Category: Travel Journal

All The Tech Gear And Gadgets I Travel With (And Why): Sept. 2017 Update

foxnomad travel tech guide

The electronics I travel with allow me to run a business (not to mention have a lot of fun while doing it) from anywhere in the world. Being so mobile though means the gadgets I carry have to be portable, powerful, plus durable. Reliability is also important which is why I often use electronics that are one, if not more, model behind the latest version.

Frequent travelers often have to make some compromises with their technology, sometimes exchanging power for reliability, plus at the same keeping in mind that shiny scuffs fast and gravity loves to show off on hard airport floors. When I am in one place long enough, I use and test a lot of products sent to me and out of pocket, to find the travel-tech-sweet-spot for common gear so you don’t have to.

Here’s a look at all the electronics that have made it into my backpack in the photo above that yes, all fit into one ScanSmart 1900 carry-on bag.

Laptop: Macbook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015): 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7; 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 memory; 500GB SSD; AMD Radeon R9 M370X

macbook pro mid 2015

Main Video Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds

panasonic g85

As I mention in the video above, the main weakness of the point and shoot Lumix I carry, is the video quality. For the price, the Panasonic Lumix G85 is the best 4K camera (that records without time limits as many 4K cameras have) in a mirror-less body that’s smaller than a standard DSLR.

Point And Shoot Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS45 [Here’s my full review.]

lumix dmc-zs45

  • Recommended SD Card: 32GB SanDisk SDHC
  • Case: No link for the case, just a cheap one I grabbed at a shop somewhere.

Tripod: Joby GorillaPod Focus with Joby Ballhead

joby gorillapod

On top of the Lumix G85, I’m using a Rode VideoMicro for recording audio and an Aputure AL-M9 Amaran LED Light when needed. When I need to use both at the same time, the Movo Photo HVA20 Dual Shoe Bracket does the job well.

Headphones: Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones [My full review.]

bose 20i headphones

Phone (Daily Driver): iPhone 6s (64 GB)/Space Grey

iphone 6s 64 gb space grey

I also travel with a Nexus 5X, primarily because it’s stock Android and gets updates from Google before most other phones, making it ideal for testing development versions of my WiFox and DroneMate apps. Speaking of app development, I also carry an iPhone 5s, 5, and 4s, all for app testing.

Drone: DJI Mavic Pro

dji mavic pro

Backpack: SwissGear 1900 Scansmart Laptop Bag

swissgear smartscan 1900 laptop bag

Cable Organizer: Cocoon Grid-It 10.5 x 7.5-Inch Organizer

cocoon grid-it

  • This is a major time-saver when going through airport security because you can pull out all of your cords and adapters at once. I’ve also noticed having cables organized like this means less time waiting for additional bags checks at security – a clump of cables often means re-scanning your backpack.

Portable Batteries: PowerStick+ (2300 mAh) PowerTrip (6000 mAh).

powertrip powerstick

These batteries have a standby time of up to a year so you’re much less likely to be on a train and realize your batteries died on the road. Read my full review here.

Connectors, Converters, And Other Accessories

For reading books or when I need a larger, mobile screen in general, I use a 64 GB iPad Air 2 protected by an Apple Smart Case.

You can see from the progression of the gadgets in my backpack from 2012, earlier this year, to now, that the larger electronic purchases are usually one or two off from the latest version. The longer a product is on the market the more time there is to see how well it was or wasn’t designed *cough, 2016 Macbook Pro* but being just behind the newest version means specs are still quite good. Most often, there aren’t major jumps in improvement between a version or two of phone or laptop these days.

Also, the cases I use are also more adapted to protecting electronics when they’re in a backpack, not from falls when they’re out and in use. This means I’m generally using sleeves and prefer a good fit (even from improvised cases like the lens case for the Mavic controller or SwissGear toiletry kits) than cases specifically designed for a given product.

When traveling, the best technology is often potent, portable, but not precious enough that your travel budget (or mental state) can’t handle a loss from damage or theft that might require a replacement. What are some of the electronics or gadgets you travel with and would recommend? I would be very interested to hear so let me know in the comments below!

Why Do People Travel To Star Trek Conventions?

People travel for many reasons and for 10-20,000 every August in Las Vegas, that reason is Star Trek. Although I’ve been to the Creation Entertainment Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas several times, I still have trouble answering the question I’m asked most about it: why do people go to Star Trek conventions?

As you can see in the video above, as I spoke with other Trekkies at the convention this year, people attend Star Trek conventions for a very human reason – one that won’t feel alien to any traveler or person. Plus, you’ll get to see a glimpse of what goes on at the largest Star Trek convention in the world.

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2017.

All The Cosplay Pictures From The 2017 Star Trek Convention In Las Vegas

klingons stlv 2017

I’ve been to several Star Trek conventions in Las Vegas and while there’s always been cosplay, this year the costumes jumped to another level in terms of creativity and complexity. You can take a look at the cosplay from 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 to see the evolution of Trek fans dressed in costumes but at the 2017 event there were more people cosplaying than ever.

These are some of the best cosplay photos from the 2017 Star Trek Convention held at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino.

TrekPool (Deadpool Star Trek mashup)

trekpool star trek las vegas 2017

From Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

lokai star trek las vegas

The Niners From Take Me Out To The Holosuite

niners copslay

Gorn Beauty Queen!

gorn beauty queen

Tholian

tholian cosplay las vegas

Star Trek Beyond Alien and T’Pol

cosplay star trek las vegas 2017

Andorians

andorian cosplay las vegas 2017

Borg Queen and Data

data and borg queen cosplay stlv 2017

All Species Can Cosplay!

dog star trek cosplay 2017 las vegas

From A Piece Of The Action

piece of the action cosplay

Klingon Family

klingon family cosplay las vegas 2017

Live Long And Prosper, Vulcan

vulcan cosplay

It’s A Cellular Peptide Cake

data troi cake cosplay

Mashup!

star trek las vegas cosplay 2017

Red Shirts

star trek vegas red shirts

Borg

borg cosplay

More Klingon!

klingons las vegas

Jon Snow-Klingon Mashup!

jon snow klingon 2017

Kazon

kazon cosplay

From The Animated Series

star trek animated series

Guinan

guinan cosplay 2017 las vegas

The Enterprise!

enterprise cosplay 2017 las vegas

Antedeans

antedean cosplay

More Vulcans

vulcan cosplay las vegas 2017

Costume Contest Winners

star trek las vegas costume contest 2017

Orions with their Ferengi

orion ferengi cosplay 2017

The Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas draws over 10,000 people per year to the city every August. It’s 5 days of all things Trek, testing the limits of even the most diehard geeks!

trek galaxy cosplay mashup

Nearly all of the cosplay you see above was handmade. These aren’t costumes people are picking up at a specialty shop, but making on their own for the fun of the convention. There’s also an annual costume contest, judged by, among others, legendary makeup artist Michael Westmore. The Klingons in the top photo took first place, winning themselves $1,000 for their creative efforts.

I wasn’t nearly able to fit in all the cosplay photos I took from the convention in this post but you can see all of the costume pictures I took in my Las Vegas album here.

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2017.

Is This The Most Boring Place In The World?

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament I run every year on this site is often controversial for a wide variety of reasons. 2017’s winner, Granada, Spain (yay!) wasn’t a surprising result for many of you who voted but the city it beat in the final, Campina, Romania, generated passionate comments of hate and love, mainly from locals.

Each year, I visit the winning Best City. I’ll be revisiting Granada this fall – though the fact that thousands voted for Campina while at the same time others wrote comments that I might die of boredom there made me curious. I have a goal to visit every country in the world, and there are many places I’ve visited which turned out to be very pleasant surprises, despite not having large tourist attractions.

You can see the story in the video above and decide if Campina is the most boring place in Romania or if a visit to the area should be part of your Romania travel plans.

My Camera Was Stolen In Argentina 7 Years Ago, Now I Finally Have The Pictures

buenos aires casa rosada presidential palace

In 2010 I visited Argentina for the first time, taking countless photos of the tasty foods and scenic views of Buenos Aires. I left Argentina with all of those pictures but when I landed in Santiago, Chile, they were gone. Along with my camera. I wasn’t robbed in a dramatic way – no armed mugging or crafty pickpockets – but fell for a sly scam at the airport which taught me two important lessons for all the travels I’ve taken afterward.

Those pictures I missed because of a security mishap had been on my mind until finally, six years later, I returned to Buenos Aires to get those photographs. Here are some of those pictures, 6 years later, and the story, from six years prior.

Traveling back to a place after a long while is like visiting friends with children, you’re surprised by how much they’ve grown, but also how recognizable their characters have remained. Like looking at an iPhone 7 but not seeing a smartphone since the 4S, the contrast is more evident since you’re seeing two moments in time, not witnessing the evolution in between.

buenos aires colorful street

But cities often look back at you, showing it’s not just them, you’ve grown too.

buenos aires canal

Some tastes may have changed, you can like a place you once hated, and getting to know yourself better opens up more travel possibilities.

la boca art

These beans at Cumana were so good, even the small cockroach in the dish didn’t stop me from finishing the bowl.

cumana buenos aires

A second ride around town with La Bicicleta Naranja was as good, and recommendable, as the first time.

buenos aires la bicicleta naranja

Many touristic areas are popular for a reason, like the very photogenic La Boca neighborhood.

la boca selfie argentina

Although I don’t remember specifically, there was probably a guy doing just this the last time I visited La Bombonera, the Boca Juniors soccer team stadium.

la bombonera

I do though recall flipping through the photos on my camera at Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Buenos Aires, prior to checking in.

park lezama buenos aires

When I got to the check in counter of a small airline I won’t mention, I was told that all of the electronics in my carry-on would have to be put in checked luggage. It was going to be a short flight, so naively, I didn’t resist much.

buenos aires old man

After landing in Santiago, many of the electronics were gone, along with some clothes. It was apparent that someone had a short time to reach in and grab what they could. I’m convinced it was part of an organized routine happening between the check-in crew and bag handlers – mostly because of the insistence of checking the electronics – which was never actually required and the knowledge of exactly where in the bag to look.

plaza de mayo buenos aires

For a travel blogger not having pictures of a place limits how much I can share of a destination. They’re also memories which can be looked back on, gone. On the other hand, not having one can let you focus on what you can’t capture with a camera.

cumana buenos aires

The theft of my camera cultivated two habits I’ve done ever since, which I would recommend to any traveler:

  1. Backup Right Away – After a day of taking pictures or videos, when you’re back at your hotel, transfer the data over to a laptop. Doing so ensures you have copies of you photos in case something happens to your camera plus it lets you comfortably delete pictures from your SD card or phone, in case it fills up when you’re out and about. There are some automatic wireless backup options or you can go with an external hard drive if you don’t have space on your laptop. No laptop? No problem, the WD 2TB My Passport Pro has an SD card slot, USB ports, and is wireless too.
  2. Keep Your Valuables In Hand Luggage – Although it seems very obvious to me now, at the time I didn’t consider theft from checked bags to be a significant risk. (Or even a thing.) Theft from luggage is fairly common all over the world and it’s important to keep an eye on your stuff through security checks as well. With all this thievery going on, tracking your stuff digitally may be a good idea as well.

WD 2TB My Passport Wireless Pro Portable External Hard Drive  WD 2TB My Passport Wireless Pro Portable External Hard Drive

amazon buy from

In the end, not having the pictures from 6 years ago brought me back to a place that was both familiar as I remembered but not quite the same. Which had changed more, Buenos Aires, or me? I wasn’t quite sure I thought as I left town, adjusting my small carry-on backpack with camera securely tucked away – probably, a little of both.

Momo Man At Berlin’s Street Food Fair Will Make You And Your Stomach Very Happy

holy nepal berlin

Beating in the center of Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood is a weekly street food festival that brings together artisans cooking up the best non-menu items from all around the world. Reflective of Kreuzberg itself, once the shunned, poor, and mainly foreign part of town, street food is being embraced for many of those now exotic qualities.

Thursday nights from 6pm-10pm within the brick walls of Markthalle Neun (9), chefs from all over the world serve up their favorite street food from back home. And every Thursday night you’ll find a bright-smiled face waiting for you in front of the Holy Everest stall set up near one of the main entrances.

Momo Man

G.B. (Rajesh) Lama wants people to learn about Nepalese cuisine in the best way possible: by tasting it. So often G.B. says, the “Nepalese” food you find at any given restaurant is actually Pakistani. Similar but not the same, G.B. serves vegetarian momos, dal bhat, Himalayan soup, and the desert shi momo. Markthalle 9 is the only place in Berlin, Germany you can find these Nepalese foods, which is why I affectionately call G.B. ‘momo man’.

holy everest momo

What’s In A Momo?

A momo is a type of dumpling that comes in a number of varieties but the ones at Holy Everest are vegan, steamed, and filled with peas, cabbage, spinach, carrots, garlic, (the full ingredient list is posted on the stall) and covered in a seductively spicy red tomato sauce. You add a little chutney on top at your discretion.

Clearly G.B. has a system. He effortlessly moves momos from bottom to the top of a three layered steamer, calmly serving a long line of customers in between. They smile, he smiles.

Street Food Fair Doesn’t Stop There

Thursday nights the street food festival is an eating, drinking, and lounging celebration. Among the vendors you can find Japanese takoyaki being prepared by a young couple from Osaka (where this fried squid ball originated), homemade chocolates, and a wide spread of Turkish meze (appetizers) you’re not likely to find at a restaurant outside of Turkey.

A post shared by Anil Polat (@foxnomad) on

Stalls run out of food fast and the lines are long, so it’s best to arrive early for the full selection of eats. Arrive close to closing time and you can avoid the bulk of the crowds, but you’ll be limited in the foods you can find. (The beer however, never runs out.) Other days of the week, there are more special events. The first weekend of each month there is a breakfast festival for example; Saturdays are the artisan market.

From Nepal To Nepal

G.B. spent 16 years as a trekking guide in the Nepalese Himalayas, moving to Berlin in 2013 with his family. He’s brought his unquestionably positive pride in his nation to Markthalle 9, where you can find him some other week days as well. (Markthalle 9 is open from 12pm-6pm daily, with some vendors holding variable hours.)

markthalle neun

All of the momos at Holy Everest are homemade, as are the other menu items. A serving of momos goes well with Himalaya soup – an aromatic vegetarian vegetable broth. (Each are 5 euros.)

himalaya soup berlin

Currently, G.B. is planning on opening a true Nepalese restaurant in another part of the city over the summer so he can reach, and teach more palates in Berlin. But you shouldn’t miss a Thursday night at Markthalle 9 for a taste of the worlds best street foods, most easily reached via the Gorlitzer Bahnhof metro stop, a 7 minute walk away. Be sure to visit Holy Everest, say hello to G.B., have some momos, and you too are sure to have a smile.

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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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