Travelling out of Nigeria for the first time can be scary. You are probably thinking, “how do I begin this process and not botch it up?”
BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
1. Taking Advice From Non Professionals – Try to avoid taking travel advice from people who have never travelled, or those who travelled a decade ago because things change over time. Seek advice from experts in the travel industry. Also, avoid using information from unofficial sites for visa application. When in doubt, call the embassy of the country you intend to visit or visit their website for such info.
2. Saying The Wrong Things During Your Visa Interview – It’s okay to feel nervous during a visa interview but it shouldn’t make you ramble. Make sure whatever you say is in line with the information you are applying with. Be snappy with your response, don’t talk too much or give unsolicited information. Try to stay calm, being agitated sends the wrong signal to the interviewer. When asked a question, don’t give a pre-rehearsed speech, answer the questions with confidence.
3. Buying Flight Tickets Before Visa Is Approved – As part of the visa application process, some embassies will want to see proof of booked flights matching the dates on your application but you can book for a flight ticket without paying for it. Flight booking is free, don’t pay money to any agent for it. After your visa has been approved, and you have made payments for your tickets check in online with the airline. That’s a sure confirmation you will be on the flight in case the airline is fully booked.
4. Using Random People As Agents For Bookings – Avoid using rogue travel agencies to book your flight, hotel accommodation and visas. If you must use an agent for flight, hotel and visa booking, use certified agents or travel agents with a large market presence in the tourism industry. You don’t have to buy your tickets with travel agents, you can do it online either directly from the airline weeks/months in advance so it is cheaper or through trusted agencies like Wakanow or travel start Ng.
5. Over Packing – Pack days before your trip, don’t wait till the last minute. Pack only what you need because chances are, you may buy more things where you’re going. Confirm your baggage allowance to avoid excess luggage fees which are expensive. Also, write your name and contact details on tags attached to your luggage so it can be traced to you if lost during the trip or misplaced by the airline.
AT THE AIRPORT
6. Dressing Poorly – Avoid looking scruffy, wearing excess accessories or dressing in a way that makes you stand out from other travellers. It not only draws unnecessary attention from airport security but shows you will become a liability to that country. Minding how you dress when arriving at the borders of the country you are travelling to could spare you the humiliation of being denied entry into the country especially if it is the type that offers visa on arrival.
7. Showing Up At The Airport Late – Get to the airport 3 – 4 hours early to avoid traffic at the airport and stop at the departure segment. If the security asks for your ticket, show them. Don’t queue on the wrong line, business line is usually shorter than economy class. Also, arriving early allows you to go through all the screenings and actually locate your departure gate at the departure terminal after you check in. After the departure terminal, there will be a row call so you can identify your seat number.
8. Waiting Till You Get To Airport To Sort Out Finance Related Issues – Don’t buy food and drinks at the airport, they are significantly more expensive. Not all duty-free items are cheap. Make sure you but what you need to snack on while waiting for the trip at a local supermarket before you get to the airport. Also, change your currency at an official bureau de exchange office, not at the airport. Exchange rates at the airport can be quite high sometimes. Whatever financial related issues you have with your trip like BTA, sort it out before you get to the airport.
9. Knowing What Not To Carry On a Flight – Know everything in your luggage and the things the airport specifies for your carry-on and other luggage. Don’t accept anything from friends without opening it to confirm what it is. Beware of contraband items and avoid taking things from strangers at the airport. You never know who has hard drugs on them; mere contact with a drug courier could cause you to be deported.
AFTER YOUR VACATION
10. Overstaying – Once you are close to your visa expiry date or the end of your passport validity, please leave that country. If you don’t, you may lose the right to visit that country again or it may reduce your chances when applying for citizenship to that country or for anyone related to you.
There are other mistakes Nigerian Travellers make. Feel free to share the ones not listed above.
Featured image source: Kenya Airports Authority