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The Inateck Backpack Is An Aer Knockoff $200 Cheaper And Pretty Good Too

Typically when you’ve got a knockoff – ok, it’s technically not one – but if you look at the Inateck 30L Backpack and compare it to the Aer Travel Pack 2, you get the idea. As I was saying, knockoffs in electronics can often be close to the quality for the price of the brand version. When it comes to physical products like bags however, the drop-off is generally more pronounced. Yes, there are big savings but you sacrifice so much in quality over time, it ends up being more practical to go brand in the long run.

The Inateck 30L bag however, although it’s not as good as the Aer Travel Pack 2, might still have enough to consider, particularly if you want to save $200. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

Gentle Enough

For travelers who don’t demand a lot from their baggage, Inateck’s good but otherwise not outstanding nylon stitching should provide a decent lifetime of use. A little less nylon means the Inateck is lighter too, around 1.5 kilos (3.3 pounds) compared to the 1.7kg (3.7lbs) of the Aer Travel Pack 2. Though the Inateck tends to flop over when it’s not full mainly due to the internal padding being ever so slightly thinner.

inateck 30l backpack

Good Design Cues

Ripping off the design of the Travel Pack 2 (here’s my full review of that bag) and improving on it somewhat is something Inateck has pulled off well. The annoying shoe compartment of the Aer is collapsible in the Inateck, compression straps a bit more manageable, though it’s missing the very handy quick grab pocket that works great for passports.

Unpolished But $200?

Inateck’s 30L backpack is not one I’d trust for a frequent traveler, particularly if you’re going to be throwing this bag around a lot in less than ideal trains, taxis, or dinghy boats. Inteck has cut costs, a lot of them, meaning the zippers are hardly weather resistant, fabric you don’t want to snag, and straps that aren’t as comfortable as they could be. Still, for the different of $200, unless you’re looking for a premium backpack in the Aer Travel Pack 2, the Inateck may do just fine.

A Basic Guide To Negombo, Sri Lanka

negombo sunset

You may not have heard about Negombo, Sri Lanka, but if you’re planning a trip to the capital Colombo, you need to read the next few sentences. Colombo is a bustling city, without a lot of obvious tourist attractions. The activity there is functional, in the way some capitals tend to be; meaning for travelers Colombo isn’t the ideal place to base yourself.

Nearby Negombo on the other hand is by the beach, infused with the culture waves and sand typically carry with them, close enough to Colombo, plus plenty to do on its own. Here’s a short guide to Negombo and why you probably should stay there instead of Colombo.

Where To Stay

The family run 8+ Plus Motels name is not confidence-inspiring but don’t let that discourage you. 8+ Plus Motels is a clean, modern, efficiently run motel (the rooms all face outward into a fenced courtyard area). A fairly hearty breakfast is included and the wifi connection is solid. In case food or Internet connectivity aren’t on the top of your list of priorities, they offer airport pickup, which is nice since the airport is in Negombo. International flights tend to leave in the middle of the night so having a ride arranged makes things easier for travelers who don’t like planning much.

8+ plus motels negombo

Add to that 8+ Plus Motels is less than a 10 minute walk to the beach as well as many of the restaurants and bars along the sleepy main road through town, it’s accommodation I can thoroughly recommend. I’ll add a few more nice features – air conditioning in the rooms, never a shortage of hot water, and complimentary coffee served throughout the day.

Speaking Of Coffee

When you search for good coffee in Negombo, you’ll inevitably come across one of the simplest places to enjoy it – aptly named Zen Cafe. This is the smile that greets you, the coffee is good, and there are plenty of vegan options too if you happen to be lactose intolerant or otherwise.

zen cafe negombo

I’ve heard since I visited Zen Cafe may be under new management but hopefully not a lot will change to the staff, several seats, and table right outside. What makes Zen Cafe so adorable is how relaxed it is, just away from a lot of the action but close enough to people-watch, read, or simply dose yourself with caffeine.

zen cafe negombo

Keep It Simple

This isn’t a full guide (clearly) to Negomobo but why you should probably stay here, rather than Colombo on your next trip. Getting into Colombo is easy enough with public transportation (around 40 minutes) though getting out is the nice part too. The beach at sunset is particularly beautiful. Families come to watch the sun slip under the horizon, get snacks from the stalls, both of which you should do too. One of the better viewing spots is close to Lords Complex Restaurant, a good place to eat around 90-120 minutes before sundown or after, as the evening air cools slightly.

negombo sunset

Colombo is a busy place without much of the balance that Negombo provides to turn the activity level down. Under the radar almost to a fault, many find out about Negombo after they’ve checked into Colombo for a few days. Hopefully you now have in mind to flip that around a bit, spend the days away in Negombo with Colombo being your day trip destination.

8 Reasons An Area 51 Raid Would Fail

You may have heard about that Facebook group with over a million people, claiming they’re going to raid the Area 51 military installation in Nevada to uncover the existence of aliens. Area 51 of course, being that rather not-so-secret facility where some alien bodies and their technology may have been stored after UFOs crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. That’s the rumor anyway.

I’m pretty sure nobody is actually going to show up to Area 51 but as someone who’s been right outside the gates, here’s 8 reasons a raid attempt would go very, very wrong.

1. Area 51 Is Remote

The primary way to get close to the only unmarked gate into Area 51 is off the Extraterrestrial Highway, near Rachel, Nevada nearby. Population: 100. The closest gas station is 100 miles (160 kilometers) and 800,00 cars would probably be stopped before getting remotely close to Area 51.

rachel nevda alien

2. Rough Terrain

Area 51 covers 1,500 square kilometers (~932 square miles) around Groom Lake so you’ll be running a long way over rough desert. There are cactus, large rocks, extreme sun, plus plenty of rattlesnakes along the way. Sprinting across those conditions for long isn’t likely.

area 51

3. You Don’t Know Where You’re Going

The entire area is massive and from the entrance gate in the middle of nowhere, you can’t see any visible structures. Someone raiding Area 51 wouldn’t even know which direction to go.

area 51

4. They Probably Don’t Have A Doorbell

Assuming you did find a structure above ground (who knows how much is underground) how would you get in? Pretty sure they lock the doors. Wouldn’t you if you were hiding aliens? (Not to mention if you did get inside what are you going to do, just run around the hallways hoping to run into Brent Spiner?)

area 51 rachel

5. Cameras

There are a few your can see around the gate, probably a few more not so obvious.

little ale inn nevada

6. Motion Sensors

Being out in the open, a horde of raiders would be hard to miss but even for a single individual, being inconspicuous is nearly impossible. Oh, and motion sensors. Probably.

extraterrestrial highway

7. Mysterious White Vans

As they’ll tell you at the Little Ale Inn in Rachel, you’re free to take pictures of the gate but don’t point your camera at any white vans on either side of the Area 51 border.

black mailbox nevada

8. You Might Be Shot

As they’ll tell you at the Little Ale Inn, every year a few idiots try to get a selfie from just behind the gate. Hey, nobody’s around right? Well, there are clearly eyes on you and this is probably the best case scenario. A gun to the head and being put on the United States terror watch list is setting one step inside – a full on sprint well, things might get dicey.

little ale inn

Look Up Instead

With all those eyes on you, potentially dying, and no evidence of aliens actually being in Area 51, not many of the stars align for a raid. But camping out near the Black Mailbox at night and looking up, who knows what you may see. During my road trip across Nevada, I was buzzed by some fighter jets that didn’t look more than 40 meters above. Not extraterrestrial but an impressive sight nonetheless like these nearly out of this world places.

How To Visit Socotra Island

Socotra is a remote archipelago in the Indian Ocean, inaccessible for the past several years not due to its location, but connection to mainland Yemen. It’s considered a step back in time, untouched by tourism at large and slowly became a wonderland destination for adventurous travelers. Tourism there peaked at 4,000 visitors in 2011, then, less than 4 years later, civil war broke out in Yemen.

Although there’s no fighting anywhere near Socotra Island (370 kilometers from the mainland) getting there since has been virtually impossible. The few companies that did pop up offering tours frequently disappeared – with everyone’s deposits in hand. Now however, there is a reliable way to visit Socotra. Here’s how to get there.

Visas Have Resumed

The primary reason for Socotra’s inaccessibility was the lack of a functioning Yemeni government. Visas weren’t being issued, which prevented airlines from servicing it, equaling no tourism. Recently, enough of a bureaucracy has developed to provide Socotra visas at least, so the main hurdle to visit Socotra has been cleared for now.

dragon blood tree

You’ll need a visa to enter Socotra, which costs $100. There are only two ways to get a visa to Socotra: either know someone on the island (here’s some contact information) or book a tour. A visa to Socotra and flight go hand in hand since you can only get both, in person, from either Cairo, Egypt, or Seiyun, Yemen. As blogger Norbert describes the flights:

It is every Wednesday, departing from Cairo at 3:30 am, arriving at Seiyun at 8:00 am. You spend over an hour on the plane waiting to pick up new passengers and depart at 9:15 am, arriving Socotra at 10:15 am.

For most people, that means getting the flights and visas booked though a tour company as they’ll make the arrangements for you. It’s also worth noting that Yemen will not issue visas to anyone with evidence of a visit to Israel (e.g. entry stamp) in their passport.

Costs To Get There

Norbert recommends the company he used in his post about Socotra, which cost roughly $1400. You’ll also need to add in round trip flights from Cairo (unless you happen to be hanging out in Seiyun), about $1200, plus $100 for the visa. Because flights only operate once per week, any trip to Socotra will be that long.

socotra beach

Keep in mind though, ever since flights have been going to Socotra, they’ve not been entirely reliable. In other words, I wouldn’t book an ongoing flight from Cairo the Thursday after Socotra’s Wednesday flight. Give yourself a buffer week (yes, week) just in case.

What’s Shorter Than Bucket List?

Even despite the somewhat reliable process in place currently to visit Socotra, it’s not the easiest place to get to. But it is worth the effort if you’re interested in seeing a mostly undeveloped UNESCO site with over 500 endemic plant and animal species, before most of the world catches on.

Either by increased tourism or additional flux in Yemen, Socotra’s current natural state is one you might not find for too much longer. More tourists will demand for infrastructure to be built or additional turmoil in the mainland could make Socotra visas hard to come by once more. Whichever happens, one will happen, and if you can visit Socotra before it does, you’ll have the trip of a lifetime.

Bookaway Is A Travel Search Engine For Ground Transportation

bookaway search engine

Purchasing a flight between two countries on opposite sides of the world is often easier than booking ground transportation between two local cities. Bookaway is a travel search engine that tries to help travelers fill in the gaps on the ground but has a few of its own blind spots to work out along the way.

Clarifying Ground Transportation

In short, Bookaway wants to be your search engine for bus, ferry, train, or car travel. Where it works, Bookaway is straightforward. For example, searching for transportation between Split and Hvar, Croatia, yields a number of high speed ferry options. Prices on Bookaway are competitive when compared with independent or using alternative services. Some routes offer a few option filters (e.g. air conditioning) you probably tend to ignore on most flight search engines.

Bookaway though tends to work best in certain regions, most notably southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, and Adriatic coasts. The gaps outside of these areas make finding a booking hit or miss, though one hopes Bookaway adds more destinations as the service expands.

Piecing It Together

The search function on Bookaway is also a little bit wonky – tending to guide you to where it wants, rather than accepting each letter of the search term. What I noticed though is using the suggestions that pop up can save you time since it’s really showing you what’s not available along with the destinations it serves.

bookaway

A map or listing function would work great here, to help you visualize the routes possible. When you’re not too creative plus keep your route fairly local (for example Bangkok to Koh Samui, Thailand) you’re presented with a variety of ways to get to where you want to go. When gaps are present, a bit of guiding by Bookaway would go a long way to improving the user experience.

For Travelers With Cars In Tow

Despite its shortcomings, where Bookaway excels is car transportation. Specifically, if you’re traveling with a rented or your own car, the ferry options Bookaway returns notes boats and trains with car compartments. It’s a niche offering but a large one, particularly for road trips in southern Europe or southeast Asia.

Bookaway isn’t going to be your one stop search engine for all things not in the sky but if you’ve got 4 wheels with you, it can help bridge the gap between destinations. It’s a time-saver in these cases, since for now, a lot of the information blending ferry, train, and car bookings require precise, multiple online searches. Bookaway takes care of that for you while staying up-to-date. Provided Bookaway can fill in its own gaps, it might help you do just that for your particular itinerary as well.

I Durability Tested Seagate’s Backup Plus Hard Drives For 2 Years: Impressive Results

A hard drive’s capacity, disk speed, or physical size are important specs that don’t mean anything if it’s not durable enough to handle traveling with you. Online reviews of new purchases can only tell you so much which is why I took a couple of Seagate 4 terabyte Backup Plus drives with me for a 12 and 24 month Road Tested! review. As you can see in the video above, the results were very encouraging as both drives have survived an intensive travel itinerary.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More


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