Fun Map Tool

You know how flat maps use projections that distort the actual size of objects on a globe, don’t you? Of course you do. Here’s a fun little tool you can use to show the actual size of the country you live in as compared to others around the world.

Here, for example, is how big Greenland would be if it were located on the equator. Play around with it yourself at Announces Digital Downloads


Today I'm happy to announce Digital Downloads on Just about all of the 18,691 photos on EarthPhotos may now be downloaded immediately. Two sizes are on offer.

You can buy a Web Size image, roughly 640×480 pixels in size, or 0.3 megapixels. This is suitable for web sharing on social sites like Facebook. Or you can buy a 1Mpix image, roughly 1 megapixel in size. These photos are for your personal, and not commercial use (Read Personal License). The 1 Mpix download is roughly 816×1224 pixels, about big enough to print an 8×12.

And we want to help with your commercial application. We're proud of our lion photo in Afar Magazine. It remains the Most Popular Photo on, as voted by users. A couple of weeks back, we placed a photo on a kids' show for German TV. All these commercial applications are different, so please talk with us about what you need.


Three Quick Tools to Help Decide on Your Next Travel Destination

If you've read Common Sense and Whiskey – the book, you've read these quotes:

Robert Louis Stevenson: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

Colin Thubron said just about the same thing: “You go because you are still young and crave excitement, the crunch of your boots in the dust; you go because you are old and need to understand something before it’s too late. You go to see what will happen.”

I think they’re both right. You just pick a spot and go.

Here are a couple of tools I use to start the process of deciding where to go:

Hipmunk I like Hipmunk for initial checks of air routes, because it's quick, streamlined and easy. (For air route  junkies, there's also For example, you don't have to click a button to tell Hipmunk if your flight is one way or round trip. If you don't enter a return date, it figures it out. Smart. Here's my review.

If you search for "(your destination) airport," there's usually a Wikipedia result that will tell you the flights to and from a place. Here's an example of what you can learn from Wikipedia about who flies where from Ashgabat airport.

TripAdvisor. It makes me crazy that they try to keep you on their site and don't link to the hotels they describe. That's nuts. But they've got reviews of hotels in some pretty obscure places.

And check the travel planning resources in the sidebar here on CS&W.

Practical Travel Gear Blog

It's time I mentioned the Practical Travel Gear blog.

As somebody whose carry-on bags are 1. a small camera bag (with a camera body, three lenses, camera batteries, memory cards and a cable release) and then 2. A bag of stuff to support bag#1, I'm a recovering gadget fan. 

There was a time when every trip was an excuse for a new piece of camera gear. Nowadays it's different. After each trip I sit down on the floor and take every last item out of those two bags, and anything I didn't use goes back in the camera room under the stairs, banished from the next trip.

But still, you never know when you'll find that must-have essential gadget, and Practical Travel Gear's fun. I've listed it over in the "Worth Your Time" list in the next column.

Travel Website Award

Very nice of the folks at U.K.-based IGLU Cruise to choose Common Sense and Whiskey in their IGLU Cruise Website Awards, as one of nine “Best Travel Information Websites,” right up there beside Lonely Planet.

How about that? 

They say their winners are

“truly excellent information sites to help you both in the planning
stages of your travel and whilst on the road. We are sure you’ll agree
that the efforts of the writers and webmasters behind the following
award-winning sites are amongst the best out there, combining highly
useful content with superb presentation.”

Thanks so much, guys.

Here’s a screen grab of their winners, which you can also see here on IGLU Cruise’s site:


Travel Lists & Visited Countries Maps

Much of a perfect spring Sunday morning here on the farm was spent posting a chronological list of our travels to the web site (here's how we did). It's another one of those sites, like Douwe Osinga's Visited Countries project, that allows you to compile a map of your travels. Here's our PassportStamp map, followed by our Douwe Osinga map:


Close enough to the same that I'm wondering why I spent multiple hours on a gorgeous morning painstakingly clerking in every trip all the way back to my first drive to Canada in 1980 (Or maybe it was 1979).

But I know why, really. It was in the spirit of competition. See, you'll be ranked among the other site members, stacked up against the competition, sized up and told where you stand. And our results weren't bad:

105 countries visited, ranking 109th overall. Our most-visited countries are the predictable European ones, and many are because they were transit stops on the way elsewhere. The top ten: Germany 11 visits, Finland 9, Austria & France 8, Thailand 7, Italy, Russia, Switzerland & the UK 6, and China 5.

The trouble is the arbitrary rules.

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