool surprise along the way.
Lesson #1: You never know who you will meet along the way, and be willing share your ideas.
This was easily the biggest surprise of the trip, meeting someone who knew The Modern Seller. In one of Nairobi’s regional airports our concierge, Kelvin, helped us through security and boarding our first flight (a 12-seater) into the Kenyan countryside. He looked at the flight manifest, and then asked if I was “Amy Franko the author.”
What are the odds of this happening? I didn’t believe him at first. I thought my husband and friends put him up to it. But after coming back through this same airport three days later, meeting Kelvin again (coincidence?), and once again talking business, sales, and the book, I finally believed this was the real deal. I shipped him a signed copy and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. You can see him in the feature photo above; more photos are in a gallery below.
You just never know the inspiring people you’ll meet in this world and and how they will positively impact you. If you’ve been intimidated to put your ideas out into the world, now’s your opportunity to just do it. You might never know who will miss out on being positively impacted by you if you allow intimidation to hold you back.
Lesson #2. There’s freedom in packing light.
The luggage weight limit was 33 pounds. That’s how much per person a bush plane can handle. Not much when you’re planning for multiple climates. The night before the trip we’re down to removing ounces trying to “make weight.” We did make weight, and here is what else I learned: even at 33 pounds there were things I packed that I didn’t need. We often travel (literally and figuratively) with too much baggage. There’s a lot of freedom in traveling as lightly as possible.
Lesson #3. Don’t try to see it all in one trip.
We traveled to four places within the country, with a stopover in Amsterdam on the way back. In 2.5 weeks, that made for plenty of amazing and memorable experiences. A theme from our travel agent and also seasoned travelers that I’m glad we followed: don’t try to see it all in one trip. Go to fewer places; give yourself time and space to experience the place where you are and not feel rushed.
Lesson #4. Be curious about the culture and the people you meet along the way.
I studied up on Kenya and its background before we arrived. I followed well-known Kenyans on social media and familiarized myself several of the region’s newspapers and other media channels. When we arrived in Nairobi and then ultimately to other destinations, I felt more connected to the country and the people I met. Our guides were a wealth of knowledge about the country’s culture and wildlife. We were so interested in learning from them, that they went out of their way to make sure we saw absolutely everything the country had to offer on safari.
Lesson #5. Travel changed me for the better.
I’ve been interested in travel and other cultures from a young age, and it’s been a lifelong dream to take these types of trips. Travel has helped me to see culture through the eyes of those who live in those countries. It has made me more curious and empathetic. Successfully navigating a foreign land is a confidence builder. I’m a believer that travel builds bridges and helps us to see our commonalities. I’m also keenly aware of the need for stewardship of the resources we’ve been blessed with as individuals and as a country. I also have a new appreciation for those who come to this country from abroad to live, work, and perhaps become a citizen.
Lesson #6. Keep dreaming and planning adventures.
The pandemic has impacted every person on the planet in some way, and the impacts have been felt by some individuals and populations more significantly than others. While right now the world is still largely travel restricted, my passion for travel is still as strong as ever. I can’t wait to get back out there. What can’t you wait to do in the next year? What lights you up that you either want to get back to or start anew? I hope you take time to reflect on that over the holiday season and let it inspire you. I encourage all of us to keep dreaming and keep planning adventures. Keep your eyes ahead to a bright future.
I wish all of you in our community a very safe and healthy holiday season and a Happy New Year!
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