All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, sums up the purpose of annual leave employers often grant their employees. In a country like Nigeria, annual leave is also known as vacation.
According to Nigerian Labour Code, employees are entitled to annual leave after working satisfactorily in the company for 12 months. Usually, at this time, employees look forward to a break from work to recuperate.
A vacation is a great way to unwind, relax and have fun from the daily routine.
However, planning for a holiday or vacation can be a costly affair, especially when trying to stick to a budget in the face of inflation, which has risen to 21.82 per cent, according to a recent report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics.
Individuals may wonder how realistic a vacation is, considering their limited income, especially as travel costs have continued to skyrocket due to the foreign exchange crisis.
Despite the overwhelming facts, individuals can enjoy fun during their annual vacation trip while sticking to a strict budget.
Experts in the travel and tourism industry have shared key insights on how Nigerians can plan an annual vacation trip on a budget.
The first rule of planning a trip or making a financial decision is to create a budget. So first, set a budget for your vacation. Think about how much money you can comfortably spend and be realistic about your expenses. Once you set a budget, it will help you decide what kind of vacation you can afford.
The President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agents, Susan Akporiaye, says “First, you have to know what the budget is because it is not right to start from a budget of N100,000.”
She explains that a budget means what you can afford, but is not necessarily cheap.
Akporiaye says when a client planning a trip considers this important aspect of the budgeting, then it is impossible to create a vacation plan that will suit him.
She notes that this is a crucial step in ensuring that individuals enjoy their annual vacation trip.
“This is so because when people sometimes decide to go for something cheap and you strive to work within their means it ends up backfiring,” she says.
She narrates how her experience has shown that people do not usually settle for realistic budgeting.
According to her, some of these cases have led to litigation, “with the client threatening to take me to the court that I messed up the trip. And I am like come on, you said you wanted a budget and I gave you three options and you went for the lowest.”
She added, “And that has given me the impression that for you to go for the lowest, that means that is the budget and the trip was planned based on that lowest.”
According to her, one aspect of a budget is that it can either be lower or higher depending on the cost of the trip.
Akporiaye says the next course of action is to take the destination into consideration.
She adds that the destination plays a key role in budgeting and the overall cost of the trip.
She says, “For example, if the trip is to Accra, Ghana and it is based on a budget of N500,000, I can tell you that based on this budget, It is advisable to go on a road trip.”
Akopriaye argues that due to the limited state of the budget, only a road trip can accommodate all the fees involved, stating that the high cost of a flight ticket will swallow up the bulk of the money.
“The ticket alone to Accra is about N250,000 to N300,000. Also, the road trip will not be a privately driven one. It will be a road trip on public transportation. This is because when you consider a private transportation to and fro Accra, you are already talking about N400,000.”
One of the most significant advantages of planning your vacation ahead of time is that you will get better deals on flights, accommodations, and activities. Research your destination and book early to take advantage of early bird discounts and other offers.
Travel Manager for Wayfare Travels, Omoyeni Kolawole, tells that most Nigerians have no plan ahead.
Kolawole says, “I am not saying the majority but we have observed that people like to plan late. It is very rare to see Nigerians plan a year ahead. Maybe it is because of the situation of the country so it is difficult to plan.”
He highlights that travelling on a budget involves a series of steps to achieve a relaxing and fulfilling time.
Travelling during peak seasons can be expensive. Try to avoid travelling during holidays or school breaks, when prices tend to be higher. Instead, travel during off-peak periods, when prices are lower.
“If you want to travel on a budget, it is always good to travel during low seasons. Low seasons are seasons when lots of people are not travelling. Travelling at the peak period, tickets are expensive,” Kolawole says.
He cites an example of a company-organised trip to the Qatar World Cup event amid a surge in flight ticket prices.
The trip, he said, consisted of about a group of 40 intending travellers to Qatar and “I think the economy flight ticket was about N1.6m.”
He states that for the Christmas season, if individuals plan at the beginning, they will not have to pay exorbitant fees.
Kolawole notes that planning early gives individuals the time to apply for a Personal Travel Allowance from commercial bank.
“We need dollars in this country, so instead of you sourcing dollars from the black market, you get from the bank at the standard rate. Also, PTA does not work for a lot of destinations.”
Consider choosing an affordable destination. Some countries or tourist attraction sites are more expensive than others. There is a need to carry out research to certain the cost of living in the destination plan to visit and seek better deals on flights and accommodation.
Kolawole adds that the travel industry pushes out destinations that are easy to serve and market.
He says, “There are some destinations that are really nice, but people have a biased mind about it. For instance, people love to go to Dubai. But the trip to Qatar revealed that the city has better scenery and tourist attractions than Dubai.”
He reiterates that there are better locations which cost less but people prefer to go for destinations on popular demand.
Kolawole adds, “So people should explore destinations that are not so popular and try them out; talk about Senegal, Dakar. Another thing is the hotel accommodation. Pay for your flight and hotel early.
“For instance, in Benin Republic or Ghana, you cannot get PTA because the flight time is short.
In an earlier report, Lead Coach: Money matters with Nimi, Nimi Akinkugbe, advises individuals to set overall spending limits.
She says, “You do not have to travel to an expensive and exotic location just because everyone else is doing so. Look critically at your finances.”
She warns tourists to avoid borrowing to finance holiday vacations unless there is some certainty of an impending inflow of funds or other compelling reason to do so.
Group trips work in a way that travellers share the costs. The travel agency gets a deal with the hotels, and transport companies based on the number of passengers
Kolawole explains. “Don’t forget that one of the key things people don’t know is that all those transportation in-between cost much. For example, two people in a bus that cost N5,000 will have the individuals pay N2,500 each. But if 20 people are sharing the costs then that means each person pays N250.”
Kolawole adds that planning with a travel agency will provide for a better vacation trip experience. He also suggests that individuals get all the details of the trip before making payment, to avoid hitches or bad surprises.
In conclusion, planning an annual vacation on a budget requires some planning and research. You can have a fun and memorable vacation without exceeding your budget.