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.”
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
- Get out there: My new monthly travel column
- America’s greatest hut hike is among the world’s best
- A slice of vintage Vallarta in Las Palmas by The Sea
- 10 reasons this might be America’s greatest lake
- Wasting away at Magaritaville’s first all-inclusive
- 9 travel myths you shouldn’t believe
- Is this the best beach in mainland America?
- Best of the Big Easy | 12 museums to visit before you die
- 5 ways this trendy reservoir rivals Lake Powell
- America’s coolest caves | 5 “southern” cities that never get old
- Berlin’s abandoned spy station is the most dystopian thing ever
- 8 epic bucket list items in the Mountain West
- Utah: Best roadtrips | national parks | things to do | time to visit
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…
Fritzel’s European Jazz Club is a French Quarter main- stay for over 50 years (Photo: Blake Snow)
My latest for Travel Weekly: As one of America’s most distinct cities, few places are more beloved by both travelers and the travel media than New Orleans. My wife and I recently visited the Crescent City and found it to be just as charming as ever, even with pandemic restrictions in place.
Of all we did on our visit, these experiences stood out: Continue reading…
Like many people, my family is the ultimate joy. Although happiness and fulfillment are deeply personal, my wife and children inspire me to be better and make me feel like the luckiest man alive. I am forever grateful to them, and this year was no different. Same goes for the many friends that have stayed with me over the years.
But there are several new things that came into my life this year that I’d like to recognize. Some of them are simple. All of them make me even more grateful to be alive. While I don’t mean to be insensitive to anyone still struggling with this moving goalpost of a pandemic, I can honestly say that I’m happier today than I was pre-COVID.
Here’s why: Continue reading…
My latest for Orbitz: The holidays are back. And with them, a new kind of travel and family gathering stress that none of us have ever experienced. To help you make the most of this heartwarming and often trying time of year, consider the following pandemic strategies and proven travel advice. Continue reading…
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.”
Credit: Blake Snow
My latest for Orbitz: “If you enjoy hiking but aren’t fond of heavy packs, dry food, or sleeping in tents on the hard ground, we’ve got something for you. It’s called hut hiking, and it combines remote wilderness with some modern “cabin” conveniences such as bathrooms, a roof over your head, the wonder of mattresses, and easily prepared hot meals.
Although big in Europe, hut hiking never really caught on in America. That’s not to say hikeable huts don’t exist here. But they are limited to only a few routes in the entire nation and are noticeably more primitive when compared to the often full-service, multi-course meals, and shower-powered huts found abroad.
Regardless of quality, hut hiking is a game-changer for people who like good food, better sleep, lighter packs, fixed shelter, and improved hygiene as they explore the great outdoors on foot.” Continue reading…
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…
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…
“Devil’s Mountain” in Berlin (Courtesy Berlin Tourism)
My latest dark tourism review for Orbitz: “Walking up from the parking lot, I was then greeted by a 1990s television set, ottoman, and office chair sitting in the middle of an overgrown courtyard… as if it belonged there. Beyond was a series of five rectangular buildings and four bulbous radome towers rising above. Not only are many of the windows busted out or partially broken, the buildings themselves are brightly colored, as if a giant toddler took a box of crayons and started filling in the shapes.” Continue reading…
Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago
Here’s a recap of my recently published works:
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.
Courtesy Lonely Planet
My latest for Lonely Planet:
- The best time to go to Utah. With five national parks, more than two dozen national landmarks, and its award-winning skiing, Utah is one of the most beloved adventure states in America. With four distinct seasons, however, your mileage will vary depending on the timing of your visit. Whether hiking, off-roading, or playing in its snow or desert waters, these are the best times to go.
- The 8 best road trips in Utah. Utah is world famous for its red-rock arches and deep canyons, but as with many things in life, the journey is often better than any singular landmark. The same is true for the Beehive state – to really get to know it, fuel up, roll down the windows and hit the road.
Thanks for reading (and sharing with someone who might appreciate these).
My latest for Fodor’s: “America is home to a glut of amazing lakes. Tahoe, Crater, Flathead, and Havasu just to name a few. But in terms of sheer adventure, nothing beats Lake Powell for its houseboats, water-skiing, cliff jumping, swimming, boat-hiking, extra elbow room, and limitless exploration. Here’s what makes Lake Powell the most fun-loving body of water in the country.” Continue reading…
My latest for Orbitz: “Depending on the trip, travel can be easy, hard, or somewhere in between. But it’s rarely (if ever) one of the below. Here are some of the most popular and enduring beliefs that do more harm than good when it comes to planning, navigating, and enjoying both domestic and international travel.” Continue reading…
Me standing tall in Kyoto
Before pandemic closed international borders and decimated airline routes, I held the ridiculous job of getting paid to travel the world. I’d jetset to far-flung places (often with my family) and then write a review of what I liked most about the place, people, attractions, and/or food.
It was unreal.
Although I plan on taking up that job again, for now I can only dream. And when I look back on the dozens of places I’ve had the privilege of visiting, these are the ones I’ll return to in a heartbeat—one for every inhabited continent.
When daydreaming or adding places to your bucket list, few countries are more lovable than these:
Japan (Asia). Half of the food is amazing. The other half is gross. But the people are 100% adorable. And their contradictory culture is mesmerizing—everything from their language, customs, formality, architecture, tradition, and scenery. BONUS points for being one of the safest and cleanest countries on Earth—a place where kindergartners freely roam downtown late into the night, it’s so safe.
Courtesy Lindsey Snow
My latest for Travelocity: “Utah is well-known for its skiing, hiking, red rock, and welcoming residents. If you’ve already visited or are planning your first trip, consider the following statewide classics before finalizing your itinerary. While the below includes several city-based attractions, Utah is disproportionately known for its great outdoors, so plan on enjoying a few urban delights, as well as plenty of magnificent natural ones.” Continue reading…
My latest for Travelocity: “The Great Outdoors are scientifically proven to improve your family’s health and happiness. And when it comes to seeing some of the best of America, few regions are more compelling than the Mountain West states (for the record, that’s everything west of the Midwest except Washington, Oregon, and California). With so much to see, however, where should you turn your attention? If you can only visit one place in each of the eight Mountain West states, these should be at the top of your list.” Continue reading…
I first fell in love with grasslands while road tripping through the Black Hills several years ago. Someday I want to see these: Tallgrass Praire in northern Oklahoma: Continue reading…
Here’s my latest love letter published in Lonely Planet about the state I call home: “Utah is known around the globe for its five national parks, dubbed the “Mighty 5.” But some are better than others, depending on how you travel. Before booking your next adventure to red rock country, here’s what you need to know.” Continue reading…
My latest for Travel Weekly: “Just as the U.S. was announcing mandatory Covid tests for border reentry this year, I arrived, family in tow, at a small, locally owned resort in the middle of Puerto Vallarta’s coastline. Deep discounts and easy access made Mexico, one of a dozen or so countries still open to Americans, an irresistible beach vacation escape, and although there were plentiful bargains among newer all-inclusives, I was intrigued by an older property called Las Palmas by the Sea.”
As you can hopefully tell after reading the full article, my family and I were enamored by this place. We stayed a full week. Although we usually like to travel to new places and properties for our next vacation, we hope to return to this little slice of paradise within the next year. I smile justing thinking about it. Kudos to both Las Palmas by the Sea and Vallarta Transportation for getting my family to and the airport in comfort and on time. Viva Vallarta!
- Can technology ever fix corruption? (Rest of World) Here is a thought-provoking story about how Mexico City uses the world’s largest surveillance system to reduce petty crime while also increasing police bribes in a notoriously corrupt culture. While I disagree with the author about throwing out the bath tub for harboring dirty water (i.e. because the system doesn’t reduce high crimes), it was still an enlightening read.
- The man who turned credit-card points into a travel empire (NY Times). “If you trace the thread back on any one of these businesses, it’s always the same deal: The poor underwrite the fantasies of the middle class, who in turn underwrite the realities of the rich.”
- Shigeru Miyamoto Wants to Create a Kinder World (New Yorker). “It’s important to note that, in our household, all the video-game hardware belonged to me, and the children understood that they were borrowing these things. If they couldn’t follow the rules, then there was an understanding that I could just take the machine away from them. [Laughs.] When it was good weather outside, I would always encourage them to play outside. They played a lot of Sega games, too, by the way.”
For nearly 20 years, I’ve traveled at least once a quarter for fun. Over the last six years, I’ve traveled 8-10 times a year as a working journalist. With few notable exceptions, that all came to a screeching halt this year.
Although not being able to travel might be a first-world problem, having closed borders is no laughing matter. Since restrictions started, here’s what I learned from the lack of travel over the past 10 months: Continue reading…
Thanks for reading and sharing the ones that interest you the most:
My latest for Fodor’s: With so many other national parks and recreation areas overshadowing it, northeastern Utah is easily overlooked, especially when compared to Southern Utah. But with many of the same features minus the crowds, little-known Vernal is like Moab before it became overrun with tourists. From remarkable hiking, surreal canyons, and amazing arches, to prehistoric digs, whitewater rafting, and legalized cliff jumping, there’s so much to like about this so-called “Dinosaurland.” Continue reading…
Black Hills / Devil’s Tower courtesy Shutterstock
My latest for Orbitz: When European settlers first started carving up territories (and eventually independent states and countries) in the “New World” during the second half of the last millennium, they didn’t care about splitting up natural wonders or continuous sections of geography. They drew borders solely for political and/or easily marked reasons. Which is why North America is divided the way we see it today.
So when it comes to seeing some of the greatest outdoors on the continent, sometimes you have to cross borders to experience the full thing. Here’s why the following are worth someday seeing from both sides. Continue reading at Orbitz…
My latest travel dispatch: Just to be clear—there is never a bad time to visit a National Park! Except for during road closures, wild fires, rush-hour like traffic on holidays, or maybe even extreme temperatures in summer or winter.
That said, many National Parks are especially amazing in autumn, aka America’s favorite season, according to a recent BuzzFeed survey. Not only does fall welcome far fewer crowds and more manageable temperatures to our nation’s public parks, but it also brings with it the changing of the leaves, bringing out nature’s wild palette of colorful trees. Want to see the best of the best for fall? Look no further than these top picks.
Continue reading at Orbitz…
While nowhere near the 180 countries U.S. passport holders could visit before the pandemic, there are currently 11 nations that are welcoming Americans with few, if any, entrance restrictions. Read my latest for Fodor’s…
My latest for Fodor’s: “Shortly after coronavirus restrictions closed international borders last spring, I asked a dozen travel experts on when those borders might reopen. The immediate answer was discouraging: sometime in 2021 at the earliest. Many of those same experts accurately predicted, however, that domestic borders would reopen this summer and fall, which is exactly what happened.
“So how have travel forecasts changed over the last half-year, if at all? Are there any silver linings or is there any good news on the horizon for those hoping to travel as we did in the past? And what will it take to regain access to the places we lost this year?
“While there’s no easy answer to those questions, this is what many of those same experts say now: Everything is subject to change in this hesitant, inconsistent new world.” Continue reading…
They were both modern-day martyrs, reports Outside magazine.
“Back when Austin and Geoghegan were cycling through Spain, after they were rescued by a stranger in the middle of a snowstorm, Austin wrote a post on his blog. “We live in a world where how you live is dictated largely by how you trust. If you do not trust others, if you believe human nature to be something dark and rotten, you close yourself off to a whole lot. If you do not open the shutters, all you get is darkness, no matter what’s outside. True, you may get darkness even if the shutters are open. Darkness or something worse: a rock hurled through your window, a tree branch kicked up by violent winds. But there’s no way to let the light in unless you open your shutters to the wider world.”
My latest for Fodor’s about people who don’t think other people should travel in pandemic: “I think shamers are just scared, probably a little jealous, and don’t know how to handle their frustration or anger,” says travel blogger Kristin Addis. “The only way to handle it is to be OK with disagreeing. Shaming won’t fix anything. It won’t help communities that depend on tourism, and it won’t stop people from traveling either.” Continue reading…
My latest for Lonely Planet:
“At nearly five millennia old, the bristlecone pines in Nevada’s only National Park are some of the oldest living organisms on earth. Although they don’t have the height or size of record-setting redwoods and sequoias standing in nearby California, ancient bristlecones can live over a thousand years longer, which makes hiking among them a surreal experience.”
Continue reading at Lonely Planet…
Although several of my international travel stories are still on hold, a handful of domestic ones recently published that I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading and sharing any you like:
Judge me if you must, but I’ve been roadtripping with family for the last several months in quarantine to domestic locations that are increasingly open to tourists.
This is what I’ve learned from that changed, strange, but still worthwhile experience of traveling in a pandemic: Continue reading…
My latest for Orbitz: “In case you didn’t know, there’s been a boom in camping this summer. In wake of COVID quarantines, people are gravitating toward trips and activities that come with built-in social distancing. Camping, of course, is a great option. But packing for either a short- or long-term camping trip involves a lot more than just a tent and smores. Looking to spend a night in the great outdoors? Consider these 17 items before you go.” Continue reading…
My latest for Lonely Planet: “The past few months have been a challenge for everyone. But for travelers, wanderlusters, and global adventurers, the closed borders and shrinking world have been especially depressing. Here are 10 ways to cope for the foreseeable future, according to experts.”
SEE ALSO: My latest for Orbitz—What your summer vacation will look like this year
Courtesy Blake Snow
You don’t have to cross borders or cook from home to taste some of the world’s greatest foods. Looking for fresh ideas to spice up your quarantine cuisine? Try one of these, although your mileage may vary depending on current state restrictions: Continue reading…
My latest for Fodor’s: Ready or not, the world is starting to reopen to both shoppers and travelers, after more than three months of quarantine. Although international borders are still largely closed, most state borders are open to domestic visitors. Granted, it will take a lot more time and research to pull off a successful interstate trip these days. But for many, the added hassle, increased risks, and fewer options are still worth it. They aren’t perfect. But until further notice, this is as good as it gets. Continue reading…
Courtesy Blake Snow
Here’s my latest travel dispatch for Lonely Planet
Depending on where you live, amusement parks can be one of the best day trip experiences around. But like everything else, coronavirus indefinitely changed them.
As one of the US states with the lowest rates of coronavirus infections, Utah was also one of the first to lift restrictions and open its doors. In late May, one of those doors was the highly-rated Lagoon Park, which USA Today recently named one of the best “hidden-gem” theme parks in the country.
Local reaction to the park’s reopening was tepid at best. Is a tightly packed, and line-filled attraction really such a good idea, especially after over two months of quarantine? At first my wife and I said no. But after reading favorable reports of “no crowds,” “attendance limited to 15% capacity,” and “we had a lot of fun,” – not to mention almost no getaway options at our disposal (even Utah’s national parks still hadn’t yet opened) – we booked our family for the following Saturday. Continue reading…
Courtesy Janine Rubenstein
Read and enjoyed this adventurous story by Janine Rubenstein this week:
I found a site called RVShare.com, which is basically AirBnB for motor homes. Unsurprisingly, you could count on zero hands the amount of Black RV owners I spotted on there. But I stumbled upon the nicest guy renting out the perfect first-timer van: a Class A, 2016 Ford Thor Vegas, measuring in at 24ft. “It drives just like a big SUV” he told me, which helped calm my nerves about how my brother and husband would be able to maneuver the thing.
Pretty sure it’s the first article I’ve ever read in Essence and hope it’s yours too if you’re never read the magazine before.
Credit: Blake Snow
My wife and I believe the world is inherently good and we want to indoctrinate our children to think the same. Not by ignoring society’s seedy underbelly. But with measurable evidence such as this that overwhelmingly proves the world is getting better and better.
To that end, my wife shared the following quote with our children and I over breakfast recently: “Feed your faith and your fear will starve.” In other words, people who are afraid are usually consumed by doubt.
But in my experience, we can replace that fear and doubt with hope and love by doing the following: Continue reading…
Credit: Blake Snow
This wasn’t the first time I’ve written about my favorite, lesser-known Utah outdoors. And it probably won’t be the last. Hope you enjoy.
Utah has some of the most beautiful national parks in the United States, if not North America as a whole. Because of this, numerous state parks and other protected lands are often forgotten; many would likely have national park status were they not located somewhere that already has five. Read on to learn about one of Utah’s best kept secrets. Continue reading on Lonely Planet…
See also: Which Utah park is right for you?
My latest for Lonely Planet: If you’re hoping that travel will return to normal in 2020, don’t hold your breath, experts say. That said, you will likely be able to vacation on a reduced basis later this year, if not by summer, some believe. Although not ideal, that’s better than the “do not travel” orders the world has endured since March.
So what might a travel reopening look like?
“The travel industry is a huge part of the economic health of so many countries, so I imagine by the end of the summer tourism will begin again,” says Jorge Branco, director of the World Travelers Association. “I don’t think schedules will be as they were pre-coronavirus right away, but there will be options available to begin the transition.”
In other words, we won’t hit the “on” switch as quickly as we hit the “off” switch. Rather, governments, health experts and tourism providers will metaphorically install “dimmers” to gradually increase lifestyles and travel to normal levels.
Continue reading on Lonely Planet…
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 do Indiana Jones, Little Miss Sunshine, Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Darjeeling Unlimited, and Endless Summer have in common? They’re among the very best feature films that make you want to go places. So before streaming your next great home movie, consider one of these first: Continue reading…
Some of the below are no longer relevant right now, due to coronavirus quarantines. But others still are, and I wanted to add them to my portfolio in any case.
Thanks for reading, bookmarking, or sharing any that you enjoy.
There is no replacement for seeing something with your own eyes. Let alone hearing, smelling, and feeling it with your own presence.
But despite coronavirus quarantines, there’s still something you can do about it. With the help of modern technology, there’s a lot you can do about it.
From seeing the seven wonders of the world and world-class museums, to exploring the great outdoors and National Parks on foot, these are the best virtual tours I found online in a story I wrote for Lonely Planet.
Hope you enjoy.
I wrote this for Lonely Planet today and hope it can lighten any travel restrictions.
Courtesy Blake Snow
Planning to visit London but now sure what to do while there? Here are some iconic highlights for first-timers, things repeat visitors may have missed, as well as special considerations, things to avoid, and where to stay. Continue reading…