Have you heard the popular saying “Failure to plan, is planning to fail”? You might have heard this phrase used in business or academic circles, but trust me, it applies so much to traveling! I’ll explain more as I take you Behind the Scenes of one of my recent trips to the USA.
THE PLANNING STAGE
I knew this trip wasn’t going to be like any other. Due to the current recession in Nigeria, you can no longer just wake up and travel. Everyone now has to plan ahead.
So that was what I did. To help my planning process, there were a few things I had to consider.
- My Timing
I had to really ask myself if it was necessary to go at the time I had chosen. Did I have an extremely important reason for making this trip? Was it a ‘travel now’ or ‘regret later’ situation? In my case, I was going for my aunt’s wedding. So, I had little or no choice in the matter. I had to travel. Since the timing had been sorted out, the next step was to make sure I booked my ticket in advance and made all the necessary arrangements.
- My Length of Stay
No one likes a short vacation. However, you don’t want to end up broke because you stayed too long either. So, I had to also consider how long I could afford to stay for. Personally, I feel the best duration for any trip is 2 weeks. But because my ticket was so expensive, I planned to stay for 3 weeks.
- The Travel Cost for my Trip
Don’t get me started on money and the expenses that come from going on vacation. During a recession it feels much more than normal, but this shouldn’t stop you from exploring our small world. All you need is to do is plan how you can reduce the total cost of your trip. The questions and things to consider when trying to reduce the cost of your trip are endless, but below are a few things to consider:
- Do you have friends or family that live in your planned destination? (Oya start calling them and save on hotel bills)
- If you are travelling across the US, book travel tickets (bus, plane or train) on time.
- Have a budget and stick to it (Shopping, food, transport and sightseeing).
- The source of your Travel Money
It is important that you consider exactly where your travel money is coming from. Are you taking out money from your savings? Is someone giving you money? Do you have access to foreign currency to travel with? Do you know how to get foreign currency at a good exchange rate? All these are questions you need to answer. Well, no matter who is ‘dashing’ you money, you must collect your Personal Travel Allowance o (PTA). It is your entitlement.
- Apply on time (2 weeks before travel) – For some banks like GTB, the demand for PTA is high and it is given on a first come basis.
- You need your ticket, passport (visa page) and your PTA application.
- Try not to rely on just one bank. I applied with GTB, Sterling and Fidelity and eventually got my PTA with Fidelity. Fidelity, Stanbic and UBA are good and quick for PTA.
- You can only apply for PTA once a quarter and the maximum amount you can collect at a go is $4,000.
- My Flight Plan
There are so many lovely cities in the USA to visit but I picked 3 cities.
Miami – Best city in the world I have visited till date! (No, I am not exaggerating)
Chicago – Sounded glamorous plus I had a friend there and I have always wanted to watch a stage play. (I heard Chicago has great theatre)
New york – The wedding I was to attend was close to NYC, so I planned to stop over and explore the big Apple. (Who doesn’t love NYC?)
I booked my ticket long in advance. I settled for a multi city trip. The route was Abuja – Chicago – Miami – Abuja. I also booked all my intercity flight tickets 2 months before to get the best deal.
THE TRAVEL STAGE
I travelled with Turkish Airlines from Abuja to Chicago. The stopover in Turkey was for 6 hours. It’s amazing how time flies when you are gisting with random Nigerians. And just in case you get hungry during that long layover, you can grab something to eat courtesy of the airline you flew.
Travel Tip: Airlines are required to give food vouchers to transit passengers spending more than 4 hours in transit. Ask for a food voucher!
My flight to Chicago was smooth. I had wifi, watched some good movies and had enough to eat and drink.
Be here same time next week for the fun part of this adventure!!!
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