Over the last four years, I’ve written and published hundreds of travel dispatches for CNN, National Geographic, USA Today, LA Times, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, Orbitz, Frommers, and Paste Magazine. Below are some recent favorites:
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…
For the first five years as a self-employed writer, I passionately and excitedly burned the midnight oil, thinking the act would get me ahead. While it certainly helped to cut my teeth and quicken my understanding of the craft, in hindsight I spent much of that time with my head down, spinning my wheels in the mud, and failing to see bigger ideas and opportunities.
That is until my “Montana Moment,” a life-changing and completely off-the-grid vacation in Big Sky Country that upended and improved my relationship to work in more ways than one. Since that fateful week, I’ve enjoyed record personal, professional, and social growth. But only because I radically changed my underlying approach and motivations for work.
Why do some people like to travel more than others? Are nomads born or raised?
Furthermore, why do I keep an ever-growing list of places to visit that I can never seem to get a handle on, despite having visited hundreds of amazing places on six different continents?
In an effort to find answers to some of those questions, researchers recently identified the so-called “wanderlust gene” (DRD4-7R, to be exact), which is present in about 20 percent of humans. This gene is said to cause a strong desire, if not impulse, to wander, travel and explore the world.
As a working journalist and travel columnist, I was recently tested for this gene by Curio Hotels. After vigorously swabbing the inside of my cheeks, I seal-locked my specimen in a plastic bag, overnighted the sample to a lab on the East Coast and awaited the results. Continue reading…
(For Entrepreneur)—In the 15 years I’ve worked for myself, the last decade has been much more profitable than the first few years. Though several factors contributed to my successful turnaround, one in particular has led to more confidence, inspiration and awareness than any other: adventure travel.
I’ve met plenty of frequent business travelers who want nothing more than to stay home once they get there. They certainly don’t want to leave their creature comforts for something as seemingly trivial and meaningless as scaling mountains, walking quietly in nature or surfing Australia for several days. I get it. But I promise that adventure travel can do wonders for our business lives. That’s especially true if we consider travel an educational experience more than anything else.
Solely for the fun or challenge of it, I’ve visited nearly half of America’s national parks, stepped on five of the seven continents, explored dozens of foreign countries and met hundreds of people who are smarter than me. Doing so taught me several lessons that I’ve put to good use after safely returning home. They are as follows: Continue reading…
Wild elephants walking a road in Thailand’s Khao Yai National Park (Khunkay/Wikimedia)
(ENTREPRENEUR)—Is it easier for extroverts to travel than it is for introverts? Can travel be learned? If so, what does it take to overcome the fear, anxiety, and logistical challenges often associated with long-distance travel?
In search of answers, I asked several seasoned tourists and travel converts for their stories and advice. This is what I found.
First, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. People that travel as children are far more likely to travel as a adults. “Thanks to my parents, I started traveling when I was young,” says Avery Blank, an avid international traveler and strategy consultant from Philadelphia. “That made it relatively easy for me now to adapt to new cultures, surroundings, ways of doing things.”
Obviously if you were raised by homebodies, you’re at an immediate disadvantage. But so are risk-averse individuals who are particularly scared of the unknown, of which there are substantial amounts of when traveling to a new place with new customs and sometimes new languages.
“Much of the anxiety arising from travel revolves around being infantilized,” says Sheridan Becker, an American art director living in Belgium. “For example, not knowing how to do anything in a foreign language, asking for a bathroom, what to do if you lose your wallet, where your next meal will come from (and will you be able to stomach it), or how to handle medical emergencies.”
These are all disorienting questions, the fear of which keeps many people away. So extroverts don’t necessarily have an easier time traveling than less outgoing individuals. Rather, it’s more about how you were raised coupled with a willingness to try unexpected things that determine your propensity for travel.
The good news is wanderlust can be learned. Here are six ways to do just that. Continue reading…
I was interviewed by Motley Fool recently (and syndicated to MSN) about one of the quietest (if not greatest) side hustle’s of my career: producing slide decks on the side to the tune of $30,000 over fifteen years.
“After learning that one of my friends was paid very well to produce a PowerPoint presentation, I wondered if I could do something similar on the side,” Snow said. “Determined to find out, I launched a professional looking website for a few hundred dollars — then waited.”
It took 18 months for someone to finally order, but then the orders just kept coming. “Every one or two years, someone new — and a few repeat customers — would order another presentation,” Snow said.
Over 15 years, he was able to earn around $30,000 from producing presentations. In his words: “Not bad for the few hundred dollars I spent on website design and hosting.”
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.
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…
I just published my first story for Frommers, the storied travel guide magazine that changed the way Americans traveled in 1957 after Arthur Frommer published his seminal Europe on 5 Dollars a Day.
My story isn’t that big nor will it make nearly as many waves, but I’m still proud of it and the friends that made it possible by joining me recently on a weekend backpacking trip into the High Uinta Wilderness, which I deem “the best western wilderness you’ve never heard of.”
An edited version of this story first appeared on April 5, 2016 in The Atlantic
Not long ago, I stumbled on a list of the best sci-fi novels according to the Internet (i.e. the highly entertaining computer geeks on Reddit). As someone who reads for pleasure as much as job security, I decided to finish as many of these and others that I could handle.
After completing over a dozen—not to mention many more in film adaptations—the following occurred to me: every single one of these acclaimed, futuristic stories—at least the many I was exposed to—completely missed the existence and impact of the Internet. Everything from published media and daily communication, to realizing sight unseen romance and access to global markets.
“A lot of science fiction was primarily focused on moving people and things around in exciting ways,” says technology commentator Clive Thompson. “These forward-thinkers were using flashy visuals to hook their readers, while understandably overlooking non-sexy things such as inaudible conversations.”
Which is largely what the Internet facilitates. Like electricity, it’s really just an everyday utility now. And utility talk is not plot. It’s boring. Continue reading…
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…
I’m always writing down blog ideas. At the time of writing, I have 535 unpublished saved drafts. Most of these will never see the light of day. But some of them are worth sharing. In an effort to whittle that number down as fast as humanly possible, here are five things that have crossed my mind recently: Continue reading…
In recent years, a new ideology has emerged. It is this: work-life balance is impossible; therefore, humanity must embrace work-life blending instead.
I tried work-life blending for six years before we ever called it that. I’m here to tell you it stinks and is largely a pipe dream—nothing more than a new term coined by self-absorbed workaholics to justify their personal regrets, negligence, and imbalances in life.
“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.”
Over the last decade, I’ve mostly written about technology. Among the hundreds of magazine articles and thousands of blog posts published, some cover entertainment. Some science. Some travel. And rarer still, some sports. (All topics that personally appeal to me.)
Of the latter category, these are the stories I’m most proud of, along with the backstories that created them. Continue reading…
An edited version of this story first appeared on USA Today
North American is known for a lot of things. Transcendent, soaring, and gaping fjords isn’t one of them. For that, most travelers understandably head to Norway, New Zealand, or Chile first—all renowned for their glacier-carved “canyons” that outlet into swallowing seas.
But the northern half of the continent has its fair share of majestic cliffs cut by frozen (instead of liquid) water, especially in parts of southern Alaska and Canada. As a bonus, they’re more proximitous than Europe’s beloved Grainger Fjord, less travelled, and still rate at least 4.5 out of 5 stars, according to average visitor reviews on Google and Tripadvisor.
I’ve seen the future. It’s called gigabit Internet by Google Fiber, and it just launched in my hometown of Provo, the second of three scheduled cities to get speeds that are 100 times faster than the rest of America.
“What good is really fast Internet if the content stays the same?” you may ask yourself. I certainly did, before testing the service. Besides, my “high speed” Internet from Comcast seemed fast enough, enabling my household to stream HD videos, load web pages quickly, and connect multiple devices as needed, largely without hiccup.
I was wrong.
Using gigabit Internet, even in its infancy, opened my eyes to speed and reminded me of why I love the Internet.
Thanks to cut-rate pricing and high user praise, Google?’s new Chromebooks have finally struck a nerve with savvy consumers. But they may go unnoticed this holiday as tablets still dominate wishlists. Continue reading…
NBC/KSL—Like AOL before it, Facebook is the latest in a long line of mainstream technologies to introduce a lot of new users to the power, utility, and network effect of the Internet.
At the same time, the popular hangout has negatively impacted the number of public comments taking place online. Case in point: The number of people making online remarks has dwindled from a record 15% five years ago to an estimated 7% last year, according to market research by Nielson.
The reason: “Conversations around stories are moving off the news page and onto social networks,” says Steve Rubel, a longtime observer of social media since 2004. “With time spent on social networks like Facebook skyrocketing, it leaves little left to engage at the source of the news.”
“Try becoming a real journalist and offering up a balanced article,” the fanman wrote. I guess he didn’t like that I quoted both critics and skeptics in a single article. “Balanced,” would have completely ignored one side or the other, apparently.
In addition to contributing stories to all corners of the web (except the dirty ones), I recently began penning a thrice weekly column for Dell Games / Alienware. If you like PC games, or ever thought of using a PC to play them (including HD ones), the column chronicles the high points of the platform without the overkill found elsewhere. Behold. (RSS here)
MSNBC: Top 5 short-but-sweet video games. To coincide with the start of the shortest month of the year (you know, February), here’s a look at the five best games that also happen to have lean single-player stories.
MSNBC: Top 5 most anticipated non-sequel games. For all you gamers who turn your nose at numerical appendices, here are the top 5 non-sequel games of 2009, excluding platform expansions like the upcoming “Ghostbusters: The Video Game” and Beatles “Rock Band.”
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Beta, that silly subhead you see on so many websites, has been dead for quite some time. It just took a while before someone came out and said it. Here’s my latest from GigaOM, also syndicated on CNN/Fortune, entitled “Beta is dead”:
“Beta, as it pertains to web sites, has seen better days. Not long ago, saying the word as part of your web development cycle could help land venture capital even faster than claiming “community,” “paradigm shift” or “disruptive technology.” Now, the term is dissipated and confusing.
“While the specific origin of its use is unknown, beta as a tagline was popularized by a Google with the release of Google News in 2002, and later, Gmail in 2004. From there, startups quickly followed suit. By 2006, it seemed like every new web site was “in beta.” Continue reading…