|For many big game hunters, Africa is a dream destination, but that dream can be a reality.|
I'd dreamed of hunting Africa since I was a boy, and although I expected to get there "one day", I never thought I could do so before the age of 40. But I did. How? Well, it helps that a plains game safari in Africa is surprisingly affordable (but that's a topic for a future blog). I still had to save up a significant amount of money to do so. Here are some tips to help you afford to make that dream hunt a reality.
- First you need to determine how much your dream hunt is going to cost. A great way is to enlist the services of a reputable booking agent, such as Jack Atcheson and Sons or The Hunting Consortium. These hunting consultants will work with you, usually at no charge to you, to find a hunt that fits within your budget. Many reputable outfitters will also cater a hunt to suit your budget. For example, if you just can't afford a 12-day moose or brown bear hunt in Alaska, it may be possible to tailor a shorter hunt that you can afford.
- Jack Atcheson and Sons' motto is, "Go hunting while you are physically able," and I really believe in this. Let's face it, none of us are getting any younger. Too many people put off their dream hunts until "one day" because they feel they can't afford it, but when they finally can, Father Time has made climbing that mountain or slogging across that tundra or through that rain forest just too difficult. Once you've determined how much your dream hunt is going to cost, you need to start finding ways to save up the money.
- If your time is flexible, ask your booking agent or preferred outfitter to let you know if they happen to have any last minute cancellations. These can save you thousands of dollars. Some booking agents even have a regular mailing list advertising these specials.
- If you have a savings or checking account that you deposit your paychecks into, you should be able to set up one or more single-purpose sub-accounts dedicated to saving up for your dream hunt. I have one called "Africa" and another called "Alaska". Instruct your bank to automatically transfer a certain amount of money on a regular basis, say $25 per week, to such a dedicated account. Hopefully such small withdrawals will be relatively painless to your overall finances, and if you plan your hunt a few years in advance, it's surprising how much money you will have saved by then. You may not have enough to cover the entire cost, but it could be a big chunk.
- You can really increase the balance in this dedicated account if you can supplement these regular transfers with the occasional lump sum deposit. If you get a tax refund, consider using a portion of that. Or if you have any additional side income, perhaps from a part-time job or other irregular work, earmark that money for your hunting account.
- Airfare is often a big chunk of the total cost of a dream hunt. Frequent flyer miles are a great way to help with some or all of this expense. Consider switching to a credit card that gives you air miles for each dollar you spend, preferably the type that can be used on virtually any airline. Never increase how much you charge to your credit card just so you can get the air miles, but lots of us now put many regular monthly expenses on a credit card already for convenience, so you might as well use this to your advantage in helping make your dream hunt a reality.