Advice Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Advice

Best Way To Get A Taxi In Istanbul, Turkey

Finding a taxi in Istanbul, Turkey, isn’t difficult but just hailing any cab off the street is a risky move if you don’t want to get ripped off. Istanbul taxi drivers don’t have the best reputation and since Uber is virtually non-existent in the city, here’s how to make sure you get where you need to go without overpaying.

Use The Right App For The City

Free for Android and iOS, BiTaksi works similar to ride sharing apps you may be familiar with but is exclusive to registered taxis. You’ll want to set up BiTaksi before arriving in Turkey because the app requires a phone number for verification. (Probably easier to deal with in your home country.) After setup, you can then use BiTaksi to call a cab in Istanbul or Ankara, like you would using Lyft or Uber. You can see you driver’s rating and license plate to make sure you hop in the right car.

Once you call a cab, you’ll be shown a few different route options through BiTaksi, so you can watch to make sure your driver is taking the right route. You can also, through the app, specify the route you want the driver to take. Additionally, BiTaksi let’s you send your ride information to a friend or family, so they can watch your progress and know when you’ve arrived safely at a destination.

You can see the entire setup of BiTaksi in the video above and if you happen to be headed to Serbia, here’s the best way to order a cab in Belgrade.

Book Flights Using Miles To Protect Refunds Against Airline Cancellation Policies

air force one replica

Flight cancellations have become a common occurrence since the Covid-19 pandemic and airlines have changed their policies to match. They’ve made it more difficult, or essentially impossible, to get your money back. To protect yourself against new, less consumer-friendly airline rules it’s a good idea to use frequent flyer miles more frequently.

Why Miles?

Carriers like Turkish Airlines have rewritten their own rules refunding passengers with vouchers as opposed to money. One way to protect yourself against airline shenanigans is to book flights through one of these major mileage programs. Since airlines are converting your money into miles, if you have them, it’s better to book with miles as long as cancellations are common.

Most of the major airlines quickly return miles (well under 30 days) when they cancel a flight you don’t want to immediately re-book. Holding on to your money is a safer bet as airlines have conveniently changed rules to remove their responsibility to refund for cancellations. Using one of the major mileage programs gives you more flexibility to re-book on multiple airlines or routes, as opposed to a single carrier’s mileage program.

When You Don’t Have Miles

Use the miles you do have – even if they’re not a part of the three major mileage programs. (Here’s how to start accumulating them in one place if you’re not already.) As a general rule, you don’t want to buy miles or mileage boosters because they’re worth more in cash – but with the high rate of cancellations lately it may be worth the added insurance to purchase a small amount, if you’re just under the miles needed for a flight.

Mile Alternatives

Some specific travel insurance may be an option if you’re well below the number of miles needed to book flights to protect your purchase. The credit card you use may also be able to help, just be sure to check their policies before booking. There are good ways to earn miles without credit cards and you may actually have more miles than you realize. If you can put off air travel however, it’s a good time start stocking up for when it’s a bit less risky to buy tickets.

The Balcony With Nepal’s Best Sunrise View

Just above the Kathmandu Valley whose mountain walls stubbornly holds on to the smog produced in the Nepalese capital, is a view of the Himalayas worth taking a day trip to see. Several hours outside Kathmandu, Nepal, the town of Nagarkot sits at the edge of the valley focused on the Himalayas.

Everything here, from the hotel balconies and conspicuously treacherous ladder stand, is focused on a single daily event: the morning sunrise.

Planning The Spot

Despite the central focus on daybreak, Nagarkot requires some planning to make sure you get the not only the right view but a comfortable spot from which to take it all in. There are a number of good hotels, I can vouch for Hotel Country Villa, just make sure to ask for a room with a balcony view when booking. I’d also recommend one of the rooms further from reception to the left if you’re facing the mountains (they’re quieter) and go for a deluxe room, which aren’t much more expensive then regular ones.

hotel country villa

You’ll not only have a more comfortable stay but a more peaceful view of the sunrise. Hotels in Nagarkot have all of their balconies essentially designed to maximize viewing area, meaning they are right next to each other. A noisy neighbor can quickly take away from the experience and most go to the buffet area to watch, so the more distance the better.

Getting To Nagarkot

You’ll probably be staying in Kathmandu already and the easiest way is to negotiate a driver to take you. Most will happily offer the service, which should cost around $60 for the 90 minute round trip ride. Drivers will stay in the town after dropping you off and to beat Kathmandu rush hour, try leaving in the late afternoon before 5pm.

nagarkot sunrise

Some of the best views become apparent as the risen sun burns off some of the sky mist in Nagarkot. Checkouts are usually around 11am, worth sticking around for, although most drivers will want to leave as early as possible. Be clear you’ll want to return closer to noon, giving you enough time for sunrise, breakfast after, and the Himalayan views as the skies brighten.

Wake Up With Efficiency

Sunrises at altitude over some of the world’s highest mountains appears faster than what you experience at sea level horizon. Whatever the stated sunrise time is (on your phone or at the hotel, usually posted at reception), you’ll want to get up 45 minutes before using your bladder or this alarm trick to avoid oversleeping. That gives you a 30 minute head start to get your balcony view plus any cameras set up (with a healthy margin of error).

The sun will appear roughly 30 minutes after the “sunrise” time giving you plenty of time to enjoy the view. On the way out of town, most drivers will stop by this lookout tower if you’re willing a climb for another Himalaya view as part of one of the best day trips from Kathmandu.

Everything You Need To Know About Solo Female Travel In India

Planning a trip to India can be confusing for many potential travelers, particularly women. The news about safety in India is a lot like traveling in the country itself – often contradictory, alluring, sometimes downright scary. To help answer any questions you may have about traveling in India as a woman, I recently spoke with Cristina Boronat on the foXnoMad Podcast.

Cristina spent over 2 years traveling in India, most of it solo, and we spoke about her experiences plus advice on how to dress, her India bucket list, and more in the episode you can listen to here or watch in the video above.

We even got to ponder whether or not my two India scams videos would have been potentially (more) dangerous if I were a woman.

There’s a lot packed into this episode for both men and women planning a trip including the single best piece of advice for visiting India, applicable worldwide. For those of you who’ve been to India the conversation will take you back through the calm and chaos to put a smile on your face.

The Single Best Piece Of Advice For Travelers To India

Traveling in India can be the most frustrating and amazing experience, often at the same time, but there’s one piece of advice that will let you appreciate the entire experience. During a recent episode of the foXnoMad Podcast, my guest Cristina Boronat summed up eloquently a lesson to take with you before visiting India.

The travelers who end up hating India miss this key wisdom Cristina gleaned from years of experience in the country, which you should watch in the video here.

Set Your Alarm Clock To Odd Numbers To Wake Up For Early Flights

phone alarms

We’ve all set 13 alarms in a row to make sure we wake up for an early morning flight, hoping the constant ringing – despite our snoozing efforts – will get us out of bed. Eventually. Such brute force methods require setting alarms well in advance of when you actually need to wake up. Snoozing feels really good but it’s barely sleep, in fact you’d be better off not disrupting your slumber early and just waking up when you need to.

There’s a good way to trick your brain into being conscious for slightly longer when your alarm sounds so you can shorten the time between your (first) alarm sounding and actually getting out of bed. The key is using odd numbers, literally and figuratively.

Melatonin Efficiency

Many taps of the snooze button on your phone are done when you’re semi-conscious, which is why it might feel like you’ve snoozed 97 or 3 times, it’s hard to tell. During the middle and later parts of the night, melatonin levels in your body are high. (Depending on your regular sleep cycles.) Melatonin is a hormone that tells your body time to sleep or wake up.

sleeping tabby cat

Snoozing feels really good because elevated melatonin levels are telling our brains it’s sleepy time. A blaring alarm sound can wake you up enough to the lighter stages of sleep to snooze but the rebound might be so intense you could not “hear” the next alarm.

At worst it’s a missed flight, at best, missing 15-20 minutes of additional quality sleep.

7:03am

The human mind is preferential to even numbers. 10 fingers, two eyes, 7:00am doesn’t give us the same sense of urgency – or novelty – 7:03am does, for example. Ok, so what about 7:05am or 7:15am? They’re odd but more familiar, the key is processing time. According to Terence Hines of Pace University:

Odd numbers stick in our brain more, are harder to digest — and as a result gain extra meanings. In western culture the numbers that attract the most superstition, three, seven and 13, are all odd.

Room 101 is a much scarier place than Room 100 because 101 is arithmetically more challenging than 100. We understand how 100 fits in to the structure of numbers — it is ten times ten, or two times fifty, or four times twenty-five. But 101 is harder to toy around with. The asymmetry is cruel to our pattern-making minds.

In terms of waking up on time and getting a few more minutes of sleep, calculating how many minutes you have to really get out of bed is harder when using an odd number – that’s also not a multiple of 5 or commonly calculated. We convert 45 minutes ahead of 7:30 or 9:00 more easily because we do it all the time. (What’s 75 minutes before 12:25? Quick!)

Sliver Of Consciousness

A tiny bit of number crunching may seem insignificant but it requires a longer window of consciousness. Even seconds of being awake can help you get out of bed – which additionally will be easier if you have a few more minutes of sleep. Using odd numbers, 3:12am works but 3:17am is better, plays on your subconscious at two levels.

For an added layer of oversleep protection, try using your bladder as an alarm clock as well. It’s a lot harder (and messier) than your phone to snooze. Keep in mind though for odd numbers, to keep them odd. Don’t use the same patterns over and over to prevent your brain from adapting.

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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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