Is it true that our experiences shape our lives? Do our interactions, our exposures, our contacts and our encounters with others over time go to define who we are?
Where have you been quite recently or in the past, and what have you been doing? Who do you have around you and where are you? These things are of great significance if your life is to be enjoyed and be impactful. There is therefore a need to be conscious about how you create your experiences. Your work life promotes some of these experiences, but so does your social life. All work and no play, they say, makes Jack or Jaqui a dull person.
Ever considered taking time off your busy schedule to travel and experience the world? Yes, travel not as part of work but for leisure. It could be in Ghana or outside, just travel and see what goes on beyond your comfort zone. Ever wondered why some cultures put premium on vacations and touring the world? It creates experiences that enrich your life, experiences which become your life.
The outbreak of COVID-19 immensely impacted the world and has distorted how people travel for the past 3 years. Travel restrictions imposed by governments in 2019 affected how people travelled around the world both for work and leisure; more importantly the latter.
The Finance and Development (F&D) Magazine, which is the flagship magazine and online editorial platform of the International Monetary Fund, indicated in its December 2020 edition that before COVID-19, travel and tourism was one of the most important sectors of the global economy – contributing 10 percent of global gross domestic products (GDP) and providing jobs for more than 320 million people. The F&D magazine further indicates that over 1.5 billion people travelled and toured the world in 2019 alone, compared to just 25 million in 1950. Travel and tour figures had reached ‘too-big-to-fail’ proportions for many economies… until the COVID-19 outbreak.
An article from the tourism chapter of The Report: Ghana 2022 published by the Oxford Business Group indicates that in 2019, travel and tourism contributed 5.9 percent to Ghana’s GDP, with a revenue of US$3.7billion. The report further states that effects of the COVID-19 pandemic caused this figure to fall to 2.9 percent of Ghana’s GDP in 2020, and US$1.9billion in revenue. The December 2020 edition of the F&D Magazine predicts that travelling figures will start rising again and are expected to get back to normal from 2023 onward.
But why must you care? You may possibly be thinking travelling for tourism “is for others but not for me, because I have better things to think about”. But it should be a priority for you and your family too, it’s not just for others.
Travelling for tourism will help you disconnect from an otherwise monotonous hustle to recharge. Ever felt stressed from your daily routine? Home, work, traffic, shopping or buying groceries at the local store or market; or even just being in the same neighborhood and seeing the same old faces all year round? You should be tired of this. You deserve a well-earned break from this chronic stress. Travel across your own country or to a foreign one and experience a different culture. Go somewhere else and break the monotony in your life.
Aside from de-stressing, travel exposes you to new things. You cannot broaden your knowledge of people and things by staying at one place in your comfort zone. The world is changing. Go see it for yourself. Travelling exposes you to new foods, languages and traditions. You ultimately bring back what you learn, which becomes part of you; your life. Travelling can also boost your creativity, make you physically healthier and better exposed than those who do not.
Vacations are known to make people happier in life. A study from Cornell University by Amit Kmar, Matthew A. Killingworth and Thomas D. Gilovich concludes that the money you spend in doing something (called ‘experiential purchases’) will leave you with a longer-lasting sense of happiness than money spent on having something (called ‘material purchases’). The study says that “waiting for experiences tends to be more positive than waiting for possessions”.
Well, disconnecting from a very boring and monotonous lifestyle and being happy will obviously help relieve stress and anxiety, and make you healthier. Researchers have again established that short vacations (3 days in length) have large positive and immediate effects on perceived stress, recovery, strain and well-being. (Source: Randomised, controlled trial conducted by Austrian researchers and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health).
If travelling helps to relieve stress, it presupposes that you should not stress yourself to travel. You therefore need to start planning toward it now. The simple steps below can help you plan a stress-free vacation.
- Establish the need: Recognise that you need the break, and you need it to travel. Most people think time-off is time wasted. That won’t be the case when you know exactly what you will use the break for.
- Decide on a destination: What kind of experience are you looking for, and where can you get that experience? Is it local and here in Ghana, or is your preferred destination in the sub-region? It could also be somewhere in other parts of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe or America.
- Plan early: Travel is cheaper when you start planning early. Your accommodation, plane ticket (especially if you are travelling outside Ghana), scheduled tours (if using a tour agency) are some of the important things you need to start thinking and making enquiries about quite early. There are periods and seasons when these are available at cheaper rates. Special fare packages exist for some destinations, and it is important you start planning now.
- Make enquires: Go on and make those enquiries so you can enjoy a seamlessly great experience of a lifetime. You may want to start with destinations that do not require visas or where visas are easy to get. Visa-processing to some destinations can be cumbersome and stressful, and you may not want to be disappointed. Travel restrictions have eased a bit across the world, but some still do exist. You may want to avoid some of these restrictions too. Your travel should be stress-free after all.
- Have a financing plan: Now to the most important question in an era when the cost of goods and services keeps rising across the globe. Can you afford to travel? Can’t it wait till you have attended to those pressing needs? Well, those pressing needs will never go away and, yes, your travelling doesn’t have to be expensive. Especially if you plan early and choose destinations wisely.
Proper planning will help you to save some money toward your travel, but do you know you can also travel now and pay later? Yes, pay later!
This is where Access Bank Ghana comes in. They are standing by to partner you for that secured seamless travel experience to a destination of your choice, in any part of the world. Access Bank’s flagship innovative scheme ‘Fly Now Pay Later’ is specially designed to provide the travel experience of a lifetime if you are a salaried worker and have a regular stream of income every month.
With an easy sign-on process, the bank will fund the full cost of your travel so you can have that wonderful experience. You then pay back through an arrangement that is convenient to you, within either 6 or 12 months. The ‘Fly now, pay later’ scheme not only funds your travel but also links you to travel experts, so you undertake a stress-free and cost-effective trip that suits your pocket.
You can alternatively save toward your trip by opening a Goal Account with the bank. This interest-bearing account has various benefits, including access to a range of cards such as the Visa Debit, Visa Prepaid and Visa Credit Cards which make your travel less stressful and safer. Payments can be made via these cards when you travel anywhere and at any time, or through an Access Mobile App once the card is loaded.
So where do you want to start from? Is it the island of Cape Verde, Kenya, South Africa or Dubai?
Mark Twain quotes that: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did”. Your experiences are your life. Create that experience by travelling somewhere. The benefits are immense and for a lifetime.
>>>the writer is Team Lead Aviation and Hospitality, Access Bank Ghana