Category: Green

Powerstick’s Solar Chargers Hold Up Well Against The Sun, Not The Competition Over 5 Years

When I first received the PowerStick+ and its larger, solar-enabled cousin the PowerTrip, they were at the time impressive. Large capacity batteries able to charge anemic mobiles like the iPhone 5s, with 8GB of storage, and the ability to be topped off by the sun courtesy the PowerTrip’s embedded solar panel.

Two years later, in 2015, I reviewed the PowerStick+ and PowerTrip, whose standby time of 1 year (ability to hold a charge), was still resilient. Fast charging wasn’t as prominent then but 8 hours was becoming a long time to wait for a full battery. Recently I went back to do a Road Tested! review of the PowerTrip 5 years after I first opened the box. It’s held up well, along with the PowerStick, though its price and form-factor seem stuck in the past, when compared to rivals like the under $35 Anker Powercore 13000.

You can watch the full Road Tested! review of the PowerStick chargers in the video above but in short, unless you spend a lot of time in the desert or by the beach, without making use of the solar panels, time might have passed these batteries by for most travelers.

Map Of Recreational Marijuana Laws Around The World (Updated Regularly) So You Can Enjoy Weed Legally

washington monument

This map is now available in app form! GrassFox is available on the App Store and Google Play.

wifox ios app store     wifox google play android
Have you ever visited a new city, caught a strong whiff of something familiar, then thought: I wonder if marijuana is legal here? This is a question I had in Uruguay most recently, since cannabis was being smoked everywhere. At the time Uruguay was the only country to have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. (Hello Canada!) Since then, other countries, cities, states, and various jurisdictions have developed a highly patchwork set of rules that can be confusing for travelers.

The Map Of Recreational Marijuana Laws

Information in the map below shows you where recreational marijuana use is legal, decriminalized, illegal, and all of the restrictions, conditions, plus grey areas from the legal jargon; developed using official sources and updated as the laws change. And although there is a lot of red on the map indicating “illegal”, if you click on any of the icons there are often more details indicating things aren’t quite so cut and dry (check out Spain, for example). Disclaimer time: remember, the map is intended to be used as a guide only, remember you’re responsible for knowing, following, and obey all local laws.

  • Last update: December 10, 2018

Unlike alcohol, which is typically either legal or not, cannabis is most often decriminalized rather than legalized in places with more liberal drug laws. I developed this resource because a lot of places where you might assume cannabis is legal or decriminalized isn’t, much of the information online is simply wrong, or the details from the law poorly interpreted on other websites.

Updates And More Information

Please feel free to leave a comment below or email me if you believe any of the information requires an update or clarification. By making this a collaborative effort the map can help more travelers (often hesitant to ask or relying on local hearsay) understand and obey local cannabis laws.

marijuana graffiti

Be sure to read the details on the entries of the map, including U.S. states, for details. Always assume entries with no data mean cannabis is illegal and don’t equate decriminalization to mean legal. Red entries indicate cannabis is illegal, yellow represents decriminalized, and the green leaf, you guessed it, legal. All of the data is regarding recreational marijuana use, not medical, or other circumstances.

I have also developed an associated app, GrassFox for iOS and Android, that has user experiences travelers can share with each other as well as details on what some grey legal areas look like in practice.

Before You Get High

There are a few things to keep in mind before you go attempt to obtain marijuana anywhere, especially when traveling, that didn’t fit on the map. (More grey areas.) Several countries where marijuana is illegal forbid visitors, citizens, and residents from having used cannabis abroad, even in places it was legal. Additionally, many companies have restrictions on their employees using cannabis. Also, don’t travel with cannabis.

Lastly, in many places shown above where marijuana has been decriminalized, possession may be permitted but purchasing or selling are not. Clearly, never do the latter, and be reasonable. In case all of this has thrown you off, there’s a more widely accepted psychoactive drug that’s a lot easier to find in much of the world.

The Best Things To Do In Las Vegas (That Aren’t Gambling Or Drinking)

Las Vegas has been very successful in marketing itself as the world’s debauchery capital but for people who like being in nature, adventure, and local travel experiences, it’s one of the most interesting cities you can visit. Feel free to add the following to your gambling debt, beer, or sober savings as you wish.

These are the best things to do in Las Vegas, whether you like casinos or not.

1. Hoover Dam

hoover dam

Let’s start small with the massive Hoover Dam, a story and engineering feat not to be missed about 30 minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip. I know, it sounds boring, but I couldn’t wrap my head around how impressive the Hoover Dam is nor can I adequately describe it in words. There are helicopter tours for $75 nearby but the best views from land are a bit down the Colorado River from the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

2. Red Rock Canyon

red rock canyon visit

About 30 minutes in the other direction from the Hoover Dam, the Red Rock Canyon Conversation Area is the nicest way to see nature from your own hop-on-hop-off car ride in a location that would otherwise find a way to kill you. Red Rock Canyon though is set up with a ring road around to all of the most beautiful sights, so you can hike (or not) and take careful selfies while staying comfortably close to air-conditioning. Entry is $15 per vehicle.

3. Star Wars Secrets Of The Empire VR

star wars the void vr

The video at the top of this post doesn’t really convey how immersive this virtual reality experience is. Helmet, gloves, and a large physical space to move around in and you’ll see your friends as storm troopers as you work to solve an intergalactic puzzle. I was completely shocked that VR technology had gotten this advanced, a nice glimpse into the future. The Void has a number of VR experiences inside the Venetian Casino (Ghostbusters and Wreck It Ralph) well worth the $30 for 15 minutes – trust me on that one. Remember, you need to buy tickets at least the morning in advance, here’s the link to purchase.

4. Viva Las Arepas

viva las arepas

Local food that’s not really local but that brings a common Venezuelan quick meal to Las Vegas. Viva Las Arepas has two locations serving arepas, a sort of sandwich on cornbread with several fillings. There are two locations in Las Vegas, both off the strip. Good food, atmosphere, and inexpensive too.

Bonus: Much closer to the Las Vegas Strip, Bonito Michoacan is large portions of tasty Mexican food at very reasonable prices.

5. Sky Combat Ace

Here’s my full review of Sky Combat Ace, an experience that basically lets you be a fighter pilot for 20 minutes. Better yet, check out the video here.

6. Hit The Extraterrestrial Highway

extraterrestrial highway

This is the ultimate road trip I’ve written about before, particularly if you like remote locations, aliens, or general quirkiness that gets you as close as possible to Area 51.

Keep Going High And Low

Las Vegas may have been a lucky spot for the mob but it’s also in the middle of several different, rather untouched landscapes. The Grand Canyon is a roughly 3 hour drive, Death Valley National Park and its incredible salt flats about 2 hours away, plus plenty of cosplay right around August.

What’s nice about Las Vegas itself is it’s like one of the hundreds of buffets in the city – you can pick and choose what you want to do to your liking. For some people, the blackjack table is a part of the course, but don’t worry if you like to drink lots of it or just use vodka as a bug repellent – so long as you don’t indulge before visiting Sky Combat Ace.

ps. Apparently more than a few people have flown hungover and if you vomit in the plane, it’s a $250 or more fine – plus the poor pilot has to take apart the plane and pick out chucks of your breakfast before it’s can be flown safely again. Don’t be that person.

A Map Of All The Places You Can And Can’t Drink The Local Tap Water (Updated In Real-time)

tap water drinkability

This map is now available in app form! FaucetSafe is available on the App Store and Google Play.

wifox ios app store     wifox google play android
Whether or not you can drink the local tap water is a question most travelers will ask themselves at some point but finding reliable online is difficult. Most online resources are either inaccurate or out-of-date and local governments, for political reasons, often claim their tap water is cleaner than it might be. When traveling you don’t want to find out on a toilet the local water is dirty – or on the other hand waste time in stores unnecessarily buying bottled water if the tap H2O is potable.

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: November 16, 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.

These Photos Of Beirut Tell You Nothing And Everything About Lebanon’s Capital

beirut corniche

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.

pigeon rocks lebanon

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 .

beirut

Depending on which way you’re looking at the sea, it can seem as either.

beirut sunset

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.

beirut lebanon

As you feel the touch of perfection, reality nags, leaving you to wonder how, just how does this city work?

beirut pigeon rocks

And work well, all things considered.

beirut coffee

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.

beirut shisha nargile

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.

The Jordan Pass Is A Great Way To Save Money In The Country (And Petra)

amman jordan flag

The Jordan Pass is one of the best discount tourist packages offered in the world but it’s not well advertised. Unfortunately, many travelers learn about the Jordan Pass after they’ve arrived in Jordan or spent $70 entrance to Petra, missing out on a lot of money and time savings.

The Jordan Pass is one of the best tourist discount packages, like Spain’s Granada Card, but in order to take full advantage of it, you’ll need to purchase it before you enter the country.

Includes Visa Entry

There’s one good reason, especially if you’re going to visit Petra, to get a Jordan Pass. But let me start with the obvious bonus all three of the Jordan Pass varieties come with: visa entry fee and shortened entry line at the airport. For Americans and Europeans, plus most other nationals aside from a few neighboring countries, a typical tourist visa costs around $50. The Jordan Pass starts at $99 (70 Jordanian dinar).

jordan pass

Additionally, you’ll get into a shorter line at the airport with a Jordan Pass (for those who already have valid visas) plus save at least 30 minutes from having to go through the process at an immigration desk. You can even save on paper (Jordan is refreshingly good at being green) by simply scanning your Jordan Pass at passport control.

Advantages Even If You’re Petra Only

A single-day entry ticket to Petra is 50JD ($70 USD). So, even if you just use a Jordan Pass to visit the country and see Petra only, it’s saved you $20 already (otherwise it’s around $50 for the tourist visa and $70 for Petra). In fact, the three different Jordan Pass offerings vary only by Petra entry days:

  • Jordan Wanderer ($99): 1 day visit to Petra, 40 other popular sites, tourist visa, digital brochures
  • Jordan Explorer ($106): Same, except has a 2 day Petra entrance ticket
  • Jordan Expert ($113): Same as above, except is a 3 day Petra entrance

Keep in mind to be eligible for the tourist visa entry fee, your trip to Jordan must be at least 3 nights (4 days).

Now you might be wondering who would want to visit Petra 2 or 3 times but it might surprise you that Petra is a lot bigger than most people expect. It’s an entire ancient town spread over dozens of square kilometers. Many travelers stay in town for a few days to explore Petra a section at a time due its size. Others, who only get a day ticket, arrive the night before so they can get in at 6am before the vast majority of the crowds. (It’s not too bad if you’re running late though, here’s how crowded Petra gets at peak hour.)

Plan For The Pass

A Jordan Pass is an instant money saver if you’re only going to visit Petra. You’ll cut costs on Petra and a tourist visa, but even those who are visa exempt or not planning on seeing Petra will likely save because the Jordan Pass includes 40 other sites as well. The Jordan Pass covers places like Wadi Rum you’ll probably want to see – just remember to keep the pass on your phone and ask any site you enter if you’re unsure.

Discount cards, like the JR Rail Pass for Japan, can be a great for your travel budget but Jordan Pass included, often have to be purchased in advance of your trip to make use of the full benefits.

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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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