Category: Travel

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.

What’s The Best Mavic Drone To Buy Right Now?

A few weeks ago I answered the question on whether the original DJI Mavic Pro drone was still worth buying in 2018. At the time, there was no new Mavic Pro to compare it to and the 2016 original was still the ideal drone for travelers. Earlier this month, DJI announced the Mavic Pro 2 and the Mavic 2 Zoom, making the question is the Mavic 1 still worth buying even more relevant.

For those of you considering a drone to take on your travels, I break down the differences between the Mavics and compare them to the entire DJI lineup in the video above or you can read on below.

New Drones Simplified

The simplest way to break down the new Mavic lineup is to start with the Mavic original and the Mavic Zoom. They’re very similar drones except the Zoom has a 24-48mm lens you can use to get even closer to your subject. The sensor of the camera is the same size as the Mavic original and if you scroll down the spec sheet, there aren’t a lot of major differences. I’m talking at a high-level of course but if you look at the Zoom and Mavic Pro, it’s the zoom feature all the way.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Drone Quadcopter with 24-48mm Optical Zoom

buy from amazon

Now the Mavic 2 Pro is something different. Better camera? Yes. And a much bigger, full one inch sensor (vs 1/2.3in) that has a color profile of a billion (vs 16 million)? Yes. In terms of the actual, physical drone, the Mavic 2 Pro is a lot like the original Mavic but the Hasselblad camera and internal hardware makes it clear DJI wanted to focus on a major improvement in video quality.

Physically, all of the Mavics have folding arms although the new Mavics weigh around 900 grams, 200 more than the Mavic 1. The newer Mavics are also quieter thanks to more efficient motors and have a 31 minute flight time whereas the Mavic 1 is only 27 minutes.

drone down

Pricing Points

Both Mavic 2s are improvements to the original Mavic. They’ve got better specs but higher prices as well – DJI didn’t drop the price of the Mavic 1 (still $999) and the Zoom runs $1249, the Mavic 2 Pro $1499. Those are odd decisions in pricing, because generally new tech products tend to maintain price points, especially when you consider both Mavic 2s are refinements, not revolutions in drone technology.

To Mavic Or Not To Mavic

Given the price points, DJI seems like they’re marketing these new Mavics to people who are primarily interested in videography. Obviously all drone owners, to an extent, care about video quality but it looks like they’re drawing a line at the Mavic Air. The Mavic Air and all of the DJI lineup below it are for people who want advanced selfie cameras and to take some fun videos occasionally – beyond the Mavic Air it’s everyone who’s more serious about video. In other words, if you’re planning to use Final Cut Pro to edit all of your drone videos into sleek YouTube videos, you should probably look at the Mavic Pro and beyond.

At $1499, the Mavic 2 Pro is bumping prices with the Phantom series where big drones begin. Unless video quality is your primary concern, you might want to take a look at the Mavic Air. As far as Mavic Pros go, the original is still an excellent 18 month old drone with a very current price.

The Osprey Sojourn 60L Is Nearly Everything Right With Luggage

Most luggage seems like it’s better designed to look good in a storefront than actually be used for traveling. Considering how bags are handled by airline staff, generally overstuffed, and often too heavy to avoid fees, you would hope someone would make a bag that’s light and durable – not to mention sleek and efficient.

osprey sojourn 60 literOsprey Sojourn Wheeled Luggage (25-Inch/60 Liter, Metal Grey)

amazon buy now

The Osprey Sojourn 60L is a piece of luggage that, if you’ll let me be cliche for a moment, actually seems like it was designed by travelers, for other travelers. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s how I feel about the Sojourn 60L. You can watch my entire review of the Sojourn 60L luggage in the video above (after 8 years of wear and tear) or read on to find out why I think it’s so great.

To Roll Or Carry

There are two reasons I initially considered the Sojourn 60L. The first is the Sojourn 60L is wheeled luggage that can be used as a backpack; the second reason is because it’s just at the limit of what most airlines consider carry-on size. As it turns out, using wheel luggage is a lot more efficient when you carry two bags (no double-turtle shell) and the Sojourn 60L looks too big for airline staff except on the largest of planes.

sojourn 60L

In other words, I’ve hardly ever used the Sojourn 60L as a backpack and don’t usually bother entering a debate with airline staff by not attempting to bring it as carry-on. Despite not really meeting my two first expectations, my experience with the Sojourn 60L has given me a new checklist for every bag after.

Selective Size

Like a gas, you’ll end up filling most of the empty volume within a given bag, no matter how large it is. A bag that’s too small will increase pressure on the person packing, terrified they won’t pack enough. Scale the bag up to 90 liters and now you’ve got pressure on your arms, back, mind, and baggage fees. 60 liters seems to be a size that’s spacious but conservative enough to force yourself to pack wisely.

sojourn 60l osprey

Two internal compression straps can be used to secure and tighten your packed clothes, which not only keeps the Sojourn physically smaller, but reduces stress on the seams. There are two external straps as well, which also redirect a lot of the pulling that ends up destroying most luggage over time.

8 Years And Going

All of those design efforts, the compression straps, exterior stitching, and selectively used hard plastic are probably what’s made the Sojourn 60L so durable. I’ve been using the Sojourn 60L in the video for 8 years and it’s in great shape. I don’t plan on replacing it any time soon and considering I travel several times per month, I suspect it might last much longer for most people.

Knowing all of this now, the Sojourn 60L has certainly earned its price. Osprey sells the Sojourn 60L for around $250, which isn’t inexpensive but given its durability, is a good investment for frequent travelers. On top of that (literally) the Osprey Daylite day pack [full review here] attaches to the Sojourn; given how well that’s held up after a year, it’ll probably last forever too.

You Can Fly Stunt Planes In Las Vegas: A Review Of Sky Combat Ace

Las Vegas is a city of experiences and if flying in the highest performance-certified aerobatic aircraft is your type of adventure, then you need to plan a visit to Sky Combat Ace. There’s a lot more in the video above but in short, imagine being flown in a stunt plane by a former jet fighter pilot, flipping and doing tricks for 15-20 minutes. Or playing laser tag with your friends as you fly an Extra 330 in a virtual dog-fight. Those are some of the types of rides you can choose, starting at $300. The Sky Combat Ace website describes their adventures as intense roller-coasters but let me tell you, there’s no comparison.

There are a few ways to save on the price, plus the complete review and other Sky Combat Ace tips, in my video Flying Stunt Planes in Las Vegas.

20 Random Facts About Traveling In Airplanes

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2018.

air travel facts

Over the years, I’ve covered a lot of about air travel here, from surviving plane crashes to letting you know how terrible United’s business class is. But this is Geek Takeover Week so I wanted to take some of the more interesting and obscure facts sprinkled throughout thousands of posts, boil them down, and offer a highly concentrated dose you can shoot right into your neurons.

These are 20 random facts you might not have know about traveling by plane.

1. Fear of flying is called aerophobia.

2. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States limits commercial airline pilots to 1,000 hours of flight time per year.

3. 76% of people involved in plane crashes survive.

4. This is what those marshaling signals mean:

marshalling signals air travel

5. There are secret seats on planes you can reserve.

6. The average passenger plane angles up 12.5 degrees during takeoff.

7. Commercial flights often begin their descent 90 minutes prior to reaching their destination.

8. During an average 8 hour flight, time dilation causes you to be .0000003 seconds in the future compared to people on the ground.

9. 80% of plane crashes occur during the first 3 minutes and last 8 minutes of a flight.

10. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner’s engines are powerful enough to allow it to fly straight up.

11. Frequent flyers have about a 1 in 20,000 chance of dying in a plane crash.

12. Germans are the most internationally traveled people in the world.

13. A trip across the Atlantic Ocean is 9,000 times safer than it was in 1918.

14. People who survive the initial impact of a plane crash, yet still lose their lives, do so because they try to take their carry-on luggage with them.

15. Sitting any further away than 5 rows from any exit row greatly reduces your chances of surviving a plane crash.

16. People taking flights of 4 hours or more are more than 3 times likely to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

17. The FAA has a tool you can use to calculate how much ionizing radiation you’re exposed to on a given flight.

18. Layovers shorter than 24 hours don’t count as an extra stop on a plane ticket.

19. The busiest airport in the world is Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta.

20. Passenger planes bank a maximum of about 30 degrees during a turn.

  • And here’s a bonus fact for you: on average, there are roughly 500,000 people in the sky, traveling in planes, at any given time!

The list goes on in the posts linked above if you want to learn more details. For even more knowledge, here’s 8 peculiar facts about Moldova, things you probably didn’t know about Egypt’s pyramids, and 10 (surprisingly) interesting facts about Porto’s bridges.

How Much Does The Average Passenger Plane Angle Up During Take Off?

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2018.

madrid airport

You might have wondered as the wheels of the jumbo jet you’re in gently leave the ground how high up the nose of your plane is angled up. What feels like a fairly mild angle when you’re inside the plane looks like a mild airshow stunt when you’re watching from the ground, so, how much does a typical passenger plane angle up during take off?

Caveats Away

Let’s start but clarifying the answer is a detailed, “it depends.” Details, by pilot standards, are important, as in i.e. not crashing. For our purposes though, we can generalize. Your plane’s angle going up (called the “angle of attack”) varies by the size of the plane, engine power, wind, and load on the aircraft. Those are some of the physical considerations but then there are also practical ones. Airport traffic is one example; and the reason flights often begin descent 320 kilometers (200 miles) from their destination.

sky combat ace

Angle At A Time

Planes slowly angle up during take off at about 2-3 degrees per second for a Boeing 747. A bit of quick math and using the same Boeing 747 as an example, the average passenger plane has a maximum take off angle of about 10-15 degrees. That’s well within the plane’s tolerances of course. (The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner can go almost straight up.) Much like the 30 degree turns most jumbo jets max out at though, angles are kept moderate to make you feel most comfortable, save on fuel, and be as safe as possible.

Nothing More Than Feelings

The angle of attack will feel more pronounced depending on where you’re sitting in the plane. Up in business class on a larger airplane gives you the sensation of a steeper angle, closer to the wings and it will feel less pronounced. Though now you’ll know really what that angle is, giving you more time to calculate time dilation from traveling so fast and far from Earth. For (still) nervous flyers, these 7 plane crash facts might make you feel better. Or not.

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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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What’s The Best Mavic Drone To Buy Right Now?

The Osprey Sojourn 60L Is Nearly Everything Right With Luggage

You Can Fly Stunt Planes In Las Vegas: A Review Of Sky Combat Ace

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