Travel Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Travel

You Can’t See The Curve Of The Earth From Your Airplane Seat (Mostly)

We know the Earth is definitely round but the view from your airplane seat at cruising altitude isn’t good proof of it. Using math from the 4th century B.C., the ancient Greeks were able measure the curve of Earth at sea level. Taking those same formulas, it turns out most commercial jets aren’t flying as high respective to the size of the earth as it seems.

You’ve probably seen a curved horizon at 10,000 meters during a flight but as you can see in the video above, it’s not what you think.

How To Check For Hidden Cameras And Microphones In Your Vacation Rental, Hotel, Or Airbnb

Hidden cameras in hotel rooms and Airbnbs are much more common than we’d like to think but common enough that you should do a thorough surveillance sweep before settling in. Most people aren’t bug sweeping security experts though there are a number of lessons you can use from them to find concealed devices that could be recording you.

As you can see in the video above where I went through a rental that had devices hidden in it, knowing what to look for is as important as where.

The Threats

We tend to think of cameras first but hidden microphones can be trickier to detect since they don’t need a line of sight. A simple pen could be a microphone in disguise so don’t easily dismiss many common items. Another favorite for Airbnb owners are USB ports that plug into a wall. Those wall chargers can charge your phone but come with a hidden camera that can be very difficult to notice if you’re not looking for it.

Your own mind is working against you so be familiar with the common threats but don’t assume they’re the only ones. (Stuffed animals, alarm clocks, smoke detectors… there are many possibilities.) To be a good bug sweeper, you have to think creatively.

Visual Inspection

Hidden cameras need a line of sight to get footage. Start with the places someone might want to film, the bedroom, bathroom, and common areas. Look at the angles a lens would need to be placed to film the larger parts of rooms or sensitive areas (near a shower). Walk around, making a careful inspection before you unpack your bags.

airbnb rental

Take a note of shelves, vents, or any cracks in wood panels or otherwise dark hiding places that have a line of sight.

Scan The Network

Once you’ve completed your visual inspection, logon to the rental’s wifi network with your phone. Using Net Analyzer scan to see how many other devices are connecting to the network. Minus you phone and any obvious devices like a smart TV, be weary if there are many more devices than you can account for.

Also note any networks that have a very similar name, for example RentalWifi1 and RentalWifiPrivate. Separate wifi networks could be used to hide surveillance devices from the network you happen to be on and common names could be a clue more than one network is in use.

Now that you’ve narrowed things down visually and wirelessly, the next step is to use a bug sweeper.

Sweep Like A Pro

I’ve written about a consumer grade bug sweeper you can use and how to properly scan with one. Those of you who watched the video above know that these devices do work in real-world situations if used properly and with a careful eye.

Remember to check the policies of the rental you’re staying in and the service you’re using since many allow for common areas to be recorded. (Though they hardly advertise that fact.) Still if you end up finding any surveillance device, get in touch with the company and get as much evidence as you can through photos of your own.

As for your legal options, it’s still a grey area in many districts so be weary of any temporary accommodation, especially before you do a bug sweep.

The Best Way To Unclog Your Ears After A Flight

All of us are familiar with the odd sensation in our ears that occurs during and after a flight. Blocked or “clogged” ears can be a nuisance or even painful but with some preparation plus moderation, nothing that has to ruin your next airplane ride.

Dr. Saba Ghorab has over 14 years of education and specialized surgical training as a board-certified and fellowship-trained in Otolaryngology; Head and Neck Surgery (also known as ENT or ear, nose, and throat). She recently joined an episode of the foXnoMad Podcast and describes how to deal with clogged ears. You can watch a clip here or listen to the full episode below.

Prepare Before You Fly

Having sinuses that are de-congested as much as possible before you fly puts your inner ear in the best condition to deal with pressure changes at altitude. Dr. Ghorab recommends a decongestant spray 15 minutes before your flight, particularly if you’re prone to allergies. Treating any other common sources of congestion or inflammation, like symptoms of a cold, can also help.

Chewing gum and yawning often to physically open the Eustachian tube in your inner ears will help it equalize with the changing pressure as you go up or down in altitude.

Use Moderation

You can (and should) hold your nose and blow to further open your Eustachian tubes but remember not to overdo it. We’ve talked about what can go wrong if you hold your nose and blow as hard as you can so lighter, more frequent attempts are better than one massive attempt. Keep at it, be patient, and don’t force the issue. For most stubborn cases of clogged airplane ears time will usually do its magic eventually, with a little help from you.

Two Great Portable Tripods For Travel Under $100

A good tripod for travel needs to be light but strong while at the same time being collapsible into a small size. Full-size tripods come in all shapes, sizes, and vary widely by price but two tripods under $100 offer a lot for travelers. The Manfrotto Advanced Compact Aluminum and Neewer Carbon Fiber 66-inch have their strengths for both video and photographers hitting the road.

Photography Choice: Manfrotto

The Manfrotto has a light aluminum body with arms divided into 3 sections that are secured with a latch system. The head is a pan and tilt, good especially at set angles, but not as versatile for primarily video shooters. The Advanced Compact Aluminum is a straightforward tripod that weighs 1.42 kilograms (3.13 pounds) and has a maximum height of 165 centimeters (5.4 feet).

The drawback to the use of aluminum legs is that they can’t support a lot of weight when compared to other materials like carbon fiber. A carrying capacity of 3kg (6.6 lbs) might not be a problem depending on your particular gear and if you’re photo first, the Manfrotto Advanced Compact Aluminum is a good choice to consider.

Video Choice: Neewer Carbon Fiber 66-Inch

Although it’s closer to the $100 price mark than the Manfrotto, the Neewer is a lot less expensive than most carbon fiber tripods on the market. The Neewer is light, weighing 1.54kg (3.4 lbs) but can carry an impressive 12kg (26.5 lbs). A ball head gives more flexibility with shooting angles which are easier to work when filming video, plus the Neewer can be setup completely horizontal. A further tribute to its flexible design is the monopod built into one of the legs.

The Neewer might have a few extra bells and whistles but if you’re looking for something simpler, more photography oriented, and at a slightly lower cost the Manfrotto might be better suited to your needs. Of course if you want to go ultra portable the Joby Gorillapod is a much more compact alternative.

Mavic Mini 2 Review: Your Most Commonly Asked Questions Answered

The Mavic Mini 2 is the smallest drone currently in the DJI lineup. Its portability benefits are tangible but are the tradeoffs worth the light weight? If you’ve been eyeing the Mini 2 against its larger cousins in the Mavic line like the Air 2, these are your most common questions, answered.

What’s special about the Mavic Mini 2?

As you can see in my video review here, the Mavic Mini has the footprint of a smartphone and weighs only 249 grams.

Why 249 grams?

It’s the weight just below the requirement for drone registration in many countries. To stay up to date, his map is updated in real-time and DroneMate (Android/iOS) puts all the local laws and regulations in your pocket for offline use.

How does the Mini 2 handle in windy conditions?

The Mini 2 is rated at a level 5 wind resistance, the same as the larger Mavic Air 2 which means it can handle winds up to 28-39 kilometers per hour.

Does the image remain stable?

Yes, you can see some of that footage in the video review, which hasn’t been stabilized in post-production. Basically meaning the steadiness of the shot is both from the Mini 2’s enhanced motors (over the Mini 1) and camera gimbal.

The Mavic Mini 1 is still on sale, should I get it?

No. The Mavic Mini 2 is better is every way and the money savings are minimal.

How does the footage look?

Mike from Drone Supremacy did a comparison you can watch below between the Mavic Mini 2 and the Air 2. Can you tell the difference?

What can’t the Mini 2 do?

It’s a great drone but not perfect. The Mini 2 is missing front facing obstacle avoidance sensors so you’ve got to be extra careful when flying. Also, without front sensors special flight modes like Active Track aren’t possible since the Mini 2 can’t fly around what it can’t see.

Is this the drone to get?

The Mavic Mini 2 is a powerful little drone but a smaller drone means a smaller camera sensor so it doesn’t do particularly well in lower light situations. If camera quality is a priority for you, go with a larger Mavic like the Air 2. However, if you travel frequently, not having to register this drone is a big benefit and being as small as it is, you’ll probably end up bringing the Mini 2 to more places.

The North Face Recon Holds Up After 3 Years Of Wear Without Tear

It’s been 3 years since I originally reviewed the unassuming The North Face Recon backpack. Those of you who follow my Road Tested! series know though the review doesn’t stop once the camera turns off and the article is posted. The North Face Recon is no different and having used this backpack for the past 36 months, it’s impressed me with its physical durability. The design though, still isn’t for everyone.

You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

Hold Up Better Than Well

Typically on a backpack the parts that wear most the those that have contact with the wearer. Especially the straps around the shoulders and the lower part of the backpack since both tend to move most when you’re walking. Against all of that friction the Recon’s spongy mesh holds its bounce and hardly shows its age.

Threading remains threaded without any stray fibers dangling around like a dog’s tongue our a car window. Even the nylon exterior is only as dirty as you are lazy to simply wipe it off with your hand. Given that this backpack costs less than $100, from a durability perspective, you certainly get your money’s worth.

No Changes In Design

Physical durability is one aspect of a products longevity but so is the original design when compared to the newer additions to the backpack market. The North Face Recon still holds its own because it has such a study and straightforward design. On the bigger side of 22 liters, the big front bucket pocket is flexible. You can pack in clothes, books, or electronics or any combination of that or whatever else that fits.

the north face recon backpack review

A large casual open pocket on the front is good for an extra sweater to stuff in but the laptop compartment does eat from some of the usable space inside. The somewhat even design shows what that the Recon is a small backpack made for short day trips but is big enough for minimalist travelers too.

Getting The Best From The Recon

The North Face’s has made a tough turtle shell of a backpack that’s great for school, office, or hiking trips. You can see the Recon was an inadvertent part of the first wave of one bag travel backpacks but that category has passed it by now. Still, if you’re looking for a solid backpack that’s big enough for a weekend trip and solid enough to last years, The North Face Recon is great choice to consider.

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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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