Meet a Nigerian backpacker Tute who is an avid budget traveler on a Nigerian Passport. Read about how she does it all below:
Hello Tute! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? When did you start travelling? How many countries have you been to?
I was born, bread and buttered in Warri but actually I’m a Bendel baby – Edo State thanks to my dad and Delta State thanks to my mama. I’m the 4th of 5 children, I have a twin brother and coincidentally I am also a Gemini, yay June babies rock! My primary and secondary school education was in Warri and then I did a 3 year stint in Uniport before I moved to Indiana, Pennsylvania in 2001 where I graduated with a double major in Applied Computer Science & Applied Mathematics from IUP.
On a different tip, I love food and subsequently serial dieter. I don’t think there are many diets that I haven’t tried. You name it I’m sure I’ve tried it or a variant of it. I love kids and I play a lot, I’m an adrenaline junkie, a foodie, I don’t have a favorite colors but (oreo) cookies & cream is my favorite ice cream flavor.
Apart from a few trips here and there within the US, the trip that changed my life occurred in 2004 when I decided I would spend the Christmas holidays with my older sister who lived in the Netherlands. After researching places of interest in both the Netherlands and Belgium I packed my bags and off I went. It was one of the most amazing times in my life and I believe it was somewhere between Den Haag and Brussels that I got bitten by the travel bug. Like those pesky little mosquitoes, I didn’t know I was bitten till it was too late.
Since my move back to Nigeria in 2008 I’ve visited 15 countries not counting – Nigeria & the US which will make it 17 and in a few weeks, fingers crossed, I’m trying to add at least another 3 countries to my list to hit the 20 country mark.
- What drives you to travel?
Sometimes, actually most times, I feel “trapped”. Adulthood is a trap and traveling is my escape. At the moment, what drives me to travel is I’m in bucket list checking mode and the No. 1 item on my bucket list is to visit 40 countries by 40. So at 17, with less than 6 years to cross that item off my list, I’m so driven to travel. Also I feel the freest and happiest when I’m traveling. I get to forget about all the problems in and associated with Nigeria and just enjoy myself and live. I can breathe in fresh air, not worry about what I eat, what I wear; I’m free to enjoy creating new experiences, exploring new places, meeting new people, and creating memories my taste buds will remember for years to come.
- As someone who carries a Nigerian passport, how do you get to travel so often?
I believe I speak for most Nigerians when I say I hate the hassles associated with getting a visa, no matter the country. So when I want to travel, I choose destinations that are either visa free/visa on arrival or destinations that the visas give me access to more than one country. For example with my Schengen visa, I have access to 26 countries so I pick countries that have items in my bucket list and countries that are close to each other. This way, I get to see more countries, meet more people, eat more food and cross more items off my bucket list.
At my job, I get 28 working days for my annual vacation and I’ve learned to combine my leave days with the many National public holidays we enjoy in Nigeria, which gives me an additional week or two added on to my leave days.
- What obstacles have you/do you face when traveling?
Money is my biggest obstacle if anything. I usually need more of it but I rarely have a lot of it when I’m traveling.
The one obstacle I clearly remember I’ve faced occurred during my last vacation. I had made a booking, received my booking confirmation via email but I don’t think the information was transmitted to the resort. So I get to the resort at almost 11pm, tired from traveling all day only for them to tell me they had no reservation for me and they were fully booked. For a few hours, ok, being honest about an hour, I was partially homeless and terrified as it seemed I would have to sleep in the reception. But luckily for me the manager was such nice gentleman, he first tried to see if close by resorts had any opening before he finally ‘found’ a free room – someone booked and didn’t show up, and so he gave it to me at an amazing rate. Heaven truly was smiling on me that night I tell you.
Other than that I really can’t think of any other obstacles I’ve faced that has affected my travel/traveling experience. I just chalk up whatever comes as part of being a nomad.
- When you travel, what is your preferred accommodation? Hotels, Airbnb, hostels or friend’s place and why?
My “preferred accommodation” will be one that’s free so I prefer to stay at a friend or family member’s house or in very rare cases, a hotel I’m not paying for – remember this rarely happens though. One of the main reasons I like free accommodation is because it frees up at least 30% of my travel budget which gives me the opportunity to do more activities, go to more places, eat different cuisines and buy more things. Honestly I just feel I’m wasting my money getting a hotel when all I’m doing is storing my luggage and sleeping there at night – two key activities I know. Yes the breakfast could be amazing and the bed extremely comfortable but the truth is, while I’m on vacation, if I can avoid hotel bills, I will.
- What is your favorite/must have travel accessory (ies)?
My iPod Touch is my favorite travel accessory. I go everywhere with it even when I’m not traveling. It doubles as a music/movie player and a camera, not to mention the fact that I can still play my games, check my emails and keep in touch with family through FaceTime.
- Do you travel with a carry-on, regular size suitcase or backpack?
Most of the time I travel with a regular size suitcase and a carry-on because I have to shop. My 46kg (or more depending on what class I travel) of luggage allowance shall never go to waste, never. If I’m going to Europe or the Americas it’s a no brainer, I will shop. I can’t go all that distance without coming back with a few new outfits, I mean it just doesn’t make sense. Especially since it’s relatively cheaper and you have more variety to buy from when you’re out there, why not. So my regular size suitcase and carry-on are always with me.
Sometimes, I do swap one of my regular size suitcases for my backpack especially when I know I have a base where my luggage can be stored and I’m going to be exploring other parts of the country far from my base. All in all, a regular size suitcase almost always accompanies me on most of my trips.
- What country is your favorite so far? Which is your least favorite? Why?
Every country is unique on its own and has their own pros and cons. For example as much as I loved Zanzibar, I despised the fact that it felt like just because I was a tourist and couldn’t speak Swahili, I was being ripped off every step of the way. The locals there when it came to the rates, they charged tourists at least three times what they would charge to their fellow Tanzanians. I hated it but still I loved my time there.
If I really had to pick a favorite country, I might have to say Scotland. Prior to visiting Scotland in the summer of 2015 for the third time, I went online and researched all about Scotland, the highlands, the lowlands and all I could dream of was hitch hiking and camping across the highlands. I knew I was an outdoorsy kinda girl but I never realized how much I loved being outdoors till I was there. I crossed off so many items off my bucketlist in 5 days that I’ve made up my mind it’s still the one country I will definitely go back to again and again to explore. I just can’t seem to get enough of it.
But I still stick to my initial statement. I can’t say I have any favorite country, yet…Who knows maybe my next destination could be my favorite.
- How do you fund your travel?
I save a lot. In my office, my colleagues and I – about 6 of us, do a monthly contribution which is usually about 75% of our monthly salary. I usually schedule my traveling around the time I’m the one to receive the contribution so I tend to have cash when I’m ready to go on my adventures. This is my own way of saving. Also considering the way foreign exchange fluctuates in Nigeria, anytime I have spare cash I buy USD and save it. You know the money is in your account but you don’t have access to it till when you really need it.
I also have other sources of income from various small business ventures I’m in to with my friends and have recently started planning vacation packages for friends for a small fee to supplement my income.
- Any advice for anyone who desires to travel often but cannot because of different constraints?
Planning is everything. I plan all my trips. Months before my trip, I usually always know where I want to go, what I want to do and activities I can cross off my bucket list. Once that’s sorted, I start looking up tickets, hotels or making contact with friends in those countries to check out their availability, and then I start saving like crazy. With free accommodations, I’m usually over prepared and I always have a plan B and enough money just in case I need to pay for a night or five in a hotel.
So again, planning is key. But if you don’t want to spend all that time planning, you can let me do it for you or let us do it together. I or we can plan an amazing trip within your budget, for a very small fee of course.
I believe You Only Live Once so why not take the chance and live a little, if not for anyone, for yourself. Because you deserve it.
Enjoy some of her Travel pictures below 🙂
You can follow Tute on social media and get in touch with her below :
Don’t forget to check out my last post on downloading sky scanner (best travel app out there) http://www.livinginexpensively.com/skyscanner-budget-travel-game-changer/
Have you backpacked before? where to ?
Live Inexpensively Always,