By Folu Olamiti
For some Nigerians, going abroad, even to a country with low fortune, fame and status, is the ultimate. By now, hundreds, if not thousands, of Nigerians are either booking their flights or are already abroad for what they often see and cherish as summer holidays. Yes, it’s another summer, and the rush from here is overwhelming!
Nigerians travel out of their country for many reasons. Some, especially the elite, prefer going abroad for medical check. They prefer to take all that risk to treat even common cold, cough and catarrh! They gleefully label it as medical tourism. For others, going overseas is a yearly ritual that affords them the opportunity to re-unite with friends, families and business associates. And there is this critical mass that jet out, almost on a daily basis, sinking millions to seek greener pastures or the Golden Fleece as they call it. In all, those who make peremptory trips outside the country often do so with pains and great discomfort. They do so in most cases while “suffering and smiling”, as the legendary Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sang in one of his chartbusters.
In the course of my public service and journalistic odyssey, I have garnered long years of experiences and chalked hundreds of thousands of kilometres crisscrossing the world. Some of those experiences have prodded me to share a little on the inconveniences, sometimes mind-numbing risks, that many Nigerian travellers go through just to have some summer freaks. While the youth see long haul flights as adventurous, the attendant stress and pains always have a telling effect on the old; senior citizens. They often experience unusually prolonged jet-lag, have swollen feet, experience some numbness in their limbs and joints, not to talk of the deafening effect of planes on their ears.
It is to our senior citizens I want to offer this advice. I need to give some useful tips for the elderly who may seem addicted to the long haul flights. First, it is not advisable to travel alone. If you can afford it, you need the company of your spouse or any of your children. Second, medical science has established that long haul trips can aggravate arthritis or thrombosis. In that case, sufferers are always advised to be well equipped with flight socks. The socks, which are often sold at duty free shops at most international airports, are clinically packaged to improve blood circulation. They are prepared to make travellers endure long hours on the plane, ultimately making users feel light and relieved of joints pains.
Third, aged travellers must adequately fortify themselves with correct medication well ahead of an impending trip. The use of multivitamins, especially vitamin C, helps to boost body immunityagainst flu. This is necessary in case you are seated with someone nursing flu, cough or exhibiting symptoms of other contagious conditions. Every traveller must be aware that the toilets in every plane breed dangerous bacteria. So, when using toilets, either onboard or in transit, you are strongly advised to use hand soap and sanitisers.
Tip number four is that every traveller of age must avoid concentrating attention on watching movies or engaging in long hours of sleep onboard. It is imperative that at intervals, you must stretch your legs and body either by standing, or walking round the cabin, or engaging in mild body exercises. Travellers who stay glued to their seats are prone to stroke or deadly thrombosis.
Travelers should be mindful that a well-planned journey makes your trip less stressful. Ahead of flying over 24 hours with stops, or 15 to 16 hours non-stop, purchase ticket which include hotel accommodation, most especially where a stop-over takes over six hours before connecting the next flight. I have seen some aged persons falling sick or collapse at transit lounges during long journeys. Most international airports have good hotel accommodations for sound rest and you must avail yourself of the facility.
The next tip concerns the point where travellers face immigration clearance. Once you are armed with relevant documents, your clearance is guaranteed. Hard times await those without valid documents at entry points. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to be delayed, you need to ensure that your medication is in place. An asthmatic patient who suffers sudden attack may find it difficult to survive when exposed to stress at the immigration counters.
Travelling long hours in a plane is energy sapping. It always results in jet lag which often times takes up to two to three days to shake off. The case is worse for anyone who might have contracted flu or suffers from the usual summer allergies that often induce cold, coughing, sneezing and blood shot eyes. In some cases, and from personal experiences, the allergies could take about two weeks before full recovery. The body will now battle with differences in time zones and climate change. While the sun is receding in the United States, for instance, we are moving towards dawn in Nigeria. Presently, in Europe and far Eastern countries, they are witnessing heavy rainfalls and severe flooding. America is currently contending with high or humid temperature, which often requires the use of cooling devices.
Perhaps, the only reward meant for Nigerians who travel out is their dream to better security, good infrastructure and facilities. For them, leaving Nigeria is a temporary good escape from the harsh realities that they have been battling with for years. At least, they will be relieved of the sneers of armed robbery, kidnapping, killings and bombings by Boko Haram and now, Niger Delta Avengers, police brutality, fuel scarcity, ‘NEPA’ failures, hike in prices of essential commodities, poor medical facilities and others.
Travelling abroad for vacation may not be a bad idea but it can get scary when one discovers that time is an impatient customer. It flies so fast. For instance, four weeks of stay usually runs so fast you think you have just spent few days. In that regard, the thought of returning to inclement situations at home brings some pangs of heaviness or sadness. This is the crux of the matter. It is time for the government to start building solid infrastructures and facilities that would make Nigeria a beauty to behold and a place of allurement to seduce citizens to remain at home.
Government officials who travel out too often should be alive to their responsibility by returning home to replicate the good things they see abroad in their country. Nigeria is great. The country is imbued with natural and human resources which, if effectively managed, could turn Nigeria into an El-dorado. Perhaps, both the government and the governed can, indeed, latch onto this era of ‘Change’ in making a collective resolve to begin laying solid foundations for the revival, re-invention and re-orientation of Nigeria. Doing so will make the country a destination of choice for people from across the globe. After all HOME IS HOME.