Tag Archives: mytravelstory

Travel and Passports

Passports are issued by a country’s government and it confirms a person’s identity and nationality for worldwide travel.  Passports basically contain information like the bearer’s place of birth, name, date of birth, photograph, signature etc.  When planning to travel out of the boarders of your home country to any other country, the first thing you would need to process is your international passport and have it ready before any other thing. You don’t need a passport for local flights or trips within your country of origin.

   

In Nigeria, passports are usually issued by the Nigerian immigration service. They are not processed immediately and may take a duration of weeks to be ready. The standard Nigerian passport consists of two categories, a 32 page passport with a 5 year validity and a 64 page passport with a 10 year validity. The 32 page passport has 33 usable pages for visas, stamps or stickers. Frequent travelers go for the 64 page passport, as it has more usable pages.

There are also different types of passports based on purpose of travel and they include

Emergency passports: These types of passports are issued temporarily in urgent situations like when you loose your passport or have it stolen and do not have time available to apply for a new one, upon contacting your embassy, you would be issued this passport. This passport is just for the moment to get you to your destination on emergency grounds, hence you will have to process a new and valid passport on arrival to your destination.

E-passport : These are also known as electronic passports which are also available in Nigeria. This type of passport booklet has a electronic chip in it which helps prevent passport fraud.  This electronic chip on the front of the passport booklet holds the same information that is in the passport data page and also has a bio-metric identifier. It makes it way too difficult to impersonate another person.

Official passport: This type of passport is meant for government employees, entering another country for official purposes. The official passport doesn’t come with any special privileges.

Diplomatic passport: This is a special type of passport meant for diplomats sent to foreign missions, representing their home country for official purposes. This passport comes with special privileges and immunities, like exemption from taxes or prosecution.

While travelling out of the country you need to actually present your passport several times at the airport and even at border checks while travelling by road. A passport should have at least 6 months validity before using it to travel. The Nigerian passport is ranked 82nd in the world by the 2022 passport index, with access to 48 nations without visa.

It is important to be a law abiding citizen especially while leaving your country and representing where you are from in a foreign land.  The Nigerian presidential committee recently deactivated 200 Nigerian passports as they were Covid-19 test defaulters. They were found to posses fake vaccination cards and fake PCR tests.  The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi  stated “It has come to the notice of the State Government that certain returning passengers present themselves at the airport either with fake COVID-9 PCR tests or fake vaccination cards or registering as children under 10 years to bypass the National guidelines or providing false COVID related information.”

“These acts will not be tolerated as they represent the main catalyst of all the four waves which have had a major impact on the State public health systems and the economy.”

“We have submitted the first 200 names of individuals who have failed to present themselves at the mobile courts to the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) and their passports have been deactivated for a period of one year”.

Passport Hack: Always have a soft copy of your Passport backed up in the cloud in case of loss of belongings  or theft, to enable easy access at borders.

 

Is Green Africa the cheapest airline in Nigeria?

   

 

It may have been challenging for other airlines in the Nigerian aviation industry as Green Africa Airways announced launching its much awaited airline services in June 24th, 2021, with flight tickets available for purchase by the public for as low as ₦16,500. Considering the negative effect of covid-19 vividly affecting the progress of other airlines in the country, the industry’s newcomer, Green Africa choose a perfect time to hit the Nigerian aviation world, stand out and make a glaring difference. 

 

They were offering to carry passengers almost less than half the amount other local airlines were conveying their passengers! Destinations routes included Abuja, Akure, Enugu, Ilorin, Lagos, Owerri and Port Harcourt. 

The CEO of Green Africa Airways, Babawande Afolabi,  made it clear that one of the main areas of concentration was to focus on the economic interest of it’s customers and provide low cost fares for passengers. 

“We are crafting a network plan that will afford more customers the opportunity to pursue their economic interest or simply spend more time with family and friends,” Afolabi said while announcing the new route.

     

However, months later along the line, after kicking off operations and bringing in fresh competition to the aviation industry in Nigeria, industry experts argue that Green Africa Airways is by far not the cheapest airline in Nigeria. 

Aviation professional analysts suggests that when airlines charge less than  ₦40,000 per passenger, there would be a loss in operational costs of the airline which is risky, as aviation fuel is estimated to cost about  ₦220 per litre and a whooping amount of 8000 litres ( ₦1.7 million)  or more is needed to operate a one way local flight route! 

An unhappy passenger simply identified as Wanger Barnabas Akaazua, stated “If anyone told you this airline is cheap then they don’t know the truth about this airline. They’ve painted a picture that they’re affordable but in the actual sense they are one of the most expensive,” he stated.

 Akaazua lamented that there are so many hidden charges that are only revealed at the counter and not included anywhere on their website.

“What they don’t tell you is that you are entitled to only 7kg (both hand luggage and baggage). So, for every extra 1kg you pay N600.

“Imagine travelling with your family. For a flight of N25,000 I was made to pay an extra N10,000. Even hand luggage is weighed. How will I pay N25,000 and be entitled to only 7kg? That’s how I ended up paying N35,500 when Air Peace was N30,000,” the passenger complained. 

There are three types of economy class on the Green Africa Airways, which are the gSaver,  gClassic and gFlex.  The prices of these ticket types differ on baggage allowance. Passengers’ flight fares vary based on the amount of luggage they carry. 

The gSaver flyer enjoys 7kg hand luggage, the gClassic flyer enjoys all the benefits of the gSaver ticket plus an additional 15kg checked in luggage while the gFlex passengers has access to 7k hand luggage, 15kg checked in luggage, free seat selection, free online check-in and flight ticket changes at no additional fee.

 

How to lighten your suitcase when travelling

 

The holiday season is upon us and somewhere right now, some how,  many of us have our empty luggages waiting to be filled up and carried off to that amazing Christmas destination!

If you are a chronic over packer like most people out there, you would be thinking of what to put in or not put into your suitcase to avoid making it unnecessarily heavy and full of items you don’t actually need for your trip. Relax over packers, you’re also covered!

To begin with, being at the airport with an over-weight suitcase heavier than an elephant is an annoying and costly experience, especially when you’ve tried your very best not to over pack. Airlines have a baggage allowance policy for each passenger and exceeding the baggage allowance costs extra money.

Here are some tricks to help you organise your luggage with just what you would need for your next trip and still stick to the allowed baggage policy.

 

1)      Forget about the just incase outfits : Many travellers, both female and male, usually have this urge to put in extra outfits in their suitcases for the unexpected occasions that may turn up. This particular packing habit needs to be dropped as you will most likely pack up a lot of clothes you do not need and most likely will not even wear during your trip.

2)      Arrange your travel wardrobe: Before heading out on a trip, research on how the weather will be in your intended destination and also the most likely events or spots you would visit. This will help you plan out what type of outfits to pack up for your trip and keep away the unneeded items.

3)      Always include neutral outfits: These are outfits that have basic colours that practically goes with and looks good on any other colour. Black, grey, nude, white etc. This is reasonable, because it frees up the space of packing up 6 or 7 different outfits, when one neutral outfit could be packed and rhyme with every outfit you pair it with!

4)      Pack less shoes: This won’t be easy, especially for the ladies but packing less shoes is important. Apart from the fact that shoes have a lot of weight, you definitely won’t be needing so many pairs. Two to three pairs of shoe should serve for your trip, hence you need to plan what shoes would go better with your already selected outfits. Anne McAlpin, a packing expert, says “people often over pack shoes, but setting a maximum of three pairs will help you pare down your wardrobe and avoid over packing.”

5)      Use packing cubes: Using compression cubes or bags are becoming more popular with travellers. Compression technology is so vital to travel as it will assist to keep you organised and also save up space in your bag.

6)      Don’t be a last minute packer: A lot of people are guilty of this, packing just a night before your trip can be crucial and chaotic. Asides from packing a lot of item you do not need, you may also forget a lot of item you actually need and end up with a pretty heavy luggage.

 

How to Create your Travel Story

Have you had a moment where this thought crossed your mind, ‘What is my travel story?’ 

Some people find it difficult to articulate where they want to go and think they are unadventurous or lack the passion for traveling. On the other hand, people who are introverts by nature feel this way because they love being indoors or in their comfort zone. Consequently, when others share stories of places they have been and what they have done, you feel left out. 

The truth remains that we all have travel stories. We have places we have been to and lived in that others long to visit; places we’ve been to that others have experienced differently. More importantly, we have many pages to add to our travel story with every breath we take. 

The trick to creating fulfilling travel experiences is not by traveling to places everyone talks about; it is about being in places that speak to your soul. Moments like these are worth the days spent squirreling away funds to experience.  

The easiest way to create your perfect travel story is by delving into the things that bring you joy. It would make a poor travel story if you are acrophobic and spend both time and resources planning a tour that includes bungee jumping. An activity that seems like fun to others might end up being a traumatic experience for you. 

It would be exciting, however, if you are a book lover and you plan a trip with the Tianjin Binhai Library, China, on your travel list. The library’s iconic architectural structure and the wide array of books would make it a travel experience you are unlikely to forget. 

For people who do not have a fixed place in mind to visit but love to exchange travel stories, trips to popular places are the best option. The Effiel Tower in Paris, Yosemite National Park in California, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and Hawaii beaches are some popular travel destinations.

You don’t necessarily have to break the bank to create a fulfilling travel experience. Although factors like the location of your travel destination, duration of your stay, and accommodation plans can hike your travel budget, you can plan a trip that doesn’t cost much in these areas. 

A great way to cut down the cost of travel is by traveling as a group to have access to discounts on accommodation and feeding. The best way to have a travel experience within budget is to plan the details of your trip and start saving towards it beforehand.

In all, it is important to note that places that bring you excitement create exciting travel experiences. So don’t sweat the fact that you aren’t super thrilled by what Paris has to offer. Plan a trip to where calls to you the most. And if you aren’t sure where to go, try looking for the places said to give the best services in what brings you the most comfort, and plan for a trip there!

 

Traveling away Heartbreak

The first time I got heartbroken, I ran home. My University was approximately a 6-Hour bus ride to my state of origin, and I wasted no time making that trip.

The day before my journey, I called my mom to tell her I was coming over. She sensed something was wrong, but I fibbed, ‘Lagos is too hard for me, I just need a break.’ The next day, I packed my bags and took the first bus home.

I couldn’t stand the sight of anything around me without unleashing waterworks with abandon. It made embarrassing moments for both my roommates and me because I hated to show emotions publicly. It also made the first hour of my trip home equally embarrassing because I couldn’t disguise my constant sniffling and blurry eyes as a cold. It wasn’t flu season. 

As I tried to ignore the build-up of aching bitterness in my chest, I found myself staring out the window wondering when my thoughts changed from utter despise of the State connected to him, to nostalgia. I missed being on the road.

I found traveling by road exciting. I got to stick my hand out the window and whip my head back and forth as the sights passed in a blur. The change of landscape from muddy hills to a thick cluster of trees, and occasionally surprising pocket of waterbodies inspired woolgathering. It was a marvelous experience.

Growing up, I indulged in creating characters before a trip. Sometimes, I was an archeologist going on a treasure hunt and turned every sight into a monument with a thrilling backstory. Sometimes, I was an undercover agent on a rescue trip. Whatever character I played gave a different definition to the scenery and people around me. 

This time, there was no one else to play but the heartbroken girl longing for her mother to wrap her wounds. I found out this character too gave a different outlook on things. The trip bought me time away from obsessively checking my phone in hopes of getting notifications from him- the network was terrible. With my seclusion from the internet, I could focus on myself, and the moments that led to my decisions.

It gave me time to think things through carefully; what was best for me? What had I done wrong? How would this change my view of certain things? What did I need to do to get through this unscathed? When I found myself getting overwhelmed, I stared out the window and let the scenery distract me. By the end of the trip, I felt a lot calmer than at the beginning.

I was able to put on my cloak of romantic optimism. It is a big world, and my trip didn’t fail to show me the little bit I got to see was full of marvel. It was going to be a rough couple of weeks, but I would make it out stronger. And when in doubt, all I had to do was take a trip and let it dazzle me back to my sense.

Road trip to Portharcourt

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.

Photo credit – PH Drones‏ @drones_ph

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.

Fish and Boli, a Portharcourt delicacy

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.

Falling in love

Once upon a time, I sojourned to a land unknown, to study a course stumbled into by serendipity and while studying found my voice, today the rest is history in the making. I enrolled in Tourism development as part of a double major course and found myself in a class of 5, the only female, 1 Briton, 2 Vietnamese and  lastly from Phuket.

L-R : 2 Vietnamese, Tutor, myself – Nigerian , Phuket – Thailand, Briton

They all had dreams,  plans and 2 of them had a Tourism related job back home. Class was fun and very interactive as there was no where to hide in the midst of a crowd of five. At the beginning, I had fuzzy pictures in my head of what I wanted to do with the course or greater still trying to figure out what am doing in the class .

One day, just like waking up from a deep sleep, it became crystal clear thus Travel begins at home (Project TBAH) was born and I started embracing,  my deep – rooted love for going out, follow – follow (following parents on trips, market runs, barbershop, mechanic workshop  etc)  and travelling .

Memories came flooding back of  trips I made legally and illegally all fresh and green . One day,  while still in Primary school on a PE (Physical Education) uniform wearing day.  PE uniform was dirty from school  and on getting home, refused to change it, played some more , climbed trees and part of lunch spilled on the front. Later In the evening,  Mom was speaking with my Uncle about an errand to my cousins house, before she concluded with him, I quickly went outside and sneaked into the boot of the car (see below the car type,very roomy boot ) Panel van (as we used to call it then )


Took a good position and balanced well.  He pulled out of the compound and no one noticed I was missing. Midway to my cousins, I startled my Uncle by jumping from the boot to the back seat. Luckily for us both he had a lot of shock absorber so he did not crash the car. I moved on to the front seat and chatted with him all the way oblivious of the storm brewing back home.

Back home, it was getting dark and a search party was looking for me everywhere, including under the beds. Eventually someone suggested I probably followed my Uncle but Mom was double sure I did not as she saw him drive out.  After a call to my cousins  land line phone, everyone breathe a sigh of relief as they now know my where about.

On getting back, I got the beating of my life for :

  • Going out looking this dirty !
  • Hiding in the boot and startling my Uncle : which Mom said could have caused an accident.

Did i stop doing follow follow ? No but I sure never hide in the boot ever again !