I almost named this post the Tourist Starter Park so people would think I was not very well-educated.
So I’ve been around the world and ayayai, I can’t find my baby. I don’t know how and I don’t know why, I can’t find my baby …. You get the drift. That’s the theme song for this post. Just keep singing it as you read along. And if you were born too recently to know this song, well, you should go and get your international passport so you can start travelling.
It’s quite surprising how many young people do not have an international passport. This is the first thing you should have in your tourist starter pack. Seems obvious, I know, but some people are actually waiting for when they are called to travel to get a passport. The thing about international travel is,whether it be Ghana or Barbados, often it comes at short notice. If you’re not ready, you simply are not ready. Also some opportunities for travel only become evident to you when you are well prepared to go (you have a passport), a bit like how you start seeing fine girls everywhere when you are getting ready to marry. But I digress.
Sun glasses are very important. Sun screen as well. Some of us are not used to the walking that most people do in the cities we want to visit. It can be quite a shock to just visit Amsterdam and have your fitness tracker tell you how you walked 20 km in one day. You need your shades. All tourists have them. Speaking of walking, be prepared to walk long distances in comfortable shoes.
You need a good camera. You would think this was obvious as well but it is not. It is true that having a camera and looking for good shots all the time ruins the experience of a vacation for most. I mean, what is the purpose of a vacation? To enjoy the atmosphere and observe and absorb the culture for a bit for a change, or to take fine pictures for instagram and facebook? Your answer is as correct as mine. Balance is key. Many times we forget the really good times we had just because we didn’t take good pictures. We forget how clear the air was, how bright the sun was, how blue the skies were, how green the hills were and how majestic the pigeons looked. You spent money on this vacation. Don’t forget it in a hurry. Extend the validity of your money spent by having pictures that can evoke the same feelings you had when you visited those places. Priceless.
Please try to enter the water when you go to the beach. I know many black people (not just Nigerians) do not like to swim and do not even own swim wear. But they like to go to the beach to feel the cool breeze. Cool breeze is nice my brother but don’t you feel somehow with all those clothes on when the water is calling you to enter? Most cities that tourists love have beaches as the centre of attraction. If you are not swim ready please try get your speedo groove on. It’s all part of the fun and thrill. And no, mamiwata will not carry you away if you enter the sea.
I enjoy getting lost in strange cities. For most people, it can be one of the scariest and most frustrating things. I should tell you about how I got on the wrong train in Spain and was headed to another city when I was supposed to be going to the airport and almost missed my flight if not that I did the maths in time. Story for another Travelogue day. But if you are not like me, and even if you are like me, you need to know how to read and interpret maps. There are maps of every city that matters to tourists, in portable form. You can pick them up at the station and use them to touch the highlights of the city. I wish Lagos had a map you could use to learn that (someone should take this as a project to make portable maps of Lagos). All the same, if you use Google maps a lot and are ok with that, many times this will be enough. Get lost a few times, just for fun. Just don’t wander into the crime zone of the city.
My last travel starter pack item is a good travel buddy. You can save costs by staying together, save time by taking each other’s pictures and selfies, and generally two good heads are better at deciding where to go than one. To be a good travel buddy you have to be willing to try new things please. No going to Houston and immediately looking for KFC and chicken and chips or “the nearest Nigerian restaurant.” What’s that? Go out and see the world, not go out and eat eba and egusi.
I hope you get to travel to see the world someday and share your stories with us here on Stories. Tuesdays on Stories are dedicated to wanderlust and travel stories. Have a lovely travel story to tell? TELL IT.
Here’s to more travelling in 2017. Cheers!
*raises glass of mowe*