I once said the Dell Premier Backpack might be the best electronics backpack for travelers and having taken another look at it again, would say the same – with a caveat. Finding the perfect backpack is difficult because it’s a very subjective measure and rather than trying to make something for everyone, Dell focused on the business traveler. In doing so, Dell very nearly created a perfect, generalized electronics backpack – but ended up with a very good bag for a particular type of travel. Frequent business travelers who need more storage for gadgets than other generalized travel gear like extra clothing should take a close look at the Dell Premier Backpack. My full review in the video here.
FaucetSafe app, available for iOS and Android, is a worldwide guide on where you can and can’t drink the local tap water, that is updated in real-time. Whether or not the local water is potable is one of the most common questions travelers have but a lot of the information online is either inaccurate or out of date. I developed FaucetSafe to be a travel guide in your pocket, that can give you current information on water potability around the world.
The information is compiled from multiple sources – including government and independent tests – plus FaucetSafe also has a comment system where locals and travelers alike can add further detail. Water potability often varies in small geographic areas (e.g. within cities) so FaucetSafe is designed to be a guide to where you can and can’t drink the water – both to save you costs as well as reduce the amount of plastic consumed by every traveler (in the form of water bottles). The information contained in FaucetSafe works offline and is updated with the latest water drinkability information when you have an Internet connection.
In some parts of the world, local municipalities will say their water is drinkable when it may not be (for political or economic/tourism purposes) so where possible, data is pulled from both official sources and based on the results of independent tests conducted on water supplies.
FaucetSafe is based on my map of where you can drink the tap water, with several more features and detail.
- FaucetSafe shows where you can and can’t drink the water when traveling, from general country information to cities and down to the neighborhood level in some areas.
- FaucetSafe is updated regularly in real-time with new information.
- FaucetSafe has a user comment system where users can add local knowledge about water drinking habits in any given area, neighborhood, city, country or pretty much anywhere.
- Users can also post questions in the comment section for other travelers or the administrator.
- All comments are rated by other users, so the most useful, informative responses are highlighted on top of the others.
Available Now For iOS And Android
You can download FaucetSafe now from the Apple App Store or on Google Play for Android devices. FacuetSafe is $1.99 but if you’ve purchased any of my other travel apps, iOS users can get FaucetSafe at a discount or free as part of either the foXnoMad Water Pack or foXnoMad Air and Water Pack.
Please let me know if you have any questions about FaucetSafe in the comments below or contact me directly. I hope that FaucetSafe can help you travel smarter by helping you avoid dirty tap water, reduce unnecessary use of plastic, save money, and give you more time to travel rather than spending it in shops purchasing bottled water.
Until a company makes a cell phone with at least a week of battery life, particularly when traveling, portable chargers will remain essential backpack accessories. The problem is the more charge capacity a portable battery has, the larger it is physically – with most people opting for capacity, despite the bulky trade-offs.
Anker’s PowerCore 13000 though sits in a sweet spot. The PowerCore can charge up most modern phones 5 times over, has dual USB ports, and is the size of a beefy pack of playing cards. You can watch my entire review of the Anker PoewrCore 13000 in the video above, or read on.
Bringing Back Basics
Numbers representing milliamp hours (mAh) might not mean much to you but most chargers this size have have half the capacity. To break it down simply, mAh is a measurement used for battery capacity, the PowerCore 13000 has, well, 13000 mAh, and your iPhone has around 2000. Do some simple division and you’ve got around 6 charges in a perfect world. Of course other (*cough* most *cough* Android) phones have larger batteries so you’ll get 4-5 charges out of a PowerCore 13000 on those devices.
In comparison, the PowerTrip and PowerStick+ I recently took a second look at, can charge the average phone around 1-3 times – and the PowerTrip is larger than the PowerCore.
The PowerCore 13000 does have noticeable heft, weighing 255 grams (9 ounces), but generally outclasses most other chargers this (physical) size in the ways people care about most.
Features For A Friend
Having two USB ports on a charger is important, whether you’re traveling solo, with friends, or family, having the option to charge multiple devices at once is a big time saver. Dual USB ports is also a space saver because you won’t need multiple chargers or risk a dead iPad. (Sorry tablet, phone wins.)
Having two chargers on the PowerCore 13000 is particularly useful since it doesn’t support quick charging in either direction. Meaning your phone won’t charge at super speeds (though at 2 amps maximum output isn’t sluggish); plus the PowerCore 13000 itself takes a long time to charge up.
Don’t Plan To Plan
13000 mAh is a lot of charging capacity but the reverse is it takes a solid 12 hours to charge the PowerCore from dead to full. As I mentioned, there’s no quick charging and if you forget to plug the PowerCore 13000 in one night or even two, you’ll probably be fine. But trying to quickly charge the PowerCore while you stuff clothes in your luggage and take a hygienically questionable shower to catch a flight you’re very late to, isn’t going to cut it.
You’ll want to make sure to top off the Anker every night if you’re a poor planner and aren’t too worried about battery longevity. Also, it’s worth getting the PowerCore 13000 in your hands a week or two before a trip to make sure it’s working properly. Anker’s exchanges are prompt but that won’t do you any good if you’re already flying to one world’s most remote islands.
To solve some of these problems, I’ve spent the better part of a year gathering water potability reports from governments, independent third-parties, non-profits, NGOs, and a variety of other relevant sources to create the map below.
- Last update: October 9, 2018
What’s resulted is a straightforward map of water potability based multiple information sources, that’s updated in real-time. You can bookmark this page or the map to keep up with any future updates and for offline use, there’s the FaucetSafe app available for iOS and Android you can take everywhere.
Adjusting To The Tap
Remember that even clean tap water in a new city can upset your stomach for a short time. Your immune system might have to adjust to variations in sanitizing methods, and local bacteria. This water potability map is an informational resource only and although I’ve done my best to compile the most accurate data possible, always check with your doctor if you have specific medical concerns or questions.
Chances are the local water in many places around the world you’re visiting is good for drinking but without any reliable, practical, or current information you’ve bought bottled water to play it safe. Reducing use of bottled water not only can save you money but also lessen the amount of plastic we use, 8.6 billion kilograms of (19 billion pounds) of which is already in the oceans. Hopefully this map helps solve the problem of not knowing where the water is drinkable so you can travel smarter.
At the airport in Athens the young guy behind the counter asked me for my final destination, “Beirut,” I replied. His confused looked was followed by, “are you sure?” He wasn’t joking.
What I expected to find was a city struggling after years of war, in one of the worst regional neighborhoods in the world, mixed with 18 officially recognized religions who’ve all fought at some point. It sounds like a recipe for disaster and in fairness, much of its recent history has not been good. But somehow now, Beirut is working, and working well.
Everyone should visit here. Beirut’s a vibrant city that’s as good, bad, nuanced, and hypocritical as any of us. The deceptively polished corniche is a few blocks away from expensive, modern shopping centers that sit mostly empty – built for (often wealthy) Gulf state Arabs who come to enjoy fermented beverages and fashion not acceptable back home. If your style is more burqa, that’s fine too. Popular restaurants are popular with everyone, so long as you don’t preach to the table next to you.
Beirut is glaringly tolerant, I must be missing something.
Spruced up shopping districts are dotted with cranes meant for new high rises in between broken buildings from Israel’s 2006 bombardment of the city. Some facades have numerous bullet holes that looks almost unreal. Across the street you’ll find the best falafel in the world. Side-by-side businesses run by two brothers who hate each other, but not enough to move their shops apart. These guys have survived all Beirut has seen – the horror that was whatever caused all those bullet holes – but haven’t spoken in over a decade. The constant reminder that life is short staring these two 60-year old siblings in the face isn’t enough to budge their pride or falafel shops.
A walk from the corniche to the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Badaro is a 30 minute history reel as you walk through conservative Muslim neighborhoods, then past military fortifications behind barbed wire, after McDonald’s, and a few hipster-enticing pubs.
Beirut has seen some shit. And the city doesn’t hide it.
Maybe that’s why it seems to work, at least now. Maybe things have to get so bad for so long, that people simply got sick of trying to solve all the problems. Like the falafel brothers, the defacto state seems to be: you’re free to do what you want, but don’t tell me what to do – no matter how close we are, even if you’re literally next door.
Complicated recipes are usually easier to screw up, but Beirut’s blend might be getting something right. The secret sauce seems to defy all conventional wisdom so I hope someone is taking notes, nobody here wants to start from scratch.
Beirut is one of the most interesting cities I’ve ever been to. It is a city that works but absolutely shouldn’t – with the shouldn’t part being particularly easy to overlook.
Along Corniche Beirut, the Mediterranean Sea is both doorway and barrier; a reminder of how connected Beirut, Lebanon is to the world while concurrently dangling on the edge of war in Syria and open hostility with Israel .
Depending on which way you’re looking at the sea, it can seem as either.
Beirut’s corniche though, a strip of a few kilometers along the Mediterranean, feels jovial, normal, and only odd when you add everything up. The variables in this equation shouldn’t yield this result. The breeze in the wake of the rollerbladders skating past whisks away such math problems, another thought for another day.
As you feel the touch of perfection, reality nags, leaving you to wonder how, just how does this city work?
And work well, all things considered.
I’m not sure if I was ignoring the issues Lebanon has or appreciating what Beirut has become in spite of them. Vibrant as ever, especially along the corniche.
The corniche is brashly comforting and safe, yet as you stroll through the other parts of Beirut, you start doing the math. It’s a complicated equation I’ll be writing more about soon but these views sum up a lot of what Beirut is and what Beirut is not.
About Anil Polat