Kemi Onabanjo’s Journey to 30 Countries Before Her 30th Birthday

My name is Kemi Onabanjo and I am a certified ‘ajala’, or as my more learned colleagues would say, a travel enthusiast.

In June 2016, I successfully achieved a personal goal I set for myself – to visit 30 countries by the time I turned 30. The goal was aptly named Project 30 by 30, and I managed to achieve this goal a good 16 months ahead of time. Folks have asked me a lot of questions ranging from why I set this goal and how I managed to achieve it on a Nigerian passport, to how I funded the project and where I am headed next. So I decided to take a moment to answer all those questions and share the entire experience with the world. Here we go!

Travel mantra
Travel mantra


I have always been curious about the world. I remember devouring volumes and volumes of children’s encyclopaedias (I guess Google is the new encyclopaedia) while growing up and my parents having to buy new editions as soon as they were released. I enjoyed watching a program on NTA Channel 5 called ‘Children of the World’ where kids from all over the world convened somewhere (can’t remember where now) for cultural and talent displays. There was a little boy from Nigeria who used to play the xylophone and although I used to watch him with a mix of pride and great envy (as I could not play any musical instrument or sing to save my life), it was watching the kids from other countries in their beautiful costumes that gave me the most delight. I loved and still love to play the ‘country and capitals’ game – still played it on the bus ride to Idanre Hills last holidays, and I won, whoop! Sorry, I digress.

Although I was curious about the world, I did not start travelling until I was 13, and being a true Nigerian, my first destination was London, England! It took another 6 years before the next trip happened, and this time, it was to the other destination for true Nigerians – Dubai, United Arab Emirates! I went on both trips with my family and although, they were mainly to visit family and look for bargain deals (again, another hallmark of being a true Nigerian), we also managed to visit some tourist attractions. I don’t think I still have or remember any of the items we bought on those trips, but I remember how I felt when I first saw the pigeons at Trafalgar Square, the still policemen in front of Buckingham Palace, the imposing Burj Khalifa and the breath-taking sand dunes in Dubai. As my eyes widened in excitement every time I saw these things, it felt like my mind also popped open in enlightenment. The thrill from landing in a new country, looking out for similarities and differences with Nigeria, trying out new food (although that took a while) was next to none.

London, England - 2000
London, England – 2000

As soon as I started working and earning money, I started saving aggressively for travel – I even set up a dedicated bank account for my travel-savings. About 6 years ago, I decided to be deliberate about my travel destinations when I realized that my vacations almost always led me to the same spots – London, Dubai and Accra, Ghana. And that’s when I decided to start visiting at least 2 new countries every year – 1 in Africa, and 1 in any other part of the world. About 4 years ago, this goal metamorphosed into the Project 30 countries by 30 – and here we are today! Done and Dusted. To God be the glory! 🙂

Dubai, UAE - 2006
Dubai, UAE – 2006



First, I have had the good fortune of having to travel for work to cool countries like Sweden (more cold than cool), Kenya, Cameroon, Tunisia, Brazil, AustriaIvory Coast, Benin Republic, South Africa, USA and Mauritius (dear future husband, you can strike that off the potential proposal/honeymoon locations, thank youuu). On my business trips, I quickly learned the art of exploring whichever city I landed in on the weekends. Sometimes, I deliberately arrive/leave a day earlier/later so I can explore the city, and I happily pay the hotel bill for that extra night because I essentially got a free flight to the country 🙂 I fell in love with some of these countries and I have gone back multiple times to explore other cities within them. I have plans to revisit some of them in the nearest future because there is still so much ground to cover.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

In deciding between which campus of my business school I should spend more time on, France was a more attractive option compared to Singapore, due to the miracle of the Schengen visa and the access it gives you to most European countries. However, the thought of living through winter scared me and I tried going to the Singapore campus but that did not quite work out right. Ultimately though, I can say that braving the winter and going to the France campus paid off big time! In the course of my 11 months in France, I managed to visit 8 additional European countries including The Netherlands (I never counted the many stopovers at Schiphol airport as visiting the country), Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary and Croatia.  All things truly do work out for good for God’s children. Amen, Halleluyah!!!

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Visas – Being a Nigerian passport holder means that I need a visa for a good number of countries – even within Africa. Things are changing though, with more African countries opening up their borders and removing visa restrictions for other African passports. While we wait for that to happen, I have learnt the art of filling visa applications like a pro. I don’t even think about it, whine or worry about it, I just get right straight to filling it.

Quick tip: I have all the important documents scanned and saved in a folder on my computer – passport data page, work I.D. card, pay slips, template letter of introduction from employer, previous visas, even my grandmother’s birth certificate (lol). This makes it easier for me to put all the supporting documents together, print them a day to my interview and just hop to the embassy like a champ. It also reduces the stress associated with visa interview prep, where one is constantly worried about forgetting an important document at home.

I also constantly do a lot of research on visa hacks for that lovely green passport of mine. I am always looking out for countries I can visit without a visa, or where I can get a visa on arrival. You cannot imagine how elated I was to find out that you don’t need a visa to enter Mexico if you already have a valid U.S visa and that if you have a valid U.K visa, you can get a visa on arrival in Turkey. Plus, the fact that I only had to pay US$50 for a visa-on-arrival to get into Tanzania was a huge relief! These seemingly little visa workarounds make travel-life a little more pleasant.

Prison Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania - 2016
Prison Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania – 2016

Funding- Since I am not a trust fund kid (yet), I had to save a LOT to be able to travel. Life is all about trade-offs, so I chose travel over expensive shoes, bag and clothes. I also have the luxury of not having to worry about diapers and crèche fees yet. I saved in Naira and US Dollars. Every month when my salary got paid, I would change some small USD with my ever-faithful aboki and then deposit in my local domiciliary account (not under my mattress o!). I usually printed my USD bank account statements when I was going for visa interviews, as part of proof of funds.

It was frustrating to see that the deposits yielded no interest but at least it was accessible and I could withdraw it whenever I needed it. This habit of changing forex small small came in handy when I began to save for my business school fees.

Quick tip: Open a domiciliary account so you can start saving in USD for your travel fund. International flight ticket fares are usually quoted in USD, so you can pay for your tickets from that dom account. It will be less painful than paying hundreds of thousands of Naira.

If you can get a debit card linked to the dom account, even better. That way you can spend from your dollar card abroad without whipping out a calculator to calculate exchange rates and bank fees every time. This will save you from exchange-rate induced high blood pressure or tension headaches!

The current economic climate does not seem conducive for any forex related transactions now, but this too shall pass. We hope it will not last forever. As soon as this storm passes, open that dom account and start saving in USD.

Flights- For me, this was the biggest part of the travel expense. I love to travel but I don’t particularly enjoy airports or flying, so I try to minimize the time I spend getting from point A to point B. I would rather pay a little extra for a direct flight than have to stay at an airport for hours waiting for a connecting flight and being tempted by the evil perfumes at duty free that keep calling out to me, lol.

In my working years before business school, I always used the same travel agent (who has now become a family friend) because I did not have the time to go online. I would ask the travel agent to give me 2-4 flight options and their prices, and then I would choose the most affordable and time-efficient. When I became a student, and had more time and less money, I booked a lot of my tickets by myself, online – go figure!

Beyond flights, I have also used other modes of transportation to explore more and manage costs. I went on a 7-day cruise of the Greek Isles for my 25th birthday and I got to visit 7 cities across 3 countries – Greece, Italy and Turkey. On my last birthday, I took a train from Berlin, Germany to Prague, Czech Republic. During my last international trip with my best friend and her family, we also took trains from Barcelona to Madrid in Spain, and from Lisbon to Porto in Portugal. Trains are great – you don’t have to take off your shoes to go through security, you don’t have to get there 3 hours before departure, you usually would get a great view of the scenery and landscape, and you can sleep in peace without a seat belt holding you down.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Accommodation – This is another major culprit in the high travel expense category, and I have tried out a lot of different options in a bid to manage costs. I have stayed at all sorts of hotels (even the 0 star ones), hostels (more available in Europe than in Africa, and the best one I have stayed in so far was in Japan), serviced and non-serviced apartments (great for when you’re travelling with a group), Airbnbs (the new kids on the block which I absolutely love) and even once, I stayed at a colleague’s house who was out of town (this is a good way of getting super cheap accommodation if you have colleagues in other countries). Not every time 5-star hotel, sometimes hostel. However, on my birthdays, I always give myself a treat and stay at a fancy hotel for just that night at least. It’s a not-so-cheap way to get a free birthday cake, maybe some wine, and on some very good days, a free room upgrade! Hotels are usually very nice when it’s your birthday 🙂

Takayama village, Japan - 2016
Takayama village, Japan – 2016

Solo vs Group travel – This one is tricky. I have done both and I definitely prefer to have my people with me on trips. I think that memories are even more beautiful when shared with friends and loved ones. However, the coordination challenge is real. Between weddings, pregnancies and babies, vacation calendars that won’t synchronize, bosses who refuse to approve leave requests, and other unexpected life events, it is very challenging (sometimes impossible) to travel with your full squad. So, I have learnt to be content with travelling with just 1 friend, or joining a group of people where I know just 1 person. My trip to Gambia over the Easter break in 2014 was with a friend and 3 other ladies who were her colleagues from work. It was awkward for like 5 minutes initially and then we became a real crew over the 5 days we spent together. And today, when we see each other, we do warm hugs and try to catch up real quick on life. Now that I think about it, this is actually a good way of expanding your network of acquaintances and people you know.

Banjul, Gambia - 2014
Banjul, Gambia – 2014

Technology – Unfortunately, I am one of those late adopters of new technologies/apps (e.g., I only joined Instagram last November) but once I eventually get with the program, I definitely max it out. I have found some apps and websites that have helped make my travel experience easier in one way or another. My personal favorites are:

  • Yelp – This app uses your location to provide a list of restaurants, bars, cafes, and all things related to food, complete with ratings and reviews. The best part is that it provides directions to your chosen destination, and gives you the option to call and make a reservation.
  • Splitwise – Great for tracking your spending and splitting bills when travelling with a group. You know how easy it is for money matters to scatter friendships!
  • Been – This app helps to keep track of where you’ve been around the world, and it’s simple, yet powerful, visual of the world map helps you see your ‘gaps’ and can be used to draw up your destination wish list.
  • – Especially great for alternative accommodation options like apartment-hotels, and they almost always have a deal/discount for you.
  • Uber – This is one of the safest and cost-effective ways to get around a city- enough said!

That’s all folks! I hope with these few points of mine, I have been able to convince you, and not confuse you, that it is great to explore the world through travel!  A lot of my choices of where to go and what to do have been heavily influenced by this project of mine. The moral of the story is this: you have to be deliberate about achieving your goals, travel-related or otherwise. It won’t just happen.  You have to make it happen for yourself, and with a little discipline and a lot of motivation, you can surely achieve it!

“Kemi, where are you headed next?”, you may ask. “What is your next travel goal?” Still undecided, but I have a long wish list of countries that I would like to visit soon. Top on that list are Senegal, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Cape Verde, China, Pakistan, India, Singapore and Switzerland. Any willing companions and hosts? 🙂



Published by

Kemi O

Explorer. Happy Woman.

165 thoughts on “Kemi Onabanjo’s Journey to 30 Countries Before Her 30th Birthday”

  1. Me, me, me! 😃
    Interesting read and nice write-up. I used to watch children of the world too. Brought back memories. Clearly from the. way you ended, you were part of the debate club 😋. Glad you met your target….feeling inspired!

    1. I used to watch Children of the World too AND I remember that Xylophone kid. Hi Kemi, just found your blog and I’ll be checking it out more often. I love travelling too, but I’ve been more of a solo traveller. I’ve travelled maybe twice in groups and it’s a lot of fun being with your goons.

  2. Wow…..#eyeswideopened
    Kemi you have nailed it. I admire you so much. This has inspired me to be delibrate about getting my travel dreams and other things done.
    I’ll definitely be joining you on some of these trips….

  3. I’m really inspired ,thanks for sharing. Even though I haven’t traveled out of the country yet..I’m making deliberate goals and prayerfully working towards it. Thank you

  4. Nice write up. I’m hoping to also achieve this goal of yours. I have 16 more countries and 3 years to go. Senegal and Ethiopia have also been on my mind lately. Hoping to visit then next year. Thanks for your little tips which I’ll be applying real soon. Cheers

  5. Yay!!! my Ajala friend. I am married to an Ajala too (has visited a country more than his age) and so I know the thrills one can get from seeing new sights. I love travelling too and have done 16 so maybe but now I am encouraged to do 40 by 40 (with the little one in tow sometimes). Hehe.

    Fab post. Lots of tips and tricks especially on funding which can be a major hurdle!!!

    1. Temi!!!! I didn’t know Mr K was an Ajala too o! I like the idea of visiting more countries than my age – that’s a new goal, lol.

      Thanks – with writers like you, inspiration is not in short supply. 🙂

  6. I like traveling too but never though to set a gaol for it but I’m definitely lookin into it, lol. Nice writeup by the way, I got to laugh at some point. What really motivated me is your idea of gaol setting which I think I should start taking more seriously as I grow older. Thanks for sharing your inspiring travel stories with me (people read differently😋😃) fyi…I admire your sense of humour and I’m coming to famz more, lol. God bless you

  7. Oh how I loved this. I admire you and your voyages. I want to travel the world too but I dislike flying. I hope to have travelled to many countries before thirty since I’m not yet but I have to work towards it. Thanks for this eye opener.

    1. Thank you B!

      I am not a fan of airports too but while we still hope and wait for people to invent alternative travel mechanisms like teleporting (lol), we will humbly fly.

      Please start working towards it so you can write about it when you are done, and inspire the world.

  8. Amazing!!! Funny and real post… I’m glad you have pictures for your travels… I always forget to take pictures. Gotcha on the aboki oh… def the way to go…. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Achenyo! Abeg, start taking pictures o. I never knew I was going to write but see how the pictures came in handy now.

      I hope I run into you soon in this Lagos. *fingers crossed*

  9. Wow very well written and well said…………definitely got me thinking
    All I can say is thanks for sharing and hope to see you on one of your tours #kudos#

    1. Thanks Chica! You know what would even be best? ‘Doing’ all the things that you are now ‘thinking’ about!

      See you soon too!


  10. How do I start??? Lol! I’m very proud of you and jealous at the same time, Kemi 😛
    Well done with your Project 30-30 Plan (That is what I call it! Lol!)
    Glad to also say I was one of your ‘instruments’ to your ‘project’…your cruise trip *wink*
    Thanks for the travel tips…I plan to do a one year World-schooling tour with my family in the nearest future so these tips would come out handy 🙂
    Wishing you many more years of exploring the world!!! And I pray your future husband is a traveler like you so you can have a life-time travel companion *wink wink*

  11. How do I start??? Lol! I’m very proud of you and jealous at the same time, Kemi 😋
    Well done with your Project 30-30 Plan (That is what I call it! Lol!)
    Glad to also say I was one of your ‘instruments’ to your ‘project’…your cruise trip 😉
    Thanks for the travel tips…I plan to do a one year World-schooling tour with my family in the nearest future so these tips would come out handy 😃
    Wishing you many more years of exploring the world!!! And I pray your future husband is a traveler like you so you can have a life-time travel companion *wink wink*

    1. Nene, you were definitely one of the instruments!Thank you again for helping fuel this passion in your own little way.

      I love the idea of a world-schooling tour with your kids – it will definitely transform them in ways that will be lasting.

      And a big AMEEEN to a fellow Ajala husband! Amen to that! From your lips to God’s ears – Baba God, pick up o!

  12. Amazing kemi… glad u met your target.
    I also love getting to new places but not so crazy about the travel process. i ve been to only the UK severally and i m looking to visiting Madagascar as soon as the weather of FX and recessions clears off. i was secretly beefing u and doyin ds year, its so unfair but good to know you guys are still tight from Ipetu.

    Great writing, nice experiences and i look forwarding to reading more blog posts
    and oh! u might have suspected, i m a feggip gal…..

    1. Joy Joy, of course you are FEGGIP girl – Violet House to be precise. Want me to say more? Hehehehe

      Thanks for the encouragement – I am now under pressure to write, Lord help me!

      WE should totally plan an Ipetu reunion trip for somewhere in Nigeria soon – that would be really cool!

  13. wow!!!! I am speechless but encouraged as well…I love to travel but trust me the truth is we always wait for when it is most convenient and truth is it can never be most convenient …just draw a plan and follow through…am glad I came to know you on Idanre trip have rekindled the fire in me…I will not only do the traveling that i love but also other things that I have been allowing procrastination steal from me…#thumbs up dear# God bless you .

    1. Amen. I am soo glad I got to meet you on the Idanre trip too! The love that you and Ojay share and display is #goals! God bless you too dear!!!

  14. Kemolala – ajala jalingo. I have taken useful life lessons from this. One has to be intentional about anything worthwhile. Well done for always writing things that are interesting and inspiring.

  15. Nice one Kemi. I was just telling my brother in law about you yesterday and how you love to travel then here comes the article. Go girl we right behind you and love you.

  16. wooow… this is exactly what i would have loved to do..
    but unfortunately.. i havent.

    so for your next trip.. if you need travel companions.. count me in.. *wide grin*

    just the motivation i need..

  17. Kemi, it’s awesome and educative. Travelling is indeed part of education! ! John okoro. . What’s in your mind? Trust I guess .. it’s meeting 30 world leaders before 30!!!

  18. I’m inspired by your write up Kemi, mine definitely won’t be 30-30 since I’m 6 months away from 30. I will start planning for 40-40 *winks*. At least a global-travel novice like me, have got a lot of tips from you to travel like a pro when I finally start.

  19. Wao Kemi.You are awesome!
    Nice and professionally written. And just yesterday we decided to start a campaign and work out packages for groups in other for people get aquainted during the trip and wao you nailed it now. If you have people who will be interested in joining you on your next sets of destination, please feel free to contact us @ Fidoltrips as we ll handle all air and ground trips.
    For your forth coming trips, we have very good and interesting itinerary for
    Senegal – no need of visa
    Ethiopia – visa is easy to get.
    Rwanda – visa can be applied online, India and Singapore – we have strong presence in Singapore.
    Above all, thanks as I learnt about new apps I never knew before. Kisses dear and I am proud of you.

    1. Senior Ife!!!! Thank you so much. Don’t worry, I am gathering my money to be able to come on one of your cool packages (I see all your Facebook posts about them – well done!)

      Please share tips on any other apps I might have left out. Cheers!

  20. Awesome read!
    This year, I decided I wanted to start travelling the world too and my first destination is Thailand, in a few weeks. I’m super excited!

    Great visa hacks you shared.

    Another tip is to use an app called Hopper to monitor flights for yourself, instead of using an agent. . It sends notifications when there are changes in flight prices and based on historical trends, it tells you when a flight price is right or when you should wait to buy.

    Worked really for my Thailand trip.

    In summary, great article. I look forward to reading more from you.
    Cheers to exploring the world 💃🏽

    1. Way to go Somto. Thailand is on my wishlist too, so I will be looking out for tips from you on that one.

      Thank you for sharing the tip on Hopper, I am downloading it right now..

      Cheers right back!

  21. I celebrate you kemi! Am really inspired by your story..Thank you for sharing,will sure set my travel goals & achieve them God grace.i never had the courage but now I more enlighten about some things.God bless you

  22. Kemi,
    You have really inspired me to keep my travel dreams alive.
    I also intend to commence my international trips next year.
    I would really love to go with you on one of your trips.

    Thank you so much for encouraging me by writing this

    1. Thank you Peace. I am glad you are keeping the dream alive, that’s what makes life exciting. I will let you know what the plans are for the next trip (not sure of where and when right now). Stay tuned 🙂

  23. Welcome to blogville!
    Entertaining and inspiring; I very much enjoyed reading this. Keep it up.

    I’m embarking on my Project 30 by 30 too, by God’s grace! 22 to go, whew lol

    Thanks for sharing your story (and for the tips too).

  24. Very interesting piece… I love to read about travel adventures.. work takes me to a lot of places, but I never get the time to explore like you do. You should put Seychelles on your list.. I would be willing to host u here…. Anything for Doyin…

    1. Ha ha! I feel you mehn! This is why over the Sallah break, I went to Idanre Hills. And as I jokingly said if we can’t go to London, we can shaa go to Ondo! Lol

      There are lots of great tourist attractions and places to discover in Nigeria. So you can do a 30 cities by 30 tour! Right?

  25. Thanks Kemi for inspiring me to do same. I’m a little over 30,visited several countries but way far from 30. So, I will set a target for 40 countries before I’m 40, afterwards, one new country every year so that when I’m 70, I would have visited 70 countries….and then slow down. Lol

    Interestiningly, since 2013 I adopted the idea of visiting at least one African country every year. There’s this thrill and deep sense of connection I get whenever I touch down an African city or partake in an African delicacy.

    Thanks so much for your inspiration

    1. Why slow down at 70? You will still be bubbling with energy then, and hopefully you won’t be doing a 9-5 then so you will have ALL the time!

      All the best with the 40 by 40 project – please keep me posted!


  26. I really loved reading this. I just started working last year and I earn 150k/mo, saved 800 for a year and spent it all on a trip. I definitely need to learn to be more pennywise when it comes to travel. Travel is a big life goal for me and I hope I get to travel as much as you have cos it’s so amazing seeing the world. I do like solo travel and I do love long flights and waits at airports so I even pick flights that route me through a country that I’ve never been to. I know that doesn’t count as going there but I still love it. I’ve been to 5 countries so far and my next goal is to get a schengen visa and cross a bunch of European countries off the list! If you have trip ideas I wish you’d contact me. Happy travels and enjoy conquering your next travel goal!

    1. Thank you Shimmer! I see we have different travel preferences on how to get to the same destination (seeing the world!) I love love love your schengen visa plan – please do it and send us pictures from your trip.
      Re savings – oh wow! You saved almost half of your salary – that is IMPRESSIVE! Just make sure you keep some aside for other things o! Well done!

  27. Kemiiiii!!! Always inspiring… I’m happy I have shared in that exciting life of yours and I hope to share more… Real love for you sister!!

  28. You just inspired me Kemi…wow!
    I love to travel but i have never put so much effort into it but now you have made me realised anything can be achieved and once you are determined you can achieve it!
    So yes once this economy stabilizes am starting to save in that dorm acct again.(what a great idea).Weldone babes!

  29. Wow, this is really awesome, glad to see a physical and real life example on how to achieve your goals without ambiguity..I am learning sharp sharp.

    I have also travelled to a lot of countries thanks to my job so I can understand the excitement!
    I think should also look at more group travels with friends 😉
    Thanks for sharing and kudos!!!

  30. My dream is to travel the world too, I love learning how other people do life, I hate flying though. For now I read the world but I know definitely one day this dream will come true armed with these simple tips you have shared, it is doable. I loved this article, I am not a fan on long articles but I read this to the end

    1. Thank You Farida. We are grateful that you read till the end. Things we do for ESAP love, lol..

      Congrats on the book worm cafe launch, well done!

      Cheers to your travel dreams coming true – I hope someone invents teleporting devices real soon so those of us who don’t enjoy flying can still be great, he he!

  31. “The world is like a book, those who don’t travel read only a page” Kemi am really inspired by this piece, it portrays a fascinating account on how turn dreams into reality by taking very definite and simple steps. I have taken a cue from this and would adopt same approach to other aspects of my life….loads of love.

  32. Kemi you seem to have skipped important countries
    Afghanistan,North Korea,Yemen,Syria,South Sudan and Somalia were clearly missing on your list.

  33. great adventure, good to see you living your dream. the part where you said “i hope i have been able to convince you and not to confuse you” brings back loads of memories…lol..cheers dear.

  34. Kemi this piece is quite facinating…Anyone talking about travel and the.many emotional experiences that accompany it definately has my attention. Being a Travel Consultant, Travel is me and I am It. Previldged to travel to several .amazing cities and countries around the world and sincerely it can never be enough. Someone once said not travelling is like reading only one chaper of an amazing book. I salute your courage and your determination to achieve your goals. I need to be more delibrate about my goals. Thank you so.much for talking abot about Trains….Nigerians need to start exploring the beauty of Trains. So permit me to intoduce RailEurope here. Now all aspiring ajala’s and certified ones can now purchase their Train tickets and passes from me, as we are the only ones in Nigeria that can issue Train tickets and pases both for.etickets and paper tickets. So if your an Ajala and want to maximise your trip while on a budget, the trains are a way to go. So with your permission Kemi, I implore your fans to contact me, George if they need a reliable and efficient Travel expert. Thank you once more for sharing your experiences and tips with us.

  35. What an interesting write-up Kem, smiled/laughed all through it. All things are indeed possible to him (her) that believes….
    So next project is? 😁

  36. Oh my! Dear Kemi, thank you for this. If there is one thing I took from this “saving money instead of buying shoes” bless you my older sister. I will open another account just for traveling. I think the shoes and cloths can wait. Thank you. Thank you. So much motivation I’m 24(shh it’s a secret) I think I can do 30 for 30. You are awesome. Thank you again. Thank you.

  37. Lovely piece, Weldone dear!!!! I always wanted to travel around Africa – I have been to Southern Africa (South Africa) and East Africa (Kenya) and enjoyed them!!!! I hope to visit the North and another West African country soon. I do have to plan well cos I have “crèche and diaper fees” to pay but God pass them lol. Just maybe we will travel together soon. Cheers and keep exploring the world!!!

  38. Wow wow wow, this is really inspiring, not just for travel but it tells me whatever i put my heart to i can achieve. Targets indeed drive us. Thank you Kemi for this piece, God bless you.
    P.S. Teleporting i need, i dread long flights lol

  39. Can’t believe I actually read through the whole piece and even the comment section….I took notes too. This is a first! 😀 I love your sense of humor as well, I see that this hasn’t changed one bit…lool. Kemi you’re one brilliant writer!
    I can totally relate with this post as an aspiring ‘Ajala’ myself (modestly touched every continent except Antarctica till date). I usually tell people that travelling broadens ones horizon and it is that one thing that has the potential to shape/change your worldview for life.

    1. Preach, Francis! I couldn’t have said it better. Travel does something amazing to your mind and it’s hard to really recover from it.

      This your ‘modestly touched’ comment makes me curious. If we investigate now, I’m sure it’s close to 40 countries, lol..

      Good to hear from you. We should do an NLI reunion soon, and dance skelewu while at it. 😉

  40. Thanks Kemi. I’m inspired! Thumps up to you dear. I will surely contact you for my next trip! Inbox me your current pls. A

  41. Awesome…. All suggestions bookmarked… Grinning ear to ear. Very very proud… We go kukuma go contextualise our own project.. Thumbs up young madam..

  42. Greatest crush ever… Never knew this lady will follow up that beautiful INSEAD speech with more captivating stories.. I rarely read blogs but when its from kemi, I must read lol…
    Nice stories and travel adventure, I love traveling too, only that my parental background in me a phobia that makes me weary of meeting mixing up with people, gradually overcoming that anyway…

    1. Hi Kenny, thanks for reading 🙂 Glad to hear you are overcoming that phobia gradually (Who phobia epp?). Don’t forget to ask God for His grace to help you along the way.


  43. So my mum sends me a video of a valedictorian speech that blew her mind. Only for me to download and see the name Kemi Onabanjo…. The famzing started… I am like… I know her… She went to CU…. She has always been an inspiration…. Etc.. Since then… I’ve been stalking trying to find out how to be like you… I mean it literally. OK so I am not really a travel perzin…all the countries I have been to (lol just 3 ooo… 3 countries in 3 continents sha) were work influenced. But what I have learnt from this lovely write-up is… Set goals, deliberately follow through and most importantly be disciplined because there are many distractions in life. I hope I have registered my love for you. Keep soaring!!!

  44. This really made me happy. I obsessed with tourism, I have my travel wishlist drawn up and i speak about countries like i have been there already. I am an undergraduate student and funds wouldn’t let me explore as i want. So i have decided to tour my city and my country first and tour the world ASAP and start my travel blog. I also loooooooove cruises, i have given my self a goal to cruise the oasis of the sea or allure of the sea before my 25th birthday and i have drawn my list of the 31 countries i must visit by my 30th (visit more countries than my age) look forward to more posts and heading to YouTube now to view the valedictorian speech. Cheers.

  45. Thank You, Kemi, I loved reading this!
    I have recently started a travelling fund myself for a trip to Cape Verde. Let’s go together!

    Thanks for writing.

  46. Hello Kemi. I actually enjoyed your writing and im really happy that you have achieved your goals. One segment of your story i liked is saving in USD to pay for business school . I equally want to study in france (IESEG business school) to be specific in 2018 and i want to know how best to maximize my savings from my salary.
    please. Can you please reply via mail?

    Thank you very much Kemi.

  47. I had this exact dream of 30 before 30 a while back but never really followed it. That is not possible anymore. Not sure 35 before 35 is possible too given that I might not be able to do over 20 countries in 3 years. But i really enjoyed reading your adventure and your dedication is unparalleled.
    What is your next target? Would be nice to read other dreams too though..
    And yeah, I loved Dubai…..

  48. Well done!! Thoroughly impressed by your write up (Articulate & Apt). More interesting is the observation that personal targets were set & achieved way ahead of E.F.T. Thanks for the tips that have come in handy 🙂 . I think you should probably explore setting up a travel advisory blog.

    p.s you may want to explore the alps in Switzerland.

    1. Thanks Seun. Glad you like the tips. I honestly don’t know I managed to skip Switzerland. I will definitely make it down there real soon.

      Re travel advisory blog, it goes down in the inbox. I will reach out to you soon. Thanks a lot!

  49. Kemi o…!!! I literally saw myself in those trips… I love to see new places and countries; the attendant sights and sounds, people, cuisine and culture but I dread the idea of travelling.. It’s too much of a hassle.. Sometimes, I wonder if that ‘rentaghost’ stuff was real.. I would have deployed without batting an eyelid… You rekindled my love for touring the world just because travel is actually in my life plans/goals.. Your write up has encouraged me to start now… Thanks for an enlightening and exciting read… Great travel tips also…

    PS: I need travel buddies! 🙂

    1. You are welcome Bimpe! I am also looking for rentaghost consultants – when you find them, let me know.. ha ha! I am glad you are inspired, it’s never too late to start.


  50. Truly inspiring what I have learnt from your article is that Life plans for no one but that which you set by your self .Set a goal and plan to achieve no matter the time & length I don’t see impossible in your dictionary @kemionabano . Our cultural diversity make us one, indeed exploring bio heritage across boarder makes a befitting experience. GOAL= Plan + Strategy + Action

  51. Hi Kemi O,

    I enjoyed reading about your ‘Ajala’ travels 🙂 It has really inspired me to set my own goals.
    By the way, do you mind sharing your journey through studying at INSEAD and as well the funding? I would really love to read about your experience.


    1. Thanks Oreofe! Another blogpost loading on INSEAD and paying the school fees.. Coming soon – stay tuned! *wink wink *

  52. Wow lovely write up… big ups!! To you. You really inspired me. I can really hit a lot of places with my burgundy passport just that I’m so shy and I don’t enjoy traveling or even going out alone. I also tend to calculate exchange rates each time I shop or travel bcz the bank charges are so outrageous!!!. It’s amazing how you saved up and had to cut on expensive fashion accesories being a lady you are so prudent. Wouldn’t mind been a prospective travel buddy. Cheers!!!!

  53. Congrats on achieving your travel goal. I am a travel enthusiast as well and love the new experiences and insight I can gain from making a trip. But you must admit, finances play a big role in travelling frequently. That has definitely limited my trips, for now.

    I also loved watching ‘Children of the world’ on NTA. (90s kid) The little boy on the Xylophone was called Obong or something not sure. He was super talented. Wonder where he is now?

    You should definitely visit Senegal, its a beautiful country. Be careful when you go to India, with all the recent rape cases. I have been myself on 3 different occasions (Delhi, Bangalore and Baroda) and had an interesting time.

    5 Alternatives for a Travel Enthusiast on a Budget

    1. Hi Chinelo,

      Thanks for your comment – always great to meet fellow travel enthusiasts! Thanks for the India tips and I will be reaching out for Senegal tips too.

      I tried to read your alternatives for a travel enthusiast on a budget post but cant seem to find it. I am sure it would make for a great read.

      I wonder where Obong is now – married with kids? lol

  54. Wowwwwwwwwww!!!

    Inspiring story! I love your sense of humour

    Confession: I was a ‘lil bit jealous when I saw photos of you in Italy and Greece… Love those countries!

    Good on you, Kemi

  55. Kemiiiiiiiiiiiiii 🙂

    I’m following your footsteps on this one. You should come to Montreal, it can be really beautiful here. But, not in the winter sha.

  56. Fantastic blog post. Very inspiring. Enjoyed reading every bit. Thanks for the tips. I’m also a travel enthusiast but I’ve only been to 10 countries outside Nigeria. FUNDS being the major barrier. I will try to work towards 40 before 40. I would like to go to India Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore with you. I’m on that Asian thirst right now and I would def like a travel buddy. All the best with your future goals. You nailed this one easily!

  57. Most nights,if not all night, when I feel all is lost and gone. I used my search engine, Search for your name,read your article again and again and also listen to your speech all o’er again..

    This has pushed me out of bed so many times,made me roll my sleeves and get my life together….

    Thanks Kemi. You are an inspiration.

    1. Wow! thanks for your comment Mayokun. I am sure you will do an amazing job with that awesome life of yours! Keep me posted 🙂

  58. Wow! I’m inspired at your profile on LinkedIn and I’m double inspired by this accomplished project of yours. I wish you I had seen this 6 years ago and I wish I knew you personally. Thumbs up!

  59. Wow! This was a really refreshing read. Reminds you you just need to conceive it to make it happen.
    Well done Kemi! You really are an inspiration.
    Your cost savings tips definitely make sense. I really should travel more

  60. I have always loved and admired you since Covenant University days especially for your academic excellence. Now I am married with a very beautiful Daughter and each time I look at her, I pray that GOD gives Her the wisdom, knowledge and understanding HE gave you. I hardly take my time to read stuffs, I skim most of the time. but this, I read over and over. I have set a lot of plans for myself but too weak to achieve them. GOD knows why HE brought me to your page, today again being my birthday. I am so motivated by this write up. with GOD by my side, and you a good motivator, I know I will achieve My goals. Many many thanks Kemi and GOD bless you mightily.

    1. *wipes away tears* thank you for your kind words.I am actually moved to tears, for real.

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY SIS!!!!!!! You are right, the season of weakness is over – you are EMPOWERED by God to achieve all your goals and exceed all expectations.

      Thank you for reading and I am waiting to hear your testimonies very soon.

      God bless you and happy birthday again!!!!

    2. I forgot to add – I am sure your daughter will even be greater! Our God is a God of MORE! He does more with every new generation.

  61. This is truly amazing! You just made my own “Project 30 by 30” dream see more realistic, and living in Paris definitely makes travel easier, but one thing I have learned here is saving money instead of buying shoes and opening another account just for traveling, and having goals. Although I have done loads of European countries (being the cheap girl I am) I am looking forward to saving up for Asia! ThankyouThankyouThankyou this is very inspiring!
    Also I realize that I have neglected to visit countries in Africa (silly me!) so this year I will definitely visit two on my way to Nigeria. Any suggestions?

    1. Yaaay to making dreams realistic – so glad to hear that! Yesso, flight ticket over shoes, any day!

      Suggestions for African travel? East African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda) – no visa stress. West African countries too will be easy for an Ekiti girl with a Nigerian passport – so Ghana, Benin Republic would be my suggestions there.

      Let me know what you decide! Safe travels 🙂

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