Welcome to Lagos. Well, the welcome sign doesn’t say “welcome to Lagos”. It actually says ” This is Lagos”. Like, yes, the Lagos you’ve been hearing about, this is it. This is my Ajebutter’s guide to surviving Lagos.
My first time out alone in Lagos, I was ripped off mehn. As if the word “Newbie” was written across my face. Aside from that, I was so exhausted and angry. I was pissed that the guy at traffic ran away with my change and I forgot my #900 with the bus conductor which I never found again. But then, over the years in Lagos, I have learnt the hard way. Although not completely because Favour would still argue that I’m new here. So, this is my Ajebutter’s guide to surviving Lagos.
Read also: 75 places to chill in Lagos
KNOW YOUR DESTINATION AND WAY AROUND:
Google where you are going to beforehand. Ask people at home or online Lagos friends for bus directions. When you are leaving your house, make sure your google map is open, your location turned on. Google map is really accurate in Lagos, so trust it.
Know where you are going and your route there. Like 5 ways to get there if possible.
If you have enough money and little or no strength on you, use uber or taxify abeg. I rely on these guys heavily in Lagos. I can’t start trekking under the hot sun. Like I always say, even the mere thought of going out in Lagos is so stressful.
TRY TO LEARN BASIC YOURUBA:
I haven’t gotten around this one yet except “oloshi” and “kilo shele” which I learnt from friends teasing each other. Once you can speak a bit or lot of Yoruba in Lagos, you have conquered part of your Lagos quest. Most times, when I struggle to say “kilo shele”, everyone around bursts out in Laughter.
One day, a guy told me that I should stick to the struggle of pronouncing my own native name. My chest. I was weak mehn.
Make friends with people around:
See that gate man, you’ll need him. That little kiosk down the street, make friends with the owner. Most directions I got when leaving my house was from the gateman, kiosk owner, driver, etc.
Be generally nice to people. They would love to help you
Read on how to tour like a local
Carry basic cash and leave the rest in your account:
This isn’t so basic tho. But then, almost every store in Lagos uses POS or encourage the transfer of funds.
Usually, I carry as little funds as possible. Probably transport and extra 2k just in case. Anytime I wanna pay for anything, I reach out for my credit card.
I do this because I’m particularly scared of petty thieves and people that pickpocket. Like the last time I was in Lagos, my bag was torn and I had no idea until I got home. Thank God nothing important was taken.
Avoid going out at night:
Hey, you’re new here! Ain’t you scared? Why would you think of going out at night or even staying out later than eight?
Except you’re out with friends or a trusted person. Especially for the Ladies.
I avoid staying out late in Lagos. My karate is a lot rusty and my arm strength is for spiking balls and not hitting people. Usually, if I’m gonna stay out late, I tell about 3 different people where I’ll be or where I am. Just in case my parents call them. Cos for me to be out that late, I must have made a backup plan to avoid my parents’ calls.
Read also: What to pack when travelling
Carry Basic snacks:
I don’t know if anyone does this, but I do. Anytime I’m leaving the house, I carry water or a drink and snacks (biscuits, cupcakes or anything I find at home).
I try to avoid buying stuff at holdups and I get really thirsty.
Plus, I have stuff to drink instead of buying pricey water and food or drinks when I go out. Only when necessary.
Reminds me of when I painfully bought #50 bottle water at the price of #250 at KFC because I forgot to carry mine. A whole #250 in this economy. It won’t happen again mehn.
See ehn, I am always victim to this. I just cannot haggle. When you’re going to buy stuff at the market or street or anywhere, put on your “I didn’t come to be cheated” facial expression.
When they say the price is #5000, start pricing from #500. And don’t go beyond #2000. Walk away instead. Same for cabmen (i advice you use uber or taxify). Check here for the article on uber and taxify.
Whatever face you keep, straight or smiling, always haggle. Usually, people tour the market to compare prices of goods before they purchase the cheaper one. I don’t. I no just get that kind strength abeg.
I always ask for the exact price of stuff before going to the market to buy it. Don’t be afraid to walk out when the price doesn’t suit what you want. There are other places to get that stuff, abi no be Lagos again?
Do not be quick to pay:
Don’t be quick to pay for things especially at tourist sites. Or anywhere at all, unless confirmed by the main authorities in charge. Always ask for receipts.
Usually, I hate when I struggle to get parking space by myself and some guy walks up to me telling me that parking space is #500. Am I renting the Land for 1 year? After I struggled to find my space? “kilo shele”?
Or when those “agbero’s” at tourist sites try to get cash for parking or gate fee. If there’s gonna be a gate fee, you must know beforehand. Plus there’s usually an official tag/ receipt for it.
Always carry an ID card:
Always have an ID card on you. ID card, drivers license, anything. Especially for guys.
Girls can get away with anything. I drive without a license most times and get away with it cos I’ve never been stopped on the road. But guys, Nah.
Plus have a number on speed dial or in case of emergency. Just saying.
I remember 2015, some girl that just came back from the abroad wanted to just see Lagos. On her own. That’s how she was almost knocked down when crossing the road. She was a lot traumatised. Nobody to call, dead phone, she knew no one’s number. Only house address. That’s how I had to take her home.
ACCESSORIES are lifesavers:
These are life savers! Earpiece (so you don’t have to listen to weird bus conversations), sunglasses ( cos the sun is on another level in Lagos), umbrellas ( comes through whether rain or shine), spare slippers in your bag (because these streets don’t love anyone), your attitude (cos that’s what you own all the time)
SURVIVE AND THRIVE:
Make that your motto once you get to Lagos. I’m gonna survive I’m gonna thrive.
Lagos is stressful. The same Lagos is enjoyable and fun. Lagos is hard. The same place is soft. Really soft. There are a lot of opportunities in Lagos. All you’ve got to do is survive and thrive.
What other ways do you survive Lagos?
Or what were your earliest ways of surviving Lagos?