Moni Baruwa: Quick Tips To Make Your Next Travel Experience Easier

dreamstime_l_37166100As a frequent destination experience traveler, I would love to share some travel tips from my personal experience and also a quick look into my personal go-to travel style.

How to secure a cheap flight?
It’s simple: just stalk your ticket! There are a couple of travel sites such as Kayak or Google Flights that allows you put an alert on tickets. I usually buy my tickets 2-3 weeks before I travel. The only time I’d buy it months in advance is if the ticket is really cheap or if it makes sense for that particular destination. If you have a flexible travel schedule, it is usually cheaper to fly out on a Tuesday/Wednesday and return on a Saturday/ Tuesday. You want to avoid traveling on a Friday, Sunday and Monday, because business workers usually fly out those days, so tickets are usually more expensive.

Travel during low season
Everyone wants to travel during high season but it is usually better to travel during low season. One, you save a lot on ticket and hotels. Two, you get to experience the destination almost tourist free – which for most experience travelers is bliss. Also you don’t want to be struggling with other tourists in the same spot you want to capture your perfect selfie.

Be prepared, but don’t over pack
Always have a pen, neck pillow and blanket while traveling. The pen comes in handy when you want to fill out immigration/border paperwork, and the blanket and pillow gives an extra level of comfort on flight. Travel with your favorite carry-on tote and one checked bag, if possible. There is so much bliss in traveling light and not having to deal with luggage hassle, especially with Nigerian airports. You may also want to print or write out your itinerary before traveling. Remember you may not have cellular network at your destination, so you want to ensure you have everything you need before traveling.

Be informed
Always look up exchange rates before traveling, so you don’t get cheated when you change your money upon arrival. Also, if you can avoid it – do not change your money at the airport. Although in some countries such as in Europe, it is better to change at the airport. For other countries, you get a better rate at a bureau de change. A great way to access money now is via ATM – you get the bank rate and can avoid the extra commission charges from the bureau de change.

Travel smart
Always do a cost analysis before any trip, especially if you are traveling on a budget. Create a cost spreadsheet to calculate all your expenses. This way you know how much you are spending and how much you should take with you on your trip. Don’t forget to add on miscellaneous expense to account for the unexpected. Having a spreadsheet also helps you to track how much you spend per year traveling. Also, before traveling, make sure you check with your mobile network provider on roaming and international charges. I usually use WI-FI when I travel, so I don’t incur any roaming charges.

Use Alternate means of transportation
Taxis may be very convenient but most times usually expensive. To save some money, research ground transportation options at your destination, but go with the most convenient for you. Within Europe, public transport is usually convenient and cheaper, so explore those options too.

For Solo Travelers
Personally, I believe you can travel to any country solo but of course, some are safer than the others. So here is an immediate list of countries you can travel to solo especially as a first time solo traveler – Costa Rica, Ireland, Australia, Peru, Amsterdam, Singapore, Arizona, New York, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, St Marteen.

Extra tips– This is a great article to read. It helped me and it can help you too. “Nine Great Lessons Every Traveler Must Learn”

Now that I have given you some general tips, here is how I love to travel.
My mini-suitcase
I have this go to suitcase that has been through it all. I usually don’t travel with any super fancy suitcase because the airlines will destroy them for you. I honestly don’t get why people want to travel fancy but to each his own. Though I learned the secret on how you can get your bags handled properly but it’s a secret so… Also I try as much as possible to travel light, and I encourage others to do the same. If you are traveling for longer than 2 weeks, pack for only 2 weeks. If you are traveling for a week, pack for a weekend. Anyways more on packing tips in another post.

I dress comfortably in Leggings and TOMS
You will always catch me with my TOMS and leggings, be it a winter or summer trip. I’m more of a comfort than the fancy traveler. The leggings make blood flow easily and I always feel relaxed during the flight. So I always recommend comfortable clothing while traveling.

A huge carry-on bag
I have my go-to solid leather carry-on that I can fit almost anything in – Laptop, iPad, kindle, phones, makeup, documents, earphones, socks, ibuprofen, etc. It makes it easier for me to have access to these things when I need then during the flight and the size is convenient enough to carry without looking too bulky.

I usually have socks and blanket, and sometimes a neck pillow
For those non-frequent travelers, you may want to bring along a mini blanket, some airlines don’t provide you with this. You definitely don’t want to freeze on the plane – It gets pretty cold up there. I like to have two blankets with me, so I bring mine along. I’ve grabbed a few airline blankets and I take it along on any flight, so I have additional coverage. My mom asked me if it was okay to take the blanket – Yup! There’s nothing wrong in grabbing one of those blankets. At least I paid for the ticket ☺

Carry a book and headphones
Thank God for technology, now we have books on apps and it makes it easier. So I can easily access books on my mobile device. Sometimes I’d pick up a magazine or newspaper to read before my flight, especially on long haul flights. I take my headphones along because sometimes the airline headphones don’t work well. So it serves as a back up, plus I love my headphones.

Must have City Guide, Airline, and Hotel Apps
I love all my travel apps. They serve different purposes. I have the Delta, Jet Blue, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, and United Apps, makes checking in and boarding easy. I have the SPG, Hotels and HostelWorld app that helps me view all my hotel and hostel reservations. I also have various City Guide Apps such as Guide Pal, Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, Luxe. I use them to get quick facts about my destination and amazingly some of them have an offline version, so I can use without internet connection.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

47 Comments on Moni Baruwa: Quick Tips To Make Your Next Travel Experience Easier
  • Biker Chic March 9, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Travel? Even if l stalk the ticket from now till 2019. Has anyone checked the cost of an economy ticket May -Oct Los/Lon recently on Virgin? Olumo rock, yankari and villa here l come.

    • The real D March 9, 2016 at 10:08 pm

      @ Biker Chic, May-Sep/Oct are peak travel seasons i.e summer travel so yea tickets will be super expensive. Have you considered late Oct-early Nov? yea the weather will be a little chilly but ticket prices are cheaper then. Once Dec begins to roll in prices will start going up again. Just my 2 cents.

      • Biker Chic March 9, 2016 at 11:52 pm

        Omo l know o. I am actually a frequent traveller but, the prices shown this time around is outta this world not to talk of bucks for shopping! Mba no travels this year. Let the big boys and gals take over

    • tee March 9, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      Try cheapflights.ng.com . Booking directly on Virgin might be veryyyy expensive. You will be surprised at how less u might pay. On same flight, some people pay 600k while some 300 or even 200k for Economy o. Just research very well if you are keen on travelling.

  • Mamacita March 9, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    I wasn’t going to say anything, I was going to hold my tongue but come on BN where is Esco?

  • kinda awkward March 9, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    This is NOT the time to talk travel, not the time at all. Unless of course you plan to go and never return.

    • AlabamaUncut Blog March 9, 2016 at 10:32 pm

      Buahahahahahaha! In AY’s voice – Chop Five!

    • LEM March 10, 2016 at 10:52 am

      My dear this is not the time to travel at all. With the way the economy is going and the inflation rate….. nah not the time at all.

  • Frequent traveller March 9, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Trip advisor has a good travel app too, one of my favorites. You can get reviews on various hotels and activities, restaurants. Also has an interactive forum where you can get feedback from other users on their experiences in various places you may be interested in travelling to.

    • AlabamaUncut Blog March 9, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Buahahahahahaha! In AY’s voice – Chop Five!

    • Moni March 10, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      Yes I love Trip Advisor too. great tool for getting reviews

  • Bukky March 9, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Ill be travelling to Spain( Costa brava) for the first time next month and I’ll be gone for four days! I’m travelling alone! All alone! Ticket booked, hotel accommodation booked! I hope I won’t get bored . Any tips ?

    • o March 9, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      You shouldn’t get bored. Check up things to do around the place you are going. Trip advisor is good. I have never been to Spain tho, but I have always wanted to as i hear its beautiful

    • The real D March 9, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      @Bukky, have an itinerary, What do you know about Costa brava? and what activities are available in the area that you can do for free or for a nominal fee? That’s the main key to not being bored. I am not single but an avid traveler as is most of my family. My sister is a single and even more of a traveler than any other member of the family.
      She always has a list of things to do and makes friends on the go. She was on a 36 hours boat ride in Vietnam over Christmas and made friends while on the boat, boredom averted for 36 hours. Then go, just go, sitting in your hotel room makes you bored ask the front desk or employees of your hotel of ideas of things they would recommend that’s the best way to find hidden gems and avoid touristy prices. Best of luck on your trip!!!

    • o March 9, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      There might be one or two museums or cathedrals you can visit for free, some free on some particular days or time. Some nice parks around, nice places to get good pics. What appeals to you? That should be your guide in searching for things to do

    • ziti March 9, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      @Bukky: Maybe join a group walking or even cycling tour…you can check reviews for the nice ones?

    • Naomi March 9, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      Not everytime fly, take the cross country bus if you are looking to travel around europe. Schengen trips are fun and better on the bus and train…cheaper too, you get stopovers in different countries too…from spain u can get to austria, switzerland, greece,..think about it

    • Moni March 10, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Bukky, I also agree with @ The Real D, I am a frequent solo traveler and I’ve been to countries people would consider random, solo. Always keep an open mind. If you’re adventurous enough, stay in hostels. It is a great way to meet people and connect with the locals – they give you the best tips on where to go, eat, do, etc. Also Spain is an amazing country to visit and Costa Brava will have a lot to offer. Also I suggest visiting a neighboring city to make the most of your experience. Traveling solo is extremely rewarding and gives you a lot of flexibility. Good luck and enjoy your trip

    • Mz Socially Awkward…. March 10, 2016 at 10:41 pm

      Lock up your passport and 1 credit card in the hotel safe when you get there. You can rely on your Driving Licence for general identification whilst moving around the city.

      Spain’s a lovely, picturesque country to visit but also one where pick-pockets know how to quickly identify and target tourists so God forbid that they grab anything from you that includes all your valuables.

      Otherwise from that, you can look forward to enjoying a great holiday. Costa Brava’s lovely… ?

  • been there March 9, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    Good tips. Also be on d look out for airline promo seasons to get ur cheaper tickets. Etihad currently has one running which shd end by wknd.

    • Moni March 10, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      YEs. totally agree with this. Airlines always have promos. Signing up on their sites to get exclusive offers is a great way to know when the sales are out.

  • walter March 9, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Almost Zero tips for local travel… m guessing we don’t do biz or leisure across states in naija…#BuyNaijaToGrowtheNaira

  • o March 9, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    1. If you are a frequent traveler, pick an airline alliance and stick to it. Rack up your miles and you’ll be surprised at the little perks eg 3rd bag for free, free upgrades, preferred seating, priority boarding etc

    2. I have DVT so I always have to wear anti embolism (TED) stockings when travelling. Now you don’t need to have a DVT to protect yourself. There are some knee length flight stockings sold in Medplus and Health plus, very useful esp if you are on long flights.

    3. Always book travel tickets like 3 months in advance. You can always pay a small fee to change (if you have to) rather than buy a very expensive ticket some days before travel date.

    4. Always have your essentials on you. I always have my meds in my cross body bag on every trip, never in my hand luggage because your hand luggage may be collected at the gate and stowed. I’m always in slip on shoes preferably flats, no laced shoes. Also no belts, always maxi dresses and a sweater. No time to be taking off shoes and belt esp if you have connecting flights. Pls jot down the address and phone number of the hotel/people you will be staying so you can fill your landing card, you phone batt might just fail you or you might forget. Also always have at least a change of clothes (one top, one set of underwear one pants) in your hand luggage. There have been instances where your luggage doesn’t arrive with you. At least you have something to wear for the next day.

    Remember to take your USB cord, some aircrafts now have USB ports to charge your phone. Also take advantage of free airport wifi to communicate if need be. Sorry my comment is long. I love travelling and always like sharing tips.

    • zarah Aboyade March 9, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      Came in needed. Thank you

    • Moni March 10, 2016 at 6:35 pm

      @ o – Awesome addition to the tips. The travel tips list is almost endless. I always have an international converter handy too- so far it hasn’t failed me.

  • Omotoyosi March 10, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    For my Virgin Atlantic frequent flyers…. Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to be hit with whole Forex trade shenanigans. Unfortunately, i do not feel sorry for them because of their greed!

    And Biker Chic is very correct, even though you check till 2019, the rates are ridiculous on VS be it on their website or an agency website.

    Well, you can still go for vacation with the mindset of not shopping (but whats the essence of travelling without shopping?). Lol

    Good write-up there. One good advantage the current economy has taught and still teaching Nigerians is how to plan. My Gosh! Nigerians are last minute people, looking for seat like they have an allocation onboard the aircraft. I know because i am in the industry. Thankfully people have been buying summer tickets since January… Unbelievable.

  • Ebony&Ivory March 10, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Great tips you’ve got there. I love travelling and love hearing (reading) about other people’s travel tips. I was going to add always travel with an international travel adaptor, then I noticed someone already mentioned having a USB cable which is equally handy.

    My other tip will be this: if you are travelling to a country you have never been before or you’re not very familiar with, try to schedule your arrival time to arrive at a time that is considered fairly safe e.g. during the day time if you can help it. My partner and I had a bad experience once when we travelled to Amsterdam, we had arrived at about 2:00am in the morning and by the time we passed through customs etc it was like 3:00am-ish. Stepping out of the airport, I personally felt completely lost and out of sorts. To make things worse, we took an unmarked taxi, but thankfully, our naija brain (lol) quickly switched into action and we asked the driver why there was no cab meter in his car, he got defensive and started acting funny. I was so worried especially as it was in the middle of the night and we had no idea where he was taking us to. Long story short, we asked him to take us back to the airport, paid him about 40euros or so and we took a marked cab. Later on, we found out from the hotel staff that there were a lot of rogue cab drivers who often took tourists for a ride literally and made them pay exorbitant fares.

    Morale of the story: if you’re travelling solo or with others, time your flight schedule well – this also applies if someone is picking you up from the airport. It’s not fun picking people up at the airport at 3:00am or some other odd hour. Also, avoid unmarked cabs!

    • Ebony&Ivory March 10, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      *Morale*

      • Ebony&Ivory March 10, 2016 at 3:49 pm

        *Moral* ugh!! someone is obviously tired!

    • Moni March 10, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      @Ebony&Ivory – great addition too. That is really key for solo and first time travelers to certain countries. It is very advisable to arrive during the day. Most times if I am arriving late to a country, I plan well in advance. I look up my transportation options to the accommodation – research the price of taxis versus trains or buses. I look up the directions to my accommodation and print out the map. It has never failed me. My first time in Madrid, the taxi guy took me to the wrong location. I could tell it was the wrong location because i had looked up the surrounding area and actual address before going. Though there was language barrier, I was finally able to tell him to take me to the right location. I also find out if the hotels/hostels have their own private shuttles. Sometimes, we learn these tips as we go and that is what makes experiential travel much more rewarding!

  • Xyz March 10, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Please what wifi do you travel with? I’d love to get one I can use internationally as well

    • o March 10, 2016 at 4:18 pm

      I know if you load your phone with 5k, you can receive calls for free ( not data or calling out o, you will be charged for that). That’s with Airtel and Etisalat. Dunno abt the other telcos. But most big malls, and attractions have free wifi, most hotels too. So you will only be out of coverage when you are moving around. whoever you are staying with will have wifi, and if you get a local sim you’ll be covered so wifi isn’t really a big deal

    • The real D March 10, 2016 at 4:47 pm

      When the author says she hooks up to a free WiFi and calls for free, what she means is most hotels, airports, restaurants offer free WiFi, So it is easier these days to just travel with your phone and then connect to the service providers WiFi at your destination. That means you are not using your MTN, Etislat or whatever service provider you use when you are back home in Nigeria. Whatsapp, Skype, Facebook only need internet access to work and free WiFi connections and most destinations outside Nigeria now offer that service. So all you need is your phone for free WiFi nothing else.

  • Lil’ Miss March 10, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Hello everyone, first time commenting. My colleagues are huge fans of BN and one of them showed me this post. Lol
    My colleague and i will be travelling to Dubai by month end and it’s my first time travelling outside Nigeria (and first time on a plane). I feel like a bush goat. Thanks for this writeup but re the blanket stuff, i use a duvet, i sure cant carry the big thing to the airport, what do you advise? Or I should just make do with the airline blankets? I had no idea airlines dole out blankets by the way. Maybe i should just do Youtube. Sigh.

    • Moni March 10, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      Lil Miss, there’s always a first time for everything 🙂 The airline blanket should suffice, but definitely dress warm and cozy – socks and a sweater – if you get cold easily. Safe travels and have fun on your first trip!

  • The real D March 10, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    *****free WiFi are available in most destinations out side Nigeria. ******** all you need to do is learn how to connect your phone to them once you are in an area offering this service.

  • Mz Socially Awkward…. March 10, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    @the author of the original post….

    … Re tracking your ticket up to weeks before you plan to travel, in order to get a good rate – I seem to have a very different experience from you because for me, the ticket prices start to magically increase after the first couple of searches.

    Case in point – wanted to buy a ticket to nigeria last year (off-peak season, not the cut-throat Christmas tickets) & I carried out an initial search, which turned up a really great price. I was excited – tickets to PH usually don’t come in so cheaply… So, I made the mistake of abandoning the screen and calling my mum to find out what her calendar looked like for receiving me. Came back to the screen 15mins later – page had timed out. Oya, na, lemme try and search with the same criteria again. The prices that came back… I was weak. Like £200 increases to the same ticket, no matter which site I searched. Eventually ended up buying the ticket 2 weeks later (£120 over the original cheaper price I’d seen) with much pain to my spirit.

    Thought maybe it was a case of thieving airlines capitalising on Nigerian flight routes but I tried the same tactic with another ticket for somewhere else – same experience. Don’t know if their systems all just pick up your search and try to maximise profits. And a friend of mine reported the same thing.

    So, that tactic… E be like say e no favour all of us, oh…

    • The real D March 10, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      @ Mz SA, was your ears ringing or something, just saw an article where a few commenters were clamoring for your return to BN was thinking of calling your attention to it then I see you on here.

      • The real D March 10, 2016 at 11:22 pm

        ***were your ears ringing?****

      • Mz Socially Awkward… March 13, 2016 at 11:06 pm

        Babes, I saw that NSG article… It was hilarious ??

        Suddenly remembered why I have such special love for BN… Then Bleedblue’s article finally cemented the love. ?

    • Bibi March 11, 2016 at 12:44 am

      That used to happen to me, then my husband taught me to clear my cookies before I search again. Try it. 🙂

    • Moni March 11, 2016 at 9:57 am

      @Mz Socially Awkward – the key is clearing your cookies from your browser as @Bibi mentioned. I usually use both my mobile and laptop to search flights – then I use google flight matrix to determine the best combination of cheap dates. According to statistics, tickets are best prices 54 days before travel. For me, I have a range on how much I would spend on a ticket based on the average price of that destination, so whenever the ticket is higher than the average, I wait because I know it’ll go down. Also, airlines have days where they increase and decrease their prices and they rotate it. Haven’t done enough analysis yet to figure out the algorithm around that. So for example, from my experience if you want to buy a Skyteam alliance flight – you’re better off checking on Tuesday/Wednesdays than on a Sunday

    • Mz Socially Awkward… March 13, 2016 at 11:00 pm

      Sistren, why am I like this??? ? Apologies for the late reply/response and tanchu for that very wise sumtin of an “advicing”… Just tried it re my next planned waka… Ticket no too drop, sha but now I know how… ??? (p.s: do any of these emoticons even show up at all? Don’t know why I even bother…)

  • Bibi March 11, 2016 at 12:42 am

    @ Ms Socially awkward.. The ticket thing used to happen to me, then my husband thought me to clear my cookies before i search again. Try it. 🙂

  • Bibi March 11, 2016 at 12:43 am

    Taught* me.. Lol

  • Munachi March 11, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    The way people are just exchanging ideas as regards their travel from country A-z and I am just here thinking of how to book a flight two months earlier to lagos so as to bring down cost. Oluwa please pick up your call and also put it on loud speaker

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