Ufuoma Okumagba is one of those people that inspires me to actualize my travel goals. Asides the fact that she is a travel blogger and writes really well on travel related topics that I can relate to, she also works full-time.
I like the fact that she’s so down to earth through her posts and always willing to share.
Some years back, my mom ensured that she took my sister and I for our first trip outside the shores of Nigeria. We visited London, UK. That was when I fell in love with travel and vowed to travel often.
I saw that there was a different world out there and I experienced a shift from what I was used to. But the honest truth is that I haven’t quite lived up to my expectation of taking travel more seriously.
So far, I have only visited 3 countries, Nigeria exempted. For one reason or the other, I haven’t been able to actualize my travel goals, but I hope to change this soonest.
I’ve always wanted to hear what most workers have to share, especially those that love what they do at work as well as pursue a passion of theirs.
It’s one thing to enjoy your career path and it’s another thing to realize that you love to do other things outside it and seek to balance both.
Making the most out of everything that you love to do is one thing that intrigues me. And that’s not bad. Or so I love to think.
I was so pleased when Ufuoma accepted to answer a few questions of mine because she is someone that inspires me to take travel seriously.
When I first came across Ufuoma’s IG page, the thing that struck me the most was her pictures. Very colorful, beautiful and artistic (and you know I love art and Instagram!).
I immediately followed her, visited her blog, and I was glued!
She currently works as a Business Specialist at a global company (Nokia).
“I am responsible for executing business strategies and passing the company’s key messages across.
This means that I work very closely with top management and decision makers to communicate the company’s vision concisely. My daily role varies based on the need or situation but that’s the summary of what I do”.
Ufuoma has visited 23 countries, four continents, and 49 cities so far. Her first travel adventure was to Toronto to visit her sister, but according to her:
“I honestly do not count that as a travel adventure, to me and by my standards, it was a mere change of location.”
In my opinion, traveling is very educative and exposes you to a whole lot that you might have taken for granted or never been aware of.
More so, as workers, traveling is somewhat relaxing and a vacation is equally important for our mental well-being. I was excited to ask a few questions that may be of help to workers who want to have lasting adventures – people like me!
She shared how it all started.
“My first real travel adventure came when I moved from Nigeria to Canada to start a Master’s degree in International Business. The program was special as it took place on three continents.
It was a very practical business degree where you not only learn the dynamics of doing business internationally, but you live and breathe the experience by actually living there.
Naturally, I had to travel and it opened me up to endless opportunities and I have caught the travel bug from there and haven’t slowed down since then.”
I was curious to know how she balances her work, personal life, and travel schedule as she always seems to be on the move, judging from her Instagram stories.
“I’ll be honest, it has not been easy, but when something is a priority, you find a way to make it happen.
First, a good salary is important but when negotiating a new role, I also negotiate days off as part of the offer. It is important to have a healthy life outside of work.
From friendships to relationships and to pursuing your passion, like say, travel. Money is important but experiences mean a lot more to me and this is why I always negotiate paid time off as part of any job offer.
In my current job, I get 22 days off per year and I always combine it with a statutory holiday. I never stay in a location for more than 5 days.
So, if there is a holiday on Monday, I take Friday or Tuesday off for an extra-long weekend. I also try to be a high performer at work and let my output do the talking.
That is necessary because you do not want your employers to think you are not invested in your work. Whenever I am at work, I give it a 100 percent, so that when it is time to take off, I can do so with no guilt at all.
It’s a work in progress and I am still learning every day.”
There you go! I told you that Ufuoma shares a lot, that’s something I love so much about her.
I went about asking how early she begins to plan a trip because planning trips can be so much work (at least from my end) and I have a feeling that this may be the case for some other workers.
“I’d be lying if I said I planned trips well in advance but one thing for sure, I always have a rough idea of where I am visiting next, what it will cost me and what I need to do to make it happen, at every given time.
Planning is very key but it is important not to over-plan things in order to enjoy the benefits of spontaneity. Life happens!
Some plans fall through the cracks, and on the other hand, some opportunities present themselves even when you aren’t expecting, so it is important to always be ready to take them when you can.”
Your favorite country out of all countries visited?
“Peru was special because this was when I really discovered myself in a very intimate way. I had been to about some countries prior to Peru but there was something about the cultural experience there and the people that made me rethink my purpose in life.
It was enriching and gave me reasons to always value experiences over material things. So, no matter where I travel to, Peru will always hold a special place in my heart.”
As expected, I had to ask her my standard question of how she deals with boredom because many workers complain of this and it’ll be good to share ideas in various forms with others, depending on what works best for you.
“It’s normal to sometimes be bored at work so don’t be too hard on yourself.
I used to be so bored at work until I started a personal career development goal last year. These goals are centered around improving my skills to help me become a more rounded employee.
On the rare occasions when I have nothing to do, I go on to Lynda, a LinkedIn learning program to learn something about my job that will make me better. Lynda is interactive and fun so that keeps me entertained while also sharpening my skills.
If you can, find a work buddy, or even a mentor (not a gossip buddy.) who is not necessarily in your department but shares similar interests with you. You can bounce ideas off each other or even meet up for lunch or drinks afterwards.
More importantly though, it is important to have a full life outside of work. Investing in enriching relationships, committing to making yourself better every day and having something to look forward to when you leave the office.
Set big goals and work towards them, that way, even when you are bored at work, you can still be motivated and have something exciting to look forward to. There is nothing stopping a motivated person.”
Please share in the comment section what you loved about this interview. Also, what is your next planned travel destination (if any) or where would you love to visit?
If you haven’t read our previous profile/ magazine, please do so here, also so inspiring!
P.S. When I was in high school, I would frequently mention that I’d love to work for the United Nations ‘UN‘ to travel and see the world.
I’m happy that that didn’t happen as I’d have been working at the UN for the wrong reason. And might have become frustrated at some point.
I don’t mind working for the UN presently because I now have a clearer vision and purpose in life.
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