I guess there comes a time in the life of every travel writer when they have to talk about this. I’ve had a few people ask me how I afford to travel with respect to both time and money. It’s the end of the year and it feels like a good time to talk about this. so, let’s jump right in!

In 2015, I got bitten by the travel bug. I had just received my Schengen visa for a trip to France when a sudden realization dawned on me. I had always known that the Schengen visa granted access into over 20 countries in Europe but it wasn’t until my second visit to Paris that this information really sunk in.

To put things in perspective, I have a Nigerian passport. According to Passport IndexIt is ranked No. 174 in the Individual Passport Power Rank, 2016 and even if you’re not sure what that means, 174 is not a good number to be ranked in anything! – Well, except if it is a ‘most likely to get diarrhoea‘ poll conducted for 174 participants.

Having a Nigerian passport and the love for wandering the worldon’t necessarily go well together. For the average Nigerian, getting a visa to virtually everywhere is a daunting task and often involves several days of prayers, fasting and long nerve-wracking waits to see whether the first two paid off. So, when you do get that one visa that guarantees you access into over 20 countries, you embrace the heck out of it and that brings me to ‘how I afford to travel point #1

#1. I take multi-destination trips.

I do this for 2 reasons. First, I really hate flying, so I’d typically try to visit as many places as I can within the region I travel to. It just makes sense to me after flying all the way. Secondly, it is cheaper, in the long run, to move around from country to country within a region than it is to fly in and out from Nigeria. Except for England, all the countries I’ve been to so far in Europe were visited on a single trip.
Being an early bird at Anne Frank Museum

#2. I got a head start.

In 2013, I took my first international trip to Paris, France. It was a one-week trip sponsored by the company I worked for. Before this, I had visited 20 states in Nigeria and lived in about five of those but I had never been out of the country. Paris was a great introduction to international travel and subsequently, I was able to afford to travel to other parts of the world.
Jumping for joy in Paris, 2013

#3. I have a regular job.

When I’m not travelling, I’m either at home sleeping, eating, writing or reading a book. Or, I’m coordinating colours at my day job

#4. I cut down my expenses.

When I first started working, for example, I would go shopping every month. A girl can never have too many clothes or shoes, you know :). Over the past year, I have learnt to cut that down to the barest allowable capacity. I also cut down on phone and internet bills and several other miscellaneous expenses.

Cost-cutting example #2: Last year, I saw all the movies I needed to see at Silverbird galleria on a Wednesday. Why? Well, first, parking is free and at that time, you pay N700 to see a movie and get a popcorn and drink for free. Meanwhile, the same movie in a different cinema was N1500 + you pay N300/hr for parking (your movie typically lasts 2hrs) and then you buy your own popcorn and drink. So N3000 compared to N700 for the same movie, quality and service? Wow, decisions, decisions… 

** This has changed though, so I’m struggling to adjust to the new pricing ??

Moving on…

#5. I stay with a Guardian. 

I don’t live on my own which has cut down my overall expenses per year because I don’t have to pay rent. (Thank you, Uncle & Aunty!)

#6. I avoid compulsive buying. 

You know when you walk into a supermarket to buy something worth N1000 and come out with things worth N5,000? That used to be me. I’d go in having something in mind and then come out with much more, just because I had cash lying around. Now, I always make a list before going and take just enough cash (and then a little more, in case of fluctuations in prices)

As for time;

#7. Typically, I’ll try to get my vacation close to a public holiday.

For example, in March/April, I aligned my trip to South Africa with the Easter holidays. That gave me about 10 days in total and I only took 4 days off work. The same thing happened for the Eid holidays in September. I took 6 days off work and got a total of 13 days for my trip.

I also make use of my long and short weekends to visit places within Nigeria and countries that are close by.

 Increasing my wife material fabric in Ekiti

I truly believe that everyone who has a passion for travel can afford to. It is more of a mindset than anything else. And while you do need a budget to travel, you don’t always need a large one. (Last month, I took a trip through 2 countries with only N20,000)

You can start out by visiting cities and countries close by (as a Nigerian passport holder, this is key because, from my experience, visa application processes tend to get easier with every new stamp/visa on your passport) and looking into more effective ways to manage costs.

So, start saving up and nipping costs here and there if you have to. Draw out a monthly budget and do your best to stick to it and make 2017 the year where you seek out new adventures and travel differently!

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