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The ROI of Adventure

Carol Rice, Founder and Owner of Ahwatukee Travel, shares her passions and insights about travel

As the founder and owner of Ahwatukee Travel, a full-service travel agency that specializes in luxury vacations, cruises, destination wedding planning and honeymoons, Carol Rice truly understands how beneficial it is to devote time and money to traveling.

“Travel is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make in your life,” Rice says, adding that she views it as an invaluable journey toward self-discovery, cultural enrichment and personal growth.

“It goes beyond mere sightseeing and offers a profound education in diversity, fosters empathy, and simply expands one’s worldview.”

In addition, Rice notes, traveling often inspires self-reflection, challenges comfort zones, and builds confidence.

“The memories forged become a lifelong asset, contributing to a rich tapestry of life experiences. I have yet to encounter someone who regretted taking the time and money to travel.”

Rice, who has worked in the travel industry for over 40 years, also has plenty of firsthand knowledge about the joys of traveling, both within the United States and internationally.

“I am passionate about getting people out and traveling around the world as I know, and have experienced, what a life-changing experience it can be,” she says.

Rice’s most recent adventure took place in the fall of last year, when she enjoyed an exhilarating trip to South Africa.

“I had always heard that Africa was a magical place but didn’t understand what that truly meant until I experienced it for myself, and it did not disappoint. I had traveled to Kenya in 2021 which was my first trip to Africa and by the very last day I knew I would be back.”

After booking her trip through Great Safaris, Rice started preparing for her journey, including packing plenty of things to keep her busy during the 17-hour flight from Atlanta to Cape Town.

Although she admits that being on a plane for such a long time felt a bit overwhelming, the books, blanket, pillows she brought along helped the hours literally and figuratively fly by  – as did the in-flight movies and food service.

“It’s a long journey to get to Africa but well worth it,” she says.

Despite the long journey to get there, Rice wasted no time in getting out to experience the beauty and culture of the area.

“On our first day we went to Table Mountain by cable car. The view from the top showed all the beauty and wonder of the town of Cape Town,” she says, adding that she enjoyed delicious meals that day at Silo Rooftop and the Kloof Street House. 

“The next day we visited the famous wine region known as Lanzerac Taphuis. This region of Africa compares to Napa Valley for its quality of wine.”

On her last day in Cape Town, Rice went to Cape Point to see the Boulders Penguins and visited the Kirstenbosch Gardens.

“We then flew from Cape Town to Botswana and took a safari vehicle to Chobe National Park, where we stayed at Belmont Suvate Elephant Luxury Tent Lodge,” she says.

“This region had a water hole in which dozens of elephants gathered by day and night. I sat on my patio for hours watching the elephants interact with one another and watched the mothers protect and nurture the young. It was incredible.”

Rice’s last stop was Victoria Falls, where she stayed at the Palm River Hotel, which was just a few miles from the falls.

“There we saw the beautiful waterfalls, did an elephant encounter, and enjoyed a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.”

While Rice thoroughly enjoyed her adventures in South Africa, she wants to remind and reassure people that they don’t have to travel thousands of miles and be away for a long time to have a memorable adventure.

“Whether you’re able to take three weeks off or only have three days, any time spent traveling is an investment in yourself or your family,” she says.

“We are lucky to live in a country with a vast array of landscapes, cultures, and foodscapes – in addition to easily being able to hop the border to Canada or Mexico for a quick, and often affordable, getaway.”

For people who would like to invest in traveling, but aren’t sure what to do first, Rice has plenty of helpful advice.

“First things first – if you're planning to travel internationally, go dust off your passport and ensure it will have at least 6 months of validity from the date of your departure,” she says.

If people don’t have a passport, Rice suggests applying for one as soon as possible.

“Wait times can vary, depending on the time of year, such as seasons of high travel like spring break and summer.”

If deciding where to go is challenging, due to not having a lot of travel experience or perhaps wanting to go everywhere, Rice says Ahwatukee Travel provides expert destination advice at no charge.

“Our goal is to create a trip that checks all our boxes, and there may be destinations that fit your wish list that you've never heard of before,” she says, adding that whether someone is looking for beach therapy, an adventurous hike, or strolling the Irish pubs, she and her staff has the tools and connections to put together a perfect getaway.

No matter where and when people decide to go, and for how long, Rice says the important thing is to make investing in travel a priority.

“Every trip, despite its length, is worth taking. We only get one life, and we have no idea how much time we have on this earth, so make it adventurous, make it fun and make it count.”

AhwatukeeTravel.com | 480.464.9889

“Whether you’re able to take three weeks off or only have three days, any time spent traveling is an investment in yourself or your family."

“[Travel] goes beyond mere sightseeing and offers a profound education in diversity, fosters empathy, and simply expands one’s worldview.”

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