Boost Your Productivity With Clever Travel Hardware


Written by Irina Papuc Topics: Self Improvement 18414811362_e985c582a6_o

Boost Your Productivity

So, you want to boost your productivity? Nevermind Game of Thrones, winter is not coming, at least not in the northern hemisphere. It’s summertime, and here at Toptal that usually means many of our freelance developers and designers are either on the road or getting ready to hit the beach.

When I started writing this, some of our people were in Portugal, trying to work out the math behind surfboards. Now it’s my turn, and I’m wrapping up my draft with a nice view of the Adriatic Sea, just a few miles away from the best windsurfing spot in Europe.

Yes, I’m a workaholic, so this might as well be a good time to cover the topic I had in mind.

I can probably guess what some of you are thinking:

This is a lifestyle post! This guy is going to talk about surfing, healthy food and excercise.

No. This is not a lifestyle post. As far as food goes, fresh fish and veggies are always a safe bet. Exercise? Well, cycling to a nearby village to try a marginally different fish dish and sample local wine counts as exercise, at least to me.

So, with all the lifestyle stuff out of the way, I can get back to my message and start discussing the logistics behind travel and remote work and how you can boost your productivity. You can buy capri pants, cheap flip-flops, and boonie hats everywhere, but beachside shops usually don’t carry quality hardware that can help you be more productive on the road, or save time and money for more enjoyable activities.

Caveat: If you’re an avid Apple user with a profound dislike of Windows, you may not like where I’m going with this. I don’t intend to bash Apple, but Cupertino simply doesn’t bother with cheap hardware that won’t be missed if it ends up in the water.

Travel Hardware: Myths and Moths

(more…)

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Hanoi Airport Transfer | The Cheap & Fun Way To Get From The Airport Into Hanoi


Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Self Improvement, Travel Hanoi Airport Transfer

Hanoi Airport Transfer

Hanoi is an excellent place to visit. The new capital of Vietnam is modern and has a lot going on which can be quite overwhelming. You might be worried about your Hanoi airport transfer but you really shouldn’t be!

Read below to see, in my opinion, the best way to get from the airport to the centre with little hassle, very little money and a lot of entertainment. Oh, and keep reading if you don’t want to get scammed at Hanoi train station!

Arriving At The Airport

Unlike some other countries in South East Asia, going through passport control in Vietnam is easy. There is no need for an arrival/departure form and you can just stroll through as if it were your own country.

You will get a 15 day stamp on arrival for free. Upon arrival, go straight to passport control. Ignore the visa application desk that is in front of the passport control. Queue up, hand over your passport, give a nice smile and you’ll be in the country in no time. 

Collect your bags and head straight out of the main exit. Be prepared to have your first entertaining moment! Depending on the time of day that you land, there should be enough people queuing up in the arrival lounge with signs and big smiles to make you feel like Lady Gaga.

I recall it looking a little like the below:

Lots-of-people-wait-for-airport-arrivals

 

The Fun Hanoi Airport Transfer Steps

1. Turn left straight out of the exit and keep walking until you get to a sign that says 07 bus

2. Follow that sign to the bus seating area

3. Sit and wait for a full size bus to pull up with the number 7 in red on the side. Ignore the small yellow carts

The journey costs 8,000 dong which is about 25p. Way better than a $20 taxi or 50,000 dong mini bus.

It takes about an hour to get to the bus station. There will be many stops and many locals. One of these nice locals actually gave his seat up for me! Bearing in mind I’m far from a pregnant woman or one of the distinguished elderly (27 year old fit male).

The bus should drop you about 1 mile away from the city centre. You can then get a much cheaper taxi or do what we did and take a walk through the city to explore. It took us about half an hour to walk to St Joseph’s Cathedral – including a necessary stop at a cafe en route.

In conclusion: it was well worth the experience for a lot less money! The bus gets very full and is fun when people pile on and off politely.

There we go, your Hanoi airport transfer is complete and was way cheaper and more fun that just jumping in a taxi. Check out the Hanoi airport transfer guide by Clicking Here. You can ignore the first 2 links and just click on Public Bus – The fun one ;).

Your Bonus Train Scam Tip – A MUST READ

It’s always annoying when somebody takes advantage. Especially when you’ve arrived in a new place and are already confused. Read the below to make sure you don’t get screwed by the Hanoi Train Station.

We encountered this scam whilst booking a train from Hanoi to Hue. This is actually the same train that goes all the way down to Saigon stopping at many places on the way. Read the guide below to learn how to buy tickets without being scammed:

1. Enter the Hanoi train station and turn left.

2. Completely ignore the tourist ticket section on the right – they will massively overcharge you!

3. Go to the proper ticket desk.

That is all! We unknowingly went into the tourist ticket section and were politely greeted and sat down by a seemingly nice woman. We were told that there were only 2 sleeper beds left that weren’t near each other. Opposite sides of the train actually. She called somebody on her mobile which seemed suspicious as the system is all computerised.

We were quoted 2.5 million Dong by her which didn’t quite add up with what we had read online so we nipped over the road for a quick discussion, can of coke and free wifi. We went to the proper desk – number 2 or 3 if you’re going south as we did. It only cost 1.5 million dong! A full 1 million Dong cheaper than the previous quote by a formal employee of the train station in the tourist trap area. This is a saving of around £31 for 2 people! Totally worth it.

The official ticket area was cheaper but does come with a bit of a warning of something we’ve noticed a lot in Vietnam: The locals don’t know how to queue and may shove you out of the way whilst you are mid way through buying your ticket. Once again, very entertaining and worth it!

Enjoy the savings. Oh yeah, and if this is your first time in Vietnam – Enjoy their driving too! It is a very unique style that involves constant beeping to keep everybody aware of the fact that they exist.

Safe travels!

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Revolut | Travelling Soon? Check Out This Necessary Money Saving Tip


Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Self Improvement, Travel 8273660863_d12ede1f82_o

Revolut Review

Travelling Is Expensive Enough Already – Let’s Use Revolut To Save Some Money

For those of you who frequently read this blog, you’re probably aware that I’m currently enjoying a 5 month adventure around South East Asia with a fairly small bag, my Revolut card and, of course, my MacBook Air (these posts aren’t going to write themselves you know!).

 

As always, before my trip I did plenty of research of things to buy, what to wear and most thankfully how to save money whilst traveling. This lead me to an excellent discovery of a company that are doing something very innovative. This post is all about that company and how they can save you money and be totally awesome.

 

Enter Revolut

The company is called Revolut and you can read more about them by clicking here.

 

To summarise (in a travelling context):

 

Revolut can provide you with a Debit MasterCard that allows you to spend money anywhere in the world FOR FREE

Revolut Use MasterCard for Travelling

Check out the 2 scenarios below where this solutions shines:

 

1. You go to any country in the world, let’s say Italy. Try the local cuisine by visiting an enticing looking restaurant by the river. Enjoy a lovely steak with a well earned beer (travelling is a chore) and ask for the bill. When the bill arrives, you hand over your Revolut card, enter your PIN and walk away knowing that you’ve paid a very generous exchange rate resulting in you paying no more than you should. That’s right, you paid JUST FOR THE MEAL!

 

2. You arrive in Brazil and in all excitement forgot to exchange any money…or chose not to. As soon as you’ve collected your bag you run over to a suspicious looking ATM machine with it’s delightfully evil green flashing light. You put your Revolut card in and take out way more Brazilian Real than you know you should be carrying on you. Hop on the wifi as soon as you arrive in your hotel, check your Revolut account on the phone app and realise that you haven’t been charged anything for that withdrawal and once again, have received a very generous exchange rate.

 

Let’s Do Some Exciting Mathematics

I plan to be away for 5 months and have estimated this entire trip in SE Asia to cost me around £4,655 (gotta get specific with those estimates – oh, and £35 a day in case you’re interested). Let’s say that £1,500 of that is used up on travel. And, let’s also say I’m a rather relaxed person and didn’t exchange any money before leaving Blighty (slightly true).

 

That leaves me with £3,155 spending money that I need to get by either using an ATM or my card.

 

My HSBC Advance account charges 2.75%  each time I take money out OR use my Debit/Credit card to purchase something. I am going to 8 countries and suspect I will need to make 2 ATM visits at each country (I never seem to get the right amount out the first time!). In reality, it will likely be more times than this! To be generous, I’ll average that I’ll do 20 ATM transactions.

 

£3,155 divided by 20 (transactions) is £157.75 taken out of an ATM each time.

2.75% charge on each of these transactions is £4.34 (rounded).

£4.34 charged each transaction, 20 times, is (drum roll please):

 

£86.80! – Do you have any idea how many meals and beers that is in Thailand!? Madness! This shows the usefulness of beautiful Revolut.

 

Yes, it’s true. I do these type of calculations all the time and LOVE it. I am half tempted to put a mistake in there to make sure you’re all paying attention ;).

 

How It Works, How To Sign Up & All That Jazz

OK, so you’re sold on the idea of it? Awesome. Let me explain how to easily sign up and get the free money debit card you’re drooling over.

 

1. Download the Revolut App On Your Phone

Download Revolut App To Save Money Traveling

First things first, either go to revolut.com by clicking here OR search for their app on your Android/iOS app store to download the Revolut app.

 

2. Upload a Bank Card OR Bank Account Details

Add Bank Card To Revolut To Avoid Bank Charges

Upload a bank card OR add a bank account so you can make payments straight into your Revolut account. Adding a bank card is extremely easy. You can use the camera to scan the card straight in and it automatically adds it without you needing to type anything.

It is worth me mentioning that this is all very secure – your card/bank account will only be used to top up your account and will never make a transaction without your own doing.

 

3. Top Up Your Revolut Account

Top Up Revolut Account To Save Money

Top up your Revolut account using the card or bank account mentioned above. I just did £10 at first to try it out and it worked perfectly. You can even play around with the exchange rates at this part to see how good a rate you get exchanging into Dollars and Euros.

As soon as I got to this stage, I accidentally converted £10 into dollars and back again. After doing this, I had £9.99 in my account. Which means that I got pretty much the perfect exchange rate both ways! If you went into any Bureau De Change then I’m sure you wouldn’t come back with only 1p less.

 

4. Order Your Debit Card

Order Revolut Card And Save Money

Ordering a debit card (Mastercard) from within the app is easy as well – and is completely free. Just click on the Card tab at the bottom and follow the process to have a card delivered to you. The button will say something like: Deliver the Card To Me.

You’ll notice that you can actually use the card already without having a physical one being delivered. This is great if you plan to buy anything online in a different currency. For example, purchasing that shirt that only exists in America! I’m talking about the Becket from Mizzen+Main if you’re interested.

Note: The card may take up to 8 working days to be delivered due to high demand. It’s popular!

 

5. Use The Card

Avoid Bank Charges With Revolut

Use the card to take money out at ATM machines or pay for items/meals using your card. You can get your PIN by clicking on the Card tab at the bottom of the app and clicking on the Show PIN button

 

That’s It! You won’t get any of the usual bank charges and the money will be converted straight into the local currency for free, at a very good exchange rate. It seriously works and has saved us a lot of money already so go check it out.

 

It’s Not All Fun And Daisies

A WARNING: The ATM scenarios described here are very real and true BUT there are some ATMs out there in the big wide world that charge you for taking money out. These are exactly the same as the ones you see on the high street in a city in England. As you know, it’s probably better to walk another 100 feet to go use a free one! These charges come from the bank that you are taking money from and can be avoided by doing what you do in England and avoiding the ones that charge. Sometimes it’s worth having a quick Google of the area to find ATMs that don’t charge.

 

Citibank: I know that Citibank don’t charge so recommend you nip in and get some currency using your Revolut card whenever you’re passing by one of these.

 

Enjoy The Savings

I seriously hope you find this useful and sign up. The Revolut card has been a life saver for me on this trip as I love to be as efficient as possible.

 

Please comment below now to let me know your thoughts and enjoy the savings.

 

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Book Recommendation & Hidden Gems #3 | ‘The Alchemist’ Summary – Paulo Coelho Books


Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Books, Deep Thinking, Self Improvement Paulo Coelho Books - The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho Books – The Alchemist

 

Recommendations, Revelations and Hidden Gems

Hello fellow readers and welcome to the third book recommendation. That’s right, we’ve hit the hat trick. This summary is for the best of Paulo Coelho Books.

 

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that this book was an absolute delight to read. It is the second fiction book I’ve read in about 3 years and leads me to believe that I should probably read more as it was very enjoyable.

 

Jump aboard the whistle stop tour adventure summary, complete with hidden gems, of:

 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – Click Here to Get Your Copy

 

Summary & Recommendation – My First Read Of Paulo Coelho Books 

The Alchemist is an adventure story. It is a very smooth read and as you may be able to guess from reading this far, is very highly recommended. The short paragraphs used are an excellent style of writing that makes it very easy to follow and allows the reader to never bore of a specific scene.

 

The book gives very realistic internal monologue describing the protagonist’s entire thought process on this incredibly captivating journey.

 

There are wonderful common themes with uplifting philosophies such as:

  • Following your dream
  • Enthusiasm being a universal language
  • Loving what one does
  • And many more

 

It was incredible to read such inspirational fiction, especially considering I usually stick to the business, marketing and self help genres!

 

Hidden Gems

Now on to the life impacting parts. As always, listed below:

 

  • To continue doing what you already know isn’t success. We have to take on new adventures and constantly challenge ourselves. This may sound like obvious advice but is so poignantly described in this book

 

  • I was struck by the boy leaving new friends he made without saying goodbye and realised how large this was considering mobile phones definitely didn’t exist at that time! It made me yearn for the simplicity of a goodbye being a goodbye until the two individuals met again

 

  • There is a lot of acceptance of death due to it happening in the pursuit of following ones destiny. Very inspiring

 

  • I remember writing in my journal in previous years to ‘pay attention to the signs of the world’, and this book is a big testament to that. Not in a magical way at all, but in more of an awareness of the way that the world is all connected and there are usually obvious signs telling one what direction they should head in. For example, if you keep noticing talk about an activity that you’re interested in doing (skiing, stand up comedy, playing an instrument), then take the world up on it’s offer and dive into it. This may also just be linked to a yes man philosophy and making sure one is open to new activities and opportunities. Either way, seems like grand advice to me

 

  • A wonderful sentence is repeated throughout the book that I had to include here: ‘when a person really desires something, all of the universe conspires to help that person realise their dream

 

  • I enjoyed the relaxed nature of the main character doing nothing but sitting and thinking for much of his time. This made me reflect once again on our modern obsession with constant stimulation and the fact that time can be passed very enjoyably by just sitting…and thinking. Get that old brain heated up. It’s like meditation in disguise

 

  • There is a beautiful, real life example of something that we are all familiar with. The main character repeatedly goes through periods of being distracted from his goals. BUT, in his case the focus always returns at unexpected times. I think we should all reflect upon our goals and make an attempt to establish when we are being distracted and whether a change in direction is necessary

 

At around 100 pages this is a quick, immersive and enjoyable read that I would recommend to everyone. Turn off that TV for one evening and get through this beaut in a few hours – You won’t regret it.

 

Thanks for reading and as always, please comment below if you’ve read The Alchemist, any other Paulo Coelho Books or would like to discuss any of the points made. I hope you enjoyed The Alchemist summary.

 

P.S. Bonus revelation: Wouldn’t you agree that our generation has an amazing creativity and innovative advantage considering we can put any song in the world on straight into our ears at any volume and quality we desire? Something to be extremely grateful of me thinks!

 

P.S. The above revelation happened whilst listening to One Direction. Bring on the abuse.

 

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Minimalist Packing List | 5 Months in SE Asia | Travel With Well Under 10kg


Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Self Improvement, Travel Minimal Packing List | SE Asia

The Minimalist Packing List

Apologies – This Packing List Post is a Bit Delayed

I’m one week into my trip so now seems like a great time to post my packing list. The reason for the delay is due to a determination to cover as much of Bangkok as possible. Now that that has been ticked off the list, it’s time to get out on that sun filled balcony and get on with the long overdue blogging.

 

My Hand Luggage Packing List

My hand luggage allowance was a strict 55 x 40 x 20 cm and only 8kg!

Check out the picture and my list below to see what I’ll be surviving with for the next 5 months in South East Asia.

DSC01058

Bag

I will be taking a 35 Litre Karrimor Bag purchased by my beautiful girlfriend especially for this trip

 

Clothing

2 x Jokey Boxers

1 x Exofficio Boxers – That’s right. 3 pairs in total. I still think it’s one too many…

1 x Long Sleeve Sun Protecting Top

2 x Swim Shorts – One pair, by Quicksilver, are made from recycled plastic and dries extremely fast. I’m not hating the funky design either

2 x Cotton T Shirts

1 x Microfibre Towel – These dry so fast. If you’ve never used one, give it a go!

Marmot Windproof Jacket – This thing weights 5oz and feels very comfortable

Running Trainers – Well used and very comfortable for walking in

Nike Sports Sleeveless Top – This material is made for high intensity sport so will be perfect for warm weather

Nylon Sport Socks

 

Technology

MacBook Air + Charger

Waterproof Laptop Case

Sony Earphones

Backup Apple Earphones – I couldn’t think of anything worse that being stuck in a jungle without earphones

iPhone 5s + Charger

USB Portable Charger

Kindle

Sony A6000 Camera + Charger

 

Other

2 x Earplugs – I’ve tried many and the simple yellow ” ones work great

1 x Foldable Toothbrush

Sleep Master Sleep Mask – This is made of silk and is extremely comfortable. I highly recommend it. I cuddle it

Silk Sleeping Bag Liner – Useful for the colder parts of the journey such as northern evenings and sleeper trains

David Lloyd Locker Padlock

Passport – Seems like a wise thing to bring

Torch

Malaria tablets – Doxycycline. I look forward to taking them

Thin Paul Rossi Wallet – I wanted a Big Skinny wallet but couldn’t get it delivered in time

 

Additional Purchases – Still Within The Hand Luggage Allowance

I’ve been here for just over a week and have accumulated a few more items, listed below:

 

Long Sleeve Shirt

A Sleeveless Vest Top

A Crazy Patterned Elephant Notepad – * Necessary item

Super Comfortable and Completely Fake Flip Flops – The unofficial official name for them

 

That’s all folks. The bag weighs well under 10kg and has been very comfortable to carry around. Yes, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, there are more technological items than clothing. This is something that I’m very happy to accept :).

 

I hope you enjoyed the list and accept the challenge to pack even more minimalistic and let me know about it in the comments below! Also, if you enjoyed the photo on this blog, you can check out Cory Rose Burfoot’s Instagram by clicking here.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

P.S. This blog post was written on a beautiful balcony in stunning weather watching an incredible sunset whilst, as I’m sure you can imagine, loving life!

 

 

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