Some Of The Best Things I Never Imagined Would Happen: foXnoMad 2017 Highlights

wildlife sos elephant india

Meeting rescued elephants at Wildlife SOS, for example. Years ago when I set a goal of visiting every country in the world and created this site, I had no idea where it would take me. Every year, I’m still amazed at the experiences I have and often as these things are happening, I’m thinking, “I can’t believe this is my life.” A lot of it gets spread across blog posts and social media, so I wanted to share a condensed version of some selected highlights of the past year with you.

These are some of the things that happened in 2017 I never thought would, but I’m very happy they did.

1. I Was Named Honorary Ambassador To Granada, Spain By The Mayor

After many years of coming close, Granada won the Best City to Visit Contest. Granada, Spain, is one of my favorite cities in the world but I never thought on my second visit I would be named an honorary ambassador by mayor Francisco Cuenca. Before visiting, I wanted to throw a party celebrating the city’s victory with food and drinks for all the people who helped vote Granada Best City to Visit in 2017.

With the help of the Granada City Council, Tourism Board, and Botanico Cafe, we accomplished just that. And, the person who nominated Granada in the first place, Tianna, used her prize to book round trip tickets to Istanbul. The Best City to Visit Travel Tournament 2018 begins next month, expect even more prizes.

granada foxnomad

2. WiFox Became A Top 7 Travel App

There are over 2.2 million apps in the App Store and last year, WiFox became the 7th most popular travel app for iOS.

wifox app

I released a second app, DroneMate, in 2017. Having it mentioned and recommended by a professional filmmaker like Casey Neistat was also surreal.

csaey neistat tweet

3. Interviewed Game Of Thrones Cast

A man has no name. But he has an answer. I interviewed some of the Game Of Thrones cast at Aniventure Comic Con in Sofia, Bulgaria.

4. Met Nick Seluk

At the same convention, I had the opportunity to meet Nick Seluk, the artist behind The Awkward Yeti comics. Nick’s story is very inspirational and I highly recommend you watch this video to hear it.

5. Wrote My 2,487th Blog Post

This was it. This is number 2,491. Wow.

Travel Highlights

At the end of 2016, let alone 2006, I couldn’t dream that I’d be training at an mixed martial arts academy in Edinburgh, trying to get scammed on purpose in India, or that foXnoMad would be in the New York Times. There’s a lot I can’t even remember, I’m sure which will come back to me as soon as you are reading this.

edinburgh mma

I want to thank you for all of your support in 2017. Support you showed in so many ways on foXnoMad articles, videos, apps, emails, comments, likes, coffee, beer, suggestions, and countless other ways. I hope you have a lot of travels and fun trips planned and that I can help you travel smarter in the upcoming year.

Cheers to all of the unexpected in 2018.

Travel smarter,

The Best Travel Apps Of 2018

Travel apps are useful though tend to give you diminishing efficiency the more of them you load on your phone. Over the past 12 months, I’ve tested a lot of travel apps, but these are the ones I kept and ended up using the most in the last year. You can see all of the apps I would recommend to you in the video above or read on.

These are the travel apps you should load on your phone for 2018, in no particular order.

best travel apps

Google Maps [Android/iOS]

Although there are respectable alternatives like, once Google Maps added the ability to download maps offline it was game over. Google Maps, because of all the data the company collects from everywhere, is just so much more accurate than any competition can really hope to be. It’s also free – well, except that you’re trading in a lot of your privacy to use Google Maps – it’s so useful, a lot of people don’t mind the trade.

Uber [iOS/Android]

Despite a lot of the bad press the company seems to keep generating, Uber is very useful especially when traveling in foreign countries. Uber can save you from getting ripped off in a taxi and carrying unnecessary amounts of cash. Of course, Uber’s not available everywhere, like Serbia, so here’s the best way to catch a taxi in Belgrade.

Currency [Android/iOS]

I’ve written an entire post reviewing Currency, one of my favorites that’s simple, but essential for international travelers.

Google Translate [iOS/Android]

The Google Translate app a good way to use technology to replace your lack of a foreign language to easily translate these 4 word combinations you should learn everywhere. But a lot of people don’t know about it’s superpowers: audio and video text translation on the fly.

Convert Units [Android/iOS]

The developers of Convert Units seem determined to completely muck it up with ads, but it’s still passably usable as a very effective converter of temperatures, distances, weights, and 22 other units.

Good Options For VPN

Two of the best VPNs for travelers come in mobile form. IPVanish has an always on feature, forcing your phone to always connect over a VPN. TunnelBear on the other hand is a bit more user-friendly, here’s my full review of TunnelBear for mobile devices.

tunnelbear ios mobile

Some other good security based apps:

Track Your Movements

Although the science on sleep monitoring apps is questionable at best, they can give you reliable data on how much you’re sleeping, snoring, and Sleep Cycle breaks it down by location too. It’s fun to see how much you’re sleeping on various vacations and business trips, along with the other statistics Sleep Cycle keeps for you. Also available from the same company, Northcube, the Lifecycle app (iOS only) automatically tracks how much time you spend walking, in planes, on trains, working out at the gym, and countless other activities giving you an insight into your life and travels. (The data Lifecycle keeps is kept on your phone.)

Airport Wireless, Multi-City Flights, And More

A few other apps worth mentioning are Shazam to find out what song is playing on the speakers around you and Kayak, whose app offers a multi-city flight search, missing from most other travel search engine apps.

Finally, I can with bias, recommend two apps I created – WiFox [Android/iOS] and DroneMate [iOS/Android]. WiFox has airport lounge and wifi passwords for over 900 access points around the world (updated continuously) and DroneMate shows you all of the current laws for flying your drone in every country in the world.

12 Things To Know Before Flying A Drone So You Don’t Crash It [VIDEO]

Drones are most vulnerable when you’re first learning to fly them while repairs are just as costly and crashes potentially dangerous. Earlier this year I wrote the 12 things I learned from crashing drones you should know before your first flight. In the video version above I go over basic settings, why higher is better, and what types of birds do what to drones in the sky – plus more – all with the backdrop of drone footage from several countries around the world.

The Best Place To Travel Right Now: Answering My Inbox Q&Av2

I’m sent a lot of travel and tech questions by email and although I reply to them all, I want to share some of those responses publicly to help more of you travel smarter. In the video above, I answer your questions about the best places to travel right now, good VPN choices, and more.

I’ll have an occasional Q&A video for you on my YouTube channel so feel free to let me know any travel questions you might have in the comments below.

The Two Best Travel Cameras For Video Under $1000

The two best video cameras under $1000 right now in late 2017 are the Panasonic Lumix G7 and the Lumix G85. Being so very similar, it can be difficult to tell why they differ by a few hundred dollars in price and if the additional cost of the G85 makes sense for you.

Both are under-priced and depending on your travel photography needs, the two best video cameras to choose from. Here are the main differences for travelers and how to decide between the Lumix G7 and the Lumix G85.

Peak Age And Price

Cameras, like PCs in the early 2000s and laptops now, are so good they don’t out-date themselves quickly. The G7 was released in 2015 and the updated G85, one year later – as time goes, their prices have dropped. The G85 is around $900 and the G7 is roughly $600, both going on sale frequently.

panasonic lumix g7 g85

  • Lumix G7 Kit – Deals on the G7 consistently include 3 lenses, a case, memory card, mini-tripod and extra batteries.

panasonic lumix g7 kit  Panasonic LUMIX G7 Kit

buy from amazon

  • Lumix G85 – Normally in the upper $900s, comes with the body and 12-60mm Panasonic lens.

lumix g85 kit  Panasonic LUMIX G85MK 4K Mirrorless Camera Kit

buy from amazon

Both the G7 and G85 are micro four thirds cameras with the same size sensor, shoot video in full 4K (the G7 has a software-enforced 30 minute limit, the G85 doesn’t), take 16 megapixels pictures, and are nearly the same physical size. Overall, there’s much more similarity between these two cameras than not, but where they diverge in particular affects frequent travelers most.

Key Differences

The G7 isn’t the same as the G85 in two major ways, especially if you’ll be using these cameras a lot for trips, vacations, and traveling in general: stabilization and weatherproofing. The G85 has 5-axis in-body stabilization (IBIS), electronic stabilization, and uses stabilization in the lens that’s attached. The G7 can only make use of any stabilization features in the lens you’re using with it. Basically, the more stabilization, the smoother your videos will be. You can see a comparison of the stabilization in the G7 versus the G85 in the video above.

minions driving

  • How Much Stabilizing Do You Need? – For shots on a tripod, panning landscape shots, or filming people (e.g. shopkeepers) where you’re not moving, the G7 lens stabilization will work well. For travel vlogging or vlog style travel videos, the lack of IBIS can be jarring. Here’s a video I shot on the Lumix G85 with no effort to keep the shot steady to give you an idea.

Weatherproofing in general is a very overrated feature. Although the metal, 505 gram body of the G85 does make it feel more durable, weatherproofing isn’t waterproofing. The G7 doesn’t have weatherproofing, which protects the camera from splashes of water and dust. Though if you’re going to be shooting in the elements, you’ll need way more protection than weatherproofing anyway, like a DiCAPac waterproof case.

Choice Of Budget

There are other differences too of course but the G85 and G7 are so similar for most people, you’re choosing between a few hundred dollars. You can’t go wrong with either camera – the Panasonic Lumix G85 is part of the travel gear I’m currently using – and as I’m typing this it just went on sale with a full kit for $900. But if stabilization and weatherproofing aren’t worth your $300 or so dollars, the Lumix G7 is an excellent choice, plus you can save more for travel.

The G7 and G85 are both mirrorless so if they’re too big for your light travel packing, this older Lumix point and shoot might fit your needs, or possibly your smartphone could replace any dedicated camera.

More Pictures Of The Alhambra For No Good Reason Other Than It’s Pretty

alhambra spain granada

The story of the Alhambra is a tragically beautiful tale that could fit right into a season of Game Of Thrones, which isn’t filmed too far from here. The magnificent palace in Granada, Spain, and its rise during the fall of the Moorish Empire is a story I chronicled in this photo essay of the Alhambra worth catching up on.

alhambra granada spain

But these pictures from my second trip to Granada are the modern reality of the city you voted the Best City to Visit of 2017


…the Alhambra is still stunning after multiple trips.

alhambra walls

Much like the Taj Mahal, the Alhambra is a popular tourist destination that won’t disappoint you.

alhambra flags

And Granada, like the Alhambra, isn’t any less stunning, intriguing, or damn fun to visit even though you’ve been before.

alhambra maze

Entry to the Alhambra is included in the Granada Card, a tourist pass well worth the small cost for what’s included.

alhambra water fountain

You’ll just need to reserve your entry time the day before when purchasing a Granada Card.

alhambra architecture

Whether you’ve been before or not, this might be how you want to plan your first 96 hours in Granada, a city I’ll have much more on in the coming weeks. For those of you who have been to Granada, what was your travel story? Feel free to share in the comments below!

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More

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Some Of The Best Things I Never Imagined Would Happen: foXnoMad 2017 Highlights

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