I‘ve probably learned more techie travel tips in today’s interview than ever before! Not to imply I’m a complete technophile when it comes to travel gear, but I don’t take advantage of all the bells and whistles as much as I should. I will now though, courtesy of Anil…
Let’s start with a brief introduction.
My name is Anil Polat and I’m a traveler who’s been fascinated with the culture of travel for many years. It’s funny when people ask me what ‘foXnoMad’ means as it’s been an inside joke that I can’t explain it. It comes from my idea of foxes, the only animals aside from humans that inhabit all of the continents (including Antarctica) of the world and adapt to any environment they find themselves in. It’s very similar to what frequent travelers do – we adapt, learn, and absorb our changing surroundings.
foXnoMad’s tagline is “travel smarter.” What do you do to travel smarter?
Before I go anywhere I begin picking apart the culture and language, researching everything I can about it. Aside from my engineering background I’ve got an education in anthropology and really try to understand the people I’ll be visiting. What differentiates all of us are the subtleties, I try to identify them to get a better understanding of the local culture. I also travel as light as possible, find multiple uses for everything, and use the technology I carry to find wireless networks most anywhere.
My expertise in computer security – breaking and improving security systems for those organizations who want to improve them – comes in handy as I travel too. Looking for ways to find hidden airfares (you can use corporate discounts), getting your way at the airline counter (using 2,000 year old Chinese philosophy), and borrowing free wireless networks at airports (they’re there if you know where to look) are just some examples.
By looking at the system as a whole you can begin using it in creative ways and travel smarter wherever you are.
Tell us about your new book, Overcome the Obstacles and Travel the World.
(click the image to learn more about Anil’s eBook)
Some months ago I wrote a list about 7 reasons you won’t travel the world on a whim with the intention of following it up with ways to overcome each one. As I began writing about the solutions I found so many people it resonated with. People were sending me emails and comments letting me know about their personal struggles. Some of these people are already traveling the world and many are still trying to figure out how to do it.
Regardless of where you are in the process almost everyone who wants to travel has to work hard to do so. It seems like a huge problem until you begin to break it down. That’s what my book, Overcoming the 7 Major Obstacles to Traveling the World does. It’s taking a big problem and dream and picking it apart into a reality that you can live. It’s based on my experiences and those of others with the hope that by reading it you’ll feel it’s not so crazy and unrealistic to travel as much as you want. The only caveat is you’ll have to put in the work to do so.
Your site features a lot of great travel tech. What are your must-have travel gadgets?
A laptop is an essential travel item for me along with a long range USB antenna. The antennas have several uses but what most people don’t realize is that for about $50-60 dollars you can extend your wireless range by 5-6 times. Since a lot of the work I do is from the road, being able to snag that wireless network that would otherwise be too far away is vital.
As far as software goes I’m in love with Skype to communicate, HotSpot Shield to get around regional censorship, and TrueCrypt to make sure if my laptop gets stolen or confiscated, the data on it won’t. There are quite a few more – it’s all in the software. Too many people get caught up in fancy hardware where there are some really cool, free programs that will run on ancient laptops.
Andy’s Note: I didn’t even know this kind of antenna existed. VERY VERY COOL. I want one. NOW.
What’s been your most inspirational travel experience?
I’m not sure if it counts but when I was very, very little I remember a boy in our neighborhood in Ankara. The type of kid I wasn’t used to seeing having lived in the US. He’d tag along, was very dirty, and much of a nuisance. I remember not liking him very much, although I knew nothing about him. At the end of the day he’d always go run down this alley at the end of the neighborhood. I never knew where he was going until I followed him one day. He and his family lived in the basement of an apartment building in a space smaller than most bedrooms.
That image has been with me ever since. The moment where I realized how different the world can be for different people. How much and how little some people have. I’ve always taken that to appreciate everyone no matter how different they seem. It inspired me to see what else is out there, how people live, and what society is made of.
In the end, traveling isn’t about seeing places, it’s about meeting and understanding people.
Andy’s Note: Wow. That’s powerful. If you’re scanning, STOP and re-read the above sentence.
Anything interesting coming up on your travel itinerary?
Yes! I’m looking forward to a trip around northern Europe and Scandinavia this winter before heading down to Central and South America in the late (northern hemisphere) spring. After a few months there, my wife and I will be moving to Northern Cyprus for some time before the urge to move comes again.
Andy’s Note: I’m not sure who goes to northern Europe and Scandinavia for *winter* but hey – you’re the one with the fox reference as duly noted above so perhaps you really meant it!
Thanks again Anil for your great tech tips and insightful stories. Folks, connect with Anil at his fantastic website foXnoMad for more tips and insights or follow him on Twitter. And of course, pick up a copy of his interesting sounding book.