Wealthsimple asked me to design my dream trip and set up an awesome savings plan to turn my dream #10KTrip into a reality, but before we jump into the trip planning, there are two things readers need to know:
1. Mountains are my life – For the past decade, I’ve trekked around the Canadian Rockies and the Andes. I’ve explored the Lyngen Alps, located high above the Arctic Circle in Norway, and cycled back and forth across New Zealand’s Southern Alps. I’ve even managed to cross some lesser-known ranges, like the Caribou Mountains in northern Alberta, Sierras de Cordoba.
2. Go Big or Go Home – I tend to commit myself to some ambitious goals and I am not afraid to suffer. Back in 2007, I was out of shape, so I booked a flight to southern Chile and spent three months hiking and camping. My honeymoon as a 4500 km cycle tour. I compress 3-day hikes into afternoon excursions. My idea of a dream trip doesn’t involve relaxing poolside.
With those two parameters fresh on my mind, it only took a few minutes to decide my #10KTrip would land me in the happiest country on earth: Bhutan.
Bhutan is an often-overlooked Himalayan kingdom sandwiched between India and China, just east of Nepal. Although it’s most famous for its eloquent belief in Gross National Happiness, my desired itinerary will definitely lean towards type-2 fun. In simpler terms, the smiles will have to wait until the journey ends.
What is my #10kTrip in the happiest country on earth? It’s the 25-day long Snowman Trek, widely considered one of the hardest mountain treks on the planet.
Sadly, I cannot tell if it’s one of the hardest mountain treks because it crosses nine mountain passes that all reach beyond 4500 meters or if it’s because Bhutan can seem prohibitively expensive.
Bhutan Travel Info
The Tourism Council of Bhutan has “High Value, Low Impact” tourism policy that includes a minimum daily package. Although the package includes all meals, 3-star or above hotel options, and camping equipment and haulage for all mountain treks, the cost – $200-$250 depending on the season – still comes in shockingly high compared to other countries in the region.
The Snowman trek, which lasts 25 days by itself, is only possible during two weather windows: Mid-September through mid-October and during May. Because of its remote location, the trek requires a minimum 30-day visit, which comes in at a shocking rate of $6000-$7500.
But even that isn’t necessarily the correct price, as that minimum fee must be paid to a Bhutanese tour operator or an international partner company that often charges higher rates for the service and comfort of paying an international accredited travel agent.
The Canadian-based company Himilayan Expeditions has a flat rate of $8370. Budgeting in an additional $1700 for international airfare, I feel comfortable rounding the total off at $10000.
But wait, as that is in US dollars. As a Canadian, that means I need to come up with $12410.10.
My #10KTrip Plan
The Snowman Trek has all the elements of a fantastic adventure and, if it weren’t for the cost, it’d be placed squarely at the top of my bucket list. Mixing pristine wilderness with authentic Buddhist culture in one of the world’s great mountain chains sounds like reason enough to come up with the money to make this trek happen.
Thanks to Wealthsimple, I’ve come up with a plan to turn this dream adventure into a reality. Here’s how I plan to save:
I will open up a Tax-Free Savings Account to invest my savings over the next 5 years. This will allow my investments to grow tax-free, without any penalty when I withdraw the funds. At the end of 5 years, my monthly $150 contribution will be worth $11,162.10 (assumes 8% annual rate of return).
Setting aside a small amount of money into an investment account every month will allow my money to grow faster than a typical savings account.
What’s your #10KTRIP?
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