Growing up in Nigeria, I was always exposed to travelers. Anyone who is familiar with that culture knows we will go anywhere, at any time, for work or for a better life. My parents were no different. My earliest memories were summers spent with my grandmother because my parents traveled often and most of my siblings love traveling as well.
I moved to the U.S just before my teenage years and took my first solo trip as an adult at the age of 16 to London (with a visa). In those days, there was no internet and certainly no Google Maps to help out. All you had was a guidebook. I have fond memories of getting lost in Paris, Madrid, and Greece over the years. I had to be selective with my Nigerian passport as visas were quite expensive. The more I traveled, the more I loved it. After becoming a U.S citizen, I really ramped up my travels, often going back to places l enjoyed. I have been to London for instance, over twenty-five times and I would go back in a heartbeat. I worked for many years as a pharmacist after college and looked forward to my 2-3 weeks yearly vacation with a vengeance.
Like a lot of other people, you get a sense of clarity when bad things happen. For me, the defining moment was losing one of my sisters to breast and lung cancer. She was only 49. It really affected me. You’re brought up to work hard, get married, have kids, work till retirement age, then travel. Having been a rebel anyway (choosing not to have kids and marrying at the age of 42, which for a Nigerian is blasphemy), I realized l had put aside my lust for travel in favor of the house, the car and the job. My desire to escape that life was intensified when my father-in-law died just four months after my sister did. My husband and l formulated a plan for early retirement. We would pay off all our debts, sell everything and move to Europe, a continent we both wanted to explore further. It took us over three years of the most frugal living to achieve our goals, but we did it.
Our Next Bite of Life
Our first destination after my intense research was Malta. The cost of living was good, and English was one of the two official languages. It was also just an hour flight to Rome where my MIL lives and definitely closer to Nigeria where most of my family reside. We started the blog, Nextbiteoflife, not only to keep our families updated but as a way to help others who might be looking to do the same. There just wasn’t much information as to the cost of living, etc. and life in general.
I classify the blog as an “affordable luxury travel and lifestyle blog.” We often combine private accommodations with luxury hotel stays on the same trip. Our base in Malta lasted 15 months before boredom set in. Literally throwing a pen at a map of Europe landed us in Malaga where we spent seven months, then it was on to Seville where we stayed for two years. Currently, we are in Valencia Spain and are so far loving it. Our travels are funded by savings, dividends and rental income.
Our blog is a bit different from most because l write honestly about where we’ve been, both good and bad experiences. I didn’t like Amsterdam, I didn’t like Warsaw(as a woman of color) to name a couple. l can be as free as l want because l don’t really care if l get sponsored trips or not. When we slow travel, I try to make our stays at least a week, sometimes two or three weeks. This gives us time to see parts of the city that normal tourists don’t get to experience. We grocery shop and talk to the locals and try to get a feel for what life would be like for someone like me, a black woman. I will often go to places by myself without my husband who is Italian when we travel to get the right feel. Travel shatters the stereotypes. In addition to constantly planning our trips which average about 9 per year, I have rediscovered my love for writing and have a tiny, library of content on my Amazon author page. Currently, I am writing the sequel to Blindness of Love.
The plan is to keep writing and traveling for as long as we enjoy doing it. We have collaborated with some companies such as Chatrium Hotels, Barcelona Tourism, Withlocals, and The Roman Guy. We will continue to be selective with companies we work with, and revisit old favorites places because for us, it’s not about the number, it’s about the memories. There are very popular “must see places before you die” that hold less than zero interest for us, and we both fully intend on dying without seeing them. Instead, we would rather go back to Paris for the 6th or so time!
My advice to others
- Have your ducks in a row. You can never do too much research if you plan to uproot your life.
- Take time to enjoy the experience. Travel is not about the perfect Instagram picture.
- Don’t put down people that don’t travel. Not everyone has a desire for it, and it certainly doesn’t make you better than them. Showing off just makes you a twat.
To read more Next Bite of Life, find them at the following sites: