sIn recent times, foreigners have been wary about traveling to Nigeria (especially European nations and the USA). However, several people – both citizens and dwellers, have been conducting their businesses normally. We assure you that an average Nigerian day is generally safe. You only need to abide by a few safety tips for traveling in Nigeria to avoid any unsavory situation.
These concerns about safety are not entirely unfounded, especially because of some security issues in the country. While we implore you to be vigilant, you do not need to lose your peace of mind. Much of the time, a better awareness of your surroundings is what is mostly needed when you step into Nigeria’s major cities.
Scores of foreign nationals are living in Nigerian towns and cities without facing any serious challenge. Some of them have been around for a long time. We encourage you to read along as we uncover some basic safety tips for traveling in Nigeria without any serious regrets.
You Don’t Need to Look Conspicuous as a Foreigner
If you ask me, it is best to learn to blend in naturally into your new environment. Don’t be proud in attitude, or obviously showing off that you are a foreigner. Otherwise, such an attitude will attract the bad eggs. You might get followed around by criminally-minded people. This is one of the simple but effective safety tips for traveling in Nigeria.
You can calmly study and enjoy your environment without being obvious. And when you need help or directions, learn to calmly ask for guidance. There are enough people on the streets that can willingly direct you where you are going, if you ask.
Be Streetwise as You Should in Any Country
Let’s be candid – few countries on Earth can boast of being absolutely safe. Though we understand that some places are safer than others. In any case, you should take the following basic precautions while traveling in Nigeria, just as you would anywhere across the world.
For one, learn to be observant and vigilant. Be suspicious of a deserted road, or an unusually quiet street. A road block without the local police nearby, or a police or army officer not wearing a proper identification on their uniform are signs of criminal setup. You can observe from a distance and take a detour. Better still,
Protect Your Possessions
To start with, your possessions should be properly kept away in suitable bags or covering – and not be conspicuously displayed. Especially on the streets or while you are in a vehicle. If you can, avoid traveling with valuable items – especially electronics. Unless you actually need them. Furthermore, avoid wearing anything flashy while you can (be it clothes, jewelry, or any other accessory).
Protect Your Money
Limit the amount of physical cash you carry around, and desist from showing off your cash to others. Learn to do more cashless transactions. And do not keep all your physical cash and ATM cards in the same compartment. It is even best to keep some of your ATM cards back in your lodging/accommodation space.
Avoid High-Risk Zones
Again, avoid dark, lonely corners; overcrowded spots; and towns or cities already identified as high-risk environments.
Your Smartphone and Power Bank are Your Best Companions
It is definitely wise to keep your smartphone well tucked away in your bag. You can set up your phone to vibrate so you can easily detect incoming calls, or better still pair it with a hands-free Bluetooth earpiece.
Yet again, ensure that your smartphone is fully charged as often as possible. Carry an extra power bank to keep your smartphone powered up at all times. By doing so, you can be sure of making important calls, sending messages, and browsing the internet to get critical information. You will also be able to make that call to a friend, colleague or loved one when the need arises.
Make Your Own Findings
An extension of the streetwise sense is to learn to talk to people around you to find out important information. Don’t be shy to speak with neighbors or people around you when you need help. Your foreign accent is generally not a hindrance. Everyday people in Nigeria are often more than willing to give you advice or useful tips.
That includes the general cost of goods in the market, standard transport fares, available and safe modes of transportation, important landmarks and bus-stops, and the like.
Learn to research online to find out the authentic websites of businesses and companies as well. You can also connect with online groups and forums where foreign nationals meet. There, you will find out the current scams to avoid when dealing with Nigerians (or when traveling in Nigeria).
Avoid Traveling Alone If You Can
One of the wise security tips while traveling in Nigeria is to patronize registered interstate or intercity transport companies. At least you can be sure that their drivers are licensed, and your goods will be well kept to some degree. Try avoiding roadside buses, as they can easily harbor kidnappers or thieves.
Again, you should have at least one other person or companion with you while traveling anywhere in Nigeria. Casually check if he or she is a fellow traveler/commuter who actually paid for a seat.
Yet again, you are advised not to travel alone too early in the day, or too late at night. The dark hours are the target times for criminals on the loose, so protect yourself and stay indoors. To ensure this on a long trip, it might be best not to follow a single interstate/intercity bus or vehicle throughout the trip. You can arrange to have major stops along the way and lodge in a safe hotel overnight. Take another intercity or interstate bus the next day.
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