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Air Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Air

How To Prevent Jet Lag (But You’re Not Going To Like It)

jet lag sucks

No matter what anyone tells you, jet lag is something you can treat but not completely avoid. Traveling in the sky fast enough to outpace our biologically imprinted circadian rhythms requires some body hacking to mitigate the effects.

You’ll still feel jet lag but less intensely for shorter durations if you subject yourself to a few uncomfortable rules.

1. Don’t Eat On The Flight

For some reasons as soon as we board a flight our appetites start fiendishly craving overly processed, tasteless airplane food. Our biological clocks are timed in big part through our livers. According to neuroscientist Matthew Walker, evolution has primed our bodies to become sleepy a short time after our final meal of the day. Having airplane food high in sugar and sodium resets this countdown timer. Also, the lactose in the foods and other additives may cause even more gas than flying already does disrupting deep sleep even further.

2. Run Right After Your Flight

A solid cardio-focused workout can help speed up our body clocks adjustment to a new timezone. The impact of running in particular might have a significant impact on combating jet lag, shortening it up to 8 times in limited animal studies. Anecdotally, the best time to get the workout in is immediately after arriving to a new destination. Don’t fall for the “I’ll just rest my eyes” trap and get to a park, treadmill, or if either aren’t an option, try these hotel room workouts.

Plan for a minimum of 30 minutes or more of exercise at the highest intensity comfortable for you to get your blood thoroughly circulating. Swollen flight ankles? Running or biking is a straightforward way to treat that flight side effect as well.

3. Control The Mornings And Power Through

Sleep is not a state you can will yourself into easily but staying awake is a goal we can achieve through conscious will. No matter what time you land, try to get to sleep at a normal hours but no matter how little you sleep, get up on time in the morning. Give yourself an extra hour from your regular wake up time back home but other than that, don’t snooze. Using your bladder as an alarm clock can ensure you get out of bed, no matter how much you want 5 more minutes.

sarajevo golden hour

Use Chemicals Subtly

Caffeine can also be used in moderation to help adjust your clock as well if consumed at the right times. Caffeine drinkers, get that coffee or tea as early as possible in the morning after you wake up but don’t consume any after noon. You might be wondering about alcohol but since that drug blocks rapid eye movement (REM) and deeper stages of sleep, if you must, keep it to one drink until your jet lag is gone.

One last thing, remember that getting over jet lag takes time so maintain these habits for at least a week, depending on how many time zones you’ve shifted. In the first day or two we often have a rebound effect giving a false honeymoon period that we’ve cracked jet lag – only to realize a week later at 3am completely awake that might have been wishful thinking.

What Do You Need To Declare At The Airport?

dublin airport

We’ve all walked under those big green and red banners at airports asking if we have anything to declare. Perhaps you’re undying love for rock ballads? No, that’s not what they mean but if you’re confused about airport declarations understanding what the question means can help.

Specific Disclaimer

Most countries will hand you a declaration form or under those declaration banners, list out specific items you should declare. Essentially customs are looking for things they can tax and prohibited items for the most part. Remember that every country has different rules so remember to brush up on what’s prohibited to avoid any legal trouble.

Governments Love Taxes

Technically, you can list every single item you bought in a foreign country that you’re bringing back home with you. Practically, for stuff under a few hundred dollars, “gifts” is a reasonable description. There’s a set total number (e.g. $1000) for taxable purchases abroad which is why customs often asks how much something cost.

dji mavic drone

Many places will differentiate between unopened boxed items as well so if you are pulled aside to have your bags checked in customs, electronics in plastic will likely get you stuck with a duty (i.e. tax) to be paid. A new set of headphones around your neck however, probably not.

Prohibited Items

Some might be obvious like guns but other prohibited items often include produce, meats, and other organic materials. Invasive species and other non-native seeds can disrupt local ecosystems so most everything that’s not sealed, packaged, or canned will likely need to be declared. A wrapped box of chocolates, highly doubtful.

Cash Money

Currency (for example in the United States) over $10,000 must be declared. Not doing so can lead to customs agents confiscating nearly all of it. The idea behind these laws is to disrupt smuggling and money laundering operations. With modern banking though for most people, it’s probably better just to bring a little cash for the airport ride then use the ATM afterward. Large sums of cash are easy to lose as well so unless absolutely necessary, keep it in the bank.

Pets

Any kind of non-human animal traveling with you (including service pets) need to be declared in many places. Keep this in mind as you walk through customs to have your pet medical information, as well as other documents, handy as you go through customs. Pet microchips will usually need to be scanned as well, plan accordingly and take your time.

I Declare Generalities

As I mentioned above, customs in every country vary (like regulations on drones) but their motivations are pretty much the same. Taxes on stuff you bought abroad, contraband, and live animals are what customs are controlling. The $5 magnet you bought for your mom isn’t on the table, unless that magnet is made of rare diamonds.

How To Travel

new york city

There are a lot of ways to travel smarter but if you want the most straightforward advice on how to get started, this is your guide.

First of all, traveling is not that hard. At least not the basics in general, assuming you’ve got some disposable income, a bit of time, and of course the inclination to go somewhere.

Where To Go

Traveling can mean a lot of things but often the first thing to come to mind is some far off exotic place. Those can be great choices but you’ve probably never gone to the tourist sites in your own town. What about the next town over? Maybe you want to start a travel blog or YouTube channel, you don’t need to go very far to do either.

Since you can’t see the entire world in a lifetime, these places are good choices to start from. If you love street food, definitely go to these cities. Adventure sports? Las Vegas. Want to see how much it costs to fly from where you are to anywhere? Kayak Explore will show you.

Honestly though, most of us have a place we’ve always really wanted to see. Don’t let people talk you out of it. Get suggestions on things to do nearby (more ideas can’t hurt) but if there’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, that’s where you should probably be headed. You might love or hate a place and that can change over time so aside from actual dangerous places, all you’re hearing are people’s opinions about a given point in time.

travel memes

And if someone’s never been to a place don’t listen to their advice about a place. It’s probably negative and definitely uninformed.

How To Go

Some places you have to fly. For others, taking a train is more environmentally friendly but also easier on your body than taking an airplane. Remember to add 4 hours at least to any total flight time – that covers getting to an airport on time, checking in, plus going through security. A 30 minute flight is really more like 4 or more hours of travel time.

Obsessing over flight prices isn’t likely to save you much nor is booking on a Wednesday. Check out multi-city flights. Travel savings are much more obtainable through choosing the right accommodation, where you eat, and by simple packing habits like buying a reusable water bottle.

What To Take

Recently I saw this tweet which is mostly true unless you’re a French horn musician. What you use at home is what you’ll use on the road. You shouldn’t pack more than you can use in two weeks and most specialized travel gear isn’t versatile enough to justify the costs (remember what I said about saving above?)

arthurs seat edinburgh

Learn these important phrases of the local language using this powerful tool. Gum or mints are essential. One other thing, it’s usually worth paying a bit more to get durable gear. Cheap fabrics don’t withstand traveling well so it’s better to get one good thing than 3 cheap things over the same period of time. Plus good products usually come with good warranties because the brands can stand behind their products.

Stay Connected

Currency is a helpful app that works offline. WiFox gives you passwords to all the airports in the world, important since getting to your accommodation from the airport is when you’re most vulnerable. Find some good travel blogs, they give good firsthand insights that can help with planning, navigating scams, and learning the local customs.

scottish highlands

Download Google Maps offline to help you get around. Put the phone down and look up when you don’t need it.

faucetsafe app

Go with the flow, try a food you’ve never had, and always eat where the locals do. Long lines of tourists don’t always indicate the best places to eat and TripAdvisor can only get you so far. Ask a local. Try it, you’ll get good advice like this.

Remember The Important Things

There’s certainly more, but this should help get you started. Traveling can be tiring, confusing, or a bit lonely sometimes. Keep in mind that if you can travel for recreation, you’re one of the lucky ones on Earth. Not everyone can travel and for most of human history it was impossible to move like we do now.

Understanding other cultures doesn’t require much footwork far or near – meeting new people can give you an important insight. Getting out of cities and into nature can give you perspective. The one thing to bring on any journey is an open mind, without that, you can visit every country in the world and still have not seen much of anything at all.

Timbuk2 Copilot Review And Discount Trick

Travelers looking for a new suitcase should take a close look at the thoughtfully designed and thoroughly durable Timbuk2 Copilot series that comes with a small discount trick.

Stop Here

Depending on your travel budget, a Timbuk2 bag might not be for you. People who take less than one or two trips a year probably won’t see (for a long time anyway) the immediate benefit of such a well-built bag. Particularly though for air travelers who check-in their luggage more than 6 or 7 times annually, the Copilot series has a lot of advantages worth its price tag.

timbuk2 copilot

What’s A Timbuk2 Copilot

Timbuk2 is a San Fransisco based brand that’s somewhat hipster blended with business sleek. Their Copilot series comes in 4 different sizes: 42, 52, 80, and 108 liters. You can review all the dimensions here but basically:

The exterior of the Copilot luggage is made of Cordura nylon (over 1000 Denier if you’re wondering) which is the standard for tough as hell bags. Internally, Timbuk2 use a variety of nylon, polyester, and other fabrics for a combination of strong but light fabric. And lightweight they are – even the gigantic 108 Copilot is just 4.6 kilos (10lbs) – compared to most bags that size pushing well over 6.5 kg (15 lbs).

timbuk2 copilot

I think it’s also worth mentioning that Timbuk2 don’t use materials that are toxic in any way, plus have an excellent recycling program for older bags. (They give you 20% back as well on your next purchase after you send the old bag back, which is a nice touch to the environmental benefits.)

Design That Makes Sense

Too often bag manufacturers try to get fancy, adding superfluous pockets that only take up space. Smart designers create bags, like the Copilot, that give users more flexibility to organize on their own. The Copilots (they’re all designed the same just at different sizes) open up clam shell style. On the outer pocket there’s quick access to the front compartment.

timbuk2 copilot 80l

Both interior sides of the “shell” have a mesh divider you can choose to use or not. All of the bags are spacious since they don’t have pockets in the way to steal space – but the clam shell style doesn’t work well with particularly bulky items. It’s perfect for clothes but if you’re lugging around boxy gifts, or large stuff that doesn’t compress, the Copilot can be tricky to pack.

Additional nice touches include skateboard wheels resulting in a very smooth roll without any pullback on your arms. Those wheels are also strong enough for skateboards plus they can be found all over the world if needed. The handle is also one of the smoothest I’ve used on roller luggage.

Save Some Money On A Timbuk2

Overall, there’s a lot to like about the Copilot series. For most of you interested in this bag, it’s a matter of finding the right size. Minimalists will appreciate the 42 and 52L varieties, most travelers who don’t mind a bigger bag will be happy with the 80L. Unless you’re a family who wants to use a single suitcase, think very carefully before deciding on the 108L. In any event you can return most bags with a minor (less than $10) processing fee.

Finally, to sweeten the deal for yourself, go through the Timbuk2 checkout process. Add the bag you want to the cart, fill in your details (especially email), then submit to get to the payment page. At this point, don’t submit your payment and just wait 24 hours. Typically Timbuk2 will send a 10-15% discount to your inbox to encourage you to complete the purchase. There’s also a popup on their site often but the email discount might be a bit more enticing so it’s best to wait and see. Good luck!

Save Yourself Time With This Trick For A Kuwait Visa On Arrival

kuwait e visa

Kuwait has a fairly liberal visa on arrival available for tourists from the United States as well as most European and east Asian and Pacific countries as well. Typically when you read “visa on arrival” many travelers assume it’s paying a simple fee at passport control.

This is certainly the case in Kuwait – mostly – since if you’re a citizen of any of these countries you can get a visa upon arrival at the airport. Except that it’s a cumbersome, but avoidable, process that takes unnecessary time you can save by getting a visa online.

Simple, I Know

Despite this seemingly obvious advice, based on the long lines I encountered at the visa office at the airport, Kuwait’s relatively new but unadvertised e-visa process isn’t widely used. Travelers who show up at Kuwait International Airport without getting an e-visa first must go to the airport’s visa office – which costs both money and time.

A mandatory process you won’t be aware of until you’ve already been in line at passport control for over 15 minutes. Immigration officers will tell you yes, you can get a visa on arrival but first you have to get one from the office upstairs.

Office Experience You Want To Avoid

Once at the visa office (you’ve now gone at least 15 minutes wasted waiting in the passport control line) you let the clerk know you need a visa. In case you’re at this point – before heading to the visa office, get to an ATM as the office only accepts cash for tourist visas. Just having a credit card will mean longer delays and possibly losing your place in line.

kuwait immigration

They’ll photocopy your passport, then you take a number for your turn. In the office they’re processing all sorts of visas inevitably resulting in long wait times even if you just need the visa on arrival. Not to mention your luggage will be sitting by its lonely self as you scramble to get the right documents – always a risky situation.

Save 30 Minutes

To get around all of this waiting, there is another (hardly advertised) option: get an eVisa.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior provides this website where you can enter your travel details. Plus the electronic visa process doesn’t come with the fees obtaining one in person does and only takes up to 3 business days.

Remember to print out your visa once it’s emailed to you and bring it with your passport to show at immigration. You’ve now just saved half an hour at arrival, plus the fees they charge you in person. Generally you’ve got 90 days in the country but double check to be certain not to overstay. For onward travels to Europe, these are the answers to your most common visa questions. For trickier Central Asian nations, this post will help.

What Are The Odds Of A Meteor Hitting A Plane In Flight?

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2019. Top photo courtesy European Southern Observatory, the others from public domain on Wikipedia.

space

I fly a lot which gives me more than enough time to contemplate irrational scenarios of doom in the sky. Nervous fliers might not want to think about a space rock hitting your plane at 10,000 meters up, but just how likely is that scenario?

Plane crashes in general are very rare events that most people end up surviving if they’re in one. A lot has to go wrong for a plane to go down (on average 7 compounding factors) but a meteor strike could be a single, catastrophic disaster. Meteors pummel through our atmosphere anywhere from 11-72 kilometers per second (15,000-257,000km/hour) but what are the chances of being struck? Fortunately it turns out the chances of being struck are astronomically small and the chances of surviving an impact aren’t as hopeless as you may think.

Moving Targets

Let’s first start out with the basics – the average jumbo jet moves at 890kph (555mph). The fuselage of a 747-400 is 70 meters by 6m, the front wings 64m wide, and the tail wings 11m. All of these numbers mean the surface area of the wings is 543 square meters, the fuselage roughly 420m. A total of 963 square meters of area but since a meteor would only be coming from above, let’s cut down the total vulnerable surface area by half: 480m^2.

Meteor Size

Most meteors that are visible from the ground range in size from a grain of sand to a pebble. (They’re so bright because of the speed at which they enter the atmosphere, not their mass.) Most meteors smaller than a marble never reach the lower atmosphere where planes fly.

meteors in the sky

In 1996, David J. Helfand, chair of the department of astronomy at Columbia University and his colleague Charles Hailey determined the size of a meteor needed to significantly damage an airplane would need to be baseball-size or larger. Several thousand meteors this size or large hit the ground each year, mostly in the oceans and other unpopulated areas. At the time, a meteor impact was considered (but later ruled out) as the cause of the TWA flight 800 crash.

Cars Are Still More Dangerous

David Morrison of the NASA Ames Research Center, gives the best estimate of the possibilities of a plane being struck by a meteor entering Earth’s atmosphere:

“A typical car has an area on the order of 10 square meters, and there are roughly 100 million cars in the U.S., for a total cross-sectional area of about 1,000 square kilometers. The typical airliner has a cross-sectional area of several hundred square meters, but the number of planes is much smaller than the number of cars, perhaps a few thousand. The total cross-sectional area of airliners is therefore no more than 10 square kilometers, or a factor of at least 100 less than that of cars. Three cars are known to have been struck by meteorites in the U.S. during the past century, so it would appear that the odds are against any airplanes having been hit, but it is not impossible that one might have been.”

Morrison adds that it’s much more likely for a plane to be struck on the ground (since that’s where they are the majority of time). Any impact to a plane in flight Morrison notes, wouldn’t necessary result in an complete disaster. Assuming the meteor were relatively on the smaller size and did not hit the fuel tanks, a successful emergency landing isn’t impossible.

For you nervous fliers, it might help ease your nerves to know even a supersonic rock from space is something your aircraft and pilots could potentially handle. But the overwhelming odds are you should be more worried about having a middle seat or lost luggage than any space debris.

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