In my first time away from family for the holidays, I spent $2,881 in order to tour the birthplace of my childhood best friend. Being a world traveler , I wanted to see what it was like to travel to a foreign country during the holidays to experience another cultures celebration.
I spent eight days in Nigeria, split between the bustling city of Lagos and the smaller Imo State.
The splurge was more than worth it, as I was able to experience Africa’s most populous country; tour local markets, like the Balogun market; and eat local food, from the popular jollof rice to fried yams.
Here’s how I spent that $2,881 in traveling to Nigeria:
1. I spent $1,535 on roundtrip tickets from JFK to Lagos, Nigeria
The Christmas holiday is an expensive time of the year to visit Nigeria because of the many Nigerian expats and Nigerian-Americans looking to visit home. A Kenya Airways flight was the least expensive route, and it included a three-hour layover in Nairobi.
2. Ubers came out to around $100
A typical one-way Uber trip within Lagos cost between $5 and $10 depending on the distance. The total cost came out to around $100 over a five-night stay.
3. The hotel cost $170 per night for five nights
The 70-room Radisson Blu Anchorage on Victoria Island is located in one of the touristy areas of Lagos. The property is outfitted with modern walk-in showers with soak-in tubs, floor to ceiling mirrors, and a settee next to the window for catching views of the palm trees. While the price was steep, the hotel offers room and board, so the $170 per night rate included breakfast.
4. Food was around $20 a day
Restaurant meals had an average cost of $12, and I was lucky enough to be hosted by some friends and family in their homes, which usually also included a meal. Typical Nigerian cuisine consisted of jollof rice, yams (fried or boiled), Ora soup (fish and Ora leaves), and egg sauce (eggs and tomato-like omelet) and plantains for breakfast.
5. I took a $200 roundtrip flight from Lagos to Owerri
In order to tour a slower-paced city (since Lagos is the most populous city in Africa ), I flew into the eastern part of Nigeria via Owerri Airport. I went to Abia State, which is next door to Imo State, where I flew in. The biggest attractions are visiting the local produce markets and hailing a Keke (a Nigerian Tuk Tuk) in order to tour the Abia State and see the everyday life of the Igbo people. There are also masquerade festivals in different towns around the holiday season.
6. I spent $30 on wax fabric at the Balogun market and $40 for sewing
The Balogun Market in Lagos is one of Africa’s busiest markets, which was an experience in itself and involved weaving through the throngs of people and dodging the vehicular traffic. African wax fabric comes in thousands of patterns and in varied, vibrant colors. As a souvenir, I picked out an African fabric at the market and had a local Yoruba woman in Lagos sew a dress and romper for me.
7. I spent $19 on hair braiding
Getting your hair braided for $19 is a very reasonable price. For comparison, U.S. prices can soar between $100 and $300, depending on the style. This was one of the great deals I received in Lekki area of Lagos.
8. I spent $7 as an entrance fee to the Lekki Conservation Center
The longest canopy walk in Africais located at the Lekki Conservation Center. You walk through a reconstructed nature trail that was donated by Chevron Nigeria Limited. As you walk through the designated trail, you are greeted by Mona monkeys in the trees, some with their babies, and other wildlife like tortoises and Maxwell’s duikers.
West African culture is rich and lively, and visiting Nigeria provides a great opportunity to experience the Black diaspora from the Mother Country. I would recommend a visit to Nigeria, especially going as I did with friends or family familiar with the customs and geography for a more seamless travel experience.
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