San Francisco Golden Gate

East Coast, West Coast! – The Beginning

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Mark and I have recently returned from what I like to describe as a holiday of Morocco-proportions. If you don’t get that reference, you may want to catch up on our trip to Morocco last year.

Even though I describe this adventure in relation to Morocco, the truth is that this trip to the US was in a class of its own. Just like Morocco, Mark planned the entire thing out. At this point, I can’t say that I am surprised to see how wonderful the trip turned out to be.

Hearst Castle USA

Planning the Trip

We had talked about visiting the US for a while. I’m going to say the same thing about Japan when we eventually go! But yes, we had talked about it for a while and since Mark’s brother was getting married, we decided to plan our visit around the same time.

Our trip was made up of four major phases – visiting New York, meeting Mark’s parents, attending the wedding in Maryland and driving down Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

We managed to fit all of this within a three-week time frame. Luckily, we both didn’t really need that much time off work. Our trip fell around four public holidays in Nigeria. We only needed to take 2 weeks off work to get 3 weeks in total.

Lincoln Memorial DC

Once we had decided on the main areas we wanted to visit, we began to draw out a more concrete budget and itinerary. To cut down costs on accommodation, we used Airbnb for the most part and to cut down costs on car rental, Mark’s brother introduced us to a peer-to-peer car-sharing company called Turo.

Turo was a lifesaver or more literally, a money saver. We saved hundreds of dollars in car rental fees just by using this company and we got a pretty nice car for our California trip. I was definitely happy with how that turned out.

Turo California TWAP

Getting a visa to the United States of America

Nigerian passport holders need a visa to visit the US. At the time of this writing, dropbox applications are no longer valid. So if you had one in the past, you would not be able to renew the visa that way. You would need to go through the entire process again.

I had to. Although the dropbox option was available when I applied, my visa had been expired for longer than was eligible for the option. The good thing though, is that I was able to write an extensive guide to the process of applying for the  US visa as a Nigerian citizen living in Nigeria. You can find that here. Even if you’ve never applied before, you’ll find the guide useful.

Getting to New York from Lagos, Nigeria

Museum of Natural History

Our first port of entry was New York. We flew KLM (operated by Air France) from Lagos to New York via Paris. The flights were pretty cool, especially the Paris-New York leg. We had a lot more space and amenities on this flight unlike the one from Lagos to Paris.

We arrived in New York at about 10 am and had the rest of the day to explore the Empire State. I’ll be sharing our final itinerary and what we got up to in the next few posts. Hopefully, you stick around for that 🙂

All Photos by Mark H.

18 Comments

  1. JustRioba

    I can’t wait to read the rest of your experience

    As per usual. Stunning pictures 🙂

  2. Immortalteddybear

    I want to visit Japan too!

  3. I never heard about those “dropbox” applications before and it sounds interesting although now they are no longer a viable option. I am always intrigued by those who love to travel… I get stressed by the whole process of making travel arrangements and figuring out where to stay but I love looking at your destination photos! Can’t wait for part two of this story. – http://www.jamilakyari.com

    • Essentially, the dropbox thing was like this – if you’ve done a US visa interview that resulted in a granted visa in the past, you didn’t need to have another one. (It was subjected to terms and conditions). You just needed to mail your documents via DHL to the embassy.

      As for planning for travel, personally, I love the planning phase but not everyone does. What you can do is to outsource the planning part if it seems stressful or opt for a group trip. (PS: Folks at Naija Nomads organize amazing holidays to wonderful destinations around the world).

  4. I get what you mean when you say you’ve spoken about travelling to Los Angeles and Japan for such a long time! Great article, by the way. I look forward to reading about the rest of your journey.

  5. Tamara Posibi

    Whoosh!
    Looks like you had a lot of fun

  6. I love that you included a guide to applying for an American visa for Nigerians living in Nigeria.

    Your pictures are amazing too.💜

  7. I’ve been waiting for this post, can’t wait to read the full itinerary. I just have a quick question, how do you remember the events when you travel? Do you keep a journal with you always?

    • It’s coming soon 🙂
      About keeping track of events, usually I have a journal or I write on my phone. For this trip though, I forgot my journal at home but Mark made notes and I did after a while on my phone. I also look at my pictures sometimes and remember all the events around it.

  8. I’ve been waiting to read/see more about this trip! It’s great that you and Mark get to have these weeklong baecations every year (hashtag goals) And I agree about the differences between the Lagos-Paris and Paris-Anywhere in the US flights… You can even tell the difference in the crew’s behavior and service sometimes… Definitely sticking around to hear more about what you did, saw etc.! || http://www.lorikemi.com

    • The difference was so jarring! The Paris bound flight was almost uncomfortable! I was worried that it would be the same once we switched but nope, I felt like we were in business class!

      Thanks for reading :), the next few posts will be up soon!

  9. Can’t wait for more details in preceding posts. First glance at the headline, I thought it would be about gang related stuff. Gracefully, it wasn’t.
    Great Post!

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