30 Countries Before 30: Femi Luwa
Like many of my friends who have turned 30 this year, I turn 30 in a few weeks. But unlike my high school class mate Femi who successfully snagged in her 30th country before the 30th year bell went up (and currently has 37 under her belt), my country count is just about a third of my age.
In March 2016 Femi whose very fitting nickname is “Aunty Fun Times” took her first ever girls’ trip to Thailand. It was an exhilarating ten days of excessive island hopping, curry eating, mai tai sipping, full moon partying, beach side massages and endless exploring.
5 months later in August 2016, she packed her bags (7 suitcases if we’re being precise) and moved to Europe. In the two years she’s lived there she’s visited over 20 new countries.
In this feature she answers a ton of our questions. From feminine matters about being comfortable in bikinis, her secret to that glow on holiday, dealing with cramps on travels to general travel tips, solo travel and travel blogging. I also couldn’t help but ask what happens if she ends up with a non-travel loving partner! See what she says!
30 before 30 was a goal attained. Do you have any travel goal you're currently pursuing
I’m not sure I can put these as goals since they aren’t time bounded but I do have a bunch of bucket list items such as visiting all the continents of the world, seeing the 7 new world wonders, and more impact travelling in general.
My most recent addition to the list was to visit all of the countries in Europe within the next two years, but lately I have this itch to explore more of Africa, so who knows?
I just want to see as much of the world as I can and have as much fun as possible while doing it.
You've only recently started travel blogging why did you choose to do this?
In the words of Olamide (the Nigerian artiste) once said, “Life is short like knicker”. One of the reasons I started my site is to encourage and help people to live the life they love by prioritizing doing things they actually enjoy. Apart from being a resource for people looking to plan short term trips, I hope it helps people realize that they can see the world while having full time commitments (job, school, family, etc)
If it works out, could you quit your day job to do this fully, getting paid to go on trips and write about them?
I’m not sure I would enjoy travelling as much as I currently do if it were “work”. But if I were to do something travel related full time, it’d be sharing weird and wonderful things I discover while travelling e.g. why people are so afraid of sharks even though they kill less people per year than jelly fish do, or why Ireland has the second highest percentage of red heads in the world.
1st Photo: Chichen Itza, Mexico | Mexico was special for a bunch of reasons. It was my 30th country and I got to see this - my second world wonder!
2nd Photo: Muck Rock, Ireland | I thought I’d signed up for a tour of a fishing village. It ended up being an 11 mile hiking trip that involved rock climbing. The views were worth it though.
What would you do if your partner was perfect in every way but detested travelling and had a phobia for airplanes?
This question just gave me the heebie jeebies and the first response that crossed my mind was “God forbid!”
Seriously though, we’d explore all available options - seek therapy so we can address the root cause of his fears, see if he’s more comfortable flying on a private jet (ha!), opt for multiple connecting flights instead of direct flights if it’s a “time spent on planes” issue, maybe do more road trips (which I’m not a huge fan of actually), cruises or something. We’d figure it out somehow. If God “blesses” me with such a partner, I’m sure He’ll grant me the grace to deal with it as well.
On a separate note, this is a strong point in favour of just exploring destinations you wish to instead of saving them for when you’re boo’ed up.
From all your travels, what exact location / tourist attraction would you like to get married?
The answer to this changes depending on what day you ask me. But my long time first choice has been somewhere in the Caribbean.
Party all week on an island (play mas in a carnival for the hen/stag do, yacht cruise with our guests etc), get married on the weekend and then island hop for our honeymoon.
Two other cities that give me warm and fuzzy feelings are Florence, Italy and Valencia, Spain, but a Caribbean wedding still comes out ahead because... turn up.
1st photo: Isla Mujeres, Mexico | Best sailing trip ever. The views were perfect. Good food, good music and I got a couple of nice pictures - the best!
2nd photo: Bangalore, India | My first Indian wedding in 2017.
In what destination have the women inspired you the most. Why?
The Dora Milaje of Wakanda! They may be fictional, but they’re bald, and pretty bad ass!
How do you deal with cramps / period in between travelling?
Thankfully (?) my only symptoms are headaches, insomnia and mood shifts - the most ridiculous things will make me cry! I drink lots of water, opt for seafood instead of meat when possible, and sometimes use Midol (a painkiller that also helps with hormone regulation).
What beauty products do you always have for a glow on your holiday!?
MAC’s Gold Deposit for face and collar bone, Hawaiian Tropics shimmer sunscreen, for the rest of my body. Between those two, I stay radiating like the sun
Did you grow into being comfortable in a bikini or you’ve just always been?
I realized quite early on that because of my genes, extreme love for food and dislike for the gym, I was never going to be a skinny girl, and I made my peace with it.
For me, feeling good is more than half the battle. If I know I’m going to be in a bikini soon I try to eat clean so I don’t feel bloated or heavy. When I feel good, I’m automatically more comfortable in my clothes and bikinis even though it doesn’t necessarily mean my tummy is any flatter.
What’s your secret to a smooth bikini line? Bikini Wax or Shaving Stick?
The first time I waxed my eyebrows I teared up (or cried depending on what angle you were looking at me from). Waxing of my nether regions is definitely not my calling.
I use hair removal cream, but I’m eventually going to do laser hair removal. I’m trying it on my legs at the moment and I’m quite pleased with the results so far.
Last photo: Ventura Park, Mexico | You don’t want to know the amount of praying I did after I put this snake down. Also, my mum can never see this photo!
Do you tend to take more photos with your camera or a phone? On the average how many takes before you get that great photo for the ‘gram. Got any photo hacks - tell us!
I don’t have a camera so I take all my photos on my phone. My photography skills leave much to be desired so unfortunately I don’t have a lot of hacks to share. I just try to find interesting backdrops, as much natural lighting as possible and I keep posing until whoever is taking my photos hands me back my phone.
What travel apps or resources do you rely on the most?
Skyscanner for flights.
My Notes app for for lists and itineraries.
Monzo, for banking. It’s been such a life saver!
1st photo: Galle Fort, Sri Lanka | This place was so dreamy. I saw at least 3 couples doing their wedding photo shoot. Proposal destination perhaps?
2nd photo: The Blue Church, Bratislava | From my epic three countries in one day. I was happy to get in, eat and leave, but thankfully my friend made us sight see.
What's the craziest adventure you've gone on?
Probably breakfast, lunch and dinner in three different countries in one day - Hungary, Slovakia and Austria! I wrote about it here.
You recently went on your first solo trip? Tell us about that - Do you think it was everything you hoped for? What was the most memorable bit.
I loved it, and I’d definitely do it again. Although it was a memorable trip, I can’t say my most memorable bits were as a result of it being a solo trip. Some of my thoughts on travelling solo are outlined here.
One unpopular destination you're absolutely itching to visit. Why?
One of the Canadian territories (Yukon, Nunavut or NWT), so I can well, tick a Canadian territory off my list and experience 24hour sunlight in the summer. Imagine the sun rising in June and not setting again till August. Crazy! Yes I know I can experience this in certain parts of Finland and Sweden, but I have a soft spot for Canada.
1st photo: Vatican City | Celebrating my 30th birthday by going on my first solo trip ever. I loved it!
2nd Photo: Deer meat for lunch in Bratislava, Slovakia.
First class trip or a return economy ticket for a 3 day holiday?
I mean if money weren’t a factor then I’d choose a first class ticket all the time !
But, if I had to choose - a 3 day holiday means I’m probably not travelling very far so I’d skip the first class flight and splurge on a luxurious hotel, food and activities.
Backpacks or fancy bags?
I totally get the practicality of backpacks, but they’re not for me. I don’t think they’d match any of my outfits. Unless I’m going on a hiking trip.
Hotels or Air BnBs?
Hotels, hotels, hotels!
I just like all the service that comes with a hotel - coming back to a fully made up room, clean sheets and towels when I need them, having someone to call me a taxi or offer me recommendations, etc.
Of course there are times when my bank account does not see eye to eye with hotel prices, or if I’m travelling with a big group it may make more social sense to just get a house. In those cases I’m not at all opposed to an Airbnb.
How much of Africa have you explored? What places or adventures are you looking forward to?
Not enough. I just returned from a trip to Senegal and some of the highlights for me were eating Senegalese jollof (I’m definitely #TeamNaijaJollof) and visiting Pointe des Almadies, westernmost point of mainland Africa. I’m off to Cape Town, South Africa in a few months! I’m really excited to sky dive there for some odd reason.
Are you more of a traveller ticking off the touristy things or are you just happy to explore a place, lie by the beach and be happy?
It depends on my mood. Sometimes I go away and return needing a vacation after my “vacation” because I get excited and want to do everything and other times I do almost nothing.
I’m not a fan of the beach unless it’s for water sports (the second craziest thing I’ve done is probably flyboarding, because I’m not a fantastic swimmer), but if I wanted to relax on a trip, it’d be by sleeping in, reading, catching up on TV and taking walks that lead me to food.
All photos from Senegal!
One misconception about you travelling that you deal with all the time?
That I don’t have a full time job. I do!
How do you really afford frequent travel
Travel is a huge priority for me so when I make financial and life decisions, I factor in how they affect my ability to travel.
For instance I chose to move to England from Canada two years ago because travelling from Europe is a lot more affordable (and convenient) than travelling from Canada.
When I got here, I opted to stay with family in the suburbs (a 1.5hr commute to work one way) instead of renting my own place in the city because I knew it would mean I had more money for trips.
I like luxury items as much as the next girl, but if there were ever a choice between a trip and a nice bag, you already know I’m choosing the trip, no questions asked.
I’m a strong believer in finding your “happy” and directing your resources and energy towards making it happen. Consequently I’m not opposed to making life changes where necessary if it means more travel for me, because that’s what makes me happy.
Well well, I absolutely love “finding your happy”. We have to prioritise what makes us happy; and makes life changes to suit that as much as possible.
Curious about the countries she’s visited, here’s the full list: 1. Benin 2. Egypt 3. Ethiopia 4. Morocco 5. Nigeria 6. Tanzania. 7. Togo 8. Cambodia 9. India. 10. Saudi Arabia 11.Sri Lanka 12. Thailand 13. Croatia 14. Denmark 15. England 16. France. 17.Greece 18. Ireland 19. Malta 20. Monaco 21. Portugal 23. Spain 23. Sweden 24. The Netherlands 25. Wales 26. Canada 27. Cuba 28. Jamaica 29. Mexico 30. United States 31. Senegal 32.. Italy 33. The Vatican. 34. Austria 35. Hungary. 36. Slovakia 37. Scotland!
Over to you! Does travel make you happy? Share a fun memory from your recent travels with us!