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Category: Money

How Much Does It Cost To Buy Your Own Private Island?

The thought of buying a tropical island is one many of us have dreamed of. Now imagine you asked a bunch of those people to chip in some money and actually buy an island. Well, that’s essentially what Marshall Mayer did with his Let’s Buy An Island project, resulting in the world’s first crowdfunded island.

The goal began to buy an island- any island – and potentially as more people invested, they could afford something nicer than a tiny river island in northern Canada. Let’s Buy An Island reached well beyond its initial goal in 2018 and ended up purchasing Coffee Caye off the coast of Belize. Now, it’s poised to become a micronation, offering citizenship to what’s being called Islandia.

belize island

Marshall was a guest on the foXnoMad Podcast where we talked about how Let’s Buy An Island came to be and what forming a micronation is like. It’s a fun discussion on the logistics of turning a dream into a tangible… in this case, island. You can listen to the episode here or watch it in full in the video above.

I also happened to be headed to Caye Caulker Belize two weeks after our conversation and guess who made it to Islandia? The plans for the island, mainly a vacation rental property that will make your friends jealous, hasn’t been built yet but it was an adventure just getting there. You can watch the entire trip in the video here.

Airbnb Alternative With Growing Pains: Blueground Review

The Blueground is an alternative to sites like Airbnb and VRBO with a focus on longer term rentals of at least a month long and furnished with a premium aesthetic consistent across their global apartments. If you’re a traveling professional, digital nomad, or tend to have extended stays in one of 18 major cities around the world, then the Blueground has a lot to offer. It basically gets right a lot of what Airbnb gets wrong but unfortunately the Blueground has a lot to learn about what Airbnb and sites like it get right. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

Booking And Cost

The way Blueground works is it rents out apartments in 18 cities like Washington DC, Madrid, Istanbul, and Dubai. Their design team then furnishes all of those apartments with similar shelves, beds, televisions, and aesthetic touches. The benefit of that consistency means you know the style you’re going to to get inside the apartment. A modern, minimalist, metallic, white and black look. And it’s a look that’s welcoming and really easy to settle into. The floors and furniture are all nearly new – and the apartments are all professionally cleaned before you show up.

Searching for an apartment is fairly standard although Blueground isn’t entirely upfront about their pricing. You’re shown the lowest prices – no matter the duration or dates the apartment is available – unlike hotel booking sites or Airbnb. You can adjust the dates for a more accurate listing of available apartments but nearly always the difference between a 1 and 6 or 12 month rental is significant. Listings also don’t immediately show you the final price, which can be 30% or more expensive due to utilities, fees, and other insurance.

blueground

The Blueground is a premium service so the higher rates are expected but having to wait several clicks to get the final price is a bit disappointing. Ultimately it makes budgeting more difficult.

The Actual Apartments

Once you do book a place though, the furnishing and top notch. The furniture from the couch to the granite tables, and minimalist lamps are all new or in very, very good shape. You’ll have at least one large screen TV with complimentary YouTube TV giving you more than 85 channels to stream from. The silverware and pots and pans are high quality and the kitchens are fully stocked. The refrigerator, coffeemaker, microwave, and other appliances are updated and you definitely don’t feel like Blueground have skimped on interior furnishing. It’s a premium service that does deliver on a premium feel. Looking for an apartment with great amenities, check out apartments for rent in Springfield!

blueground

Bed sheets and blankets are really soft, I’m not sure what the thread count is but it feels like linens you’d find at a high end hotel. When you move in, Blueground also have some fancy shampoo, conditioner, and lotions waiting for you as well as soft towels a hair dryer, and ironing board.

The Internet connections too are lightning fast.

What’s Lacking

The Blueground does a very good job of the premium experience. The apartments are very nice, the customer service is responsive, and their app lets you manage your bookings and find out useful information like where to put out the trash and wifi password. On the flip side the site search listings don’t show final prices and there are no reviews of apartments available either. Lacking community feedback can be disconcerting, especially since changing apartments carries a $1,500 fee.

Blueground do fill a niche for the growing digital nomad, remote working population looking for consistency in high end temporary accommodations. Still, they have a lot to learn from their established competitors Airbnb and VRBO, starting with transparency.

The 7 Best Meals In Copenhagen For Less Than 100 Danish Krone ($15)

This is a guest post by Josephine Remo, a former flight attendant of seven years, whose biggest passion is traveling. For the past ten years, Josephine has dedicated all her spare time to travel and is currently living as a digital nomad.

cheap food copenhagen

Copenhagen is a lovely city that is well worth any traveler’s time for numerous reasons. You might think of words such as cute, bicycles, NOMA, cold, or Hans Christian Andersen. A word that is rarely associated with Copenhagen, however, is cheap.

Many people believe that visiting Copenhagen is going to break the bank and it is true that Denmark is an expensive country. Nonetheless, over the years a bunch of great and economic options has opened all over the city in terms of food, accommodation, and things to do in Copenhagen. Eating amazing food in Copenhagen should be on the top of your list of priorities when visiting the city, and this does not have to be expensive at all.

Here is a list of the 7 absolute best places to eat around Copenhagen, for less than 100 DKK. All places mentioned below are local favorites that provide a great gastronomical experience, far away from overpriced tourist traps.

1. Folkehuset Absalon

Folkehuset Absalon is a particularly interesting and unique spot in Copenhagen that can be visited for more than just the food. As a converted church, Folkehuset Absalon functions as a restaurant, great café, event location, and hang-out spot.

Folkehuset Absalon copenhagen

The church opened its doors in 2015 intending to become a spot for the people that was both economic, inviting, and fun. Everything happens in the main hall where you find long tables, a bar, and ping pong tables. With its communal nightly dinners and events ranging from quizzes to croquis, Folkehuset Absolon is a place for all.

Dinner is served every night at 6 PM and presented in a communal format where everyone eats alongside at the long tables. The menu changes every night and costs 50 krone Sunday – Thursday. Friday and Saturday Folkehuset Absalon offer a 2-course menu for 100 DKK. Likewise, lunch is served every day from 12 PM and costs 50 DKK all days of the week.

You can check out their website for weekly events and an updated menu. Folkehuset Absalon is located in the trendy Vesterbro area at Sønder Blvd. 73, 1720 Copenhagen V.

2. Fabro

If you are craving a delicious and simple pasta dish in a laid back setup, head to Fabro. This small corner restaurant is located in the very center of the city and stands out with its economic prices and simple concept. You won’t find anything fancy in this place but instead simplicity, a nice atmosphere, and extremely friendly staff.

fabro copenhagen

For just 85 DKK, Fabro serves great pasta dishes without the fuss. The menu doesn’t change much and the options are cut to the bone. Fabro offers 4 different pasta dishes, a few simple starters, and usually just one dessert. Check out the menu on their website if you are curious to know more beforehand.

Note that Fabro doesn’t take any reservations and you will have to drop in and possibly wait a bit for a table. Fabro is in the very center of Copenhagen at Borgergade 134, 1300 Copenhagen K.

3. Poulette

Poulette is a tiny joint in the heart of the Nørrebro area that specializes in fried chicken or vegetarian tofu burgers for 75 DKK. Other than that, you have a few other great options in terms of extras and fries – that’s it. Even though the place and menu are small, Poulette serves one of the best fried chicken burgers in town and the people know it. With its growing popularity and limited space, it’s not uncommon to be in line for a medium-short while at Poulette.

poulette copenhagen

Note that you can’t sit inside at Poulette and with just one small bench outside, people tend to grab their food as take-away or pair it with a glass of wine from Pompette next door. You’ll find Poulette at Møllegade 1, 2200 Copenhagen N.

4. Holy Krapow

Holy Krapow is the only place in Copenhagen that serves the Thai spicy dish “Krapow”, and they do so perfectly. For 95 DKK you get an incredibly flavorful meal including rice, the meat or vegetarian topping of your choice, and a fried egg on top. Simple, tasty, and exclusively found at Holy Krapow in the Vesterbro area.

holy krapow copenhagen

Holy Krapow is located in the Vesterbro area at Sankt Jørgens Allé 6, 1615 Copenhagen V. Note that you choose your own level of spiciness and when they say Thai spicy, they mean it.

5. GOLA

Located next to some of the best bars in Copenhagen, Gola has copied the New York concept of a pizza slice joint. Here Gola combines this concept with the Italian culinary tradition of the Roman-style pizza.

gola copenhagen

GOLA has a very casual and informal setting where people can order a few slices of pizza, costing 40 DKK a slice, and either grab a seat at the counter, in the front window or simply walk out the door with the pizza in hand. The menu at Gola changes seasonally and most toppings are made in-house using organic and locally produced ingredients. Besides pizza, GOLA serves a few fried bites called “fritti”, a few desserts, and a weekly pasta.

To know the exact menu, you have to either call the shop or visit GOLA at Ranzausgade 47, 2200 Copenhagen N.

6. Madglad

Madglad is a cafeteria in the Vesterbro area that serves tasty homemade meals at an affordable price in a fun and homey set-up. In the evening, Madglad serves the dish of the day, either including meat or as the vegetarian option, and offers side salads, bread, dips, and other fresh and home-cooked things in the buffet bar for 85 DKK. Alternatively, as take-away you can either choose the dish of the day including bread and hummus for 60 DKK, or get the full experience with salad for 75 DKK.

madglad copenhagen

Find Madglad at Eskildsgade 13, 1657 Copenhagen V.

7. Garbanzo

This pita-specialized place opened in 2019, quickly became extremely popular, and is now spread out over the city with 4 different stores. Garbanzo has the philosophy that fast food doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Freshness is the foundational stone of their concept and Garbanzo prepares fresh salads, homemade pita bread, and sous-vide prepared protein fillings daily with vegan and gluten free options.

garbanzo copenhagen

Photo courtesy Garbanzo.

Everything Garbanzo serves is mouth-watering good, and with pitas costing 69 DKK and bowls 89 DKK.

Visit Garbanzo either in the center of the city at Sværtegade 3, 1118 Copenhagen K, at Falkoner Allé 82, 2000 Frederiksberg, Århusgade 149, 2150 Nordhavn or in the Østerbro area at Ndr. Frihavnsgade 4, 2100 Copenhagen Ø.

Eating In Copenhagen

Eating in Copenhagen is a great and fun experience with numerous amazing options. While the city is pricey, eating great food in Copenhagen does not have to be. Know that Copenhagen is much more than NOMA and provides great economic options for a great dinner and even street food markets or local favorites.

At the 7 places in Copenhagen mentioned above, you are guaranteed a great meal at a very decent price.

Thank you Josephine for this tasty tour of Copenhagen! You can follow Josephine’s journey through her website, Instagram, and Pinterest. All photos in this post are courtesy Josephine Remo, except where otherwise noted.

A Review Of Mint Mobile, There’s A Catch

Mint Mobile is a company that offers an alternative to local U.S. cell service, undercutting the prices of larger providers by maintaining an entirely brick-less infrastructure. For visitors to the United States, Mint Mobile can also be an attractive options compared to other eSim services but in both cases, there are some limitations to be aware of you can watch in this video or read on.

MVNO

To see how Mint Mobile is able to have talk, text, and data plans half the price of major carriers like AT&T or Verizon, you need to understand what’s known as a mobile virtual network operator or MVNO. That means that Mint Mobile does not have its own wireless network infrastructure – in other words they’re not putting up their own cell towers and spending money managing, maintaining and growing their own network hardware. Instead, what Mint Mobile does as an MVNO is purchase portion of the network services from a larger carrier that does have its own wireless infrastructure.

In the case of Mint Mobile, they are an MVNO on T-Mobile’s network. Essentially Mint Mobile purchases bulk access to T-Mobile’s network then creates their own pricing for their talk, text, and data plans which end up being a lot less expensive for you the consumer.

mint mobile

For example on a yearly plan with unlimited talk, text, and 10 gigabytes of data per month, Mint Mobile charges $20 every month, compared to T-Mobile where their 100GB plan is $70 a month and requires a year commitment. Mint Mobile offers plans as short as 3 months and setup takes 10 minutes on eSim compatible devices (most phones made since 2020) or if needed, they’ll mail you out a SIM card.

Carrier Games

Now being an MVNO means that T-Mobile can, and does, prioritize their paying users over Mint Mobile’s. In crowded places like sporting events or concerts, where a lot of people are connecting to the Internet on their phones, Mint’s service might be slowed down considerably or become unavailable altogether. During my testing I never encountered major throttling but it’s a possibility to be aware of.

Mint Mobile also limits video streaming to 480p resolution and doesn’t support Netflix. For people who watch a lot of YouTube on your phone, those limitations might be a deal breaker.

Lost Data

Unfortunately after testing Mint Mobile for over 6 months, it became apparent data from my first, 3GB, then 10GB plans were going missing. Even during a month where I purposefully kept my phone in airplane mode (wireless only) for all but a few hours, I some how hit my 10GB limit 10 days into the month. According to my phone stats, that’s not possible and something other users have reported online.

Mint Mobile wasn’t able to give me a good reason for the discrepancy and that’s disappointing because their service is otherwise solid with very good monthly rates. Given their status as an MVNO and the fact they don’t have physical stores, it’s easier to understand how Mint Mobile is able to cut down on costs. Assuming you don’t have mystery data leaks, the setup and price might be right for you.

How Airbnb Rips You Off With Cleaning Fees

Once the lower cost alternative to hotels, Airbnb prices have gone steadily up, even if it’s not apparent from the nightly rates that pop up in the search results. That’s because Airbnb hosts have adopted a strategy commonly used by airfare search engines to get you to pay more than you want to – by using the cleaning fee.

Clearing Up Cleaning Fees

You’re probably familiar with the service fee when booking on Airbnb – the cut the site takes to run their service but much, much more variable is the cleaning fee. Cleaning fees on the other hand are there to cover costs like labor, cleaning products, toilet paper, laundry – as the name suggests, to cover the costs of cleaning an Airbnb after your stay. The cleaning fee, unlike many hotels, is a one-time (non-refundable) upfront cost – in other words you pay a single cleaning fee rate whether you’re staying for a night or two months.

airbnb cleaning fee

Cleaning fees, in theory, vary based on the size of the accommodation, location, and any special circumstances like being on a ski resort for example, where you might have a lot more mud tracked inside. But cleaning fees, at least for the host, are somewhat arbitrary.

Reservation Pricing

An Airbnb host can set the cleaning fee to whatever they want and I’ve seen places where the fee is the same as the rental rate, meaning it can double the cost of your stay if it’s only for a night. See, Airbnb calculates service fees based on the total amount of your payment, which includes the cleaning fee. A high cleaning fee can mean a larger service fee meaning the price you saw in the search could be a lot more each night than at first sight.

reservation pricing

This all makes sense from a logical perspective for Airbnb but for you, the consumer, you still have that original price – the one you saw when you were searching in the first place – you still have that first price in mind. And because of that, you’re more likely to book the Airbnb, high cleaning fees and all. This is due to a psychological phenomenon called “reference price” and it works even better to get you to book an Airbnb if the search price – that first price you see is really low.

Airline Tactic

See, this is a tactic airlines have been using for a long time. You’ve seen it, you search for flights and pick a cheap one, only to watch the total price be way above what you were hoping to pay when airline fees are added. Fees for seating, fees for luggage, fees for food, fees for who knows what else. But you usually end up booking that flight anyway because our brains unconsciously evaluate prices based on the first base cost we’re presented with.

So it’s not a 949 dollar flight, it’s a $600 flight with fees and taxes tacked on. And just like that it’s not a $288 a night Airbnb but a $147 Airbnb with a $105 dollar cleaning fee. For Airbnb, holding off on how long they show you the total price – or rather by showing you the lowest base price for a booking, they increase their chances of you booking. And Airbnb hosts know this as well – so they can lower the nightly rate but make up for it a bit with a higher cleaning fee.

For longer bookings of a week or more, large cleaning fees probably won’t impact the total price too significantly. But for one or two night stays, they can significantly add to your totals. And that’s how hosts can really turn a profit since it probably doesn’t cost them close to the cleaning fee to spruce up after a one night guest.

Overall, hosts get to lower their nightly rate at first glance, profit off the cleaning fee, and all the while Airbnb makes more off increased service fees. To avoid falling for the reference price trap, check hotels, other rental sites, so for better or worse, you’re not just relying on Airbnb.

Is Travel Blogging Dead?

r.i.p.

In evolution, there’s no one specific moment in time where you can point to and say, this species split into two different paths. We of course do that in history books but the truth is there’s a big grey area where things overlap. The same is often true of online platforms and trends, travel blogging being a good example.

Travel blogging has been changing but now has changed so much, we can say it’s in a new era. So, travel blogging isn’t dead but not what it once was. Here’s what you need to know about travel blogging if you’re thinking of starting your own or not sure to do with the one you have on life support.

This Was The Plan

Since I began blogging seriously around 2008, I’ve had a weekly schedule. In those days, it was start planning out the site’s posting schedule for the week on Sundays. I’d write 5 posts a week and foXnoMad slowly grew an audience. Many left comments and suggestions as they followed my travels and tech reviews through RSS. A reader where you subscribed to sites to get updates. (It still exists as a weekly foXnoMad email update.) Growth was organic and at the time and I knew pretty much every other travel blogger.

igloo hotel alaska

Social media was in its infancy and timelines were chronological. Introverts rejoice, you could have an online presence without being the face of your own brand. You can still exist on the Internet as travel blogs once did in the early 2010s but what’s changed is your ability and perhaps, desire to monetize.

Everything Everywhere

As Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube became algorithm based – machines preferring content know will get clicks (quality or usefulness be damned) and Google abandoning Reader, travel bloggers shifted. Some jumped completely to YouTube or Vine (rest in peace) while others tried to be on every platform. Without a way to like and subscribe to your favorite blog, blogger audiences became scattered and had to rely on Google searches to get views. Personality based based blogs mostly suffered and those that help you travel smarter, benefited. (Not all though, some have cultivated a very active user base on their blog.)

Gary Arndt has a very good write up on this history and why he’s done travel blogging. We also talked about it in a recent episode of the foXnoMad Podcast. But to me, it comes down to money. Travel blogging isn’t dead but the monetization model isn’t the same.

State Of Blogging Today

See, if you want to make money from travel blogging, that’s a whole other story. Is travel blogging dead? Not if you don’t care about money. Blogs and websites still remain possibly the most independent, free spaces on the Internet. You don’t have to make money from a travel blog and there are other benefits to having your own personal online space. It can be a hub for your merch, tours, or other services.

And, this is a big one, whether you jump to YouTube or start a podcast, writing is an invaluable skill. Videos often need scripts, podcasts a well-thought out plan, and an economy of words online is a skill that takes time to cultivate. How you say stuff – that “voice” everyone keeps talking about requires writing. Having written thousands of posts now and hundreds of YouTube scripts, a blog is a great way to articulate ideas, organize your thoughts, and have one place where everyone can find everywhere else you happen to be posting.

Since I began travel blogging I have said to myself and others, if I didn’t make a cent doing this, I would still be doing it. I love sharing knowledge and writing because they lead to ideas. In my experience, ideas often lead to adventures. Life isn’t the same without them.

Tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee has a good analogy that works for any creative endeavor. Don’t start travel blogging unless you love traveling and writing (or photography). You should be happy doing it even if you never make a dime off of it. Otherwise it sounds like you want to start a business. But turning your travel blog into a business, that has evolved into something else completely.

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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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