Anil Polat, aka Fox Nomad, is one of the best known of a special breed of technomad Vagobond who travels perpetually with tech gear. His very popular blog FoxNomad.com is one of my favorites and tends to focus on not only getting more out of your travels, but also getting more out of your technology while you are on the road. If you have questions about technology (like how to bypass a YouTube ban or use proxy servers in heavily censored countries) Anil is the guy you should turn to.
Vagobond: Where are you from? What’s your family background?
Anil: I’m from Turkey but spent much of my childhood moving back and forth between the US and Turkey with my journalist parents.
Vagobond: What got you into travel? What got you into technology? How did you come to mix the two so well?
Anil: I guess the travel comes from my parents! Aside from the physical movement, we were always talking about world events, politics, and it gave me a global perspective. Travel indulges my curiosity about humanity and what makes us ultimately human. As for technology, I’ve always been a nerd and playing with computers, and programming is easy to do growing up when you don’t have too many friends to play with :) I was also very fortunate to have an uncle who helped guide my natural curiosity toward technology.
And finally, I can’t discount my love of Star Trek as a kid and now. If I could have a dream job it would be as science officer on a star ship. Being a hacker and full-time traveler are the closest I can get for now…but I’m still holding out hope ;)
Vagobond: Do you make your living strictly from travel? The web?
Anil: Yes and yes. I make a living by selling advertising on my websites and my ebooks primarily but don’t limit myself.
Vagobond: What’s the gadget you won’t travel without? What’s a gadget you’d like to try out?
Anil: I travel with everything I own, which for me is a lot of gadgets :) The next major gadget I’ll buy is likely the new iPad, whenever it comes out to replace the second backup laptop (Dell Mini 10v) I carry now.
Vagobond: What’s the cheapest best travel computer/netbook/tablet etc out there?
Anil: A very big question! There is no best – only best for you. That said, here are some of my favorites: http://foxnomad.com/2011/11/22/the-complete-2011-foxnomad-travel-gadget-gift-guide/
Vagobond: What’s your personal travel philosophy?
Anil: Hmmm, I’m not sure I have one. I suppose keep an open mind and be adaptable would be my general guidelines.
Vagobond: How many countries have you visited? Any countries you have no desire to visit?
Anil: I’ve visited almost 50 countries now and do want to see them all. In the past some of the ones I’ve been least interested in have turned out to be the most memorable so I’ve learned not to make travel conclusions without testing my hypothesizes.
Vagobond: What are your top 3 cities in the world? Since you are in the US, which city strikes you as the best there?
Anil: My favorite 3 begins with Istanbul, which is where I’d like to end up when this phase of my travels is over. After that I’ve got many favorites, it’s hard to choose but some recent ones have been Granada, Spain and Cairo, Egypt. My favorite city in the US is Seattle.
Vagobond: What’s your scariest travel moment?
Anil: I’ve had tense moments but not scary that I can remember. (But my memory is terrible.)
Vagobond: What’s your funniest travel moment?
Anil: One that immediately comes to mind is from my trip to Iraq with Wandering Earl (http://www.wanderingearl.com/). While making our way through a heavily guarded check point we came across an American soldier who was bewildered that anyone would want to travel there. His exact words were in heavy Texas accent, “Holy sh*t man, what the hell are you doing here!?”
Vagobond: What’s your most astounding adventure?
Anil: Again, it’s hard to pick just one although Iraq is certainly one of them.
Vagobond: What’s your dream destination/vacation/trip?
Anil: I’m so incredibly fortunate to have traveled as much as I have. I don’t feel like I deserve to answer this question honestly, I have really been incredibly lucky, I can’t ask for more.
Vagobond: Are you a traveler or a tourist or something else? What’s the difference if there is one.
Anil: I don’t see the difference. I’m just a guy who travels and writes about it for a living. Traveler sounds cooler but I’m not going to kid myself.
Vagobond: What’s a great travel tip most people don’t know?
Anil: Traveling isn’t that hard or expensive. Get specific on where you want to go and what you want to do – stir – then add in dash of planning, put in an oven of effort, wait a bit and you’ll have yourself a trip.
Vagobond: What are your travel plans for 2012?
Anil: This is a close to a plan as I’ve got: http://foxnomad.com/upcoming-stops/ but they tend to change often and at the last minute!