Blake Snow

writer-for-hire, content guy, bestselling author

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal
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Tagged Paste

Published works: Say Hello to America’s Newest National Park, New River Gorge

My latest for Paste Magazine: “I adore John Denver’s “Country Road,” which is synonymous with West Virginia all over the world. But I never would have visited “The Mountain State” had New River Gorge not been named the nation’s newest National Park. Maybe I was a little prejudiced after learning about its coal mining mishaps, which left an enduring stain on the otherwise beautiful state and its unpretentious people.

“Whatever it was, I was wrong. West Virginia deserves your attention. Its newest and only national park is everything it’s cracked up to be; an outstanding place to river raft, mountain bike, hike, and rock climb.” Continue reading…

Published works: You Don’t Have to Be a Patriot to Love Washington, D.C.

My latest for Paste Magazine: “Know what the second biggest industry in D.C. is, after the federal government? It’s actually tourism—over 20 million people visit our nation’s capital each year. And it’s not just patriotic Americans and school buses filling the streets. Washington welcomes visitors from all over the world, which you’ll encounter as you walk the National Mall.

“I first visited D.C. as a junior in high school with a local youth group. Like most self-centered teenagers, I was disinterested by anything that wasn’t music related, a trip to D.C. very much included. But I left with a newfound appreciation for the arts, achievements, and history of America that week. “I will take my kids here someday,” I even uttered.

“That day arrived this year, after my wife and I booked our family for a weeklong visit over spring break, just in time to catch the last few cherry blossoms (while also skipping the swampy summer weather). In short, D.C. is a surprisingly quiet, clean, pedestrian-friendly city with arguably more free things to do than any other city on Earth.” Continue reading…

Published works: Loyalty in Lisbon with Travel’s Largest Points Program

My latest travel column for Paste Magazine: As global travel restrictions all but disappear, the world’s largest hotelier expects pent up demand to finally pop. “An overwhelming number of people are going to travel this year,” one Marriott representative told me. “In fact, 77% of Americans plan to take at least one trip, domestic or international.” That’s a lot of people—hundreds of millions even. Because math.

In an effort to ease travelers back into the swing of things, Marriott is making a big push to promote their free Bonvoy rewards program, where guests can earn points anytime they stay at one of the company’s 7600 hotels across 30 total brands, which have made it the world’s largest hotel company by a wide margin over the last five years. To sweeten the deal, guests can earn points on Uber rides, car rentals, or while booking tours.

This month, my wife and I decided to use this program to book our first intercontinental trip since the world closed. Our only criteria: we wanted to travel to Europe, to someplace we’d never been, and we wanted it to be welcoming to foreigners, i.e. with few (if any) restrictions. After some Googling, we decided on Lisbon, Portugal, which has been trending for the last decade as a sunkissed, warm, and scenic city with a lot of history. Continue reading…

Still worth it: America’s most scenic train ride slowly turned sour

My latest for Paste: “The California Zephyr is known for being the most beautiful train ride in all of North America. Operated by Amtrak with daily service between Chicago and Oakland, the Zephyr crosses 2,400 miles and takes 52 hours to complete. Having enjoyed rail travel on other continents, this fabled route through my own backyard has been on my bucket list for years.” Continue reading…

Published Works: When Traveling This Year, Don’t Over Prepare. Just Go.

My latest for Paste Magazine: “Humans are so scared of dying, they’ll often go to excessive, if not extreme, measures to avoid that dreadful fate. In cases where death isn’t the biggest concern, the secondary worry is going hungry, being cold, getting stuck outdoors, or some combination of the three.

“I recently came across an old but still relevant rejoinder by comedian Jack Boot that perfectly sums up our often overstated fears: ‘Hey guy with hydration pack, two hiking sticks, and North Face vest; my 5 year-old walked the same trail in Crocs carrying a naked Barbie. Relax.’

“The great outdoors—and by close association, travel—can definitely be intimidating. But it is possible to actually over prepare, overthink, and over plan our adventures sometimes. Like this adorable man so comically demonstrates, sometimes our excessive gear, packing, and planning plays into our obsessive compulsive disorders instead of curing them.”

Continue reading…

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Recent travel stories I’ve published for CNN, NatGeo, USA Today, LA Times, and more

For the last eight years, I’ve written and published hundreds of travel articles for CNN, National Geographic, USA Today, LA Times, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, Orbitz, Frommers, Paste Magazine, and Travel Weekly. For my most recent articles, click here. For some of my recent favorites, see below:

Best of 2021

  1. Get out there: My new monthly travel column
  2. America’s greatest hut hike is among the world’s best
  3. A slice of vintage Vallarta in Las Palmas by The Sea
  4. 10 reasons this might be America’s greatest lake
  5. Wasting away at Magaritaville’s first all-inclusive
  6. 9 travel myths you shouldn’t believe
  7. Is this the best beach in mainland America?
  8. Best of the Big Easy | 12 museums to visit before you die
  9. 5 ways this trendy reservoir rivals Lake Powell
  10. America’s coolest caves | 5 “southern” cities that never get old
  11. Berlin’s abandoned spy station is the most dystopian thing ever
  12. 8 epic bucket list items in the Mountain West
  13. Utah: Best roadtrips | national parks | things to do | time to visit

Continue reading…

Published Works: Wasting Away at Margaritaville’s First All-Inclusive Resort

My latest for Paste Magazine: This story begins with a struggling musician in the 1970s who didn’t fit the establishment. Rock ‘n’ roll didn’t like him. Nashville didn’t either. So he said, “To hell with it,” moved to Key West, and popularized a new genre of counterculture music called Gulf & Western or Tropic Rock. He championed “island escapism” over hard work. Made fun of inebriated debauchery. Sang heartfelt songs about retired Caribbean sailors. And paired unapologetic poetry with catchy melodies.

His name was Jimmy Buffett, a name that has since outgrown the brilliant but often overlooked and underrated sound he created during that groovy decade. Not long after, Buffett started capitalizing on the endearing lifestyle he created by the late ‘80s, which grew to “Parrothead” levels by the late ‘90s, and stratospheric status by the turn of the century. Today, Jimmy Buffett is worth nearly $1 billion dollars. His “Margaritaville” empire includes dozens of best-selling albums, cafes, and hotels, three best-selling books, and even a handful of Southern retirement communities boasting thousands of homes. In truth, the “brand” far outweighs the music that inspired it.
Last year during the pandemic, just as the world was entering a second round of lockdowns, Buffett Inc. quietly launched the Margaritaville Island Reserve, its first all-inclusive resort, near Cancun, Mexico. Operated by the well-run Karisma chain of all-inclusives, Buffett’s resort could have easily turned into a tacky, kitchy, money grab. It is anything but. After visiting with my wife this winter, Margaritaville Island Reserve is one of the finest all-inclusives I’ve ever visited, replete with the best all-inclusive food of any resort, a helpful staff worth writing home about, and an impressive attention to detail (i.e. custom furnishings) to appeal to fans and non-fans alike.

About the only “on brand” thing the resort is missing is the debauchery, which no one wants on vacation anyway. Continue reading…

Published Works: The 5 Best Kansas City BBQ Joints

Courtesy Visit KC

My latest for Paste Magazine: “When I was nine, my father took me on an overnight trip to Kansas City. It was the first time I flew in an airplane or stayed at a fancy hotel. Even though I wasn’t allowed to leave the room while my dad attended a conference in the lobby, I felt like a VIP watching the “foreign” city just outside my high-rise window. That and cable television.

“Last month, I was finally able to “leave my room” and properly explore Kansas City for myself. Located at the epicenter of the lower 48, KC is known for many things, including its beautiful trees and Super Bowl champion Chiefs. But I followed my stomach there on a mission to identify the two-state city’s best barbecue joints.

“Known for its ubiquitous “burnt ends,” ribs, and signature thick sauce—which most Americans think of and buy when reaching for BBQ sauce (a la KC Masterpiece)—Kansas City is home to over 100 barbecue restaurants, many of which are nationally renowned. While I wasn’t able to visit all of them, I spent three full days eating slow-cooked meats and killer sauces for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The things we do for science.”

Continue reading…

After visiting 35 “United States,” these are the ones that stand out (so far)

Courtesy amCharts

I’m incredibly biased and totally indoctrinated, but I admire America. Objectively speaking, it truly is one of the world’s most diverse playgrounds. Granted, I cherish my adventures abroad and look forward to future ones. But I treasure my own backyard as much as I do exotic soil.

So far I’ve managed to spend meaningful amounts of time in 35 states (excluding states I’ve driven or flown through without doing more than filling gas or eating a roadside meal). As you can see from the accompanying map, I’ve traveled through all of the West, much of the South, and the better part of the Northeast.

Which states have left the biggest impression on me so far? To keep things fair, I’m excluding my home state of Utah, although many would argue it’s an impressionable one. Also, I tend to value “great outdoors” over cities. That said, these are my favorites until further notice: Continue reading…

Published Works: 5 Ways This Trendy Reservoir Rivals Nearby Lake Powell

Courtesy Utah Tourism

My latest for Paste Magazine: The first time I visited Flaming Gorge, I had no intention of boating it. After traveling through nearby Dinosaur National Monument, my family drove two hours north to Red Canyon Overlook to hike the rim and take in the 1400 foot cliffs.

Then we saw a handful of ski boats far below, enjoying “glass” conditions on the giant lake, in the middle of the afternoon. “We have to come back to boat this,” I said to my wife.

This summer we did. After years of enjoying Lake Powell on the opposite end of Utah, we now have a new favorite spot that’s a lot more “socially distant” but just as fun as the more popular Powell. Here’s why. Continue reading…

Introducing “Get Out There,” my new travel column for Paste Magazine

Since mass tourism began in the late 1800s, humans have always needed encouragement when it comes to exploring the world. Today I believe humans need more travel encouragement than ever before.

Which brings me to my new travel column, Get Out There for Paste Magazine (7 million monthly readers). Here is the description: “Get Out There is a new column for itchy footed humans written by Paste contributor Blake Snow. Although weird now, travel is still worthwhile—especially to these open borders.” My first column on 5 “Southern” Cities That Never Get Old just published this week. I hope you like it.

Moving forward, I’ll focus on domestic profiles and roundups, including a review of America’s newest national park, Kansas City BBQ tour, and the next Lake Powell. After that, I hope to incorporate international destinations again as borders slowly reopen.

Whatever happens, I’m thrilled to be writing a column for Paste Magazine again. Thanks for reading.

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Went skydiving today. Didn’t die.

It only took me a few minutes to fall 10,000 feet, but I didn’t really come down for another couple of hours. That’s the best way to describe my first time skydiving. That and recognizing it as one of the greatest physiological sensations I’ve ever endeavored.

On a royal blue morning recently, I drove forty minutes south of my home to Skydive the Wasatch in Nephi, Utah. I was greeted by Andrew the drop manager, Jordan my instructor (or more accurately the person I’d strap my life to), and Joel the pilot.

Free snacks, a row of leather sofas, and caffeinated drinks lined the open hanger in an effort to ease or at least distract the nerves of would-be jumpers. Just outside, an old Cessna plane came to life to take a woman in her forties and her friend in her twenties on their first and second respective dives. While waiting for their quick return, I signed and initialed the longest waiver I’ve ever seen without reading a single line of legalese.

“Are you ready?” Jordan asked with a friendly smile. I honestly answered in the affirmative, and then he explained the safety and protocol procedures. “The whole experience takes about 25 minutes,” he said. “Twenty minutes to climb, around half of minute to free-fall, and three or four more to parachute down.” Continue reading…

What’s in a name? What I learned staying in Trump’s #1 rated hotel

Before taking office, the vast majority of U.S. presidents were lawyers. President Trump, on the other hand, was a real estate developer, TV star, and hotelier of 14 properties—some of which by name-only.

One of those properties is Trump Waikiki. On a recent trip to Oahu I stayed there because at the time of booking and during my stay, Trump Waikiki was the number one rated hotel out of 84 in Honolulu, according to TripAdvisor.

That alone piqued my interest, as did the political novelty. But the real reason is because I was being hosted by the hotel in the hopes that I would write about it. And here we are. Not because I was contractually obligated to. In my capacity as a travel writer, I never guarantee coverage, meaning if I feel something doesn’t deserve your attention—even shiny freebies—I don’t write about it.

Why am writing about this shiny freebie then? Continue reading…

5 things I learned after visiting New Zealand

There’s solemn appreciation whenever I tell someone I’m headed to New Zealand. “Oh, wow!” they say. “My [insert relation] has traveled the world and that’s their favorite place.”

That reputation isn’t lost on me. But I wanted to know for myself—what’s so special about this two-island nation near the bottom of the world?

For one thing, it’s a long way away. Up to 10,000 miles for most people. In my case, it was 14 hours one way by jet. But after visiting both islands this month, I’d travel twice that number to visit New Zealand again. Here’s why. Continue reading…

The time I hiked Patagonia with National Geographic

It took the world a long time to discover Patagonia, the trendy adventure area shared by both southern Chile and Argentina. While other mountaineers had been hiking and climbing the Alps and Rockies for over a century, Patagonia wasn’t explored much until the 1980s. In fact, the recreational area didn’t become mainstream until the 21st century, when more accessible transportation, lodging and tourist amenities were finally added.

What’s all the fuss about? In between knife-like mountains, this is arguably the best place in the world to see moving glaciers. It is also a great place to meet gentle but playful people.

Last month I had the chance to examine this hauntingly majestic land up close on a guided tour with National Geographic Expeditions, the society’s official tour operator. Spoiler alert: it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here’s what I witnessed hiking to what some call South America’s greatest “national park.” Continue reading…

What 10,000 miles from home feels like

On Earth, 12,450 miles is the farthest anyone can get from home. Take one more step in any direction, and you will have started your return journey from the halfway point.

Until I visit one of these places (aka 45° meridian east), I came as close to that point as I ever have last month. The distance from my home in Provo to Durban is over 10,000 miles, where I began a life-changing journey through the motherland.

I should have grasped this impressive separation sooner than I did. Upon booking airfare, total flight time read over 22 hours across three flights. “That’s a long haul,” I passingly noted, before moving to other travel arrangements.  Continue reading…

Iconic travel: 7 things to do on 7 continents

Credit: Dragon Woman/Creative Commons

What luck we have. Not only were we born on the most marvelous planet in the observable universe—not to mention the only habitable one out of gazillions—but the one we inherited has seven distinct, magnificent continents.

Picking just one experience from each that best personifies the greater landmass is an impossible job, not to mention totally unfair. But life isn’t fair. Nor is this column. If you need someplace to start when attempting to bag all seven continents, make it one of these iconic and universally well-rated encounters.  Continue reading…

5 sensations every human should experience (updated with video)

Controlling a human body is an awesome experience.

Unlike other animals, we talk and live long after we stop reproducing. We wear dapper clothing, are remarkably brave and dexterous (which allows us to do amazing things like this), and we can even make fire. Like Remy says, “Humans don’t just survive—they discover, they create!”

In addition to the things we create, numerous sensations define our experience. Turning a pillow to the cold side, for instance. Quickly taking shelter to avoid pelting rain or peeling protective plastic off new electronics.

But there are deeper, if not more universal, feelings than those. Excluding the obvious (i.e. sex), here are five physical sensations every human should experience, many of which are facilitated by travel.  Continue reading…

Blast from the past: Remember when “mixtapes” were cool?

Courtesy Disney

Music is easy now. Except when I’m forced to download songs ahead of time before venturing Off The Grid, I can instantly play any track, genre, album or compilation of recorded music with a spoken command.

“Alexa, play the new Taylor Swift!” I bark. (Spoiler, it’s better than her last single.) “Alexa, play ‘All Night’ by Big Boi.” (It’s bumping.) “Alexa, play ‘Feel it Still’ by Portugal The Man.” (It’s choice.) “Alexa, play Waiting On A SongGone Now… or The Click”—all front-runners for album of the year.

Whatever I ask—even amorphous requests for “dinner music” or “relaxing classical”—this inanimate robot gets things right 90% of the time. And when I don’t feel like talking, I can play what I want with a few taps of my finger on the portable jukebox I carry in my pocket. We’ve come a long way.

But while I’m grateful for the limitless amount of audible convenience we now enjoy, I often wonder about the price we paid to get here.  Continue reading…

World travel: 7 things to do on 7 continents

Credit: National Geographic

What luck we have. Not only were we born on the most marvelous planet in the observable universe—not to mention the only habitable one out of gazillions—but the one we did inherit has seven distinct, magnificent continents.

Picking just one experience from each that best personifies the greater landmass is an impossible job, not to mention totally unfair. But life isn’t fair. Nor is this column. If you need someplace to start when attempting to bag all seven continents, make it one of these iconic and universally well-rated encounters.  Continue reading…

Published works: My very best travel columns (so far)

Courtesy Lindsey Snow

Last month, Paste Magazine unexpectedly and suddenly shuttered their travel section and (along with it) my weekly column. After 126 consecutive and wonderful stories, the news was devastating.

More than just money (which admittedly wasn’t much), the perk-filled gig served as a weekly source of education, inspiration, and a renewed understanding of writing for mainstream audiences again. Furthermore, it took me and sometimes even my friends and family to five different continents, dozens of countries, countless destinations, and introduced me to hundreds of interesting people.

Although I’ve yet to find a replacement, I have some promising leads for the unpublished and upcoming articles in the pipe. And I’m determined and confident that I’ll be able to find a new suitor for my column, which was read by over 900,000 monthly individuals, according to a November 2016 estimate by the nation’s fourth largest tourism board (i.e. Visit Orlando).

Until then, here are the stories I am most proud of—the best of my travel column so far:  Continue reading…

Published works: Electric car camping in The Rockies, Alaskan cruises, the future of work

Courtesy Chevrolet/Barry Staver

Excluding non-bylined commercial work, here’s what I published last month:

Published works: Forces of nature, why do we travel, where to avoid this summer

Excluding non-bylined commercial work, here’s where my travel column went last month:

See also: My best work to date. Thanks for reading!

Published works: New tech, great outdoors, why we overlook Puerto Rico

Courtesy Puerto Rico tourism

Excluding non-bylined stories written for commercial clients (i.e. the bulk of my work these days), here’s what I published last month:

Published works: The future of TV, film tourism, first time in Hawaii, Trump’s #1 hotel

Excluding non-bylined stories for my commercial clients, this is what I published last month:

Thanks for reading.

Published works: Hiking Patagonia, biking Buenos Aires, and apps killing websites

Courtesy Argentina Tourism

Excluding non-bylined writings for commercial clients, here’s what I published last month:

Best of 2016 travel: Never do as the locals do, extreme theme parking, Antarctica

Here’s where my travel column went this month:

Published works: Airport tips, Disney cruises, Nevada road trip, not-so exotic vacations, and online security

Photo credit: Lindsey Snow

Photo credit: Lindsey Snow

Here’s where my travel column went last month:

Here’s what I wrote for Cisco.com recently:

Published works: Skydiving, Australia, computers killing writers, and battery tech

front

Here’s where my byline published last month:

The Network (aka Cisco magazine)

Paste Magazine

Travel column: Off the grid in North America, San Diego, New Zealand, and Seattle

Courtesy Andy Feige

Courtesy Andy Feige

Here’s what I wrote about last month:

Here’s where my column went last month: Backpacking the Alps, conflict-free countries, travel food

Dumfounded by the beauty of the Italian Alps

Reporting for Paste Magazine

Published columns: Kid travels, universal sensations, foreign foods, paddle boarding

Credit Lindsey Snow

Credit Lindsey Snow

Here’s where my travel column went last month:

Published columns: Traveling guidebooks, nature worship, industrial views, music city

credit Lindsey Snow

credit Lindsey Snow

For those who care, here’s where my travel column went last month:

Published works: Latest version—the problem with online user reviews

TA_550x370My latest, reporting for Paste Magazine:

“Obviously, user review repositories such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google are a net gain for people in need of lodging, a delicious meal, or a new tool, gadget, or surprise to solve their current problem. But as we increasingly turn to big, crowd-funded data to help us stay informed and avoid buyer’s remorse, we need to be thinking of better ways to get the most up-to-date and accurate information available while also rewarding the efforts of those who aim to please us.”

Continue reading…

Published columns: Americans abroad, epic inlands, Monument Valley, underrated states

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Here’s where my travel column went last month:

Off The Grid: India tips, wander wisely, Irish highlights, holy places, best mainland beach

credit wikimedia

credit wikimedia

You know the drill. Here’s where my travel column went last month:

Travel roundup: Most visited countries, foreign education, China tips, nearby snorkeling

courtesy wikimedia

Here’s where my travel column went last month. Better late than never:

Read this if you like money-saving adventures, inspiring islands, popular consensus, or myth-busting

credit: wikimedia commons

credit wikimedia commons

I really enjoy writing these because the subjects have nothing to do with my day job, which keeps me on my toes. Hope you have as much fun reading them as I did writing them:

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In case you missed it: offline vacations, converting cruise-haters, overlooked wonders, and dream believers

MGM

MGM

Here’s where my travel column went last month:

My latest columns: Dancing Matt, big impact countries, unrecognized beauty, mind travel

I hope the below will help you travel somewhere fun.

Thanks, Paste Magazine, for letting me write these adventurous stories last month

Paramount Pictures

Off the grid: Rethinking air travel, European detours, travel blunders, and Newfoundland

Here’s where my travel column went last month:

Oh, the places you’ll go! Here’s where my travel column went last month

credit: blake snow

credit: blake snow

Perhaps one of the below might inspire your next offline adventure:

Trains, hotels, tourist traps, and bucket lists: Have you read all these?

Courtesy Fox Searchlight

Courtesy Fox Searchlight

Last month I started a travel column for Paste Magazine. Here’s what I wrote about this month:

Thanks for reading.

Introducing “Off the Grid,” my new travel column for Paste Magazine

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I just started a new travel column for Paste Magazine. It’s called “Off the Grid.” You should read it.

First one up: 5 overlooked National Parks. To help you along the way, I’ll follow it up every week with all things awesome.

Thanks for reading (and for sharing if you like what you read).