2018 was definitely an unusual year for me as it included two overseas trips. I closed off 2017 while still on an African tour, the last days of 2017 had me camping under the stars in Chobe National Park (Botswana) before heading off to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) for a stunning helicopter flight over the falls, this meant 2018 would be hard pressed to be even better!
So 1 January 2018 saw me joining the last leg of the Africa tour and head back to Chobe National Park this time seeing lots of lion cubs and fighting giraffes. The next 20 days I experienced Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. Highlights included:
- A Mokoro Canoe Ride and the small plane flight over the Okavango Delta (Botswana);
- Watching Giraffes, Lion, Cheetah, Wildebeest, Jackals, Hyenas, Ostriches, Elephants, in the Etosha National Park (Namibia) – this included watching jackals destroy a fresh kill;
- Climbing Dune 45, Hiking to Deadvlei (the Dead Valley) in Sesriem (Namibia) – this was amazing hot; and
- Wining tasting and fun at Cederberg Mountain (South Africa)
On return I went to my first ever Grand Slam Final the Australian Open Men’s Final Cilic v Federer with my nephew Andrew.
Unusually for me I had a second overseas trip in the same year this time to Asia (Hong Kong, Nepal and Tibet) back in October. Highlights included:
- Experiencing Mount Everest (Tibet side) and the stunning Himalayas at altitude.
- The organised chaos of Kathmandu markets (Nepal)
- First class lounges at Hong Kong Airport.
During 2018 I flew 34,107 kilometres for 42 hours and 16 minutes in the air across 8 international flights with 6 in business class and 2 in economy with 5 different airlines. I also visited 8 different international airport lounges which always make travel a little easier.
But a year isn’t all about travel not matter how enjoyable. I got to bond with Andrew and Danelle’s rescue cat Indie who become a welcome visitor to my room each morning for her to receive rigorous back scratches from me.
I watched as Andrew and Danelle set a wedding date (March 2020) and managed to hit difficult saving targets for their first home while living with me. I’ll definitely miss them when they move out after returning from their honeymoon, and not just because ‘my’ cat will be leaving with them 😦
Andrew, Danelle and myself also made go head way having now watched 25 movies from the Top 100 movie list.
I helped organise a First Class International Flight for my brother’s 50th birthday present which he will be taking in 2019 from Sydney to Dallas (USA).
At work I achieved almost everything I wanted to achieve. I found having no staff in Victoria a difficult adjustment. I suspect that in 2019 I’ve been rotated and allocated an area with local staff.
While I’m not saint I think it is always a good idea for mental health and wellbeing to help others at least occasionally. During 2018 I help several people when they lost family members, mentored several younger people, and (I hope) I’m helping Andrew and Danelle a little for their future life. I try to occasionally help my wider family, my mum, brother (Reagan) and sisters (Kara and Lana) even if it’s just keeping in touch it’s important they know I care. I am an introvert in many ways, despite loving to travel in adventure tour groups and speak at public events, so it can take some effort (which is worth it) to reach out to others.
I have a long term plan to be in a position so that after I turn 50 (in January 2025) that if work offered voluntary redundancies I’d be in a position to accept and retire (I’ve been putting away 10% of my salary in voluntary superannuation contributions for last 15 years). While I expect I’ll work into my 50s I now have a safety net in place and I can plan for early retirement for more leisurely travel around Australia and the world.
Planning for 2019 and beyond is processing well. I’m very close to confirming a visit during 2019 to Colombia and to tick off another item from my Bucket List – To Do, this time attending the US Tennis Open.
During 2019 I’ll also be saving my flyer points for a world trip in 2021 or 2022 to Northern Europe (Denmark, Sweden, Greenland, Norway) and Petra (Jordan) and for a later 2024-2025 graduation trip with my niece Erin which will likely include Galápagos Islands and a Caribbean cruise.
I’m also finally expecting to become a full Melbourne Cricket Club member during 2019 so an AFL Grand Final should be in my future 🙂
The next few years are really about building up flyer points, paid leave, retirement funds, and paying off my mortgage while still delivering in an ever increasingly difficult work environment.