Five a.m. comes too fast. As we stand in the cold, dark pre-dawn, waiting for our African game drive to begin at last, it feels as if I’m still dreaming. The kids don’t show signs of being tired, but I know they barely slept and must feel the fatigue, too. After dinner, the night before, our guide Jeffrey insisted on walking us back to our room, rifle in hand, because a leopard was spotted in the camp just a couple of days earlier. That’s all the kids needed to hear — they spent the next two hours shining a flashlight out the window searching for the glowing eyes of animals in the darkness.
Sally, my daughter, is the animal lover of the family and, now, she can barely stand still with nervous excitement. My son Henry is talking to Jeffrey about the plan for that morning. The two boys are actually not that different in age, but Jeffrey grew up in the bush and has the air of a leader — someone you don’t mind following into the wilderness.
Soon, it’s time to take our spots in the Range Rover. Just before we get in, my wife leans closer to me.
“It’s really happening,” she says. “I can’t believe we’re actually here.”
And with that, our African dream trip finally becomes reality.
This trip hasn’t happened — at least not yet. It’s an ideal moment from an imaginary vacation I hope to take with my family one day.
In this issue’s cover story, “The Bucket List,” others in the travel industry share their own — or their clients’ — trips of a lifetime. As you can read, we all have travel experiences that we aspire to, or carry with us as cherished memories. (To read the TravelAge West editors’ bucket lists, visit TravelAgeWest.com/TAW-Bucket-List.)
As a travel agent, this emotional connection to travel is your stock and trade and the essence of your business. How well you nurture this bond with your customers may ultimately determine your success.