When Ipinmi started her blog in 2020, she just wanted to share her passion for travel with as many people as possible. Getting to travel to the places she wrote about seemed like seemed an even bigger dream when the pandemic hit in March 2020 and the world ground to a halt. Travel became a lot more complicated and a lot more expensive, but Ipinmi saw this a wakeup call and start experiencing the places she’d always wanted to.
As a travel creator, your audience wants to see the world through your eyes. Not being able to travel during the pandemic, which was also her first year as a travel content creator was really difficult, but she managed to make something of it. She chose to explore her city, Lagos. She went everywhere and did everything she could whilst saving for her first solo trip in March 2022.
Since 2022, Ipinmi, popularly known in the travel industry as Férìnàjò, has visited over 4 countries and is adding more stamps to her passport. Seeing the world, learning new cultures and sharing her experiences with people who also aspire to that is what she loves most about being a creator.
We caught up with Ipinmi to tell us more about her travel life and her last trip which was to Benin Republic.
Your last trip was to Benin Republic, why was this your destination of choice?
At the start of this year I wrote a list of countries I wanted to visit. I ticked off Ghana in April and I planned to go to Bénin in December, but the opportunity to go in May presented itself so I went.
Was it a solo trip, or did you go with a travel buddy or as part of a travel group?
This was a group trip, it honestly was the only way I was comfortable travelling to Bénin by road. The roads between Badagry and Cotonou aren’t exactly the safest and travelling solo as a woman would definitely raise some eyebrows, so I was much more comfortable going in a group.
How did you get started? Bookings? Visa? Agent? Self?
Self. By 2020, I only had experience with family travel so I did all the research I could, followed all the travel bloggers/creators I was inspired by and learned everything about travel planning and travel hacking.
How long did you stay there? Was it your intended duration of stay?
I stayed for just 4 days, and the perfect amount of time for me. I would say Bénin Republic is a weekend getaway from Lagos. It’s quiet, not as crowded and relaxed. I needed that time to recoup before going back to the hustle and bustle of Lagos.
How did you prepare your itinerary?
I usually plan my itineraries myself. The factors I consider the destination I want to visit, the distance from where I’m starting my trip, headed on location, the cost of travel and other expenses, and my desire to do it. But for this trip, because it was with a group, I joined a travel company that had a pre-arranged itinerary (I specifically chose to travel with them because of the itinerary).
What was your budget for the trip ?
The group trip cost N255,000 for 4 days, and I still took some extra cash for food and souvenirs, so in total, I spent N285,000 on my 4 day trip to Bénin Republic.
Can you break down your expenses based on your experience?
My expenses were divided by accommodation, transportation from Lagos to Bénin and within Bénin, food, experiences (entry fees, guide fees) and souvenirs.
How did you pack for this trip? Can you break down what was in your box?
As a travel blogger, I struggle with packing light, so I hate to admit it, but I pack 2 – 3 outfits for each day. I packed: 5 dresses, 3 shorts, 3 pyjamas, 3 pairs of shoes, 1 denim jacket, 1 tank top, 2 oversized button up shirt, 2 trousers, 2 swimsuits, a toiletry bag, a bag for medications, my laptop (because I often edit pictures on the go) and a bag of snacks.
What did you wish you knew before traveling there?
Benin Republic has a more stable economy and less inflation, so the citizens have a higher standard of living than Nigeria. Because of this, a lot of things are more expensive. I wish I had known that, so I could have budgeted better.
What as experiencing Benin Republic like as a tourist? Did you get to interact with the locals?
I felt like I was home. The people were so warm and friendly and welcoming.
What were your weirdest, funniest and most noteworthy experiences during your stay?
When we made dinner in our lodge on our last night. We all pitched in, cooking spaghetti and fried fish, laughing and really getting to know each other over dinner because just 2 days before, we were all strangers.
How was their food? What did you eat?
Their dishes are heavily influenced by French cuisine so I ate a lot of chicken, baguettes, cheese and fries. They are also in West Africa meaning they had some amazing street food like ram suya.
How were their roads and accessibility?
They have some of the best roads I have seen, it’s clean and very well maintained. Their main form of public transportation are motorcycles, so they have bike lanes on all their roads. Everywhere is 10 minutes – 1 hour away from each other so I would say it’s a very accessible country.
Would you recommend this country?
100%. It’s rich in history and culture.
What’s the place famous for in your opinion?
It’s famous for many things:
- being home to the voodoo capital of the world (the city of Ouidah)
- The floating village of Ganvie which is also known as “The Venice of Africa”.
- The Amazon statue in Cotonou, erected in remembrance of the famous all female warrior army of Dahomey. The story of the Agojie (named by their tribe) is what The Woman King is based on.
What advice would you give to someone planning a trip there?
Do all your research beforehand and if you’re going by road, travel with a group. It’s safer, cheaper and a lot more fun.
What general advice would you give to a traveller or a travel creator?
There’s no immediate gratification or reward, so make sure you are passionate about it. Your passion and love for travel is what will keep you going in the uncertain times of social media.
It’s definitely not easy when you first start, or even a year or 2 down the line. It takes A LOT of personal investment, time and patience before you start seeing the result you expect. And living in a country like Nigeria where all the odds are stacked against you, there is every reason to give up. Personally, I’ve persevered, and I’m excited to see where this year takes me…you should too!
Follow Ipinmi on Instagram @ferinajo_ where she documents her trips, experiences and shares travel tips.