Presented by Jaguar Des Moines
Jaguar Des Moines

Traveling with other Iowans, Sue Brenton shares a personal moment with a group of Iranian women. 

Expertise, Careful Planning Open New Vacation Lands

Having just unpacked from a vacation in Israel, John Schmidt and Deb Wiley weren’t planning to hit the road again anytime soon. And then the phone rang, with Buz Brenton on the line asking the Des Moines couple whether they wanted to join him on a trek to Iran.

"We had never considered that option," says Schmidt. Nor had most Americans, as the U.S. and Iranian governments have had poor relations for decades and that has dampened travel aspirations.

In a prime example of offbeat vacations, though, Schmidt, Wiley and the Brentons took advantage of a diplomatic thaw and had a great time. Over a two-week period in 2016 they toured cities that touched on the Silk Road, saw the vast expanse of ancient Persia, ate great food and took endless selfies with friendly Iraniansmany of whom spoke English and were eager to meet real Americans.

While current U.S.-Iran relations might lead you to look elsewhere, offbeat vacations are as accessible as ever. As more and more people whet their travel appetite on the Eiffel Tower of Paris or Ramblas of Barcelona, they’re likewise drifting toward not-so-common ports of call.

Like Bulgaria, perchance? Bosnia?

"Eastern Europe and the old communist nations are coming of age and developing an infrastructure" to handle Westerners and their tastes in hotels and transportation, says Dean Burtch. He owns Allied Travel ( in Johnston, and says new and slightly exotic experiences are becoming more commonplace.

Michaela Moore of Creative Vacations & Cruise Centers ( in Ankeny says she just lined up a visit to Sri Lanka for a honeymooning Des Moines couple. The newlyweds, both in their 60s, are interested in yoga and also wanted to attend cooking classes.

Moore says she talks with clients about their interests, plus their fitness level, budget, time to travel, and other factors. She’s not a specialist in Sri Lanka, so when an offbeat destination pops up, she, or Burtch and his team, will reach out to a network of country-specific specialists who can assemble itineraries and activities for the traveler. Schmidt, Wiley and the Brentons, for instance, contacted a Seattle travel company that focuses on the Middle East.

For such locales, it might be best to hire a guide (it was mandatory in Iran). You won’t know local customs, the language or food and lodging choices. So it helps to employ someone who can explain the country in the detail that you’ll want, now that you’ve taken the time to travel there.
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Legacy Bridge

Consider Savvy Shortcuts for More Adventure Travel 

There’s offbeat travel, and then there’s adventure travel. Like a zip line in Costa Rica, or rafting the Gnashing Jaws of Death rapids on the Zambezi River.

But what if you’re not feeling as young as you once were (because you aren’t) and don’t care to rappel off the side of a cliff? You can still do this, with some adjustments, and take some pity on your body.

A retired Des Moines lawyer likes to ride bikes in Europe with his adult children. They can go faster then he can. Rather than impede the group, he rents a bicycle with a motor that kicks in on demand and maintains a suitable speed.

Visitors to Japan’s Mount Fuji love to be at its 12,388-foot summit at sunrise. But you don’t need to grind yourself down with a seven-hour trek to get there—a bus will haul visitors at least halfway to the top. Similarly, in Spain, I know hikers on the Camino Santiago who hired a taxi to take them out of town and drop them a third of the way to the next overnight stop. There’s no rule that says you have to walk every inch of this 500-mile journey, so why not save your body for another day?
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Denton Homes
801 Chophouse

You'll Never Get Rich Playing Defense With Your Money

If you want money, you’ve got to get on offense.

I was raised on the "defense of finances" strategy. It made me act cheap for years. Not spending or investing in what I should and being miserable. I was taught that way because that’s what my mother knew. But you can’t win a boxing match or a soccer game without going on the offense. To win, you have to go for the knockout or the goal.

My father died when I was 10. My mother was left with the house and a small insurance settlement. She sold the house within a month because she was worried that there was no income coming in and it was an expense. She always was worried about money then, and this is the mentality I grew up withmoney is to be saved, be frugal, don’t spend your hard-earned cash. But those are lies. This mentality is just outdated thinking that is keeping you from your goals!

A financial defense attitude is saving money and not spending. A financial offense attitude is spending money and investing. You can’t save your way to wealth. Money is to be used, not stored. > FULL ARTICLE

Why the Charitable Remainder Trust Has Staying Power
Walt Mozdzer, CFP®, CAP® - Lead Advisor

For the charitably-minded facing a large capital gain, there is a time-tested way to sell concentrated holdings, reinvest with less risk, and avoid writing a large check to Uncle Sam—and it’s not just for the ultra-wealthy. > FULL ARTICLE

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