Do You Have a Backup Plan?

There are no dead-end trails in Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa. They are all interconnected or circular. Can you guess why? I learned the answer the hard way back in 1986.

I went with a college buddy to the Etosha Pan in the far north of South-West Africa (now Namibia). There was a watering hole just off the main track, so we decided to check it out in hope of seeing some lions.

After a few minutes, we heard the distinctive snort and headshake of an elephant. Behind us on the single land track was an adolescent bull. He was extremely dangerous. His distinctive side-to-side headshake signaled an unhappy elephant.

Elephants are a lot faster than most people think: time to move. I had kept the engine running, but we were facing away from the junction of the water hole sidetrack and the main track. I slowly pulled away from the big guy and rounded a sharp corner…only to find myself facing a wall of impenetrable bush.

Lesson: Always have an escape route in the bush.

In this case, we were lucky. After a tense 10 minutes or so during which the young bull nosed around the track, he eventually meandered down to the water hole to splash some mud on his back to keep mosquitoes at bay.

I slowly reversed out of the cul-de-sac, heart pounding, sweat pouring off my forehead. We hightailed it down the main track until we found a “bush loo”—a fenced area where you can do your business without becoming someone’s meal. We took a good breather as the lesson sank in.

Life is full of dead ends. They’re not risky in and of themselves…but they can quickly become a trap. You can either learn the hard way, or seek out someone who has done it already.

Overconcentration of one’s investments in one asset class is just such a dead end. Diversity is your escape route. The same goes for geographical concentration.

My favorite topic is offshore living.

Think Cape Town, where I have a second home. It’s almost exactly on the same latitude as Punta del Este. If I look due west from the other side of the Cape Peninsula (my house is on the eastern side), I’m looking right at it.

After all, I’ve done it for a huge chunk of my life. Creating a personal escape route from potential dead ends isn’t as difficult as it sounds. And you might just find your perfect escape.

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