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Category: Lodging

5 Pickpocket Tricks To Use Against Them When Traveling

aer travel pack 2

Part of any good security strategy is to learn from what the other side you’re trying to protect yourself from is doing. You can’t always avoid an elite pickpocket or completely prevent getting robbed at knife point – but what you can do though is minimize your losses by thinking like the criminal who wants to steal from you.

Your personal security plan needs to have many legs to stand on as well as distractions to keep your real valuables safe.

1. Distribute Your Money

Always distribute your valuables in several places when you travel. This include both on your person, in you bag, and your hostel or hotel room. Never keep all of your money in the same place. You can hide some emergency cash in deep in your socks, in the side of your underwear or in a bra and in your front pocket as well. While you may get robbed or pickpocketed you’ll have minimized your loses.

hotel room pakistan lahore falettis

For extreme circumstances do the same and have some money hidden in your hotel room too. Some in the safe if there is one and inside of a dirty sock in your laundry. Have kids? Their toys make great hiding spots.

2. Use A Decoy

Your wallet is the first target of any pickpocket so make it where you keep your least valuable stuff. Put in a small (but not tiny amount) of money along with some of those inactive (or expired) credit cards you get in the mail. If you don’t get any in the mail cancel your current card and request a new one from your bank – instant decoy. Include a student ID or some other photo identification with no personal information on it. A wallet without an ID might give you away.

trove wallet

Make sure your wallet doesn’t have sentimental value and never keep important things in a big purse – they are very easy targets.

3. Set a Trap

A decoy can be a way to potentially set a trap for a pickpocket. It won’t work in all places but if your bank offers a free checking account or credit card with no fees and is free open one up. Keep this card (with no money in the account) in your decoy wallet. If it’s stolen call the credit card company or bank right away to let them know.

ridge wallet

In most countries the companies will keep close track to see where and if that card is used. If there happens to be a camera at the first place the pickpocket tries to use the card you may be in luck.

4. Make Your Things Ugly

There are several techniques on how to make uglify your camera but the same premise goes for all of your valuable electronics. Get over the need to keep your things shiny since they won’t do you any good if they’re enticing and get stolen. Stickers, worn duct tape, and ugly carry bags work too.

red iphone 11

Oh, and that iPhone – be careful where you flash it. If you’re traveling in a place and worried about the area bring along the cheapest, oldest Nokia you can find and save the Twittering until you can get back to the hotel.

5. Set Up A Camera System

Hotel rooms can be vulnerable spots for your stuff and not all come with safes. You can though use an old smartphone as a security camera to monitor your things and get an alert if anything is disturbed. Also, while we’re at it, always use a “Do Not Disturb” sign and only have your room cleaned while you’re in it (and have packed away your valuables beforehand).

Be Creative and Add More Legs

There are plenty more ways to be shadier than thieves – be creative! Unique hiding spots, zipping your backpack like this, and other tricks are fun to come up with and there are almost an unlimited number of them. The important thing it to have more than one self-security plan and have your strategy stand on many legs so you always have a backup or two.

This is an updated version of a post I originally shared for a now-defunct travel blog in 2009.

5 Creepy Travel Sites You’d Actually Want To Visit

creppy contrails

There are a number of spooky stories. Some are completely based in fantasy while others like recent murders a little too macabre. Mysterious encounters, sightings, and places you would actually want to visit (outside of the creepiness) do exist. These are 5 creepy sites from the foXnoMad Podcast you might actually want to visit on your next trip.

1. Margate Shell Grotto

margate shell grotto

Located in Kent, England and discovered in 1835 by a father and son digging around a duck pond, the Margate Shell Grotto is a snaking 185 square meter cavern. Adorned with over 4.6 million shells, it contains an altar room and rotunda. Nobody knows who built this mysterious site and there aren’t any good guesses either. You can though visit the Margate Shell Grotto for a few British Pounds and explore it yourself.

2. Socorro UFO Landing Site

socorro ufo site

On April 24, 1964, just outside of Socorro, New Mexico, Police Officer Lonnie Zamora was chasing a speeding teenager. As he headed out into the desert though something caught his eye. Zamora stopped pursuit and saw a craft with beings walking around outside. The U.S. Air Force conducted an investigation, collection photos and physical evidence to corroborate Zamora’s story. Even to this day, the official government site of Socorro lists its coordinates.

3. Historic Anchorage Hotel

historic anchorage hotel

Built in 1916 and the only historic hotel in Alaska’s largest city, the Historic Anchorage Hotel is known for 3 ghosts whose sightings are so common, a guest book at reception records them. If you want to see the otherworldly little boy, murdered police chief, or ghastly bride, rooms 215, 217, 202 and 205 are know to be especially haunting.

4. Ruwa, Zimbabwe

One of the most conventionally un-explainable UFO encounters, the mass sighting and interaction between 62 students and faculty of an alien craft and beings in Ruwa, Zimbabwe has shook those who’ve studied it. Harvard professor of psychiatry John Mack interviewed the kids extensively and BBC’s local correspondent Tim Leach said after his investigation, “I could handle war zones, but I could not handle this.”

5. Bunny Man Bridge

bunny man bridge

The urban legend is creepy but the true story is even more bizarre. Studied for over a decade by Fairfax County Archivist Brian Conley, his paper on the government website is the foremost treatise on the Bunny Man. A small bridge in northern Virginia, there’s no asylum or gutted bunnies like the myth but a hatch through a car window? That happened to a couple on October 18, 1970 but a man dressed in a bunny outfit. Nobody was hurt and two weeks later, the Bunny Man was sighted again. Axe in hand, attacking an abandoned home, he threatened witnesses to stay away. Since then, he’s not been seen and nobody knows who this person was. You can try your luck (or lack thereof) on a Halloween at midnight, with a number of locals who dare to defy the curse of the Bunny Man.

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 wary 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 wary of any temporary accommodation, especially before you do a bug sweep.

How NFTs Could Change Travel

Everydays: The First 5000 Days

The digital photo above sold for $69.3 million dollars. It’s called Everydays: The First 5000 Days by the artist Beeple and although the digital art was auctioned off at Christie’s, you can see I was able to easily copy and paste it above. That does not mean though I’m the owner of the NFT, a concept that may revolutionize how we travel.

What Are NFTs

NFT stands for non-fungible token, in other words something that is unique and can’t be duplicated. NFTs are in a sense akin to rare baseball cards like a 1952 Mickey Mantle that sold for 5.2 million USD. A baseball card is something tangible however, you can hold it in your hands, you buy it and it’s yours. With NFTs the digital file like the image aboven can still be copied like any other file except the NFT, like a public certificate of authenticity, belongs only to one individual.

To get more detailed: the only way to own an NFT is to buy it through a transaction that’s recorded on the blockchain. Blockchain is a way of publicly documented translations. The person who bought Beeple’s artwork above has a public record of that transaction. You can listen to a more thorough explanation of NFTs on the foXnoMad Podcast but your two main takeaways should be: NFTs establish authenticity and chain of ownership.

Wild West Of NFT Trading

Imagine your favorite musician minting songs from their new albums to sell as NFTs. Everyone can still listen to the music but only one person will own the NFT. Think of it as sort of an autograph: you can get the album anywhere but there’s only one Britney Spears signed limited edition.

listening to music

The same concept can be applied to a driver’s license or passport. Fakes are possible but when you check the authenticity of the document against the records of the government who issued them, the frauds become evident. Right now, NFTs are making headlines with high price sales of NBA video clips selling for $240,000 and the grumpy cat meme selling for $83,000.

So why would anyone want to buy one? Well, NFTs have made it possible for specific digital assets to be rare – a rarity people are so far, willing to pay for. The market for NFTs is a rapidly evolving on sure to make even more expensive headlines but aside from the art trade, it has implications for travelers.

True Digital Passports?

Given how digital everything is these days, it does seem a bit odd to carry around a paper book you get stamped when entering a new country. Of course those paper passports are authenticated through centralized computer systems but NFTs could solve that middleman process. Being one of a kind authenticated digital assets that are publicly documented could mean an eventual end to paper passports.

An NFT-based passport and visas would be much, much more difficult to forge and if you lose the device containing your NFT passport, regenerating one through a digital portal is a lot faster than today’s snail mail methods. Of course, how this will all look (an app on your phone?) isn’t clear since it’s the very early days of NFT popularity. The reach into the travel industry for NFTs though is wide from everything to plane and event tickets to yes, maybe your passport too.

5 Ways To Use Frequent Flyer Miles (Other Than Flying)

air force one replica

You might not be flying as much lately – global pandemic or otherwise – but your accumulated frequent flyer miles don’t have to go to waste. Although many airlines have extended frequent flyer programs so your miles won’t expire any time soon, you can put the miles you have now to good use.

Here are 5 ways to use your frequent flyer miles for everything that’s not a flight.

1. Shopping

Most airlines have online malls with a number of retailers including Apple and Best Buy. You’ll find these online malls through the airline mileage website and can use any miles you have for discounts or to purchase items outright. Additionally if you’re using a credit card with mile perks, they most likely will have an online store as well.

sydney australia mall

2. Take A Road Trip

Frequent flyer miles can be used for car rentals or hotels so don’t limit yourself to the sky. As a general rule you’ll get more bang for your mile using points in the travel industry as opposed to a new iPad (see point 1 above).

3. Convert To Cash

You can trade in frequent flyer miles for cash, especially if they’re accumulated through a credit card. NerdWallet breaks down Marriott’s award program (.3 cents per point) but according to Alex Miller, the CEO of Upgraded Points, you want to aim for conversions of a cent per mile.

trove wallet

4. Donate

You’re a good person, I’m sure but just so you know, unless you bought your frequent flyer miles donating them won’t be a tax deduction in most cases. You can though donate your miles, in case you didn’t know that. (Works for random currency you’ve accumulated traveling too.) There are a number of good causes most mileage programs have partnered with and your miles can help others escape political violence or make ends meet (by converting miles to cash).

sunset flight

5. Give To Friends And Family

There’s often a fee to transfer miles to another account (if you’re married though maybe not so contact the airline) but for those people who need to fly, your miles might help them get what they need for a free flight. Like many of the points already mentioned, the best way is through the airline’s online mileage program site, then call to see what better options they might offer you.

While You Wait

Most people haven’t checked up on the miles they have recently or when they might be expiring. If that sounds like you, check your frequent flyer miles right now to make sure they aren’t (or haven’t) vanished. Contact the airlines to see what extension plans are in effect since when travel does resume, you’re likely to get some great deals with the miles you have. So, unless you have a good reason not to, it’s best to stash your miles until you’re ready for sky time since they can protect you from flight cancellations as well.

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.

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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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