foXnoMad’s Got A New Look

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You might have noticed this site looks very different today since for the first time in 7 years, I’ve given it a major redesign and a new foXnoMad logo to go with it. I have a lot planned for you in the coming weeks so it seemed only appropriate to freshen up my digital wardrobe. Please let me know what you think of the new style and any bugs you might come across that need ironing out.
It’s hard to specify what the changes are because the look is completely different, although in function, foXnoMad more or less works the same. Comments are sorted by your ratings up or down (the little green and red arrows) to help you navigate the longer discussion threads by putting the most useful comments at the top. You’ll notice the most popular posts are listed to your left, where you’ll also find a powerful search engine for foXnoMad. Mobile versions have also been given a refresh.
Also, regular posts will resume this week (I had taken some time to work behind the scenes on the aforementioned upcoming plans) plus I’ll be announcing a complete travel schedule for the rest of the year. Thank you all for your feedback and support. I hope you like the fox’s shiny new coat.
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How To Travel While Pregnant During Every Trimester

33 Shares Share Tweet Pin StumbleThis is a guest post by Lillie Marshall, travel blogger at and mother to two young children. Find her at @WorldLillie on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and beyond.

Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stop traveling! Just follow these tips that I’ve gleaned from two pregnancies around the world, and voyage on.
Before any pregnant travel, of course, check with your doctor. Make sure you listen well to any specific cautions he or she gives you pertaining to where you’re going, any challenges pertaining to your specific pregnancy, and what you’ll be doing and eating. When I was planning for my solo trip to Dubai while five months pregnant, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my doctor was actually less worried about the trip than I was!
Next, keep in mind that each trimester of pregnancy brings very different traveling conditions.
The First Trimester
During your first trimester the main challenge is usually nausea. Bleh! Continually feeling sick or throwing up is debilitating, and waves of exhaustion can also hit at this point, so general wisdom is to aim to travel during the second trimester when symptoms ease. That said, I have certainly managed voyaging during those first 12 weeks, and what saved me were snacks. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, steadily eating small, bland portions of food like crackers usually settles the stomach of early pregnancy. Do not – I repeat, DO NOT – embark on your first trimester travels without ALWAYS having snacks on hand, whether you’re on a train across Asia, climbing the Eiffel Tower, or lying in bed. Yes, I learned this the hard way, multiple times. While on a pregnant hike in Watkins Glen, NY, for example, I got so nauseous during our snack-free walking that we had to turn back early and get emergency sustenance, thus missing out on some of the best waterfalls.

Napping is the other savior of early pregnancy. Don’t fight that sleep! Your body is doing a crazy and miraculous thing, so any travel itinerary should absolutely account for this and have both built-in rest periods and back-up plans for when you’re too exhausted to go on. While touring Montreal when I was pregnant with our second child, I got so pooped in the middle of one day’s itinerary that I grabbed my husband’s coat, lay it on the ground in a random park, and fell asleep right there. It probably would have been more comfortable to have a scheduled loop back to our hotel at that point, but perhaps it was worth it for me to make that mistake so you don’t have to!
Second Trimester
The second trimester of pregnancy is usually the sweet spot of having a cute but manageability petite belly, plus diminished symptoms, so this is the ideal period during which to schedule travel. You could book a couple’s “Babymoon” (as my husband and I did in Hawaii when I was pregnant with our first child), or take the less traditional but still fabulous option of solo pregnant travel, as I did for 9 days alone in the United Arab Emirates during this most recent pregnancy.

While you still need to take the usual precautions for safe eating and activity (e.g. no unpasteurized cheese and no skydiving), this is the ideal time to milk the sympathy of the world for all it’s worth, because things will only get physically harder from here. On my flight to Dubai, for example, I was able to parlay my big belly into getting an entire row of seats all to myself to stretch out!
Third Trimester
In your third trimester, things can get really difficult. In my second pregnancy especially, the last several weeks I had trouble even moving, let alone bending. At a certain point, depending on the state of your pregnancy, you won’t even be allowed to fly anymore! (Remember that at any visible level of pregnancy, you need a doctor’s letter.) You will likely be closer to home for any travel at this point, but for any third trimester voyages, remember that the main trick is to take it slow, and to enlist help. For strong, independent women like ourselves, it’s pretty crazy to have to ask your partner to help you put on your socks, for example, but such things may be necessary in that last, intense month of creating life!

There you have my main tips for successful travel during pregnancy. For further permutations of this, do check out my articles on travel with a baby, travel with a toddler, and juggling being pregnant AND having a toddler.
For those of you who are pregnant, what remaining questions do you have? For those who have been through this already, what tips would you add? Do share!
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Journalist Richard McColl Talks About Colombia’s Forgotten City, Mompos

138 Shares Share Tweet Pin StumbleRichard McColl is a freelance journalist and author based in Bogota, Colombia. He is currently pursuing a PhD and also runs a small hotel, La Casa Amarilla, in colonial Mompos. His podcasts “Colombia Calling” can be downloaded on iTunes and Stitcher. After my recent trip to Colombia I was able to catch up with Richard who talks about Mompos, opening a hotel, and how tourism in the country has changed over the past 10 years.
Note: Richard is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to turn his podcast into a magazine, you can learn more about the project and support his campaign here.

Richard, how did you end up in Colombia?
It seems like a long time ago that I decided to move to Colombia! I moved here full time in 2007 after almost 6 years of freelance writing, guiding and organizing social projects all over Latin America. I had come here to Colombia on a few occasions before, once with the environmental NGO World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to report on the state of the communities on the Pacific Coast and write about the mangroves. It was quite the adventure at a time when this region of Colombia truly was off-limits and I guess I was left with a real feeling of affection towards the people. Something about Colombia always kept drawing me back here and finally after working and traveling in every country in the region, I decided to go about getting my journalist visa and make my move here permanent.
What changes have you noticed in the time you’ve been in Colombia?
Colombia has most definitely changed since I moved here in 2007. There has been a huge increase in tourism. Back in the day, if you saw another foreigner in the street you would stop to chat with them so infrequent was this occurrence, now, you cannot swing a cat without seeing or hearing another gringo in some parts of town! Of course this is a direct result of increased and improved security in many regions of the country… and of course perceived improvements in security. Colombia was an unknown destination for obvious and justifiable reasons, now it seems to be a fashionable destination.

What type of traveler would Mompos interest most?
Mompos is not for everyone, I’ll be the first to admit this. It is an adventure because it still represents an older and more forgotten Colombia where a colonial town – which still belongs to the locals unlike a city such as Cartagena – maintains its authenticity and atmosphere. If you are interested in architecture, history and nature  – as we are located in the middle of a huge wetland filled with bird-life – then this is the place for you. This is not a destination which will overwhelm you with activities to tick off on a list but if you want to soak up an original feeling, wander through an open-air museum, perhaps shop for locally made jewelry and enjoy somewhere where you feel as if you are the only tourist and a pioneer, then Mompos should be on your list.
Many tourists don’t seem to know about Mompos, why do you think that is?
Mompos doesn’t appeal to everyone nor is it part of the “first wave” of destinations to visit in Colombia. As it is quite far away – which is an attraction for some travelers – can be off-putting. It is still very much a pueblo in that it’s a small town and the tourist infrastructure is in its infancy really. Mompos is not ready for a huge wave of tourism either, it needs to come in measured fashion so as to protect what is here and provide an economic stimulus for the town without being damaging.

What are some of the easiest ways to get to Mompos from Bogota and Medellin?
The best way in my opinion is to fly from Bogota or Medellin to the airport of Corozal. From here you can catch a car to Magangue and cross the river to Mompos from there.
Many travelers are often heard saying they want to open a hostel/hotel but few actually do. How did La Casa Amarilla go from idea to reality?

Yes, moving from the chatter about opening an establishment to actually doing so is a big step. In my experience, I actually just bought a wreck of a colonial house before having the idea of opening a hostel. I just wanted to restore a house. It then became evident that in order to do so and to maintain the house the building needed to generate an income since the upkeep of a colonial house in the tropics is expensive. Now, we are no longer a hostel but a very good mid-range hotel with only 10 rooms and catering to people from all over the world and from all walks of life. Also, in Mompos I had to go about changing the idea that people had here of what an international tourist really wanted, there was no real understanding of the market…it has been a long but rewarding process.

How would you recommend someone plan a trip around Colombia, including Mompos on the itinerary?
Colombia is blessed with so much to see and this can also be her downfall. So, it kind of depends on how much time you have and what you want to get out of your trip. If you only have a week or two then my recommendation is to focus on some small areas and to fly in between cities to save time. If you have longer then you have more options open to you.
As there are now direct flights from the U.S. to Cartagena and Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast, the options for discovering some of the north coast are quite ample. You could go to Cartagena for its sophistication, Mompos for forgotten Colombia, up to Santa Marta and Tayrona Park for beaches, beyond into Minca for nature and then circle back to Cartagena for your flight.

Or if you want to head first to Bogota and then go North, then why not follow a colonial route of Colombia. You could go from Bogota to Villa de Leyva, to San Gil and Barichara, on to Mompos and then to Cartagena. This way you cover half of the country. Of course, don’t write off Southern Colombia either. Bogota, San Agustin, the Coffee Zone, Popayan and Cali are well worthwhile too!
Thank you very much Richard for taking the time to share your knowledge about Mompos and traveling in Colombia. You can hear more about what Richard’s advice from all around Colombia on his podcast “Colombia Calling” which you can find on iTunes and Stitcher.
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I Started This Blog 10 Years Ago Today

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I can’t believe I just typed out that title. I recalculated it a number of times to make sure I wasn’t adding an extra couple of years but that’s right, 10 years ago on this date I wrote the first foXnoMad post.
A Short History Tale
Back then in 2006, this was a blog I created for a few friends and myself, so we could keep in touch. After a few weeks, I was the only one actually posting – a process that was surprisingly enjoyable. There’s a lot of crap from those early posts and it would have probably continued that way, until someone other than my mother left a comment. After a complete stranger had found foXnoMad (it wasn’t even named that yet) it occurred to me maybe I should put some effort into what I wrote on the Internet.
So I focused on two things I knew and was passionate about: travel and technology. Some time later foXnoMad took off with me following, on a journey that is now a quest to visit every country in the world.
Catching Up With Time
I move around. A lot. Constant motion means I’m continually balancing writing with traveling. Over the years, I had been keeping pace but didn’t have much opportunity to eliminate a pesky to-do list, plus turn some other ideas into reality. Not so much now, over the past 6 months I’ve been (more or less) in one place and in front of a laptop longer than I’ve been in years.
You’ll see the results of this temporary slowdown soon throughout the rest of 2016, most likely while I’m exploring some jungle I shouldn’t be in or testing any rational person’s fear of heights.
A Big Thank You
All of this – my dream to travel the world and write about the places I visit is because you read and support this blog. (Plus the blogger behind it.) I look forward to continuing the trip with you as foXnoMad expands later this year beyond anything I could have imagined in 2006.
Travel smarter,
[Photo by: GDallimore]
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5 Of The Best Beaches In Sardinia And How To Make The Most Of Them

25 Shares Share Tweet Pin StumbleThis is a guest post by Claudia Tavani, a former human rights lawyer and academic who has previously written about traveling in Cuba for foXnoMad. Claudia, who is from Sardinia, abandoned her career to follow her true calling, which has taken her on many adventures and misadventures across the world which she shares on her blog, My Adventures Across The World.

I always say that Sardinia is a great travel destination in any season, thanks to its great nature, unique archeological sites, beautiful cities and villages, ancient culture, festivals and the mouthwatering food. Yet, what Sardinia is most famous for is its stunning beaches and incredibly clear waters, that make it a paradise in the summer.
Since summer is well on its way and many are planning their holidays in Sardinia, here’s a (non-inclusive) selection of the top beaches in Sardinia, with a few tips on how to make the most of them.
1. Costa Rei
On the southeast of Sardinia about an hour drive from Cagliari, Costa Rei is not only one of the most incredible beaches in Sardinia, but one of the most amazing beaches in the world. Costa Rei is a long beach characterized by fine, golden sands and mostly shallow, clear waters. Ideal for families with children, Costa Rei is easy to access and there are kiosks, umbrella rentals, activities, and various places that organize excursions to the nearby beaches and islands. Additionally, Costa Rei is a good place to practice water sports such as kite surf or windsurf.

How to make the most of Costa Rei: As pretty much the rest of Sardinia during summer months, Costa Rei gets crowded, especially on weekends. Since it is such a long, wide beach there are often quiet places if you’re willing to search a bit for them. Head there early in the morning to be able to place your umbrella in the front row. If you are bothered by the wind, when the strong mistral blows, opt for one of the protected coves nearby, such as Monte Turnu.
2. Cala Goloritze
On the east coast of Sardinia, in the Gulf of Orosei, this amazing beach is so unique that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cala Goloritze can only be reached by hiking (boats are not allowed to dock). The trail starts in the parking lot of Su Porteddu Bar in the Golgo Plateau, a short drive from the picturesque village Baunei.

Cala Goloritze is famous for its arch, which can be reached with a short swim. Some people climb and dive from the arch, though I shall warn you that it’s not the easiest thing to do – occasionally someone gets stuck trying to climb – then rangers have to be called to rescue. The pinnacle is very popular for rock climbing.
The small beach of Cala Goloritze is made of tiny white pebbles. The incredibly transparent water is deep and very cold due to the infiltration of freshwater from the mountains around. Goats that are free to roam in the plateau above often pop down to the beach to drink from one of the sources, leaving visitors quite bemused.
How to make the most of Cala Goloritze: Cala Goloritze is tiny and gets packed in the busiest summer months. Yet, as getting there requires a good hike, this means that you will be surrounded by like-minded people who are there to enjoy nature. Make sure to start walking no later than 8:30 am. The walk is easy and mostly in the shade, but it does get hot after a while. On the way back, it is best to leave no later than 5:00 pm as the shade that comes from the surrounding mountains makes it a bit harder to see. Make sure to have plenty of water to carry on the way up.
The hike is mostly downhill on the way to the beach, and uphill on the way back up. It takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get down and it is best to wear good hiking shoes as it is a bit slippery. As it is completely isolated, there are no services on the beach – no bars, no toilets. You will need to carry whatever you think you may need.
There is a 1 euro fee to get on to the beach, the profits go towards its conservation. If you are not up for the hike, hop on one of the boats that from the tourist harbor of Santa Maria Navarrese take tourists to the various nearby (and gorgeous) beaches, such as Cala Sisine, Cala dei Gabbiani and Cala Mariolu.
3. La Pelosa, Stintino
On the top tip of western Sardinia, not far from Alghero and Sassari, the stunning La Pelosa has it all: fine, white sand; gorgeous clear and shallow waters; great view over another island (Isola Piana); and a Spanish tower to explore at its side. Easily accessible and fully serviced, the only downside of La Pelosa is that it gets packed with visitors.

How to make the most of La Pelosa: If you can’t be bothered with people, avoid going to La Pelosa in the peak summer months (July and August) and definitely avoid weekends. The parking lot is incredibly expensive, so it is worth considering going by public transportation. There is a regular service that runs from Stintino to the beach for around 1.5 euro, and it takes no more than 10 minutes.
4. Oasi Biderosa
The only words I can use to describe this place are “paradise on Earth”. Located in the northeast coast of Sardinia, the amazing Oasi Biderosa is made of 5 small coves which are surrounded by thick Mediterranean vegetation: Aleppo pines, junipers and cork trees contribute to diffuse a delicate aroma in the air. The fine sand and the clear turquoise water put the finishing touches.

Open from May to October, Oasi Biderosa is heavily protected, and as such only a limited amount of people per day are allowed to visit. This means that you will not meet so many people on the beach, but do have to plan your visit in advance.

How to make the most of Oasi Biderosa: In order to visit, you will need to make reservations by calling the numbers +39 333 179 83 35 or +39 342 355 99 75 between 7:30 am and 8:00 pm every day. Oasi Biderosa can be reached from Road (SS) 125, at kilometer marker 236.5. The closest village is Orosei, at about 13 km. It is about 43 km from tourist hub Cala Gonone and 50 km from San Teodoro and Budoni. Olbia is at 80km and Nuoro at 55km.
5. Cala Domestica
Located on the wild coast of Sulcis Iglesiente, an hour 15 minutes drive from Cagliari, this small cove is surrounded by hills on both sides with sand dunes behind, shaped much like a fjord. There is one main beach with an even smaller cove on the right side, which can be reached via a short walk on the rocks.

Cala Domestica used to be a harbor where metals extracted in nearby mines were traded at the end of a rail line used to get all the way to the beach. Remnants of the rails and of the warehouse can still be seen. An easy path on the left leads to the Spanish Tower, one of the many watchtowers built when Sardinia was under Spanish rule. The views from up there are simply spectacular.

How to make the most of Cala Domestica: As the rest of the Sulcis Iglesiente coast, Cala Domestica is often swept by strong winds and currents: double check the weather broadcast and opt for an entirely different place if strong mistral winds are blowing, as this decreases the chances of fully enjoying this great place. As with the rest of Sardinia, Cala Domestica gets crowded during the summer months and especially during weekends. There is a kiosk that sell light meals, snacks, gelato and drinks and that rents umbrellas and chairs.
Code Of Conduct On Sardinian Beaches
Do not take sand from any beach in Sardinia. Not only this is completely disrespectful of the environment and the people, but it is also a crime. Tourists are regularly caught at airports carrying bags or bottles of sand and penalized with a fine. Do not litter! Make sure you leave the beach as clean as you find it – if you don’t find garbage bins at the beach (for example, there are none at Cala Goloritze), do make sure to carry your garbage back with you. Finally, do not leave cigarette butts in the sand they also contribute to littering the beach!
Thank you Claudia for sharing some of the best beaches from your home with us. You can follow Claudia’s adventures, including rafting down mighty rivers, zip lining across canyons, and trekking to the craters of active volcanoes on he blog, My Adventures Across The World. Have any questions about traveling to Sardinia? Leave them in the comments below and Claudia will do her best to answer them.
All photos in the post above are courtesy Claudia Tavani.

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Use Wall Outlets To Recharge USB Devices Faster On Short Layovers

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Keeping your gadgets charged can be a challenge when you’re pressed for time but plugging in your devices to a wall outlet can decrease recharge times significantly. Combined with the right charger, you can bring your batteries closer to 100% faster, so they’re powered up as much as possible before your next flight.
Outlets Aren’t Created Equal
You may have noticed how variable recharge times can be on your smartphone when plugged into your car on the way to work versus plugging in to the office computer. The reason is because not all USB ports and cables are made the same. Depending on how old your laptop is, it’s likely either equipped with a USB 2.0 or 3.0 (or higher) port. (Here’s how to find out which USB ports you have on Windows and OS X.)
Morecoo 60W/12A 6-Port USB Desktop Rapid Charger

A USB 2.0 port can only supply 500 milliamperes (mA) of electricity; a USB 3.0 port can give you up to 900mA; while the latest USB-C tops out at 5000mA. Depending on the device you have, the battery might be able to take 2000mA or more when charging – but the maximum electrical output of the USB port or USB outlet adapter must be equal or greater.

Potential Bottleneck – The maximum milliamperes a device’s battery can draw can be limited by either the wall/car adapter or USB port it’s plugged in to.

All of this means you could be charging up in half the time or faster if you plug-in to a wall outlet with a charger that can take advantage of all the electricity it has to offer.
Zoom In On Output
Take a close look at your USB wall charger; somewhere on it should be the output either in mA or A (1000mA = 1A). For example, Apple supplies iPhones with 1000mA adapters but if you’re using an iPhone 6 or newer, the battery can take up to 2100mA; so using an iPad adapter means your 6s will charge in much less time. Keep in mind too, most laptops and computers don’t always supply the maximum amount of electricity to charging devices. In other words, maximum output might be 900mA but your tablet is only getting 750mA.

Power Up Your Wall Charger
Rapid chargers like the Morecoo 60W-12A give you 6 USB ports, each of which can provide up to 2400mA of power from a single wall outlet. When there’s no outlet around, PowerStick portable batteries provide up to 1000mA, both quicker and more comfortable than trying to open a laptop lid in economy class.
In case you were wondering, having an adapter that supplies more amps than your gadget can take won’t damage it, as the battery will regulate how much it takes. Also, if you really want to charge up as fast as possible, don’t use your device while it’s recharging. (And if you do end up plugging into a laptop, not using either device will allow recharges to be as fast as possible.) Finally, once you’re away from an external power source, use these tips to extend battery life for all of your gadgets once they hit the road.
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