A Funny Thing Happened

Credit: Arne Hoel / World Bank, some rights reserved

I was absolutely going to spend Thanksgiving in France.

Jim couldn’t get the time off work and I didn’t want to give back the time I had already planned to take off work. France offered an easy and inexpensive solution and one that would allow me to see my goddaughter and her family – something I need few excuses to do.

But then the flights kept increasing in price. And my friends work during the week so I was looking at flying into Paris, driving to them in Dijon for the weekend, driving back to Paris on Monday and spending until Friday there, driving back to Dijon on Friday, and driving back to the airport on Sunday to go home. Which is admittedly…kinda dumb. Especially when I can, and should, just try to do one long weekend every year there and make it coincide with a French bank holiday.

So now I was faced with a week that needed to meet two requirements: 1. be some place Jim and I aren’t dying to go together and 2. be some place that wasn’t going to break the bank. It would be great if the some place wasn’t cold. I hate the cold.

So the Western Hemisphere is out. Thanksgiving is the biggest travel week of the year and in addition to flights within the US being at their highest prices, flights to the Caribbean, Central, and South America were likewise inflated. Europe is…pretty cold. I would have absolutely done the week in Turkey were it not for the fact that Turkey is in our top 5 of places we want to go together. I considered going back to Morocco, since we’ve already been there. And then I just opened up google maps and zoomed out looking for places to go. Literally.

Credit: Muntaka Chasant

I’ve never been to West Africa and identified Ghana, Senegal, and Nigeria as places I’d like to investigate. After some preliminary investigations, Ghana won out. Ghana is now on the list.

I’ve been to Jordan ever so briefly. I’d like to see more of Jordan than 6 hours’ worth of Petra. Jordan is on the list.

A very instagrammy part of me is eager to add the last country to my list that would enable me to draw a continuous line north/south through African countries I’ve visited. In truth, I’d also really like to visit Ethiopia. So, despite my knowing that a week wasn’t nearly enough time, Ethiopia is on the list.

Then I went to r/travel (that would be the travel subreddit). Though I’ve been a reddit member, apparently, for 5 years, I’ve never really reddited. Then Jim showed me someone else’s post and I felt compelled to respond, so I reactivated my account. This led to my commenting on several posts, reading several more, and wondering why I haven’t been on travel reddit all along – there are good people there. So I posed my question, where would you go for a week if these were your choices.

And someone named Sean responded and said, actually, you should go to Rwanda.

So now I’m going to Rwanda.

Yup, this happened.

As in, I bought my tickets this morning.

And have an itinerary.

And a date with the elliptical if I want to make it to 4506m on top of a volcano.

I don’t think I’m going to go gorilla trekking, although Jim said this morning I should just effing do it because YOLO and we could all be killed by comets (he didn’t say that last part because he is not stupid). Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is perilously expensive ($1500/day); gorilla trekking is something we have long wanted to do together when we grew up enough to be able to afford it; because gorilla trekking is perilously expensive, it means I would be violating rule 2 of the trip: no bank breaking. (I could pop on over to Uganda where trekking is only $600/day, but this is actually something I want to experience as a couple – I’m a sap that way).

Instead, I plan on hiking in the same national park where you would find gorillas, visiting Akagera national park, and exploring Kigali. I chose three things so that I wouldn’t be rushed and yet still be able to get a feel for a country I definitely intend to return to as a twosome.

And this is really the beauty of solo travel. I posted on reddit Sunday. Since I’m the only one who needs to make this decision, I was able to go from suggestion to booking in under 48 hours. Yes, it helps that nothing was especially spendy: the plane ticket was just shy of $800, but I used points, so it was 100% free; lodging and car rental both seem reasonable, and after I’ve eaten a couple of croissants and done a little marketing, I would be hard pressed to spend $2,000 on this trip. Which, for my budget, is right on target. And so I just did it. This is the kind of spontaneity which is relatively new to me. When we plan a trip as a couple, there’s a lot of back and forth and a lot of making sure it fits with two schedules. (For example, we know we’re going to Sri Lanka in February, we even know the dates, but we don’t have tickets for that yet).

This, for me, is a real adventure in that I haven’t (yet) fully prepared for it. I have two months within which to learn more, fill in some blanks, get my lungs ready for altitude (also get my yellow fever shot – first one in nearly 25 years), and figure out how I can ever thank “Sean” the reddit user for putting me on this path.


6 thoughts on “A Funny Thing Happened

  1. Oh my goodness!!! I’m so excited for your adventure even though I know you were looking forward to France for a multitude of reasons. And now you are climbing a VOLCANO. And Rwanda. You (and your lungs) got THIS. Also: I kinda want to stow away in your luggage but that negates the whole solo travel thing.


    1. I feel like a bit of a heel, but I was going to spend almost as much time traveling as I was going to spend actually with them. And I’m still riding the high of surprising her with a visit on her birthday last year, so maybe she’ll let me get a pass on this.


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