foXnoMad is a travel site that teaches you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter – no matter where you go or how you travel. Anil Polat, computer security engineer is on a quest to see every country in the world and invites readers to follow along. He shares his stories and tips but also wants to help his followers learn how to travel smarter and better.
Arriving To Petra At The WORST Possible Time!? - YouTube
The ideal way to visit Petra is to arrive one night before, stay at one of the plentiful hotels, and enter the site as soon as it opens at 6am. Petra enthusiasts generally recommend staying two days to be able to fully explore the entire site but if you’re planning on a day trip from Amman, you’ll likely arrive when Petra is at its busiest during the day.
Large crowds and people in all of your photos might have you worried that not getting to Petra at 6am will ruin what is a bucket list event. Many of the tour buses from other parts of Jordan – mainly Amman – arrive around 10am and in case you’re on one of them, watch the video here or read on for what to expect.
Late morning is generally the busiest time at Petra when people taking day trips begin to show up. For a day trip to Petra from the Jordanian capital Amman, the JETT Bus leaves at 6am, arrives at 10am, and returns around 5pm (definitely check the times on their site to be certain). JETT’s online booking engine is very unreliable so at least a day before your trip to Petra, visit their offices in Amman to book tickets ($32USD round trip). There are certainly other ways but this is the method I used.
Put On Your Walking Shoes
Petra is a large, large area. The town itself isn’t too big but the historical part is much more than just the famous treasury. The iconic treasury is a 2km (~1.24 miles) walk from the main entrance of Petra and its only the beginning. From there it’s another 6-8 kilometers (~3.7 – 5 miles) to the rest of the sites. Hopefully some of the pictures I’ve taken give you a better idea of how expansive the area is because just reading it doesn’t prepare you.
Petra is so large it helps dilute out the average 1,750 daily visitors. Additionally, most people don’t go too far beyond the treasury since it’s a hike in hot desert conditions – the more fit you are the further you can explore and leave the crowds behind. (Keep in mind there’s little food aside from snacks in the Petra site, plan accordingly.)
Photographic Memory In Mind
For those of you who can’t stand people in your pictures standing in front of the treasury for 10 minutes should give you a fairly clear shot. A wide angle lens will make matters easier and if all else fails you can just remove the people digitally. To be honest, even at its peak you won’t feel like it’s crowded at Petra.
Plus the people in your photos can also give perspective, showing how big everything actually is.
Remember, around 2pm, the school buses show up. The kids stick to near the treasury and just beyond but while you won’t feel more crowded, the ambient noise will increase by about 5000%.
Review Of The Rode VideoMicro Microphone For Travel Vlogging - YouTube
More and more of you are adding travel videos to your trip collections as phones of the past 2 years have made major jumps in video quality. As cameras and mobiles get better at taking video, they still suck at audio. The small microphones in cameras (and particularly phones) are designed to pick up sound from sources that are especially close up, without much protection from ambient noise. (Try having a call outside, the slightest breeze can ruin a conversation.) For video with any kind of intelligible speaking in it, a microphone can go a long way.
The Rode VideoMicro is a compact, durable microphone under $60 that dramatically improves audio in any video. It’s compatible with cameras and phones (that still have a headphone jack). You can watch my full review of the Rode VideoMicro in the video above.
This is the story of two brothers in Beirut, Lebanon, who haven’t spoken in since 2006, when they’re split up their father’s famous falafel shop. (Falafel is a simple dish of fried chickpeas, often wrapped in pita bread.) The two sons of Mustapha Sahyoun, Fuad and Zuheir, inherited the shop in 1992 but due to a dispute they won’t discuss, in 2006, Fuad opened his falafel shop right next door. Both of these shops are considered some of the best falafel in the world; though which is better is something of a local rivalry in itself.
Have you ever wondered when looking out the window as your plane is maneuvering for a landing, how steep those turns actually are? The slight jolt in your stomach combined with the view out the window (what seems like all ground or all sky depending on which side you’re on) gives the impression that your plane is nearly on its side.
The truth is the airlines are try not to freak you out and keep things comfortable in the cabin. Jumbo jet turns are impressive but not as drastic as your senses are telling you.
Two Forces At Work
Let’s keep things very simple. Planes in flight need to move forward (speed) to keep a constant flow of air over the wings. This constant flow of air provides lift. As you gain altitude upon takeoff, the wings are angled up. When you reach a cruising altitude, speed is reduced and the wings are angled in a way to provide and equal balance between two forces: lift and gravity.
At takeoff in particular, as the plane accelerates, you can feel the gravitational force (g-force) increase. You feel heavier in your seat (the forward momentum is pushing you into the seat). At cruising altitude your plane is no longer accelerating and you feel “normal” i.e. at 1 g.
What Happens When A Plane Turns
There are ailerons on airplane wings what help with direction and lift. (Basically flaps of metal.) Going straight, the aileron are generally straight. To turn an airplane right, the left aileron goes down, the right goes up. This causes the left wing to go up, and the right wing to go down. In this configuration, the plane is now at an angle, with increased overall drag (because the ailerons up or down are less aerodynamic than a straight wing).
Increased drag slows the airplane. Also, in a turn, there’s less area of lift under a wing, causing it to lose altitude. However, to compensate, pilots angle the airplane up as well as increase thrust (speed) to maintain a constant altitude during a turn. You’ll probably feel those changes in your stomach.
Keeping You Comfy
Passenger jets typically don’t bank more than 30 degrees on a turn. They’re capable of more but the steeper the turn, the more thrust needed to keep the plane from losing altitude. Turns at angles more than 30 degrees would cause more g-forces which wouldn’t help airsickness or nervous fliers.
So despite it looking like your plane is about to do a barrel roll on every significant turn, next time you fly, know it’s probably only banked about 20-30 degrees at most. Once you’re on the ground you’ll hear the flight attendants say cross-check, here’s why.
Granada, Spain, picked up steam early in the Best City To Visit Travel Tournament this year and never slowed down. Dubrovnik, in a first trip to the final, didn’t offer much resistance as you overwhelmingly voted for Granada as Best City to Visit of 2018.
Granada’s win means it has achieved several things no city ever has in 9 years of The Best City To Visit contests. In 2017, Granada was the first winning city I had previously visited. This year, Granada becomes the first city to win twice and the first city to win back-to-back tournaments and repeat as best city.
Last year, we had a big party to celebrate Granada’s win in the city, this year, I hope to have even bigger plans. Even if you voted for Dubrovnik, I recommend you subscribe to my newsletter or YouTube channel, it might send you to Granada.
Congratulations also to Daniel, who nominated Granada and wins $250. Thank you all who participated in the contest this year – I hope to see you in early February 2019, for the 10th anniversary of The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament.
The answer I can give without hesitation to the question, “what’s the best way to learn a new language before a trip,” is use Pimsleur. People ask me a lot about language learning, with two important caveats. The first being they’re traveling soon (short time to learn) and they need to be able to communicate with people (not necessarily translate names of random objects).
After booking flights, hotels, planning what to pack, language learning is usually a last that-would-be-nice-touch most never get around to. Pimsleur is the fastest way to learn another language at a conversational level if you’ve got 30 minutes a day and a few weeks to practice.
The majority of language courses are designed to teach you a language with the aim to become fluent – an undertaking that often takes years. You’ll learn a lot of words that won’t be immediately useful which is why most travelers bounce around language tutorials and courses so broadly, you end up with nothing once you arrive at your destination. (English it will have to be then!)
The Pimsleur Language Program works differently. Basically, the 30 minute audio-only courses piece together seemingly random sounds with oddly specific visualizations over 10-20 lessons. At the end you’ll be surprisingly able to hold a conversation in that language.
How Pimsleur Works
Pimsleur is incredibly efficient. For example, you listen to one lesson on your commute. Pimsleur notes two important things: you’ll need to repeat what it tells you to repeat out loud and not do more than one lesson a day. A typical lesson is you saying some random sounds, then imaging e.g. a red bird on top of a house. Pimsleur is designed like Pulp Fiction, it’s all out of order at first, but as you go on the lessons start connecting.
The main drawback of Pimsleur is it won’t help you read or write in another language. Pimsleur is audio only, designed to get you talking with people at soon as possible. Pimsleur gives you the mechanics of a given language making you usefully conversational – and if you want to expand beyond that – a solid structure upon which you can add vocabulary and more advanced grammar.
Target For Travelers
Pimsleur has been used by aid and relief organizations to linguistically prepare their staff and volunteers in a short amount of time. (The company donated their Haitian Creole courses after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for instance). The United States military has also distributed Pimsleur for troops in Afghanistan.
The efficiency of Pimsleur is what makes it so beneficial for travelers interested in learning usable parts of a language in a short time. I’ve found 2-6 weeks and 30 minutes a day (4-5 days a week) is enough to be able to hold a respectable conversation in a foreign language. All you have to do is listen to the audio file (or CD) and repeat as it instructs.
Somehow Pimsleur hacks your memory to install a new language. I wasn’t paid to write this (I legally have to disclose paid reviews) but I can’t say enough good things about Pimsleur. The lessons you learn are also extremely durable – I recall lessons from nearly 10 years ago. You’ll just have to give yourself the time to finish the lessons. Since Pimsleur courses aren’t structured in a conventional way, the more dots it will connect the longer you continue. And it’s not a long or expensive journey. The first entire lesson of Turkish is a total of 8 hours, costing just $40, for example.
Road Tested! JOBY GorillaPod Focus One Year Review - YouTube
Making a tripod small enough to be portable but strong enough to effectively hold a DSLR or mirrorless camera with lens isn’t an easy engineering feat, particularly when the tripod legs are designed to bend. The GorillaPod series is innovative but their cost often causes people to buy a JOBY model that won’t support the camera they’ve got.
Granada is one round away from doing two things no city ever has in 9 years of The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament: win more than once, and win back-to-back years. But doing well in one round doesn’t help you in the next and Dubrovnik’s supporters are looking to pull off a major upset. Voting begins now and is open through 12pm US EST on Sunday, April 8th.
Readers, it’s time to vote! You will need to enter your email address, then click to verify your vote from an email that comes from Poll Daddy. Your email address is not used for anything other than verifying your vote. Your privacy is important to me, always.
Save Money, Spend Miles? United Airlines Business Class Review - YouTube
Flying business class is costly (unless your business is paying) so whether its miles or money, if you’re spending either it’s worth shopping around. United, which pretty much has the worst public relations of any airline at the moment, has locked down some key North America to Europe routes – meaning though you may not particularly want to – you might find yourself leaning toward flying business with them.
For any flight worth its business class, if the seat doesn’t recline into a bed it’s not worth paying for. United’s transatlantic have seats that have multiple recline settings, including fully vertical. They’re not the newest seats but being able to lay down on a long flight significantly reduces both jet lag and the heavy grogginess that comes with otherwise sitting upright for 10 hours 10,000 meters up.
The entertainment center is also loaded with one of the best movie selections of any airline on large screens. (American carriers tend to excel in the movie selection, especially latest releases compared to the rest of the world.) Unfortunately the screens have very poor viewing angles and not being adjustable means if you’re even modestly reclined, viewing is difficult at best. These small inconveniences are where United’s business class continually falls short. United has the basic components of what’s become standard for business classes worldwide but it’s just that: standard.
The staff are friendly and you get access to the United and Lufthansa lounges. Neither are particularly noteworthy when comparing to the business classes of other competing airlines like British Airways, but it’s definitely a noticeable step up from economy.
Better Food But Not Good Food
United’s business class is certainly better than flying economy and that’s true of the food too. Meals are better than United economy (albeit the bar is pretty low) but nothing spectacular. Considering United business class seats are several thousand dollars, one would hope the meals would have a bit more quality. Even the presentation is lacking – again, it’s not bad but it’s not good either – almost like a poor copy of what true business class should be.
Vegan meals are 80% not vegan, vegetarian meals are just vegetables, and the small meat or fish dish portions are hidden in pools of mystery sauce.
Effortless, Not In The Best Way
United has a business class which doesn’t have much sincerity to it; missing from the small touches you’ll find on other airlines. United Airlines is clearly banking on their route dominance, so they’re not trying too hard to take or keep your business.
They fly some of the most efficient routes from North America to Europe so you might find yourself stuck with them. I wouldn’t spend money on their business class if there’s even a slightly worse layover or connection on another airline. But, if you can’t find a better alternative and want to get a legs up from economy, using some frequent flyer miles will certainly enhance your trip. United often run saver mile deals through their site where you can use less than 50% of the miles for business class on certain days or times of the year – they’re worth waiting for if you can.
Traveling with a lot of electronics means traveling with a lot of cables. Charging cords are especially difficult to manage inside a backpack and the Cocoon Grid-It is one of the few organizers that’s portable enough to be useful for travelers. The Grid-It isn’t for every backpack but for those it works for, can make frequent trips though airport security much simpler.
The Grid-It comes in several sizes, though I found the most effective one to be the 10.5 x 7.5 inch (26.6 x 19 cm) version. That’s because the smaller the Grid-It is horizontally, the more space it takes up vertically. More on that in a bit, but first, how the Cocoon Grid-It works.
Basically the Grid-It is a flat panel with 12 elastic strips across, 6 down on one side, and two on the back. The most effective way to use the Grid-It is to coil a cable and place it under one of the bands. Longer or thicker cables should go under the longest bands and it’s important to spread out the cables as much as possible. Otherwise, you’ll only accentuate the Grid-Its main drawback.
Once you’ve got your cables all under the gentle, but firm grip of the Grid-It, taking all of your cords in and out of your backpack is a breeze. Being able to take all of your cables out at once, organized, makes going through airport security much, much faster than pulling out of a clump of cords. Plus you won’t have to worry about losing everything else that tends to get tangled up in cord clumps as you yank it out of your bag.
It’s also worth noting it makes the job of airport security easier too and the clear view of all your cables seems to put you on their good side. Always a good thing for a frequent traveler who wants to get to the lounge or gate as quickly as possible.
Organization Costs Space
I mentioned above, the Grid-It has one major drawback: the amount of usable space it takes up inside a backpack. Although it’s excellent at organizing cables, it takes up a lot of usable backpack space to do so. The more cables you have, the larger its horizontal profile – creating a bump that can be awkward to fit inside of a tight backpack. Coiled cables also have a lot of space in them which isn’t practical to fill up.
Sure, you can stuff as much of your other gear inside the cable coils as possible, but chances are the Grid-It is going to occupy a lot of empty space. For travelers whose backpacks are less than 80% full, the Grid-It can provide much needed cable organization. If your backpack is in need of a diet, already stuffed, the Grid-It is probably going to take up too much additional space to be useful.
Clumps of cables are ugly but more easily smashed compressed inside of a bag. Chances are if you don’t have space for a Grid-It, you need to start with some basic backpack organization first.
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