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Advice Archives - foXnoMad

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8 Reasons An Area 51 Raid Would Fail

area 51

You may have heard about that Facebook group with over a million people, claiming they’re going to raid the Area 51 military installation in Nevada to uncover the existence of aliens. Area 51 of course, being that rather not-so-secret facility where some alien bodies and their technology may have been stored after UFOs crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. That’s the rumor anyway.

I’m pretty sure nobody is actually going to show up to Area 51 but as someone who’s been right outside the gates, here’s 8 reasons a raid attempt would go very, very wrong.

1. Area 51 Is Remote

The primary way to get close to the only unmarked gate into Area 51 is off the Extraterrestrial Highway, near Rachel, Nevada nearby. Population: 100. The closest gas station is 100 miles (160 kilometers) and 800,00 cars would probably be stopped before getting remotely close to Area 51.

rachel nevda alien

2. Rough Terrain

Area 51 covers 1,500 square kilometers (~932 square miles) around Groom Lake so you’ll be running a long way over rough desert. There are cactus, large rocks, extreme sun, plus plenty of rattlesnakes along the way. Sprinting across those conditions for long isn’t likely.

3. You Don’t Know Where You’re Going

The entire area is massive and from the entrance gate in the middle of nowhere, you can’t see any visible structures. Someone raiding Area 51 wouldn’t even know which direction to go.

area 51

4. They Probably Don’t Have A Doorbell

Assuming you did find a structure above ground (who knows how much is underground) how would you get in? Pretty sure they lock the doors. Wouldn’t you if you were hiding aliens? (Not to mention if you did get inside what are you going to do, just run around the hallways hoping to run into Brent Spiner?)

area 51 rachel

5. Cameras

There are a few your can see around the gate, probably a few more not so obvious.

little ale inn nevada

6. Motion Sensors

Being out in the open, a horde of raiders would be hard to miss but even for a single individual, being inconspicuous is nearly impossible. Oh, and motion sensors. Probably.

extraterrestrial highway

7. Mysterious White Vans

As they’ll tell you at the Little Ale Inn in Rachel, you’re free to take pictures of the gate but don’t point your camera at any white vans on either side of the Area 51 border.

black mailbox nevada

8. You Might Be Shot

As they’ll tell you at the Little Ale Inn, every year a few idiots try to get a selfie from just behind the gate. Hey, nobody’s around right? Well, there are clearly eyes on you and this is probably the best case scenario. A gun to the head and being put on the United States terror watch list is setting one step inside – a full on sprint well, things might get dicey.

little ale inn

Look Up Instead

With all those eyes on you, potentially dying, and no evidence of aliens actually being in Area 51, not many of the stars align for a raid. But camping out near the Black Mailbox at night and looking up, who knows what you may see. During my road trip across Nevada, I was buzzed by some fighter jets that didn’t look more than 40 meters above. Not extraterrestrial but an impressive sight nonetheless like these nearly out of this world places.

How To Visit Socotra Island

Socotra is a remote archipelago in the Indian Ocean, inaccessible for the past several years not due to its location, but connection to mainland Yemen. It’s considered a step back in time, untouched by tourism at large and slowly became a wonderland destination for adventurous travelers. Tourism there peaked at 4,000 visitors in 2011, then, less than 4 years later, civil war broke out in Yemen.

Although there’s no fighting anywhere near Socotra Island (370 kilometers from the mainland) getting there since has been virtually impossible. The few companies that did pop up offering tours frequently disappeared – with everyone’s deposits in hand. Now however, there is a reliable way to visit Socotra. Here’s how to get there.

Visas Have Resumed

The primary reason for Socotra’s inaccessibility was the lack of a functioning Yemeni government. Visas weren’t being issued, which prevented airlines from servicing it, equaling no tourism. Recently, enough of a bureaucracy has developed to provide Socotra visas at least, so the main hurdle to visit Socotra has been cleared for now.

dragon blood tree

You’ll need a visa to enter Socotra, which costs $100. There are only two ways to get a visa to Socotra: either know someone on the island (here’s some contact information) or book a tour. A visa to Socotra and flight go hand in hand since you can only get both, in person, from either Cairo, Egypt, or Seiyun, Yemen. As blogger Norbert describes the flights:

It is every Wednesday, departing from Cairo at 3:30 am, arriving at Seiyun at 8:00 am. You spend over an hour on the plane waiting to pick up new passengers and depart at 9:15 am, arriving Socotra at 10:15 am.

For most people, that means getting the flights and visas booked though a tour company as they’ll make the arrangements for you. It’s also worth noting that Yemen will not issue visas to anyone with evidence of a visit to Israel (e.g. entry stamp) in their passport.

Costs To Get There

Norbert recommends the company he used in his post about Socotra, which cost roughly $1400. You’ll also need to add in round trip flights from Cairo (unless you happen to be hanging out in Seiyun), about $1200, plus $100 for the visa. Because flights only operate once per week, any trip to Socotra will be that long.

socotra beach

Keep in mind though, ever since flights have been going to Socotra, they’ve not been entirely reliable. In other words, I wouldn’t book an ongoing flight from Cairo the Thursday after Socotra’s Wednesday flight. Give yourself a buffer week (yes, week) just in case.

What’s Shorter Than Bucket List?

Even despite the somewhat reliable process in place currently to visit Socotra, it’s not the easiest place to get to. But it is worth the effort if you’re interested in seeing a mostly undeveloped UNESCO site with over 500 endemic plant and animal species, before most of the world catches on.

Either by increased tourism or additional flux in Yemen, Socotra’s current natural state is one you might not find for too much longer. More tourists will demand for infrastructure to be built or additional turmoil in the mainland could make Socotra visas hard to come by once more. Whichever happens, one will happen, and if you can visit Socotra before it does, you’ll have the trip of a lifetime.

Everything You Need To Know About Attending CES In Las Vegas

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes place in Las Vegas every January so this post written in July may seem a awkwardly early, but for those of you thinking of attending, this is the time of year to begin planning. Over 110,000 people go to CES annually and while getting to the convention is relatively simple, there are a few things I’ll be doing differently the next time.

You can watch all of my CES tips in the video above or read on.

What Is CES?

CES is the world’s biggest consumer electronics show where companies come to show off some of their upcoming, conceptual, and unique tech. From underwater drones to autonomous flying cars, CES has morphed from what’s coming next year to the edge of what might be possible in the near future. The futurology present at CES is impressive enough to make it worthwhile for many travelers to visit, even if you’re not a complete tech head.

ces vr bmw

Getting Tickets

Registration starts in the middle of summer the year before CES. For browsing the massive show floors, an entry level registration will be more than enough for a full 3-days at the show. Tickets run around $300 for the public with media, blogger, and other influencers passes available as well if you meet certain criteria. Show tickets are plentiful, highly unlikely to sell out, but hotels on the other hand are a different story.

Where To Stay

The earlier you book accommodation, the better, since even Vegas’ hotel capacity is somewhat stretched during CES. Most of the Airbnb options aren’t close to the Strip or convention halls, but healthy competition between casinos means you can usually get a good deal if you start searching before September. Outside of the actual show days, “Old Vegas” has a number of discounted room rates for CES attendees. After CES begins however, it’s more efficient and cost effective to stay at a hotel with direct access to the Las Vegas Monorail.

Traffic to CES is a mess of metal and knowing this, ride share companies seem to surge their prices accordingly. The Monorail means you can get in and out quickly, at a flat rate.

Strategize The Floor Space

You can’t see everything at CES, nowhere near it. Interested in cars? There’s a massive hall for all of them, plus outdoor demos, which can eat up a full day. Before you get the idea to move faster, at CES it’s advisable to pick a few things you want to see and go in-depth. Aside from the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), CES is spread over 10 other convention halls, casinos, and showrooms.

Sands Expo has some of the smaller, independent inventors and startups. Plan to set aside at least an afternoon to get there using one of the free shuttles from LVCC, the main hub of activity to center your CES strategy around.

Keep With The Basics

Some sound advice applicable to a lot of these type of big events like comic cons: arrive early in the morning, bring your own water, snacks, plus a few external batteries – outlets aren’t the easiest to come by. Overall, CES is an entertaining experience, particularly if you’re looking for travel gear to get your hands on during a trip to Las Vegas with or without the usual sites.

SafetyWing Travel Insurance Review: A Good Plan For Travelers Without One

bogota fruit market

Travel insurance is the type of add-on to a trip you don’t know you need until what is invariably a bad time. A sprained ankle, appendicitis, the kind of medical emergency you don’t want anywhere, especially without some kind of insurance coverage.

Often, you’ve got to apply for travel insurance with a set itinerary in mind: where you’re going and when, all in advance. Travel enough though and you’re likely to change plans at some point, possibility invalidating insurance coverage. SafetyWing operates differently, with options for frequent travelers, long-term trips, and all of the increasingly common, uncommon digital nomad categories you may fall into.

The best way to review travel insurance is to actually use it. When SafetyWing got in touch for a potential review, I didn’t have the right trip planned but my friend Jessie on a Journey was off to Nepal. She shares her experience with SafetyWing below.

jessie festa

What SafetyWing Covers

Here is their policy at a glance:

  • Robust Coverage – With SafetyWing nomad travel insurance, you’ll be covered for unexpected illness or injury. This includes hospital, doctor, and prescription drug expenses (where eligible). Additionally, you’re covered for travel delays, lost checked luggage, lost/stolen passport, non-professional sports and activities, if you need new accommodation due to a natural disaster, accidental death or dismemberment. I know, not fun to think about, but important.

Note that the above is just a small sampling of what is covered. It’s important to review their policy to gain a full understanding of exactly what is or isn’t covered.

  • A Large Network – You’ll be covered in any country in the world outside of Iran, North Korea or Cuba. Additionally, you’re not covered if you hold Cuban citizenship.
  • $250,000 of Coverage – Their deductible is very low at $250, too.
  • No Time Limit – If you’re a digital nomad who plans to travel for many years, you can continue renewing your SafetyWing subscription.
  • One Deductible – Instead of needing to pay a deductible for every claim, you have one low overall deductible of $250 per year.
  • Access to Private Health Care Providers – If you’re in a destination where the public healthcare system isn’t great, this is an important option to have.

One really unique feature SafteyWing includes is limited coverage in your home country as well, so long as the visit isn’t for an appointment to treat an ailment that began on your trip. So if you’re home and an accident happens, you have 30 days of at-home coverage (or 15 days in the United States) during every 90-day cycle.

SafetyWing Limitations

Travelers who are over 69 are no eligible to purchase plans and visitors to the U.S. will need to get a new plan before their trip. U.S. coverage is a different plan altogether, which can’t be added on later. This means you’ll need to cancel and re-purchase a new plan, and your deductible will reset.

How Sign-Up Works

As you can also see above, it’s possible to purchase the travel insurance for less than one month to get a pro-rated policy. One small problem I ran into had to do with me being a New York resident. If you live in New York, Maryland, or Washington, you can’t physically be in your home state when you purchase due to local laws. [Anil here, a VPN will help you get around this restriction.]

safetywing

The Future Of SafetyWing Insurance

The company already has a great product, though they are currently working to launch the following features:

SafetyWing are also looking at potential comprehensive coverage (for your home country), a disability, and pension plans as well.

Flat-Fee Plans

Unlike most travel insurance companies where you need to provide a number of details before speaking with someone and getting a quote, SafetyWing works like a subscription. That is because instead of offering 10+ plans, they offer one robust policy solution. You’ll pay $37 per month for worldwide travel medical coverage (for travelers aged 18-39, though other ages are available).

  • Note that travel to the USA adds $31 per four weeks.

Quite often, companies charge $100+ for one month of coverage, so this is a great deal. While writing this article I actually went and got quotes from a number of other companies to confirm this. Unlike most travel insurance providers, you don’t need to purchase their insurance before your trip, either.

Taking The Headache Out Of Travel Insurance For Digital Nomads

What I really appreciate about SafetyWing is that I don’t need to answer a ton of questions and add up all of my travel expenses just to get taken to a page where I then to need to sift through numerous plan options. Instead, everything is included in one affordable price.

Thanks Jessie for your review! You can read Jessie’s full review here, catch up on her trip to Nepal, and learn more about SafetyWing here. All photos in this post (except the first one) are courtesy JessieonaJourney.com.

Is A Granada Card (Still) Worth The Cost? [UPDATED]

granada card

Many cities around the world like Dublin or entire countries like Jordan have discount tourist cards, giving you access multiple major local attractions for a flat fee. Often they’re a balance between savings and time – that is, you get admission to a number of interesting places but limited time to take advantage of them all. It’s those practical considerations that make or break a discount card.

A lot has changed since I first reviewed the Granada Card so here’s everything you need to know, updated.

What Is A Granada Card And What Does It Get You?

There are 7 varieties of Granada Card, the primary differences between them being how much of the Alhambra they include, if at all. Essentially, the base Granada Card Ciudad (which doesn’t include the Alhambra entrance) is 35.50 Euro, the full card with entrance to all the Alhambra palaces is 43 Euro.

alhambra night

You can see a full chart of what each of the 7 cards offers but for first time visitors to the city on short trips (3-5 days) the standard Granada Card is the optimal option since it includes most popular options and a day trip to the Alhambra. For longer or more sightseeing-intense visits then the Monumentos Andalusies is only 3 Euro (43 total) more which includes sites in a wider area around Granada.

Although the Alhambra options vary between palaces and day versus night visits, all of the Cards will get you into the major sites, include 9 bus rides in the city, 1 hop-on-off tour, and are all valid for 5 days.

Breaking Down The Costs – Granada Card vs. Purchasing Tickets Individually

Let’s first begin by looking at the costs of a Granada Card to see if it makes sense for your budget in the first place to buy one. Assuming you intend on visiting all of the sites it allows you in, here’s a breakdown of the individual costs:

  • Alhambra, including Nasrid Palace: 14 Euros
  • Science Park Museum: 7 Euros (11 Euro for BioDomo entry)
  • Monastery of Cartuja: 4 Euros
  • Granada Cathedral: 5 Euros
  • Royal Chapel: 5 Euros
  • Monastery of San Jeronimo: 4 Euros
  • 9 Bus Rides included (10 Euro for a 10-ride pass)
  • Total: 49 Euros (vs. 40 Euros for the 5-day Granada Card)

granada cathedral

Take off the Nasrid Palace (but honestly, you shouldn’t) and the Granada Card with a day visit to the Alhambra is 36.50. What’s changed the most over the years in the Granada Card is that 6 of the 7 now include the Alhambra in one form or another.

Are Visiting That Many Sites Practical?

In case you don’t have 96 hours in Granada, I would organize the sites in this order:

  • Day 1: Granada Cathedral, Royal Chapel, and Monastery of San Jeronimo.
  • Day 2: Alhambra
  • Day 3: Science Park Museum and Monastery of Cartuja

granada spain streets

Aside from the Alhambra, the rest can be split across multiple days if you have more time in the city. The only site that absolutely requires you to be on time (and early) is the Alhambra and when booking your Granada Card, you’ll have to schedule an entry time. It’s an easy mistake to make as southern Spaniards are hardly the most punctual people on the planet but consider the Alhambra an exception to the rule.

How To Get A Granada Card

granada city hall

There are a few ways and locations where you can get a Granada Card. One way is to swing by the Granada City Hall in Plaza del Carmen (pictured above) a day before you plan to start using it. (Say hi to them from me while you’re there.) You can also purchase a Granada Card online up to three months in advance here.

One Of The Few Practical Buy-One-Get Many Cards In Europe

Having been to Granada three times now thanks to it being voted Best City to Visit in 2017 and 2018, I’ve come to appreciate how logical it is to get a Granada Card if you’re a first-time visitor. It both saves your money, time in lines, but also has some options like Cartuja you might not have otherwise considered. The Granada Card is one of the few across Europe that saves you money and can be practically used within the time allotted. For travelers who’ve already been, I recommend visiting these Game of Thrones filming locations nearby.

The short truth is, many of these cards around the world require you to visit a large number of sites in a short time for them to make sense financially. The Granada Card on the other hand, like the city itself, is a nice blend of price and pace – quite appropriate for this region of Spain.

This is an updated version of a post originally written in 2012.

The Best Places To Eat In Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands

curious traveler

The Galapagos is, in places, a remote wilderness but Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island is as close to a tourist-theme town you’ll find anywhere. Puerto Ayora is the main settlement where tour boats come to restock and budget travelers base themselves to do shorter excursions to nearby Galapagos Islands.

Tourism is still in its early stages in Ecuador‘s Galapagos and Puerto Ayora (population 12,000) is beginning to offer visitors a lot of places to eat: many mediocre, some decent, and a few rare finds. These are some of the best places to eat in Puerto Ayora, the largest town in Galapagos.

1. La Garrapata

la garrapata

Right in front of the dock are a long string of restaurants and bars along the tiny main strip in town, visually blending into one another. At first glance, there’s not much to distinguish La Garrapata, one of the better places to eat (with good service) close to the dock. Prices are slightly above average than nearby restaurants but fairly inline with general costs in Puerto Ayora. Food (and beer) portions are large and range from a variety of traditional Ecuadorian to Western dishes.

2. Galapagos Deli

galapagos deli

I like simple foods in large quantities at good prices with a decent selection of alcohol to go with it. If that sounds like you, then you’ll enjoy Galapagos Deli. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the dock – the location keeping its prices under the average of places like La Garrapata. They serve large sandwiches, pizza, salads, fresh juices, beer, teas, and coffees to. Anywhere else Galapagos Deli would be average at best but in Puerto Ayora where much of the ingredients have to be shipped in from the mainland, it differentiates itself in simplicity.

3. 1835 Coffee Lab

1835 coffee lab

Looks like a tourist trap – you know, the kind that’s especially alluring after a long travel day when you just want to hear some trendy pop music you only sing alone in the car. 1835 Coffee Lab checks those boxes (even some 80s hits too!) but does serve a good variety of local coffees. Galapagos coffees are well-known so it’s best to get a good taste while you’re in town. Keep in mind it’s a bit pricey so if you’re on a very strict budget, 1835 Coffee Labs might not be the best place to grab a daily caffeine fix.

The Best Of Average At Best

As I mentioned before, Puerto Ayora’s selection of restaurants and cafes wouldn’t stand out in many popular tourist destinations around the world. In Galapagos however, where there’s not much of a tourist trail yet, most supplies have to be imported, and there’s a steady supply of tourists with little competition, it leaves few remarkable choices. Like albatross returning to land, Puerto Ayora is a rest stop for a great adventure just beyond the shore.

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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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