Category: Travel

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.

This Is A Great Time To Be Alive, So Why Are So Many People Checking Out?

travel selfies

A select few people in the world have the luxury of traveling wherever they want, working remotely, and living in the top 1% of the world. For those of you wondering, if you earn more than $34,000 annually, that’s you. The remote part isn’t everyone of course, yet watch enough YouTube or read enough blogs and you’ll find there are more people selling a particular lifestyle than can actually live it.

Reminds me of a story I heard once about someone who wrote a book on how to be a millionaire for $1, with a single page that reads, sell a book for $1 to a million people. The truth is though, for some non-insignificant number of people, including myself, the world is a video game of adventure. Pick a place, go, stay for a while, live, explore, enjoy life. But then why are so many people depressed?

Lens Distortion On And Offline

The reason I’m writing this is because not only is YouTube burnout a thing but a lot of bloggers I know have experienced the same. Suicide rates have been rising sharply in the United States (the trend is reversed across Europe) although undoubtedly depression is a worldwide issue. The world has become a smaller place it seems but the connection portal is a very singular one.

Traveling now is screen-hopping for a lot of people – moving a lens or laptop screen from one place to the other. Sharp, illuminated pixels on top of destinations which have become a blurry background. As the viewer, if you’re not seeing the same thing, there’s an unintentional connotation that you’ve missed, or are missing, something.

blurry travel photo background

The problem is the wide-angle lens. As Dan Harmon puts it,

“…the knowledge that nothing matters, while accurate, gets you nowhere. The planet is dying, the sun is exploding, the universe is cooling, nothing’s gonna matter; the further back you pull the more that truth will endure. But when you zoom in on Earth, when you zoom in to a family, when you zoom into a human brain and a childhood and experience, you see all these things that matter.

Knowing the truth, which is that nothing matters, can actually save you in those moments… Once you get through that terrifying threshold of accepting that, then every place is the center of the universe and every moment is the most important moment and everything is the meaning of life.”

You can lose sight of that through a screen.

Travel Entertainment

A lot of people look happy online but most are exaggerated caricatures of cartoonish enthusiasm. They’d never say so, lest hurt their brand, and the illusion can take creator and the consumer somewhere they shouldn’t be. Our interactions have moved from being connections to becoming a commodity. A larger majority of people are taking to Instagram or blogging to becoming “influencers” – but what are they influencing us to do or feel?

amman jordan cafe

Cocktails at the beach are fun occasionally. Online it looks like everyone is drinking at the beach all the time. They’re not. And if they are, they probably should seek some help. (Don’t judge me.) Before any kind of post goes up remember whoever is posting probably asked themselves 50 times first, how can I get the most people to click on this?

A lot of the time, the answer sounds like, “it’s so wonderful how cheap so and such place is!” (Or butts. Butts work too.) Few want to talk about why it’s that way, that many digital nomads are benefiting from centuries of colonialism working with corporations who promised they’d do no evil.

Simple Truths

Because, if you’re at the bottom looking up, it’s game you can’t escape. You’ve got to join knowing you’re being sandbagged by an opponent you won’t beat while they play by different rules. For us lucky ones, philosophically, when you look at the league it’s a game that doesn’t have to be.

The servers running this website, Facebook, the Internet are polluting the world rapidly to a point where it might not be able to sustain human life and… well, it’s all become overwhelming. Everyone is happy, with a nice butt, drinking endless cocktails at the beach, why am I the only one thinking about this?

You’re not. I’m not.

All of it seems daunting until you remember some truths traveling can teach you: people are fundamentally good. We could all be a little nicer to each other. All lifestyles have their good and bad. To someone somewhere in the world, what you’re doing, where you’re living, the food on your dinner plate, is exotic.

andorra cafe

Be wary of anyone trying to sell you a map to a destination you can only get to in your head. There is no set path and sunsets look beautiful everywhere. You can travel around the world a million times but without putting the camera down or looking away from the screen, you’ve not moved very far past a self-imposed border. Consciously reminding yourself the border is there, whether you’re behind the camera or in front of it, helps you see the world with fresh eyes. And actual human eyes.

Traveling doesn’t solve all of your problems and staying put doesn’t entirely cause them either. Your urge to move or not and whether you do or not is the only measuring stick that matters. In the end, there’s an invisible distance between your ears that needs to be traversed – and that journey never ends. Nobody has found the destination, we’re all just wanderers in our own heads. Don’t forget to focus on that trip, no matter where the road takes you.

Please, now enjoy a drink of your choice, on me… photos of it, optional.

Ultra-Portable Microphone For Traveling Vloggers Who Want Better Audio Is Just OK

People walking through airports with a phone in their face recording or live-streaming about how great airports are with a eerily exaggerated enthusiasm isn’t an uncommon sight, but no matter your particular vlogging style, audio on a phone is tricky to manage. Mobile phone mics tend to pick up much of the ambient noise so if you’re planning to upload travel videos you’re recording live, the MiracleSound Lavalier Mic might be a good fit for you. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

Who The MiracleSound Is For

First off, people who have a headphone jack or are willing to deal with dongles. The MiracleSound Lavalier Mic is a corded microphone that attaches to a lapel or anywhere on your clothing about 10 inches below your mouth. There are obvious audio benefits for traveling vloggers but if you’re thinking this might be a good way to improve the audio of your FaceTime calls I’ve got bad news for you. For pretty much every phone, once you plug the MiracleSound in, you’ll be able to record with the microphone, but not hear from the speakers. It becomes a one-way conversation with this MiracleSound device.

miraclesound lavalier micMiracleSound Lavalier Mic

buy from amazon

Good… Sort Of

The Lavalier Mic is compact, a certain benefit for portability and the cord isn’t too obnoxious. But it’s there and for a lot of newer phones that means dongle time. A cute little miniature wind screen also does a decent job of cutting out, well, wind noise, leaving your voice with a grainy, somewhat over-condensed sound. Nothing terrible but not great either, although it’s certainly an improvement in many cases over a mobile phone’s built-in mic.

Recording On A Budget

For $20, the MiracleSound Lavalier Mic might work as a starter microphone for vloggers wanting to step up their audio game. Keep in mind this is designed for phones, if you’re carrying around a large DSLR like the Panasonic Lumix G85, you definitely need something like the Rode VideoMicro. The MiracleSound Lavalier Mic seems like it’s aging out of modern technology with improved phone microphones but for now, it still has a small place for budding travel vloggers.

Where To Travel When You Don’t Know Where To Go

fethiye pool

I’m often asked: “where’s your favorite place?” It’s hard to pick favorites, I’ve got favorite beaches, cafes, cold places, cities to spend a lot of time in, places that are perfect for 48 hours. The answer changes over time but each time I’m asked, the answer is refined just a bit.

A work in progress subject to change though if cornered into giving a generic list of places to visit, to someone who’s ready to take a trip but not sure where to go, these are some of the places I would recommend. In no particular order, consider it a destination buffet for you to pick and choose from.

1. Edinburgh, Scotland

edinburgh scotland

A small city, whose center looks like it’s straight out of Harry Potter, with a climate of comforting mist that’s turbulent enough not to get boring. The food is hearty but if it’s not to your liking then perhaps the whisky will be. A surprising number of bartenders know a lot about the fermented grain drink which blends food with history and of course, good conversation.

2. Montevideo, Uruguay

montevideo food

There’s something in the air in Uruguay’s capital city, including marijuana smoke since pot is legal, fitting nicely with Montevideo’s artistic leaning. Relatively safe for a South American capital city, Uruguay beyond Montevideo is easily accessible by rental car along well-maintained roads. There’s a booming culinary scene and one of the best bars with live music anywhere.

3. Berlin, Germany

berlin silhouette

Ah Berlin. Have you ever been to a city that made you say its name like it was an idea, every time? Berlin takes all of the organization of Germany, leaves out some of the rough edges, and is as classy (or not) as you want to make it. Of course, momo man is there every Thursday night in Kreuzberg, the center of Berlin’s Turkish community.

4. Tbilisi, Georgia

tbilisi georgia

It’s surprising more people aren’t visiting here but in a way, that makes a trip to Georgia’s capital city feel more like you’ve got the city to yourself. There’s an invisible threshold for every city that turns it from an authentic experience into a version of tourism Disneyland and Tbilisi isn’t close to it…yet.

5. Kyoto, Japan

kyoto golden pavilion temple

Everything in Japan feels different but familiar, leading you to the conclusion that in many ways, reflections of human culture are arbitrary. Taking a train from Tokyo using this purchasing trick, you leave behind a city that looks like Times Square however is clean, relatively quiet, and doesn’t have the ever-present odor of urine. The whole world could look like Kyoto but it doesn’t, one of the reasons traveling is so compelling. Here’s a local’s guide to Kyoto.

6. One Moment Please

airplane wing photo

At this point in the list, I’m realizing there are so many places I could add, like everywhere on this list too. This is the inherent problem with these types of lists I mentioned above, so let’s wrap up with some a la carte options to pick and choose from.

7. Beirut, Lebanon

The name Beirut might immediately cause a good portion of you to back off of the idea but give me a moment. Beirut is truly a special city that might be a reflection of humanity. Practically, Beirut is also where you’ll find arguably the world’s best falafel and views like these. Lebanon’s capital is more accessible and safe than many presume it to be – you don’t have to be an adventurous person to enjoy Beirut.

8. Seattle, USA

very first starbucks

The drive from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport into Seattle is one of the most beautiful introductions you can have to a city. Winding roads around mountains at the feet of large evergreen trees, in the distance Puget Sound, the first Starbucks, Pike Place Fish Market, plus one of the most interesting interactive museums in the world. Also, it rains more per year in New York City, in case you were worried about the weather. (Seattle just spreads the rain out over the year.)

9. Still Searching?

This list gets less useful the longer it goes on, too many ideas makes it more difficult for you to narrow things down. In short, let me mention Iceland in the winter, Mexico here, here, and here, and of course two time Best City to Visit winner Granada, Spain.

granada science park museum

I could go on but I haven’t been everywhere, which is why large parts of Africa are missing and some popular southeast Asian destinations are absent. The list above represents places that are great overall travel destinations, relatively stable, safe, with good food, infrastructure, and plenty to do. In case you’re looking for a larger assortment of cities to choose from, take a look at the most common entries into the annual Best City to Visit Travel Tournament here or the other countries I’ve written about here.

The truth though is every time I’m asked, “where should I go,” it’s often followed by a “I hear this place is interesting,” or “I’ve been thinking about…” Usually, wherever around the world I take someone looking for advice, more often than not, we end up back there. For travel, like life, the best way to go is by following the little voice in your head that somehow already knows where you want to go.

Review Of The Dell Premier Backpack: Built For Business Travelers

I once said the Dell Premier Backpack might be the best electronics backpack for travelers and having taken another look at it again, would say the same – with a caveat. Finding the perfect backpack is difficult because it’s a very subjective measure and rather than trying to make something for everyone, Dell focused on the business traveler. In doing so, Dell very nearly created a perfect, generalized electronics backpack – but ended up with a very good bag for a particular type of travel. Frequent business travelers who need more storage for gadgets than other generalized travel gear like extra clothing should take a close look at the Dell Premier Backpack. My full review in the video here.

dell premier backpackDell Premier Backpack (1PD0H)

amazon buy now

FaucetSafe Shows You Where The Tap Water Isn’t Safe To Drink On Your Phone

faucetsafe app

FaucetSafe app, available for iOS and Android, is a worldwide guide on where you can and can’t drink the local tap water, that is updated in real-time. Whether or not the local water is potable is one of the most common questions travelers have but a lot of the information online is either inaccurate or out of date. I developed FaucetSafe to be a travel guide in your pocket, that can give you current information on water potability around the world.

faucetsafe    faucetsafe ios app store     faucetsafe google play android
How FaucetSafe Works

The information is compiled from multiple sources – including government and independent tests – plus FaucetSafe also has a comment system where locals and travelers alike can add further detail. Water potability often varies in small geographic areas (e.g. within cities) so FaucetSafe is designed to be a guide to where you can and can’t drink the water – both to save you costs as well as reduce the amount of plastic consumed by every traveler (in the form of water bottles). The information contained in FaucetSafe works offline and is updated with the latest water drinkability information when you have an Internet connection.

faucetsafe iphone

In some parts of the world, local municipalities will say their water is drinkable when it may not be (for political or economic/tourism purposes) so where possible, data is pulled from both official sources and based on the results of independent tests conducted on water supplies.

FaucetSafe Features

FaucetSafe is based on my map of where you can drink the tap water, with several more features and detail.

  • FaucetSafe shows where you can and can’t drink the water when traveling, from general country information to cities and down to the neighborhood level in some areas.
  • FaucetSafe is updated regularly in real-time with new information.
  • FaucetSafe has a user comment system where users can add local knowledge about water drinking habits in any given area, neighborhood, city, country or pretty much anywhere.
  • Users can also post questions in the comment section for other travelers or the administrator.
  • All comments are rated by other users, so the most useful, informative responses are highlighted on top of the others.

Available Now For iOS And Android

You can download FaucetSafe now from the Apple App Store or on Google Play for Android devices. FacuetSafe is $1.99 but if you’ve purchased any of my other travel apps, iOS users can get FaucetSafe at a discount or free as part of either the foXnoMad Water Pack or foXnoMad Air and Water Pack.

faucetsafe ios app store              faucetsafe google play android

Please let me know if you have any questions about FaucetSafe in the comments below or contact me directly. I hope that FaucetSafe can help you travel smarter by helping you avoid dirty tap water, reduce unnecessary use of plastic, save money, and give you more time to travel rather than spending it in shops purchasing bottled water.

Loading

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


Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube

Image Map

Image Map

Recent Articles

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

This Is A Great Time To Be Alive, So Why Are So Many People Checking Out?

Ultra-Portable Microphone For Traveling Vloggers Who Want Better Audio Is Just OK




Get my latest posts in your inbox: