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: Cruising Antarctica, Cabo, Sleeping on planes, No passport needed

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Cyclical Nature of Cool ⛷️

Courtesy Whitelines Snowboarding

I can tell you the exact moment snowboarding became cool. It was in 1985 when James Bond fastened helicopter shrapnel to his feet and rode down a mountain on a makeshift snowboard while a bunch of goons on skis struggled to keep up. 

I can also tell you the exact moment it became uncool—at least in my world. While discussing the upcoming winter season recently with two millennials, I doubted my age after both of them grew up skiing since, “snowboarding is what my old man does.” 

“If I still snowboard, does that make me an old man?” I asked myself.  Continue reading…

Published Works: 10 years of travel writing, hiking Petra, 7 wonders, cruising tips

Here are my latest columns for Paste Magazine. Thanks for reading and sharing the ones you enjoy:

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Published Works: Margaritaville, Legoland, Traveling Music, Paris with kids, Skydiving

Courtesy Blake Snow

Here are my latest travel dispatches for Paste Magazine:

Thanks for reading and sharing with the travel lovers in your life.

Ultra-long haul flights: How I survived 16 hours in the sky

Courtesy Shutterstock

I didn’t notice the duration until after I booked my airfare.

Total flight time from Salt Lake City to Durban, South Africa: an intimidating 22 hours—just under a full day. And that doesn’t include the 7-hour layover at two different airports. Nor the three additional hours of airtime on the return flight (because trade winds).

Gulp.

The longest nonstop I will take on this trip—New York to Johannesburg—lasts 16 hours and 27 minutes. It won’t be as long as the record-setting 18-hour-and-50-minute doozy from Singapore to New York, but it’s close. And it may make you wonder, why would anyone do that to themselves?

If I’m going to go on a life-changing safari, I’ve gotta get my hands dirty, right!? So I do it—I book the flight. After processing the sheer amount of time I’ll spend in the air, however, I mistakenly think my past experience on 10-plus hour flights will make this long-hauler a piece of cake.

I am wrong. Hour 12, I learn, is like hitting “the wall” in a marathon, and at that point I’ll still have five more hours to go. Someone get me outta here! In fact, the latter half of the flight will feel like a slow-motion time warp. Zombie-land in a flying metal tube, and I’m the zombie.

Sounds nice, right? For anyone planning on taking a similar “ultra long-haul”—any flight greater than 16 hours—here’s a psychological run-down of what to expect, plus tips and tricks to maintain your sanity. Continue reading…

Published works: African safari, 16 hour flights, unseen Utah, 18 travel tips

Here’s a few of my latest travel clippings. Thanks for reading and sharing:

Published works: Amsterdam’s tulips, Costa Rican creatures, Colorado TikTok’s

Here are my recent clippings—thanks for reading:

Where locals from exotic locations vacation

Courtesy Shutterstock

Jimmy Buffett once sang, “Changes in latitudes change attitudes.” I mostly agree, although I’d include longitudes in the lyric if it rhymed. Here’s why.

Once while rafting through the Costa Rican jungle on the beautiful Pacuare River, my group rested halfway at this extraordinary lodge. On arrival, I beelined to the first hammock I saw overlooking the area. While swaying to and fro, I watched and heard the top-rated river do its thing. Enveloped in greenery, I spotted a hanging bridge off in the distance.

I’m rafting in the freaking jungle, I said to myself, not believing my luck. Moments later, my guide approached and commented on the impressive view as she had probably done a hundred times before. She asked where I was from. “Utah,” I replied, which excited her. “I just returned from Arches and Canyonlands National Park two weeks ago!” she exclaimed. “I can’t wait to return to Zion and Bryce next year.”

Oh, the irony, I thought. The grass is always greener. Or in the case of my Costa Rican guide, the red rock desert is sometimes more appealing than the lush, green and mountainous rainforest I was enjoying at that very moment.

Continue reading…

Published Works: Urban Melting Pots, Best Value Cruises, Terrific Tokyo

Here are my latest travel dispatches for Paste Magazine and Lonely Planet:

Going green: 5 things to do in Ireland

Green—Ireland’s been doing it since well before it was a buzzword. And not just for one day each spring in celebration of its patron saint. “In Ireland, everyday is bathed in green,” asserts the country’s visitor’s bureau. That’s no exaggeration. Thanks to heavy precipitation and its mild climate (caused by warming ocean currents), The Emerald Isle is a scientific fact.

It’s also a popular place to visit. When considering a trip to this photogenic and evergreen beauty, forget luck and consider these worthy itinerary entries. Continue reading…

Published works: Is Fairbanks the best place in America to see the Northern Lights?

Courtesy Blake Snow

My latest for Paste Magazine: “You need three primary ingredients to really see the Northern Lights: Proximity to the North Pole, maximum darkness, and clear skies. Fairbanks, Alaska has all three and more, making it one of the best places in America (if not world) to see the elusive Aurora Borealis.

“But Fairbanks features a lot more than just shimmering ribbons of light swathing across the northern night sky. On a recent bucket list trip with my wife, I braved the coldest city in America to delight in dog sledding, hot springing, arctic snowmobiling, and even reindeer walking.

“Before following suit, here’s what you need to know.” Continue reading…

Published works: Why you should consider travel to Nicaragua

Courtesy Blake Snow

My latest for Paste: “Sometimes a country is more defined by what it doesn’t have than what it does. Nicaragua is one of those countries.

“While it doesn’t have the shiny amenities, rave reputation, and tourism machine needed to attract a high volume of visitors, Nicaragua also doesn’t have the crowds, beaten paths, and routine experiences you’ll increasingly find elsewhere. Instead, it is refreshingly undeveloped. Because of this, Nicaragua is notably more affordable when compared to other Central American hot spots (including neighboring Costa Rica, which it definitely resembles).“

Continue reading…

Published Works: Top 5 travel trends—more cities, kitchens, and 3-star hotels this year

Courtesy Unsplash

My latest for Paste: “How might travel change this year? Where are people going this year? And how can you save a buck on your next trip while moving about the planet?

“To find out, the folks at Expedia, the world’s largest travel company, surveyed 2000 people and paired their responses with the most recent booking data. Although not a foolproof way to predict the future, this approach offers an inside look at the purchasing behavior and changing tastes of travelers.

“According to the data, this is what we’re in for this year.” Continue reading…

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NEW MUSIC: My latest single goes out to all you weary solo travelers

My new single, Fancy Hotel, released today on all major music stores: Spotify, Apple, Amazon, YouTube Music, YouTube, and more. It’s the lead single from my forthcoming third album, out later this year.

I wrote the song in the same hotel room I photographed for the cover art, while on assignment for Paste Magazine in Spain. It’s one of the darkest songs I’ve ever written. But since my optimistic self was the one writing it, the chorus is actually super uplifting. So I’m proud of the mixed feelings it captures, something all of us experience in our own headspace.

I’m also proud of the cover art, which is equally dark. But light is still beaming through the windows. Because there’s always hope. Lyrics after the break. Continue reading…

Published works: 5 things to love about top-rated Celebrity Apex

My latest for Paste Magazine: “It took a minute, but cruising is back. Although most liners halted their sailings over the last couple of years, all ships are now full steam ahead.

“The same is true of Celebrity Apex, the best-rated, recently launched ship from the ocean’s top-rated cruise line, according to passenger reviews. After being christened just before the pandemic, Apex basically sat unused for the better part of two years, before settling into its current Caribbean itinerary last fall.

“The week before Christmas, my family boarded Apex in fantastic Fort Lauderdale for a week of all-you-can-eat fun, island hopping (e.g. Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman), and sunny relaxation. Here’s what we liked most about the ship.”

Continue reading…

Published works: 5 funny ways Europe differs from America

My latest for Paste: “Since yearly records first began in the 1960s, no other continent welcomes more traveling Americans than Europe. Roughly half the size of the US with almost an equal number of countries as we have states, Europe is a convenient, safe, and diverse way to expose yourself to a lot of foreign cultures (and languages) in a short amount of time.

Thanks to a strong dollar, Europe is also a lot more affordable now than it’s traditionally been. As with all continents, however, Europe does a lot of things differently than we do here at home. Whether you’ve visited before or are planning your first transatlantic visit this year, here are some of the bigger dissimilarities you need to understand.”

Continue reading…

Published works: Brazil is badly underrated. Here’s why (and what to do)

My latest for Paste Magazine:

It doesn’t make any sense. I’m looking at the most beautiful city I’ve ever visited on six different continents. That city, Rio de Janeiro, is a masterpiece of God, Mother Nature, or whatever force created it. Its lush mountains and iconic beaches are the crown jewel of Brazil, a country that includes two “Wonders of the World,” the world’s largest rainforest, and more natural and cultural diversity than any other country in Latin America.

Despite this, Brazil doesn’t even crack the list of the top 50 most-visited countries in the world. Continue reading…

Published works: Mexico City is awesome, toad-licking is dumb, magic travel pills

My latest for Lonely Planet and Paste:

Thanks for reading.

Published works: Misjudging Madrid on foot, scooter, and bougie Range Rover

Courtesy Shutterstock

My latest for Paste Magazine: After years of traveling, not once have I heard the following: “I love Madrid!” A quick Google search confirms this consensus; the Spanish capital is notably absent from most “Europe’s best cities to visit” lists. In the two instances it was, the unassuming city barely cracked the top 40.

That’s not to say Madrid isn’t a great city. It’s rich, ornate, bright, pedestrian-friendly, and filled with some of the warmest locals and food on the continent. But not all great cities double as desirable tourist destinations.

Does Madrid? To find out, the generous folks at Land Rover recently invited me to drive their new electric Range Rovers through the city’s scenery, in between some of the top sights, and even on some outskirt off-road terrain. This is what I learned.

Continue reading…

Published works: It’s Okay to Just Hang at the Hotel and Do Absolutely Nothing

Courtesy Blake Snow

My latest for Paste Magazine: I recently read a quote that said, “I don’t want to leave vacation without knowing anything about the destination.” The implication was that travelers have some sort of moral responsibility to learn about the places they visit.

This rubbed me the wrong way. I say that as a lifelong student who usually devours foreign customs, culture, and ways of life while traveling. But sometimes you don’t want to do anything on vacation, and that’s totally okay. Sometimes you just want a break from daily routines, schedules, tasking, and commitments, and that’s wholly appropriate.

Whether you travel a lot or not, sometimes it’s refreshing to do absolutely nothing on vacation. No sightseeing. No local cooking classes. Just rest and relaxation. After a year of travel at nearly pre-pandemic levels, that’s exactly how I felt on a recent family holiday to Newport Beach, California.

Continue reading…

Published works: Top 20 National Parks

The author at Badlands National Park (courtesy Lindsey Snow)

My latest for Paste Magazine: America invented the national park when it made Yellowstone the world’s first in 1873, introducing the idea that “extraordinary” land should be protected from public development and preserved for future generations. After visiting half of the country’s 63 National Parks, it’s obvious some are better than others. A handful of recent ones (Cuyahoga Valley, Indiana Dunes) seem downright ordinary, if not political, when compared to less prestigious but clearly superior state parks like Na Pali or Custer.

With nine total, California has the most National Parks, followed by Alaska with eight, and Utah with five. In fact, the western United States is home to over 80% of National Parks, even though just a quarter of the population lives there. This explains why The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee welcomes the most visitors, over 14 million annually, compared to Zion’s 5 million, the second most.

Wherever you go, if you only see 20 in your lifetime, make it these icons. Continue reading…

Published works: Two canyons—one colossal, one narrow, both awesome

Courtesy Shutterstock

My latest for Paste: I am drawn to canyons. Like the ocean, they make me feel small. Unlike the ocean, they show their age and literally wear their scars on their sleeves. This, of course, makes them who they are. But it also makes them interesting. So I travel to canyons a lot.

On a recent holiday weekend, I hauled my family to two of America’s most popular canyons—Grand Canyon in Arizona and Zion Canyon in Utah. Given the rugged terrain, it’s smart to come prepared for more off-road conditions (I drove a Kia Telluride during our trip).

Transportation aside, these two massive canyons are only separated by a two-hour scenic drive, which makes them great for pairing. Before planning a similar getaway, here’s what you need to know. Continue reading… 

Published works: Hiking Half Dome, America’s most deadly day hike

My latest for Paste Magazine: “I’m lucky to have thru- and day-hiked some of the most remarkable outdoors on the planet: the Rockies and Appalachians in North America, Patagonia and the Inca Trail in South America, the Alps and Mont Blanc in Europe. I’ve even hiked the ancient Kumano Kodo in Asia, which is considered the oldest designated hiking trail in the world.

“But last month I hiked the most demanding (if not deadly) day hike in my life so far: Yosemite’s Half Dome, located in the soaring Sierra Nevadas of California. I stress soaring because, at nearly 5,000 feet tall, Half Dome is twice as tall as the Grand Canyon. In fact, at an average of 3,000 feet tall, Yosemite’s granite canyons are some of the most dramatic you’ll find anywhere in the world.”

Continue reading…

Published Works: 5 reasons to unwind at Cancun’s “newest” all-inclusive

My latest for Paste Magazine: “It’s amazing how colorful Cancun is on a sunny day, even if you’ve visited its beaches before. The ocean is a stunning combination of deep blues, cobalts, and teals—some of the most gorgeous you’ll ever see. What’s more, the celebrated city is home to more all-inclusives than anywhere else, which is partly why it’s such a popular vacation hop. (The other is Mexican affordability and American proximity.)

“With so many options to choose from, then, which resort stands out? As one of the very last a la carte hotels in Cancun to convert to an all-inclusive, Grand Fiesta Coral Beach is “new” in that it shuns the often pragmatic, systematized practices of traditional all-inclusives while staying true to its fancy heritage. Yes, the property is big and beautiful like other contenders. But the toothy staff are noticeably more attentive and personal, because they were “Hecho en Mexico” and clearly love their jobs.”

Continue reading…

What 10,000 miles from home feels like

Courtesy Shutterstock

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…

Published works: Hawaii—7 days, 4 islands, 1 cruise

My latest for Paste Magazine: “This year I’m pretty sure I discovered the most convenient, if not affordable, way to island hop Hawaii. It’s called “inter-island” cruising and Norwegian is the only liner exclusively doing it. While other cruises incorporate a couple Hawaiian islands on larger South Pacific itineraries, Norwegian’s 7-day Inter Island Cruise aboard the Pride of America sets sail every week of the year from its home port in Honolulu.

“After port-hopping with my wife for seven days to Hawaii’s four most famous islands—Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and “The Big Island”—I’d use one word to sum up the experience: exceptional. As the only cruise ship in the world to fly a U.S. flag from its stern, Pride of America is a special, award-winning, and exotic journey into the heart of the country’s most fabled vacation destination. It’s like one big “Best of Hawaii” tour where you only unpack once while visiting five different ports and spending the majority of your time on land (no sea days here).”

Continue reading…

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 nearly 10 years, I’ve written and published hundreds of travel articles for CNN, National Geographic, USA Today, LA Times, Washington Post, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, Expedia, Orbitz, Frommers, and Travel Weekly. For that last six years, I’ve served as the monthly travel columnist for Paste Magazine (5 million readers), which has taken me to six continents and dozens of countries. For my most recent articles, click here. For some of my favorites, consider these:

Best of 2023

  1. What I’ve learned after 10 years of travel writing
  2. 5 funny ways Europe differs from America
  3. With war next door, I hiked 50 miles into Petra on the Jordan Trail
  4. Is Fairbanks the best place in America to see the Northern Lights?
  5. 5 things to love about Celebrity Apex
  6. The most cosmopolitan cities in the world
  7. 5 things to know before road-tripping to Southern Colorado’s National Parks
  8. Why some New Yorkers never visit the Statue of Liberty
  9. Tokyo: What my family learned in the world’s largest and safest city
  10. 18 travel tips that actually work
  11. The best way to visit Paris with kids
  12. Amsterdam: Cozy canals and the “Garden of Europe”
  13. Everything you need to know about the 7 wonders of the world
  14. Safari with kids: Seeing Africa’s “big game” on a budget
  15. Ultra-long haul flights: How I survived 16 hours in the sky
  16. Wasting away again at Margaritaville’s newest Cancun all-inclusive
  17. Will travel for music: Beck and Phoenix in sunny California
  18. Is skydiving the most physiological rewarding form of travel?

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…

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.