I took a road trip from Lagos to Abuja recently. Apologies in advance, no pictures. I had gone by road from Jos to Lagos some years back so I thought, why not! I barely ate and sat all through even when the driver stopped to stretch his legs in Lokoja. See, I am an easy companion.
Here are my tips for road trips:
1. If you are driving, make sure you get your car checked out - this includes servicing, gauging your tyres including the spare (find out the appropriate gauge please), ensuring the wheels are aligned and your lights are in good condition.
2. Please make sure you have the necessary repair tools as well. A gallon of water just in case your car overheats. You don't want to be stranded trying to wave down cars that probably won't stop for you.
3. Your vehicle particulars (including car insurance) must be in order. Police officers, Soldiers, FRSC officials and even Customs, stopped us a couple of times. I think the ones that asked for our particulars were perplexed to find that they were complete and valid.
4. If someone is taking your car without you, write a note of authorisation and attach your ID. The driver was asked about the car owner and luckily, I was with him. My father always had a note in his glove compartment.
5. In the words of W. S., you must set forth at dawn! Nigerian roads are terrible. Lagos to Abuja used to be about 9 hours. We spent 11 hours (4:30am - 3:30pm). Leaving at dawn made the trip largely pleasant as the weather was still cool and there were fewer cars to deal with. On the flip side, there were so may truck drivers!
6. If you are not driving, make sure your driver is reliable, careful and knows the way. All my road trips have been with the same driver and as much as he speeds, he is careful.
7. Don't speed unless when necessary. One time, some guy in a jeep sped by us only to end up overturned in the forest further up the road.
8. Don't sleep for gossake! You'll miss out all the sights and scares. (I still have nightmares of oncoming trucks thanks to my driver's overtaking skills.) Seriously though, there's a lot to see and learn. For instance, I never knew Osun State had so many private universities. That made me Google the state with the most private universities in Nigeria. Turns out it is Ogun State. In fact, it has the most tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
9. Food! Please take your food especially if you have a sensitive stomach and no, I am not talking about Eba or anything heavy. Something light and that you can eat cold/lukewarm. I would recommend bananas. They're very good for alertness and fullness. I had bananas mostly and some random meat I was chewing from the night before. Take some water and fruit juice as well.
10. Speaking of food, make space in your trunk for foodstuff you will buy on the way. I bought two stems of plantain for 1100 Naira. I kid you not! Those bunches of six fingers in the market are like 500 Naira.
11. Do not travel long distances if there is no fuel! Also, fuel prices differ especially up North so if you need to top up, do it in the South. Take enough cash to buy fuel. During my trips to Kano and Kaduna years ago from Jos, we used to buy fuel from roadside sellers in Jerry cans. It was the norm. Filling stations are not as common as in the South.
12. Make sure you are comfortable and have enough room to spread your legs. You don't want to be cramped for the better part of your journey.
13. Take some audio CDs along. The farther you travelthe more signal you lose and the less conversant you are with the radio stations. We barely listened to anything until we got to Kogi though. I guess my driver and I were cool with the silence.
14. Take along something to read.
15. Take your car charger. Better still, don't spend so much time on your phone. You never know.
16. Keep everyone updated - those you have left and those you are going to meet. This is a tradition in my family. I have gotten a few knocks for not doing so. In every state, I would send a message stating our location even if there was no signal. The message will always deliver once the signal is back. In the same vein, make sure you have more than enough credit!
If you are curious about the states we passed through, here is what the journey looked like: Lagos - Ogun - Oyo - Osun - Ondo - Edo - Kogi - Abuja.