The furthest I ever traveled growing up was to my hometown in Edo State which was roughly a four-hour drive spent with my face pressed to the windowpane of my dad’s Honda Civic. In excitement, as we zoomed past thick clusters of trees, I must have reenacted an adventure story where I would get lost in the woods a thousand times.
That got old fast, and subsequent years were spent with me sleeping away the travel time and wondering if travel would ever be as exciting as the first time the idea was announced to me.
I was deployed for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC-a mandatory one-year national program after tertiary education) to Port Harcourt, the rumored most happening state in Nigeria after Lagos and Abuja, I was so excited I wanted to resume camp for my Youth Service that second.
I had the playlist I would listen to all through the 10-hour bus trip planned out; my matching outfit was guaranteed to tell the world I had spent the better part of my teenage years in Lagos State, and the sunglasses (you can’t go on a trip without sunglasses) were set in the pocket of my carrier bag.
I was off to explore a whole new life; my name could have been changed to Dora.
To say the least, the actual trip was much different from the trip in my imaginations, and that led to me creating a checklist I religiously follow when embarking on a long trip.
Let’s flashback for a second. The most cost-effective means of travel in Nigeria is by bus. However, if you can afford flight tickets and know your travel mission is time-sensitive, by all means, take a flight; but if you are ready for an adventure, please, travel by bus.
You think you have seen all Nigeria has to offer until you travel by bus.
Most of my fun memories were derived from countless hours spent on bus trips I took frequently on my way to and from my University which was located in another state. Among these memories was the discovery of new playlists, eavesdropping on beliefs so queer I forgot I wasn’t a part of the conversation, passengers becoming the experts at driving when you hit that traffic jam to Neverland, or sampling delicacies from roadside merchants.
Sampling delicacies by the roadside is for the brave-hearted, if your stomach walls are not thick or too sensitive stay away from them.
Port Harcourt was the first 10-11 hour trip I had ever braved, and despite the contrast in intriguing sceneries, as the hours flew by, I realized my legs were made to endure shorter trips, and ten hours was a lot of time my playlist wasn’t ready for. From then my travel checklist became more realistic.
One, you cannot take a ten hour trip in ill-fitting clothes. Your soul will never forgive you in another ten hours after that.
Two, power banks are as essential as air.
Three, drinking water before a 10-hour trip is the apple Adam and Eve ate in the garden of Eden- the bane of all long trips.
Four, trust that no restroom stops along the way would have the essentials, go with your own tissue paper.
And, my favorite, carry along water and drinks you would consume with you from home. Sometimes the prices merchants call for them are ridiculous.
That being said, I staggered out of the bus ten hours later rumpled, humbled by a dead phone, but excited to see what other lessons Port Harcourt had in store for me.