Interview with Techno-Vagabond Anil Polat aka Fox Nomad

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 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 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 ( 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.

Henry Rollins – Punk Rock Vagabond

A long-haired Henry Rollins (circa 1983) sings with Black Flag in Tucson. Photo by Ed Arnaud.
A long-haired Henry Rollins (circa 1983) sings with Black Flag in Tucson. Photo by Ed Arnaud.

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Henry Rollins is more than an actor, DJ, spoken word artist, and musician punk rocker. He’s also a vagabond activist and world traveler.




I’ve been a fan of Rollins since the mid-80’s when I was introduced to Black Flag.

Rollins is an outspoken human rights activist and speaks out on social justice, gay rights, and crusades against war and oppression all over the globe. On his spoken word tours he promotes equality including raising money in support of gay-marriage organizations.

During the 2003 Iraq War, he toured with the USO while remaining against the war, at a base in Kyrgyzstan he told the crowd “Your commander would never lie to you. That’s the vice president’s job.” Rollins has toured in Kuwait, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan (twice), Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Honduras, Japan, Korea and the United Arab Emirates where he has performed on US bases. He has also traveled throughout the globe both for performances and to learn about the world.

Rollins joined Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) in 2008 to launch a groundbreaking national public service advertisement campaign,, which helps veterans coming home from war reintegrate into their communities.

Rollins has summed-up his approach to activism, “This is where my anger takes me, to places like this, not into abuse but into proactive, clean movement”

His book  Occupants goes into detail about that.

RollinsFor the past twenty-five years, Henry Rollins has searched out the most desolate corners of the Earth—from Iraq to Afghanistan, Thailand to Mali, and beyond—articulating his observations through music and words, on radio and television, and in magazines and books. Though he’s known for the raw power of his expression, Rollins has shown that the greatest statements can be made with the simplest of acts: to just bear witness, to be present.

In Occupants, Rollins invites us to do the same. The book pairs Rollins’s visceral full-color photographs—taken in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and elsewhere over the last few years—with writings that not only provide context and magnify the impact of the images but also lift them to the level of political commentary. Simply put, this book is a visual testimony of anger, suffering, and resilience. Occupants will help us realize what is so easy to miss when tragedy and terror become numbing, constant forces—the quieter, stronger forces of healing, solidarity, faith, and even joy.

Check out Occupants – or at the least enjoy some of his spoken word on youtube – Rollins is awesome.

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