“Seeing the unfamiliar is such an arresting experience.” – Adaku Ufere

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In our first episode for 2018 in our interview series with Travel Bloggers, Jumia Travel Nigeria caught up with Adaku Ufere a Lawyer, and traveler who shares her traveling experiences on thirdworldprofashional.com and we had her share her thoughts on some really interesting questions we had for her.

Adaku in Johannesburg
What is the most exciting about traveling for you?

The most exciting thing has to be looking forward to the new sights and vistas I’m going to experience. I’m not a fan of the actual process of traveling; packing, airport stress, flying etc. So, arriving is my favourite part. When I can get to my hotel, unpack, look out the window and just soak in the view. Seeing the unfamiliar is such an arresting visual experience. I never get tired of it.

When you aren’t travelling what do you do?

I’m chained to a desk, drafting and negotiating 200+ page contracts during the day, and watching ratchet American reality TV shows at night.

Do you ever find similarities between the places you have travelled to and what it is like back home?

Home for me now is a lot of places. I’m Nigerian and I currently live in Accra, Ghana and over the past two years have lived in Equatorial Guinea and South Africa. However, using Nigeria as the everlasting fixed point for home…I’d say a lot of African cities are very similar. Notwithstanding their individual characteristics,

I’ve stood on streets in South Sudan, Uganda, CAR, Mozambique etc, that could totally pass for Lagos. Downtown Accra has an eerie similarity to Lagos Island. Many parts of Kampala look like Owerri in Imo State. I’d say this might be in the architecture, a lot of African homes are built very similarly, as well as the road network.

Then because of the fact that brands are universal across the continent, seeing an MTN or DSTV billboard in Sao Tome or Abidjan makes one feel very at home.

Adaku in Geneva Switzerland

 

What travel plans do you have for 2018?

Less work travel and more personal travel I hope. In 2017 I visited 19 countries and only 4 out of those were personal trips.

I’d really like to visit a Caribbean country and also return to Singapore; I was there for 4 very packed days and spent more time in a conference room than sightseeing. So, I’d really love to visit as a tourist.

Adaku in Juba, South Sudan

What kind of packer are you when you are about to go on a trip?

My aesthetic is 2 outfits per day (day & night), and an extra outfit per day just in case. Plus, the bags and shoes for every outfit, so you know I’m definitely an over-packer.

But I am learning to pack lighter. Last year I made 2 trips with just a carry-on case, which I never ever do. The ease of travel you get from packing light is definitely something I want to experience further.

If you had to tell someone to visit Nigeria, what would you tell them to come see and experience?

Christmas in Lagos which is unrivalled. It is the single best Christmas experience anywhere in the world. (Notwithstanding the annual fuel scarcity)

Which airport would you say is your favorite so far from all your travels?

Singapore Changi Airport, because it has the best lounges. As a frequent traveler, I spend a lot of time in airport lounges and any one in which I can get an actual bed with pillows and sheets ranks high in my book.

I also love Heathrow, specifically because of the shopping at Terminal 5, the Chanel and Gucci store prices are unreal. Also, the cheapest Jo Malone fragrances and oils in the world.

Plus, it’s not difficult to navigate, unlike the 7th circle of hell that is Chicago’s O’Hare airport or Hartfield Jackson in Atlanta.

Do you think one has to be rich to travel?

No way, there are a so many opportunities for all levels of travelers, isn’t that why airline classes exist?

There are websites which cater to budget travel, hostels and Airbnb instead of hotels, trains instead of planes. If you can plan ahead, and budget well, I’m sure you can achieve any travel dreams you have.

 

Adaku in Madrid, Spain

How big are the tourism potentials of Nigeria, and what do you think needs to be done to take them there?

I think they’re huge. I haven’t traveled a lot around Nigeria, but I’ve seen pictures and read accounts of peoples’ travels, particularly in the North, and I can’t believe some of these places even exist. I don’t know why these places aren’t more publicized.

For Nigeria to increase its tourism potential, I think we need to increase ease of travel, more specifically transportation. Road trips in Nigeria are hazardous due to the bad roads and robbery. Flights are unreliable and sometimes unsafe, trains are not widespread. If you make it easy and affordable to get there, people will go.

Also positioning Nigeria as a tourist destination and making it achievable to foreign travelers, much like South Africa did. Income from tourism is the largest part of South Africa’s GDP and that came of re-branding themselves as tourist friendly. We need to up our tourism PR.

Look at SA tourism feeding fat off Nigerian influencers and bloggers. I don’t know why state governments in Nigeria can’t take advantage of our homegrown talent, with their enormous following and promote their states.

What are your favorite souvenirs from your trips?

I buy a keyholder, fridge magnet and some random item (snow-globes, mugs, ashtrays, shot glasses, statues), from every city I visit. Those will be my favourite souvenir. They’re littered all over my home, and everyone gives me a specific memory.

Funny thing, I have this thing I do where I try to visit a Zara store in every city I go to that has one. I just enjoy noting the differences in consumer tastes all over the world. From that alone I’ve deduced that the Swiss love pastel, going by the Zara in Geneva. Singaporeans love print and wild colours, the Spanish Zara very much resembles an American one, in that it is a little too casual for my taste (Madrid has the largest Zara in the world), London’s Zara is very structured, and probably my favourite, Johannesburg’s is always on sale, so that’s a fave too.

Does an item from every Zara store in the world count as a souvenir?

 

Adaku in Cape Town

When booking a hotel, what top three features do you look out for?

Proximity to city attractions and malls – I like to walk around urban cities, so a hotel that’s right in the middle of the city is a necessity.

Quality of breakfast – you might think this is unimportant, but I’ve had some right dodgy breakfasts, and seeing that I’m going from breakfast to work, proper sustenance can’t be trifled with. On that note, the Pestana Sao Tome has horrible food all round, not just breakfasts. You might want to avoid it. Surprisingly the Kempinski in Geneva too. That was shocking because I’ve had very good experiences with Kempinski’s in other countries.

Service – I love attentive and quick staff. Nothing annoys me more than food being promised at 20 minutes, and it comes in an hour, or not getting a turn down service, or just shoddy staff in general. The Burj Al Arab and Oberoi in Dubai, as well as the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas have had the best service and attention to detail I’ve ever experienced. I’ve noticed this is particular of Asian airlines and hotels. They seem willing to go over and beyond for guests. It’s so lovely.

Adaku in Bangui, CAR

What safety tips do you take when travelling?

Never walk around at night, always send a screenshot of my uber to my fiancé, get a sim right from the airport once I land (I always have to be reachable, and sometimes roaming doesn’t cut it). Never enter unregistered taxis, or always get the concierge to book you a taxi. Be wary of chatty strangers too, I didn’t watch Taken for nothing. Never give out any personal information to strangers (social media accounts, hotel, places you’ll visit etc)

Have you visited a place the second time because you loved it so much? Or is there a place you plan to visit again because you loved it so much the first time?

Singapore!

Adaku in Singapore

Do you have a travel buddy, or do you consider yourself a solo traveler?

So far, I’ve being a solo traveler. But I’ll consider my fiancé a travel buddy now.

Adaku in Luba, Equatorial Guinea

Where is your favorite place to be in in Nigeria?

Lagos!

 

Images published with permission from Adaku Ufere.

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