Brendan van Son recently had the opportunity to interview one of the great travel people out there, Anil Polat. Anil is a digital nomad who once made a career as a computer hacker. He has travelled to some incredible places and writes about his adventures on FoxNomad.
Please introduce yourself. Who are you? Where are you from? What is your favourite colour of Skittles?
My name is Anil Polat and I'm from Turkey. I got my degrees in computer science and anthropology in the US, worked as a professional computer hacker for six years, and have been travelling around the world full-time for the last three years. My current goal is to visit every country in the world in more or less 10 years.
As for Skittles, I don't eat much candy but when given a colour choice, I always choose red.
You're a "tech" traveller. Could you survive travelling without your electronics?
Absolutely not. Aside from the fact that I need my laptop and camera to operate my one-man business, my gadgets replace pretty much every form of entertainment and communication tool you could find in a house all in my backpack.
What is one piece of electronics you never want to travel without?
Realistically, I couldn't travel without a few items like my camera but if I had to narrow it down to one - the laptop. It's simply the most versatile tech tool you can currently carry.
How do you keep your electronics safe while travelling?
Much of it is common and street sense specific to where I'm travelling. Some general rules I follow are not carrying anything I don't immediately need for an outing - there's no point in carrying around a Nook in a daypack for example if you're not going to read somewhere. I also keep my iPod on smaller items out of sight when possible. Two zipper locks on my backpack also give me a small bit of comfort when it's left behind in hostel or hotel room.
How can we use technology to enhance our travel experience rather than dull it?
I don't see many ways it can dull it at all actually. You can check routes on continually updated maps, video call your slightly worried parents, get free travel advice from thousands of experienced people and a million other things. Remember only getting 24 shots with a film camera?
You claim to be a former "hacker." Be honest, was that a legit job?
Haha, yes it was. I worked at a small consulting firm of hackers and we were hired to help large companies improve their security, meet regulations, and lots of other fun things I can't tell you about ;)
What is one hidden travel gem that you kind of don't want other people to find out about?
My favourite bar in Istanbul on a Sunday afternoon. On second thought I'll tell anyone about it if they ask, as the more people to drink and dance with, the better.
You've travelled through the Middle East a bit, including Iraq. How is it as a travel destination?
Well, probably the only stable part to visit would be northern Iraq and there's hardly a tourism infrastructure at all. In fact, there isn't much infrastructure people may be used to and it's not completely safe. Though, if you like adventure it might just be the place for you.
Post revolution, are areas like Egypt save to visit?
It varies quite a bit by country. At the moment Egypt, where I was in May, is now good to travel while Syria for the most part isn't. Bahrain's situation has improved and I wouldn't count Tunisia out for experienced travellers. Yemen however is still highly unstable and Libya's volatility doesn't make it good idea for a visit right now.
This is your chance to brag. Where are you at the moment and what are your future travel plans?I'm currently in Hamburg, Germany and a day or two away from booking my next five countries to visit. Portugal, Azerbaijan, and Iran are all new to me while there's still more of Spain to see on the way and always time for a few days in my favorite city in the world. I know, I'm a bit biased, but I can't resist Istanbul.
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