So, the year is almost half gone and you’re looking forward to Summer. Or maybe you just need to take a break from the grind and rat race that is work? Whatever the case, the topic of what todo and where to go can be mind-grueling. You might be tired of going to the usual suspects: UK, USA, Dubai…………. You’re possibly dreaming of some exotic location but wonder about visas, where to stay, what you can do, the cost? Search no longer…….let me see if I can’t help narrow your choices.
One of the hurdles we have to cross as Nigerians is the need for a visa to visit almost everywhere outside West Africa and so we tend to restrict our travel to locations where we know people – family, friends and colleagues. I like to be adventurous and actually prefer staying at hotels and resorts rather than family, when on holiday. My family is great but one can feel obligated to make ones holiday more about spending time with them rather than seeing the world and while that’s good some of the time, repeating that year after year means you could miss out on so many wonders and attractions.
Let me therefore share some secrets and tips on the issue of visas. First, places you can visit as a Nigerian and not need a visa:
Turks & Caicos Island in the Caribbean
Barbados in the Caribbean
St. Vincent & Grenadines
St. Kitts & Nevis
Seychelles – Africa
Chengdu – China (for 72 hours)
Then you have those countries which you can visit if you have certain Tourist or other Visas:
St. Croix – Caribbean
St. John – Caribbean
St. Thomas – Caribbean
Water Island – Caribbean
The 4 Islands above are part of the US Virgin Islands and you can connect all of them via ferry or sea plane from Puerto Rico……and that makes the next place on my list
5. Puerto Rico – Caribbean
6. Mexico – South America (popular places include: Cancun, Riviera Maya, Los Cabos and lesser known Puerto Vallarta
7. US Virgin Islands – In general
These locations you can get visas for, from other embassies in Nigeria or directly from their own embassy in Nigeria
Trinidad & Tobago (Embassy on Tiamiyu Savage St, Victoria Island, Lagos)
Botswana (Embassy at Abuja)
Jamaica (Embassy at Abuja)
Bermuda (UK Embassy)
Bahamas (UK Embassy)
Cayman Islands (UK Embassy)
Antigua & Barbuda (UK Embassy)
I got the information from various sources including http://www.projectvisa.com and the Tourism pages of some of the countries.
Once you decide where to go, then comes the question of where to stay and a budget:
As a parent myself, I know how trying travelling with kids can be (especially in their early years) and how the thought of the stress and expense can make you just scrap the whole idea. Who wants to go on holiday and spend the time marshaling kids around and getting back home as stressed out as if you hadn’t gone anywhere on vacation; probably worse even. Well now you don’t have to worry, just book an All-Inclusive holiday or vacation. These tend to cover:
Accommodation for the family
All meals and snacks for all at most or all available restaurants
Unlimited Drinks (soft, cocktails, cocktails, beers, brews, spirits, wines, etc)
Activities for everyone
Kids Club and Teen Club
Use of all resort or hotel amenities (except maybe the Spa)
For extra charges, they can usually cover Babysitting, special meals, other excursions, etc. A number of the top resorts would provide walkie-talkies for you to stay in touch with your children and be comfortable that they’re having fun. Most Kid’s clubs cover children starting from age 4 and up so younger children have to be accompanied by adults or a babysitter. The usual rate at most resorts for babysitting is $25 an hour. These arrangements mean you can ditch the kids for a few hours and take off for some R & R with your spouse.
Top of the list as reviewed by thousands of families and review sites is Beaches Turks & Caicos. Winner of various 2015 Traveller’s Choice Awards by TripAdvisor, Travel + Leisure, Family Critic, Parent Magazine, Oyster Awards, to name a few, this resort has virtually everything covered.
There are numerous attractions, accommodation in themed “villages”, family activities, children’s activities and couple only activities. They have practically everything a family (and even couples) need to have an awesome, one-of-a-kind experience that will be remembered for years to come. This comes at a price though and family of 5 should expect to shell out about $10,000 for 7 nights, without airfare.
Getting there is fairly easy as there are frequent, direct flights from Miami, USA that take less than 2 hours.
2. Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This resort is located 4 miles from the Puerto Vallarta Airport and don’t knock Mexico till you’ve seen this place.
It’s a Family Vacation Critic Favourite, it’s been given the AAA Four Diamond Award (2009-2015), Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, etc. A luxurious place filled with every imaginable comfort. Their Kid’s Club starts from much younger (3 years and up) but baby-sitting is available. A family of 5 can stay for 7 nights for as little as $4,000. Excellent value! If you have an infant making 3 children, don’t be put off by their site not allowing you book lower level accommodations for more than 2 children. Just call the Resort and they are sure to accommodate your special needs and make exceptions when they can.
More Resorts and locations coming up.