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The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament Round Of 64: Voting Begins Now!

best city to visit 2020

The Best City to Visit Travel Tournament 2020 is determined by your votes all throughout March. This Round of 64 is a very quick one – all you have to do is pick your favorite 32 cities below.

You have until this Wednesday, March 4th 10:00am US EST (-5 GMT) to vote for your favorite cities.

The voting format for this round is a bit different than in years past. Although the cities are competing directly against one another as shown in the bracket above, I decided to make voting easier by letting you choose 32 from the list below. The cities with the most votes versus their match up move on to the next round which begins on Thursday.

Vote Below

I’m the official tie-breaker in every round in case any two cities end up with the same number of votes. Remember, the next Round of 32 begins this Thursday, March 5th! Good luck everyone and everywhere!

5 Things Tourists Do To Offend Locals And How To Avoid Them

kathmandu monkey temple

Travelers don’t usually want to offend the people living in the places they’re visiting but despite your best intentions it’s possible to piss off the locals without meaning to. As travelers, it’s often the things you don’t do that can get you into trouble and make you feel more like an invader than a tourist.

You don’t want to leave your new favorite city or country feeling guilty about being an unintentional jerk. Fortunately these mistakes made by travelers novice and experienced alike are easy to avoid if you keep a few things in mind.

1. Neglecting to Learn the Local Customs

beirut lebanon

Most seasoned travelers figure they’ll just pick up the culture through observation as they go along. While you don’t need to take an anthropology course before venturing to a new place, brush up on the local faux pas. Know the basics like not putting your feet up in front of others in some places, the difference between “peace” and this, or throwing the OK sign in Brazil for example.

2. Criticizing Home

sydney australia

Going to other countries and saying how much you hate where you came from without a good word to say is a quick way to get under some peoples’ skin. Some travelers think they’ll endear themselves to the locals, especially if they’re not as well off as you, but that can make you sound demeaning, spoiled, or blind to the realities around you. If you don’t appreciate where you are from it’s hard to appreciate where you’re going.

3. Bringing Up Sensitive History

wagah border ceremony

Learning more about a nation’s history is a good way to learn about a culture before you encounter it yet doesn’t mean locals interpret events as you’ve read them. It’s best to listen to the locals talk about war, politics, and national figures as they bring it up rather than dictate. Use your best judgement when asked your opinions but be mindful of local sensitivities and remember expressing some views (for locals and foreigners alike) may even be dangerous depending where you’re traveling.

4. Not Going Along With It

scottish highlands

One of the best ways to adapt to a culture is to immerse yourself in it and go with the flow. Don’t resist bargaining, thinking it’s only done when someone is trying to rip you off, or get upset by varying personal space around the world. Being invited to someone’s home for a meal is a gesture of respect anywhere in the world, be sure to take a bite of all the food. Going along with the flow begins with what I mentioned in above: knowing what the customs are to go with the flow to.

5. Assuming It’s All The Same

red rock canyon

A surefire way to piss off a local is to say that their (country, culture, people, etc.) are “basically the same” as somewhere else. The more you travel the more you realize how similar we all are – still the Norwegians aren’t just Swedes living in a different country. Customs also differ regardless of physical distances; don’t assume a nearby town is as liberal as the beach resort you are staying at so dress and act appropriately.

Other Potential Offenders

  • Not knowing any of the local language – This varies but a traveler should always learn these 6 basic words: hello, goodbye, please, thank you, yes, no. Here’s one of the fastest ways to catch up on the local tongue.
  • Treating locals like 2nd class citizens of their own country – Don’t talk down to anyone or be the all-knowing traveler.
  • Not trying some of the local cuisineYuck, gah, gross, and reactions like these at first sight or smell limit your experience as a traveler as well as offend. Give it a try, you might like it.

Don’t Get Offended Yourself

In every new place you visit there will be customs you are unaccustomed to, individuals who give the locals a bad name, and travelers who’ve made these mistakes above potentially giving you a bad name! If you’ve done your basic research and committed yourself to immersing just a bit while respecting the locals, you won’t be likely to offend anyone. Some rules that apply globally: be kind, thoughtful, and open-minded.

Best of all you’ll end up being a good ambassador for other travelers but your fellow compatriots back home as well.

This is an updated version of a post I originally shared for a now-defunct travel blog in 2009.

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament 2020: Win $500 With Your Pick

best city to visit 2020

Tell me your favorite city in the world to visit in the comments below this post and you’ll be entered to win $500. The Best City to Visit Travel Tournament is an annual contest that begins with 64 cities and through the month of March, readers vote until there is only 1 left.

The person who selected the winning city will receive $500 and simultaneously set a plan for me to visit that winning city sometime in 2020.

How To Enter

Scroll down to the comments below this post and write a city and country *that has not already been selected* before Sunday, February 29, 11:59pm US EST (-5 GMT). Selections are first come, first serve and I’ll do my best to keep you updated on whether you need to choose an alternate.

Tournament Rules

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament is a round robin style competition, with voting taking place on every week during the month of March.

Important Dates

Once you enter a city, there’s nothing you have to do… but remember, voting for yourself isn’t a bad idea. These are the days in the coming weeks to make note of:

  • Tuesday March 3, 2020: Round of 64
  • Thursday March 5, 2020: Round of 32
  • Tuesday March 10, 2020: Sweet 16
  • March 17, 2020: Elite 8
  • March 24, 2020: Final 4
  • March 31, 2020: Championship

Check back on this page every Tuesday for each new round. I’ll also post updates on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, April 7th and the prize will be delivered electronically by Friday July 24, 2020.

best city 2020

Terms And Details

The $500 gift card prize will be sent as a gift card that can be used on the Apple or Amazon online stores. Depending on where you are in the world, there may be other online stores available as options.

  • More retailers may also be added; or those above modified at any time before the end of the tournament – gift cards must be for the full $500 prize amount and cannot be split among stores, transferred into cash, and will be sent to the email you use in the comments section to choose your city.

In previous years, the winners have all generally used these tactics to their success which I recommend you check out to advance far in the contest. Also, since there are quite a few dates to keep up with – the best way not to miss anything is to get my posts sent directly to your inbox or subscribe to my newsletter. Best of luck to everyone and please let me know if you have any questions!

What Are eSIMs? Easy Mobile Internet For Travel

This post was sponsored by Airalo who wanted me to share with you the benefits of eSIMs using their service. [What is this?]

The latest version of mobile SIM cards make it easy to get data plans around the world through an app – and it may already be built into your phone. eSIMs are the next generation of subscriber identity modules that differ from plastic and gold physical SIMs by being software based.

What this means for international travelers is getting mobile data from country to country is as easy as a few clicks using Airalo.

How eSIMs Work

You’re probably familiar with standard SIM cards, that piece of removable plastic you slide into in a slot on your phone. eSIMs serve the same function – to identify your phone to mobile networks – but eSIMs are physically embedded in your phone’s hardware. When you need to change your SIM, say, for when you’re visiting France from Canada, instead of swapping out a SIM card, all you need to do is open an app.

Benefits For Travelers

Some of the immediate up sides to eSIMs is you don’t need to go to a physical shop or deal with local restrictions. All you have to do is go to an eSIM provider like Airalo, which has plans in over 100 countries worldwide. Set up an account with Airalo, then download their app and choose your next destination. You’ll be presented with a variety of (mostly) data plans, which vary by duration and total data (e.g. 3GB).

airalo esim

You do need to do all of this while you have a wifi connection but otherwise you can get all the cards you’ll need ahead of your travels. Airalo even provides regional eSIM cards such as Europe plus you can keep your original SIM card active if you want, for example, to get calls on one line but use data with the other.

Convenient Service, Quirky Setup

Because eSIMs are fairly new (only working with these latest flagship phones) mobile operating systems make installing an eSIM clunky at best. Once you’ve purchased your eSIM from a provider like Airalo, you’ll be presented with a QR code you need to scan from your phone. In other words, you can’t install the eSIM using only the Airalo app since you need to scan the QR code from your mobile’s cellular settings.


The most obvious options are to point your phone at your laptop to scan the code after logging into your Airalo account. Taking a picture of the code displayed on your phone with another phone (what are travel buddies for) and scanning that, or using two mirrors in a hotel room has also worked for me.

No More Airport SIM Stops

There are other issues like having to change APN codes which will be too much hoop jumping for users who aren’t too tech-savvy. Despite these issues eSIM services are getting better but the technology is already the best option for travelers. You no longer have to wait in airport lines for mobile data when you can have Internet right when you land. Using Airalo is a bit more expensive than purchasing a local SIM and phone numbers aren’t available for most plans; however the convenience means you probably won’t bother with physical cards again.

Prevent People From Snooping Your Screen With A Laptop Privacy Filter

This is a sponsored post written by me Sponsored by 3M All opinions are 100% mine.

I use a privacy filter on all my screens so when 3M got in touch for this sponsored partnership it was a good opportunity to share the benefits with you. [What is this?]

3m privacy filter

We’ve all had the experience of people looking over our shoulder on the metro, bus, or planes, curious to see what we’re looking at on our phones. With smaller devices it’s easy to turn a shoulder but for laptops, keeping your screen private is more difficult, especially when traveling.

There are a lot of good reasons to keep the contents of your screen hidden from shoulder surfers sitting next to you on a plane: business travelers to keep important documents confidential, regulatory requirements in your field, and developers working on code. Disclosure of any of those, not to mention your passwords, name (when logging on to social media), can all be easily prevented with a privacy filter.

What’s A Privacy Filter?

These are like screen protectors placed on your laptop screen, except the 3M™ Privacy Filter limits the viewing angles. Basically the contents of the screen are only visible from one angle – right in front. People sitting next to you at a cafe or standing in an airplane aisle won’t be able to see your screen. You can watch the effect in the video below to see how even a screen image at full brightness disappears when you move a bit to the side.


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A post shared by Anil Polat (@foxnomad) on

15 Second Installation

The collaborative nature of a laptop – it can be your business work space or television in one – means you don’t want to always restrict your screen for your eyes only. To make using a laptop privacy filter practical, 3M developed its 3M™ COMPLY™ Attachment System. For people who don’t want to stick anything to their screen, the way the 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System works is by using two adhesives to the exterior or your laptop. Fast, and easily removable without residue if needed, you can see in the video below how the 3M™ COMPLY™ Attachment System allows you to simply flip a privacy filter up or down as needed.

3m privacy filter

What I like about the 3M™ Privacy Filters is they’re designed (with a feature called 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System) so you can get switch between private viewing and sharing with little effort if needed. You might be on a flight and want to share your screen with a friend or have a meeting where a privacy filter might hinder your group’s view.

Worth The Effort?

You may be thinking whether or not a privacy filter is excessive but if you travel for business in particular, it can help maintain your company’s proprietary information. Digital nomads or other small, independent business owners, the same goes for you. A displayed password, code snippet, or other personal information caught at a glance by a shoulder surfer could cause you potential headaches a 3M ™ Privacy Filter can prevent. The 3M™ COMPLY ™ Attachment System is an elegant way to implement a laptop privacy screen in a way that you’ll actually use it in multiple situations and is a portable, effective, and inexpensive way to maintain your privacy on the road.

How Long It Takes To Get To The New Istanbul Airport

Getting to and from different parts of Turkey’s largest city to the new Istanbul Airport (IST) isn’t as convenient as it was from the former major airport in town. Planning a visit through IST is a lot easier though when you know how to get there and the time it takes to do so.

You can see the best times to get to Istanbul Airport in the video above or read on.


Traffic in Istanbul could be called punishment instead since most of the time that’s what it feels like. However, if you’re fortunate enough to have a flight in the late evening or early morning hours (10pm-7am) a ride from the European side of the city to Istanbul Airport will take roughly 30-45 minutes with a taxi. From the Asian side, add an extra hour to be absolutely sure you’ll make it to the airport on time.

ortakoy mosque istanbul

For all other hours of the day, add an extra hour of drive time to get to the airport. You may get lucky with traffic but to be absolutely sure, those are the minimum amount of times you’ll need just to get to IST.

Once There

Keep in mind at IST you’ll go through security before entering the airport, then after passport control, with a third check likely before your gate. Checking in as well, plus the security checks is a 45 minute process at non-peak hours – at all other times add an hour to this.

Adding it all up at non-peak traffic hours, you can comfortably leave for IST Airport 2.5 hours before your flight from the European side, 3.5 hours from the Asian side. During most of the day though you’ll have to add an hour to both times. So, if you’re flight is at 4pm, from the European side you’ll want to leave around 12:30pm. From the Asian side, 12pm is a safe bet.

Ride And Security

You almost never need to arrive at an airport 3 hours before your flight, two is usually sufficient. That’s the case at IST as well, but since traffic and the added security checks can take a while, calculate so you’re walking through the front door 2 hours before takeoff. Besides, if you get there early, you can enjoy using the free wifi with this hack.