Category: Money

What’s The Best Mavic Drone To Buy Right Now?

A few weeks ago I answered the question on whether the original DJI Mavic Pro drone was still worth buying in 2018. At the time, there was no new Mavic Pro to compare it to and the 2016 original was still the ideal drone for travelers. Earlier this month, DJI announced the Mavic Pro 2 and the Mavic 2 Zoom, making the question is the Mavic 1 still worth buying even more relevant.

For those of you considering a drone to take on your travels, I break down the differences between the Mavics and compare them to the entire DJI lineup in the video above or you can read on below.

New Drones Simplified

The simplest way to break down the new Mavic lineup is to start with the Mavic original and the Mavic Zoom. They’re very similar drones except the Zoom has a 24-48mm lens you can use to get even closer to your subject. The sensor of the camera is the same size as the Mavic original and if you scroll down the spec sheet, there aren’t a lot of major differences. I’m talking at a high-level of course but if you look at the Zoom and Mavic Pro, it’s the zoom feature all the way.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Drone Quadcopter with 24-48mm Optical Zoom

buy from amazon

Now the Mavic 2 Pro is something different. Better camera? Yes. And a much bigger, full one inch sensor (vs 1/2.3in) that has a color profile of a billion (vs 16 million)? Yes. In terms of the actual, physical drone, the Mavic 2 Pro is a lot like the original Mavic but the Hasselblad camera and internal hardware makes it clear DJI wanted to focus on a major improvement in video quality.

Physically, all of the Mavics have folding arms although the new Mavics weigh around 900 grams, 200 more than the Mavic 1. The newer Mavics are also quieter thanks to more efficient motors and have a 31 minute flight time whereas the Mavic 1 is only 27 minutes.

drone down

Pricing Points

Both Mavic 2s are improvements to the original Mavic. They’ve got better specs but higher prices as well – DJI didn’t drop the price of the Mavic 1 (still $999) and the Zoom runs $1249, the Mavic 2 Pro $1499. Those are odd decisions in pricing, because generally new tech products tend to maintain price points, especially when you consider both Mavic 2s are refinements, not revolutions in drone technology.

To Mavic Or Not To Mavic

Given the price points, DJI seems like they’re marketing these new Mavics to people who are primarily interested in videography. Obviously all drone owners, to an extent, care about video quality but it looks like they’re drawing a line at the Mavic Air. The Mavic Air and all of the DJI lineup below it are for people who want advanced selfie cameras and to take some fun videos occasionally – beyond the Mavic Air it’s everyone who’s more serious about video. In other words, if you’re planning to use Final Cut Pro to edit all of your drone videos into sleek YouTube videos, you should probably look at the Mavic Pro and beyond.

At $1499, the Mavic 2 Pro is bumping prices with the Phantom series where big drones begin. Unless video quality is your primary concern, you might want to take a look at the Mavic Air. As far as Mavic Pros go, the original is still an excellent 18 month old drone with a very current price.

Road Tested! Is The DJI Mavic Pro Still Worth Buying In 2018?

Since it was introduced in last 2016, the market has shifted DJI’s Mavic Pro from tiny drone to a middle of the pack device. The release of the DJI Spark and more recently Mavic Air are a sign of things to come, yet the Mavic Pro still has superior battery life and video quality. So, is the DJI Mavic Pro still worth buying in 2018?

dji mavic  DJI Mavic Pro Fly More Combo: Foldable Propeller Quadcopter Drone

amazon button

After 18 months, a few crashes, and over a hundred of hours of flight time, I answer that question in the video above.

Kayak Explore Lets You See How Much It Costs To Fly From Home To Anywhere

kayak explore

Most airfare search engines work around the assumption that you know where you want to go and are looking for the best price to fly there. Kayak Explore let’s you do something much more fun: see how much it costs to fly to cities around the world from where you are.

Pick A Destination Based On Price

Several years ago airfare aggregator Kayak quietly rolled out Kayak Explore, one of the best travel search engines that’s useful for travel planning, particularly if you aren’t quite sure where you want your next trip to be. The concept is pretty simple, you enter in a home city and time frame for a trip, then see a world map of prices for airfare to cities worldwide.

Kayak Explore also has several options for refining the airfare shown, like season (e.g. fall 2018) or exact dates, maximum price, as well as duration. You can also specify whether or not you want prices for direct flights only.

Find New Hubs

Zooming in or scrolling around let’s you see airfare to essentially everywhere, giving you an idea of the costs to travel to places you may not have considered. Another big benefit of Kayak Explore – if you’re willing to put in the time – is it reveals new hubs and connecting cities you can use to get cheap multi-city flights.

amman stadium

Say, for example, you want to visit the ancient city of Petra and find a flight from Washington DC to Amman, Jordan for $800. The DC to Amman flight connects through Frankfurt. However, booking a flight to Frankfurt separately, then to Amman (no need to leave the airport) might actually cost less. Alternatively, Kayak Explore could show a $250 flight to Copenhagen from Washington DC. Afterward, you plug in Copenhagen as your home city, then notice a flight to Amman from there is $250. Now you can fly to Jordan for $500, rather than the original $800 price.

The reason the example above works is because airlines often don’t show you all of the connecting city possibilities and use the framing effect to trick you. They tend to offer up efficient, well-flown routes that aren’t necessarily the least expensive. Airlines only cross over with partner airlines as well; booking multi-city flights on your own gets you around such limitations.

What You Might Not Be Looking For

Even if you don’t intend to do any in-depth travel planning, Kayak Explore can give you ideas. Cheap airfare could entice you to take a closer look at a country or city you wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Kayak Explore is a tool I use often, particularly for multi-city trips but one so simple, I nearly neglected to write a dedicated post about it.

It’s one of the best ways to search for cheap flights and get from your desk to all the places you want to travel. Remember though, even if Kayak Explore isn’t helping, you can stop chasing cheap flights to really save money on your next vacation.

Should You Pay For Mileage Boosters When Buying Airplane Tickets?

airport lufthansa

You’ve probably noticed during self-check-in or when booking tickets, some airlines offer an option to purchase an extra 1,000 or more frequent flyer miles to add to your flight. These mileage “boosters” are supposed to give you a few extra frequent flyer miles at a discount, making you wonder if the cost is worth the reward.

Those of you who collect frequent flyer miles know that they’re a good way to get free flights and other perks but mileage boosting in most cases isn’t money well spent.

What Are Mileage Boosters?

More common in the United States, the trend is spreading to other airlines around the world. Basically, mileage boosters are discounted miles, made available only as an add-on purchase to an existing flight. The idea is that you’ll be able to earn extra frequent flyer miles for a given flight without paying full price for them.

Unfortunately, discounted or not, buying miles is almost never a good deal because the equivalent monetary value in airfare is going to be cheaper.

Adding Up The Numbers

Frequent flyer programs are intentionally vague since airlines want you to disassociate miles with money. Let’s use United as an example (here’s why you should sign up for their mileage program even if you don’t fly United.) They frequently offer 1,000 mile boosters for $35.

A free round-trip flight from, say, North America to Europe, is around 50,000 miles with United on Star Alliance. At $35 per 1000 miles, to get a free flight would cost $2,100 in boosters. Going to United’s website and purchasing 50,000 miles directly costs $1750 – chances are in either case you’ll find airfare for a North America to Europe round trip flight to be half as much.

Additionally, mileage boosters don’t count toward the premier or status miles on United, Delta, and other airlines. In other words, frequent flyer programs have status levels (more miles more status) that give you lounge access (here are the wifi passwords), free upgrades, or other perks but not all miles are counted equally. Some are “special” miles that add to your total status, others like the “boosters” don’t count.

Stick To Flights

Frequent flyer hackers will tell you, if you’re going to buy miles, it’s best to go through some third-party promotion. Otherwise, accumulate your miles in one place like this, wisely use reward cards, or earn frequent flyer miles without getting any credit cards.

In general, refrain from buying miles and earn them the best way – by traveling more – and keep this habit every time you fly so you’re credited the miles you’re due. The airlines have a tendency not to be incredibly diligent in adding miles after a flight and not getting miles you’ve earned is an even bigger waste than a mileage booster.

The Jordan Pass Is A Great Way To Save Money In The Country (And Petra)

amman jordan flag

The Jordan Pass is one of the best discount tourist packages offered in the world but it’s not well advertised. Unfortunately, many travelers learn about the Jordan Pass after they’ve arrived in Jordan or spent $70 entrance to Petra, missing out on a lot of money and time savings.

The Jordan Pass is one of the best tourist discount packages, like Spain’s Granada Card, but in order to take full advantage of it, you’ll need to purchase it before you enter the country.

Includes Visa Entry

There’s one good reason, especially if you’re going to visit Petra, to get a Jordan Pass. But let me start with the obvious bonus all three of the Jordan Pass varieties come with: visa entry fee and shortened entry line at the airport. For Americans and Europeans, plus most other nationals aside from a few neighboring countries, a typical tourist visa costs around $50. The Jordan Pass starts at $99 (70 Jordanian dinar).

jordan pass

Additionally, you’ll get into a shorter line at the airport with a Jordan Pass (for those who already have valid visas) plus save at least 30 minutes from having to go through the process at an immigration desk. You can even save on paper (Jordan is refreshingly good at being green) by simply scanning your Jordan Pass at passport control.

Advantages Even If You’re Petra Only

A single-day entry ticket to Petra is 50JD ($70 USD). So, even if you just use a Jordan Pass to visit the country and see Petra only, it’s saved you $20 already (otherwise it’s around $50 for the tourist visa and $70 for Petra). In fact, the three different Jordan Pass offerings vary only by Petra entry days:

  • Jordan Wanderer ($99): 1 day visit to Petra, 40 other popular sites, tourist visa, digital brochures
  • Jordan Explorer ($106): Same, except has a 2 day Petra entrance ticket
  • Jordan Expert ($113): Same as above, except is a 3 day Petra entrance

Keep in mind to be eligible for the tourist visa entry fee, your trip to Jordan must be at least 3 nights (4 days).

Now you might be wondering who would want to visit Petra 2 or 3 times but it might surprise you that Petra is a lot bigger than most people expect. It’s an entire ancient town spread over dozens of square kilometers. Many travelers stay in town for a few days to explore Petra a section at a time due its size. Others, who only get a day ticket, arrive the night before so they can get in at 6am before the vast majority of the crowds. (It’s not too bad if you’re running late though, here’s how crowded Petra gets at peak hour.)

Plan For The Pass

A Jordan Pass is an instant money saver if you’re only going to visit Petra. You’ll cut costs on Petra and a tourist visa, but even those who are visa exempt or not planning on seeing Petra will likely save because the Jordan Pass includes 40 other sites as well. The Jordan Pass covers places like Wadi Rum you’ll probably want to see – just remember to keep the pass on your phone and ask any site you enter if you’re unsure.

Discount cards, like the JR Rail Pass for Japan, can be a great for your travel budget but Jordan Pass included, often have to be purchased in advance of your trip to make use of the full benefits.

Tell Me The Best City To Visit In 2018 And Win $250

granada spain

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament is simple: you nominate a city you love as the best to visit in 2018 and it could win you $250. The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament in an annual contest on this site where 64 cities are matched up and eliminated by weekly reader votes. The person who nominated the final remaining city will win $250 at a number of online stores, including Apple and Amazon.

To enter, write your favorite city in the comments section of this post before Thursday, March 1st 12:00pm US EST.

The cities will then be placed in tournament brackets sorted by geographical region, with the first round of voting beginning on Tuesday, March 6th, 2018. Each week the number of cities will be halved by reader votes, until there is one left. Hopefully the winning city is the one you picked.

Tournament Rules

Cities are first come first serve and several cities have already been picked by my newsletter subscribers (who got the first picks). The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament is a round robin style competition, with voting every week during the month of March.

  • Cities Already Taken: Istanbul, Plovdiv, Sarajevo, Helsinki, Berlin, Nyun Kunning, Montreal, Lisbon, New York City, Edinburgh, Sapporo, Zihuatanejo, George Town (Malaysia), Varanasi

Important Dates

Once you enter a city, there’s nothing you have to do but keep in mind voting for yourself isn’t a bad idea. These are the days in the coming weeks to make note of:

  • March 8, 2018: Round of 32
  • March 13, 2018: Sweet 16
  • March 20. 2018: Elite 8
  • March 27, 2018: Final 4
  • April 3, 2018: Championship

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, April 10th and the prize will be delivered electronically by June 29, 2018.

Prizes And Tips

In previous years, the winners have all generally used these tactics to their success. The first two rounds are the easiest to win and lose, so don’t neglect voting in those shorter rounds. There are quite a few dates to keep up with – the best way not to miss anything is to get my posts sent directly to your inbox.

  • The $250 gift card prize will be sent as a gift card that can be used on the Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Delta, and Southwest Airlines online stores.

More retailers may also be added; or those above modified at any time before the end of the tournament – gift cards must be for the full $250 prize amount and cannot be split among stores, transferred into cash, and will be sent to the email you use in the comments section to choose your city. Best of luck to everyone and please let me know if you have any questions.

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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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