No Blackout Dates, hosted by Eben Diskin and Tim Wenger, is the official podcast of Matador Network and provides a truly unfiltered and honest look at the world of travel and adventure.
Join these travel writers Eben and Tim each week for completely raw stories from the road that any responsible editor would (and has) cut from print. They talk about what it’s like to travel for a living, introduce you to the wild characters they’ve met along the way -- from astronauts and flight attendants to Amsterdam sex workers -- and expose a side of the travel lifestyle that Rick Steves doesn’t want you to know about. No Blackout Dates is a window into the beautiful, bizarre, and batsh*t crazy world of travel!
Marko Randelovic is a documentary filmmaker and photojournalist from the UK whose work focuses heavily on Southeast Asia. Marko joins No Blackout Dates to discuss his new film, Makepung, which debuts on Matador Network on January 12. Makepung tells the story of Bali’s long-running tradition of buffalo racing. That’s right – there’s a dedicated cohort of Balinese who aren’t afraid to hop on a water buffalo and chase speed, glory, and honor. Lest you be worried about animal rights, these water buffalo are among the most cared-for animals on the Indonesian island.
Also on today’s docket is the lifestyle of an international filmmaker. What kept him going throughout a global pandemic that severely restricted his – and everyone else’s – ability to vagabond? He also notes why it's so important to connect with the communities you visit rather than just experience a place through its travel or expat lens. Marko discusses the differences between visiting Canggu and Ubud, and how even the island’s famed beach club scene has a spiritual side.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the merits of Don’t Look Up and debate whether or not Yelp reviews are bullsh*t. Tim wonders what the heck “smart casual” dress means, and Eben admits that he actually does enjoy the outdoors (as long as he’s far from home).
S2, Ep. 15: New Year, Same Us: A 2021 Retrospective
You know those recap episodes your favorite TV show slips in mid-season, because they’re too lazy to put out new content? And you know how you usually skip it? Well, this is our recap episode, but don’t skip it just yet. No Blackout Dates is ringing in 2022 by doing exactly what they say you shouldn’t do in the new year – living in the past. Not only are we reflecting on our favorite episodes of 2021, but also our favorite travel destinations of the past year, and the best books we’ve read. We’re also looking ahead to the travel trends we’d love to see die out in 2022.
And it wouldn’t be a year-end recap without getting a little emo. We have a lot to be thankful for. In 2021, No Blackout Dates partnered with Matador Network and began working with its amazing Studios team to optimize the production of our show. And we heard from many of our listeners about what you like and don’t about No Blackout Dates. Expect much more of the good stuff in 2022.
With that, we raise a toast to you and to a new year of adventure. Get out there and walk 2022’s winding path with gusto.
S2, Ep. 14: The Least Pretentious Wine Conversation You've Ever Heard
Ben Parsons founded Ordinary Fellow winery in Palisade, Colorado, to make wine approachable for everyone. Ben joins No Blackout Dates this week to talk wine and travel – most notably, how the two come together to create one epic life experience. A UK expat, Ben has traveled the world to make, taste, and promote wine for more than 20 years. He’s settled in Colorado as the state’s first expert winemaker and likely its OG top-tier wine enthusiast – and has established himself as the face of Colorado’s burgeoning wine scene.
Noted in detail are the notes of tasting wine – and whether or not those people who claim they taste hints of chocolate and fruity pebbles in their glass are full of it. We also get into what wineries need to do to get over the staunch stigma and gain the cult following of brewpubs, something Ben has addressed for years in a state that prides itself in having a brewery on every corner. He also walks Eben through the basics of drinking wine, and believe it or not, our in-house satirical sadist appears to come around to the dark side – at least, he’s willing to give it a shot.
In Hot Takes, Eben ponders whether or not we should leave our Christmas lights up all year (Tim never hangs any at all, so he’s hesitant to commit to the idea). The guys also discuss New Year’s resolutions – are they bullshit? Are they worthwhile? Tim offers the first fresh take on the tradition since Barry Manilow’s 1977 classic, It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve.
Just in time for Christmas, we’re excited to welcome our highest-profile guest to ever appear on No Blackout Dates. That’s right. Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Jolly Saint Nick, the Big Man himself…Santa Claus is here to ring in the holidays.
Tim and Eben hounded the North Pole’s PR office for months to get this interview, and after speaking with Santa for 45 minutes, it’s easy to see why he’s so tough to schedule. The man is busy – producing all those toys, managing crews of elves around the globe, and splitting domestic duties with Mrs. Claus once the working day is through. The guys press Santa on all the things you’ve always wanted to know, including how to get off the naughty list, the craziest things kids ask for, and whether or not the reindeer carrying his sleigh this year are the same nine troopers who’ve been at it since the 1600s. The crew also delves into the ins and outs of Christmas cookies and discusses everything from Santa’s diet to where he vacations once the holiday season is through (hint – Santa tans just like the rest of us).
Ole’ Saint Nick turns out to be exactly how you’ve always imagined him – jolly, genuine, and always down for a good chuckle. For any still in doubt about his existence, just listen to that wicked Nashville accent – who would go out of their way to fake that?
In Hot Takes, Eben discusses his acceptance of Santa Claus as someone who didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas. Tim wonders about the best way to handle awkward encounters with people you didn’t expect to bump into this holiday season. And the guys break down what makes a Christmas movie a Christmas movie (sorry, It’s a Wonderful Life).
S2, Ep. 12: Olympic Climbing and Ninja Warrior-ing with Meagan Martin
Meagan Martin’s eight-season run on American Ninja Warrior has outlived most television careers, and that’s just her side-hustle. Meagan is a professional rock climber whose passion for climbing has taken her around the world, from Boulder, Colorado, to Paris, Berlin, and even Hachioji, Japan. Meagan also provides television commentary of live climbing for NBC, and was there to call climbing’s Olympic debut this year.
Tim and Eben are among those who look at climbers briskly working their way up a rock face and think, “How the hell do they do that without dying?” On today’s episode, Meagan breaks down the basics of how climbing works and represents why it's poised to better represent extreme outdoor adventure sports on the global stage than snowboarding (none of climbing’s medal winners tested positive for Cannabis this year, wink-wink).
In Hot Takes, the guys discuss the ‘90’s most controversial topic – Friends or Seinfeld? They also debate in-flight drinking – is it a good way to relax and reduce flying anxiety, or a surefire way to end up with a day-wrecking hangover? After Tim just celebrated another birthday, Eben ponders whether he’s too old to keep caring about them.
S2, Ep. 11: Inside the Line: Saudi Arabia's NEOM and the Future of Cities
On today’s episode, Matador Network CEO Ross Borden joins the show to discuss his recent trip to NEOM, the expansive desert of northern Saudi Arabia being turned into the world’s first “sustainable city.” Along with The Line -- a futuristic city built in a long, thin, and extra-eco-friendly line -- the planners of NEOM will include purpose-driven tourism development along the coast of the Red Sea, a slew of national parks, and plenty of other futuristic stuff. We don’t understand it in the least, but Ross breaks down the basics in what might be the first-ever 101-level course on NEOM told by someone who’s actually been there.
Beyond NEOM, Ross and the guys discuss the current COVID situation and get into the cultural differences between Saudi and western societies. The result is an overview of the essence of Matador Network itself -- that at its best, travel has the potential to break through cultural differences and help us find our common humanity.
In Hot Takes, Eben and Tim reject the productivity of in-flight safety videos. The pair also discuss Tim’s irrational fear of thrift stores, and Eben’s fear of second-hand embarrassment.
S2, Ep. 10: Eating, Traveling, and Rocking with Kelly Rizzo
At No Blackout Dates, we firmly believe in only three things: eating great food, traveling the world, and geeking out over early 2000s punk rock. Today’s guest Kelly Rizzo embodies the best of food, travel, and music. Kelly is the founder of Eat Travel Rock, a digital television show and production company that takes viewers behind the scenes of the things we most cherish. We discuss all things food and flying with Kelly, including America’s best food cities.
Beyond her incredible TV show, Kelly’s biggest contribution to the world of travel is that she has dialed in the formula for overcoming a fear of flying. The crew gets into her tricks and hones in on what exactly you can do to make flying a better experience. Spoiler -- it involves a certain app and a pair of headphones. What’s more, it works so well that even Bob Saget is on board.
Tim makes his triumphant return to No Blackout Dates this week after a month of paternity leave, and he’s rearin’ to go. In Hot Takes, the boys discuss whether or not the Flight Map (that animated seatback screen that tracks a flight's progress) is worth watching. Eben wonders when a gathering becomes a party (Tim knows the answer). And, for those accustomed to Eben’s ridiculous restaurant ideas, Tim brings a breath of fresh air as he discloses the duo’s next business venture.
S2, Ep. 9: Jet, Set, Match: A Matchmaker's Guide for Travelers
Professional matchmaker Jenny Hart joins us today, and she’s revealing all her insider secrets for making lasting connections while traveling.
Jenny has spent years pairing people up from all around the world, particularly travelers and digital nomads, and now she’s joining us to break down the complex world of international matchmaking. We discuss meeting people on airplanes, making connections in foreign countries, and what qualities make two people a good match. She also reveals the Tinder rules you didn’t know you were breaking while swiping abroad.
In Hot Takes, Eben tried to understand the allure of true crime podcasts, and whether giving flight attendants gifts is actually a good move.
S2, Ep. 8: The New F Words: Facebook, Fake News, and Fotojournalism
Traveling for tourism paints an incomplete (and sometimes wildly inaccurate) picture of the places we visit. Cengiz Yar is an international photojournalist who’s traveled the world telling stories that are often right in front of our eyes, but which aren’t exactly comfortable for us to digest. He specializes in conflict reporting, mass displacement, and civilian casualties of war, and his work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times.
Cengiz is here to help us explore the complicated intersection of traditional journalism and social media, the importance of media literacy, and the global consequences of disinformation. That includes ground-level insights about life under the Islamic State (ISIS), the experience of Syrian refugees, and introducing Iraqi children to photography. We also dive into a question that has plagued Cengiz throughout his career: does photojournalism -- and journalism in general -- actually improve the lives of those it covers?
In Hot Takes, Eben and Melanie wonder why people decide to live in areas prone to frequent natural disasters, and ask the question that’s been on your mind since 2018: does investing in Bitcoin make you a douche?
Jules Verne’s famous character, Phileas Fogg, went around the world in 80 days. Pretty impressive in 1872. But times are different in 2021, and the bar is much, much higher. Not only has Gunnar Garfors circumnavigated the globe in just 56 hours, he’s also the first person to travel to every country in the world TWO times, visit five continents in a single day, and holds a host of other impressive travel-related records.
We talk about his visit to North Korea, how to get fresh perspectives on the same destination, how record-breaking travel differs from leisure travel, and whether credit card points are bullsh*t. We also explore what qualifies as actually “visiting” a country -- and no, a one-hour airport layover doesn’t count.
In Hot Takes, Eben and Melanie break down the Alec Baldwin incident, dissect the psychology behind read receipts and “ghosting,” and Melanie endorses a presidential candidate for 2024.
For the first time in the history of No Blackout Dates, we’re without one of our co-pilots this week. With the exciting birth of his daughter, Tim is taking some time off to learn how to be a parent -- which we imagine is much easier than being a podcast host. Luckily, Melanie Sutrathada is here to fill his shoes (if not his flannel shirts and Burton hats). Melanie was our very first guest on No Blackout Dates, and now we’ve come full circle.
She’ll be joining Eben as guest host for the next few weeks. Before we dive into next month’s interviews, we’re taking this week to introduce you guys to Melanie. Today’s episode is all about the Hot Takes -- where we discuss Squid Games, friendzoning, and the ethics of pushing the walk button to cross the street -- and of course, News of the Day, where Melanie self-reflects about her unoriginality on Instagram.
Let’s be honest -- we’ve all requested a song from a DJ before. Maybe they shut you down immediately, and maybe they reluctantly agreed but shot you a death stare the entire time you were dancing to “Uptown Funk.”Either way, they hated you for it. That’s right, DJ’s hate requests more than waiters hate people who order stuff that isn’t on the menu. But don’t worry. Nina Tarr is here to set us straight.
Nina is a DJ and music curator at the Superfrico bar in Las Vegas’ Cosmopolitan Hotel. In addition to being the Vegas Strip’s only vinyl DJ, she’s responsible for curating Superfrico’s entire audio experience, hand-selecting the DJ lineups and pre-recording the ambient music you hear when there’s no live set. She’s also an actress, writer, and stand-up comedian who’s traveled all over the US performing in front of crowds. We discuss how senses of humor differ around the country, why American music has dominated the rest of the world, and how to travel solo.
In Hot Takes, Tim continues to prepare for the birth of his daughter by wondering what would happen in the event of a police chase en route to the hospital, and Eben asks why people bother commenting on those clearly-sponsored Facebook posts. They also scratch their heads over the phrase “rue the day,” and why you can rue “the day” but seemingly nothing else.
Kina Pickett’s path is an unusual one. He moved out west from Vermont to chase big lines on his skis, becoming a reputable name on the big-mountain pro circuit. He went on to co-found the creative production agency Helio, and then parlayed his experience there into the collaborative ideation workflow platform, Zppr. Kina is a definitive example of the modern-day entrepreneur -- taking his experience from one gig, professional big-mountain skiing, and building tech-focused ventures off its back.
Most recently, Kina spent the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic traversing the country in an Airstream trailer, family of four in tow. In partnership with Matador, Kina dubbed the journey the Beyondland Roadtrip. He’s here to talk family travel, an endless road trip during a global pandemic, and why learning to manage risk is the most important factor in creating the life you want to live. Along the way we cover boondocking, how to take time alone on a family road trip, and what to do when your kids just want to turn around and head home.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss how their social anxieties play out on airplanes, and whether or not it’s ok to take furniture off the street corner when you’re in your 30s. They then settle the age-old question that has plagued America’s youth since Jeno Paulucci dropped the first bite-size frozen pizza snack in 1968 -- Pizza Rolls or Bagel Bites?
Captain Kirk had it all wrong. The final frontier is, in fact, Antarctica -- a place explored far less than space, at least in our imaginations and fiction television programming. Today’s guest is here to shine a bit of light on the furthest away place you could go while still being based “here on earth.” Joe Horneman is a Physicians’ Assistant stationed on the South Pole. As one of just two medical staff at his camp of scientists, chefs, and service workers, Joe is one of the three dozen most remote people in the entire world. He’s been enlightening the rest of us on his adventures via TikTok and YouTube, and at first sight of his viral content, we knew we had to get him on the show to explain how things work down there.
Joe answers all your questions about Antarctica, including what the social and dating scene is like there, what the hell he does for the 23.5 hours per day when he’s not treating a patient, and whether or not we should even be there in the first place. Joe also notes that your dreams of Antarctic domination could totally come true. Due to the complete lack of defense and the presence of only one doctor, laying siege to the continent would actually be a piece of cake -- as long as you’re not deterred by sub-zero temps, complete darkness, howling winds, hidden glacier crevasses, and scurvy.
In Hot Takes, the boys get deep on buffet etiquette. On tap is the proper way to layer your buffet plate, and Eben’s lack of self-control ensures that chaos prevails when he goes through the line. Also, Tim confirms that the mall -- and the nostalgia of 90’s teenage culture that it represents -- is officially dead.
Meeting someone exotic while traveling is on your bucket list. If you deny this, you’re lying, and today’s guests can prove it. Yue Xu and Julie Krafchick are dating experts -- like, legit -- and as the hosts of Dateable, one of the most popular dating podcasts, they’ve seen and heard it all. On today’s episode, the ladies join Tim and Eben to discuss all things dating and travel.
The conversation gets deeper than your Tinder account (though that’s on the table for discussion) to reveal some of the under-covered but overthought aspects of dating. These include app-based scams that frequent travelers have pulled in order to get laid on the road, super awkward in-flight courtship, and on the opposite side, some happy endings that have resulted from far-flung blind date meetups.
There’s also plenty of revealing moments from their experience as dating pros. These include which dating apps actually work for meeting a long-term partner, which cities are home to the best dating scenes, and stories from some crazy swinger parties. Also, the group gets into their thoughts on polyamory and . . . . . . we still don’t know if it’s worth it.
In Hot Takes, the boys discuss the most controversial of flying topics -- whether or not it’s acceptable to recline your seat. The answer is an emphatic . . . you’ll have to listen to find out. Tim reveals that he rolls his clothes to pack, while Eben is stuck in the era of stacking.
Flying also took the front seat in News of the Day:
S2, Ep. 1: Inside OnlyFans and the NSFW Travel World
This one’s all about the biggest craze of the pandemic. No, not sourdough bread or backyard chickens. We’re talking about OnlyFans, the DIY creator platform that has recently been in the spotlight for its (since recalled) plan to ban “pornographic content” on its site. Our guest is none other than Lauren Blake, the epitome of OnlyFans success. Not only is Lauren the face of one of the platform’s most popular accounts, but she has also parlayed that success into her own travel show on OnlyFansTV, Travel With Lauren.
Tim and Eben talk with Lauren about getting started on the platform, turning it into a high-yield business with the help of Unruly Agency, and why OnlyFans isn’t at all what people expect it to be. Lauren also discusses hosting a travel show where she visits luxury properties and helps her viewers break down barriers to luxury travel.
We’re kicking off today’s episode with a VERY important announcement: No Blackout Dates has officially been acquired by travel media company Matador Network. What does this mean? Well, we’re getting a new logo, website, overall look, and we might sound a bit better too. It also means we’ll have access to a wider range of awesome guests. We’re excited for this next chapter of NBD and can’t wait to turn the page sometime next month. But more on that in the coming weeks...
Comedian Ivy Le is joining us today. Ivy hosts the podcast FOGO: Fear of Going Outside, one of Spotify’s most popular new podcasts, documenting Ivy’s experience as an avid indoorswoman venturing (reluctantly) into outdoor adventure. Eben and Ivy rebrand camping as “voluntary homelessness” and hiking as simply “walking,” while Tim defends the merits of voluntary homelessness and walking. We also expose the outdoors community as more judgmental than you might think, and learn why some indigenous peoples don’t feel comfortable hiking their own ancestral land.
Ep. 43: In Search Of Incan Gold On Peru's Colca River
Eugene Buchanan has done everything that you’d like to say you’ve done. He’s searched for Incan treasure in an uncharted South American Canyon. He’s paddled Russia’s Bashkaus River with a ragtag crew of adventurers speaking multiple languages. And he’s raised a family in the always dangerous environs of a Colorado mountain town. Fresh off a week of offshore kayaking in Iceland, Eugene joins Tim and Eben to discuss his experience in Icelandic Covid quarantine, the future of expedition travel, and how it is that he still finds these crazy trips so exciting even after he’s lived the phrase, “What can go wrong, will.”
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the perks of small airports vs large, and decipher when it’s actually ok to take a work call in a coffee shop (it’s all about self-awareness). Tim also wonders aloud whether any airport breweries actually make their own beer onsite.
While Tim and Eben struggle to figure out how laptop webcams work, Clara Wetzel was in South Sudan filming the first documentaries ever made in the country. Her groundbreaking films spotlight the lives, relationships, and struggles of those living in this young African nation, and set an inspiring precedent for the country’s emerging film industry. We learn about the dangers of filming in South Sudan, and the importance of creative expression in the face of authoritarianism.
In Hot Takes, Eben asks for day drinking tips, and Tim reveals what item he constantly leaves behind in airplanes.
Everyone loves food. Matt Siegel literally wrote the book on it. The Secret History of Food: Strange but True Stories About the Origins of Everything We Eat, comes out August 31. On today’s show Matt teaches us more than we ever thought we'd know about the puritanical roots of cereal, why semen and beer are actually better at catching flies than honey or vinegar, and whether or not aphrodisiacs are all they’re cracked up to be (no spoilers). Eben finally gets his chance to nerd out about pizza and fast food with someone on his side of the argument, and we have the biggest breakthrough in the history of No Blackout Dates -- the declaration of what is unofficially the official food of the United States of America.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the perfect date food and each reveals their go-to pocket snack -- one comes in a shell, and the other, well, let’s just say it flies solo.
9 months, 38 guests, and 327(ish) Hot Takes later, we made it to episode 40. To celebrate all the incredible guests we’ve been lucky enough to interview...we’re not interviewing anyone at all today. For this special episode we’re reviving an old tradition: listener stories. We asked for your craziest travel stories and you guys delivered. Get ready to hear about a drug deal gone wrong in Colombia, bar brawls, water shortages, and airplane malfunctions in an episode full of YOUR tales from the road. So sit back, relax, and see why Tim could easily have a career narrating audiobooks.
You’ve dreamt of becoming a documentary filmmaker. Or a globe-trotting photographer capturing stunning scenes from around the world. Ryan Salm has done these things, notably at the world’s largest gathering of people and feces (yes, feces) in India. On this week’s pod he goes behind-the-scenes of his film Kharma Bums, which followed Ryan and his crew as they paddled down the Ganges River. How is it possible that what one person considers to be a dirty and polluted body of water might in fact be a pristine sanctuary to others? It’s all about perspective. Ryan also sheds light on why bidets are the future of sanitary number 2’s, and what it takes to be a freelance photographer these days. It’s not easy, but hey -- if Ryan can do it, we can all at least keep dreaming about it.
In Hot Takes, Eben muses on the differences between dating in Massachusetts and Colorado, and sweep the dust off a line we all need not cross: trying to meet people at a bar when you’re too old to do so.
Ep. 38: Let There Be Red Light: Inside Amsterdam’s Sex Industry
Amsterdam is known worldwide for its Red Light District, the city’s infamous epicenter of legal prostitution. Behind those red lights is a world shrouded in mystery, fantasy, and rumor, and many tourists -- even those who indulge -- never get more than a peek at the reality of Amsterdam’s sex industy. Today we’re diving into the world behind the glass with Mary, an escort in Amsterdam. Mary primarily works with handicapped clients who struggle to achieve intimacy in a more traditional manner. We discuss the often-overlooked social good of prostitution, dispel harmful misconceptions about the industry, and talk about sex shows, 5D porn theaters, and how to navigate the Red Light District (asking for a friend).
In Hot Takes, we break down the different kinds of people you find in strip clubs, and whether driving through a state means you’ve actually “been” there.
Ep. 37: Hawaii 4-1-1: Is Your Tour Guide Judging You?
In Hawaii, Will McGough is a consummate professional tour guide. On today’s show, he’s putting his tour guests on blast for their obnoxious behavior. That includes showing up late, puking on the bus, and going to KFC during the trip. And yes, he has indeed left people behind for being 10 minutes late. There’s also a lively discussion about how the “unwritten rules of travel” are bullsh*t, and a contentious argument between Will and Eben about whether a “SPAM McDouble” qualifies as a cultural experience.
In Hot Takes, Tim “seasoned flyer” Wenger reveals his greatest (and completely rational) fear on airplanes, and Eben officially launches FEA (Fast Eaters Anonymous).
If packing your entire life into a van and traveling the US Jack Kerouac style sounds enticing, Geena Truman has some words of wisdom for you. Geena has been traveling around in a converted 90s van for the past year, and joins us today to talk about life on the road. We cover “stealth camping” (illegally sleeping in national parks), how to make a van travel-ready, and most importantly, how vanlifers shower and use the bathroom.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss why we still follow “friends” on Instagram who we haven’t seen in 10 years, and why Tim eats Nepalese food everywhere he goes.
You might think the worst thing that can happen to you at airport security is having your backpack screened twice. Tell that to Drew Casey, who’s so familiar with TSA’s “suspicious persons” room he gets his mail sent there. A frequent traveler who lives abroad and is always criss-crossing the globe, Drew is a constant target of TSA scrutiny, and he’s here to share his most harrowing tales. From setting off the explosives detector to getting a pat down so intimate he felt like he’d cheated on his girlfriend, Drew’s been through it all. For anyone interested living in Europe for an extended period, he also explains the complex visa process you’ll need to navigate.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the merits of mustard and give an impromptu review of Nomadland. Also, Eben comes clean about the con he’s been pulling at coffee shops.
“If you’re gonna go in a high Alpine environment, you’ve gotta make your peace with death.” Not exactly a quote from a motivational poster, but it is a quote from today’s guest. Conrad Anker is a legendary mountain climber who has climbed Everest THREE times -- once without supplemental oxygen -- and starred in several award-winning films. If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to climb Everest, he’s here to tell you. He also talks about the many near-death experiences he’s faced on the world’s highest peaks, and the feeling of going to “work” knowing you might not come home alive.
In Hot Takes, Eben and Tim discuss the worst beer ever created, and Tim reveals his biggest pet peeve at bars.
Ep. 33: A Pennsylvania Yankee in King Wangchuck’s Court
Imagine spending two years in a Covid-free country, and then returning to the US in March, 2021. That was Professor Dana Polanichka’s reality. According to RateMyProfessor.com, Professor Polanichka is a “ball of sunshine” and an “incredible human being.” But why trust student reviews from 2011 when you can tune into today’s episode, and hear Dana talk all about Bhutan, a small Himalayan nation steeped in ancient tradition. Dana led a group of Wheaton College students to Bhutan in 2019, and thanks to Covid, got stranded there for nearly two years. We discuss the utter shock of returning to a Covid-ravaged US, the beautiful, ancient traditions of Bhutan, and the much-misunderstood “Gross National Happiness.”
In Hot Takes, Eben considers planning a trip to North Korea, and Tim talks about his most impulsive moment.
Ep. 32: Tourist Traps, Crazy Travelers, and Hawaiian Pizza with the Co-founder of Atlas Obscura
What separates a tourist trap from a place that’s actually worth visiting? How do you actually get a job in the travel industry? Why is Hawaiian pizza called Hawaiian pizza? We answer these questions with the help of Dylan Thuras -- the co-founder of Atlas Obscura. Dylan created one of the world’s most popular travel sites, just launched a new podcast, and now joins us to talk about the best, worst, and craziest trends in travel.
In Hot Takes, we psychoanalyze Tim over why he never watches TV in hotel rooms, and Eben dunks on guided tours.
Ep. 31: How to Stop Worrying and GTTF (Get To The Funny)
We’ve all seen stand-up comedy on Netflix, but actually writing jokes, creating a set, and delivering solid jokes on stage is easier said than done. The world of stand-up is bizarre, ruthless, and hilarious, and Chris Diorio is here to tell all. Chris is a Broadway comedian who’s performed all over the country. We discuss life on the road, telling R-rated jokes to a PG audience, and comedy groupies. We also learn pro tips for handling hecklers, and pose the question: if you sign up to attend a comedy show, are you allowed to get offended by the jokes?
In Hot Takes, Eben argues that we’re actually eating our meals backwards, and Tim comes clean about the one time he heckled a comedian.
Our 30th episode marks Tim’s decision to fully embrace Instagram influencing and become a hat model. More importantly, we have a guest who’s an actual model, and can actually influence people. Julana is a travel blogger, TV host, fitness model, and former cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Bucs. She’s here to discuss the pros/cons of having multiple side-hustles, defying model and influencer stereotypes, and how fleeting travel relationships can actually be a good thing. She also considers an impulsive career-change to becoming a tiger trainer.
In Hot Takes, Eben and Tim break down the bizarre genius of escape rooms, and debate whether lying to your doctor about your alcohol intake is shrewd or just plain sad.
Ep. 29: Travel Writers Are Privileged Snobs, And Other Stories From The Road
It’s no secret by now that we find most travel writers to be obnoxious, pretentious, and ironically, really bad travelers. Todd Walker is not one of them. Always honest and unfiltered, Todd is back to share his scathing insights about the travel industry. We discuss the world’s most overhyped destinations, how to write about places that suck, and whether travel writers actually contribute to society or just make it worse. Todd also explains how he uses travel to get away from his significant other, and some of you might want to take notes.
In Hot Takes, we ask whether it’s ethical to take multiple free samples with zero intention of buying the product. We also debate vaccine passports in a conversation that may make some of you hate us.
If you woke up this morning thinking, “Hmm. I’m in the mood to listen to two American guys, with very little knowledge of Japanese culture, interview a former Geisha” then you came to the right place. Moe worked for six years as a geisha in Kyoto, Japan, before starting her own YouTube cooking channel. She’s here to lift the veil of mystery shrouding geishas, explain their cultural importance, and dispel misconceptions. We also get some insider tips on the best Japanese food to try (hint: we hope you like ketchup).
In Hot Takes, Tim reveals his worst culture shock experience, and Eben spends more time talking to telemarketers than he cares to admit.
The following are adjectives Tim and Eben would typically use to describe “digital nomads”: pretentious, vapid, lame, self-absorbed. Dayana Aleksandrova is here to prove them wrong. A Bulgarian villager turned full-fledged digital nomad living in the Canary Islands, Dayana and the boys engage in a lively debate about digital nomad cliches, and how to spot the pretenders. They also answer the question: can you be a digital nomad without telling literally every person you know?
In Hot Takes, Tim ponders what country parties the hardest, and Eben exposes self-checkout lanes as bullsh*t.
Ep. 26: Airport Etiquette 101 with the guy who might ruin your trip
They’re the first people you see when you show up to the airport all tired, stressed, and disgruntled. They’re airline customer service agents, and if you wanna sneak that blatantly oversized bag on your flight, you have to go through them first. Danny Capron, an airline customer service agent, is here to tell us that the customer is NOT always right. Danny reveals how to get a free first class upgrade, how airlines are gouging customers, and admits to ruining countless Christmases.
In Hot Takes, obnoxious “airport lounge people” are discussed, and Eben breaks down his favorite restaurant chains.
People rarely live up to their nicknames...unless you’re Michael “Bird” Shaffer. Bird is a sponsored skier with Black Crows, and his adventures have taken him to slopes all over the world. Our most unique guest yet, Bird is here to discuss life on the pro ski party circuit, starring in ski films, and balancing sponsorships with “the love of the game.” He also literally invented his own language of “Bird-isms.”
In Hot Takes, we expose spring as a bullsh*t season, Tim considers legally changing his name to “Slick T”, and Eben admits to stealing food from other people’s dinner plates.
It’s a rivalry older than the Red Sox and Yankees, IPAs and Bud Lights, pizza and hamburgers. Sometimes friendly, sometimes not-so-friendly, the US-Canada rivalry is fraught with tension and unanswered questions. Are Americans as obnoxious as Canadians think? Does Canada have an inferiority complex? If the two countries are siblings, which one has the severe emotional scars? Mylan Clairmont is here to help us answer these questions. Mylan used to travel the world as the head strength coach for Rugby Canada. Now he’s starring as our token Canadian to set the record straight about his beloved homeland. We’re getting to the heart of this contentious sibling rivalry, learning about the science behind jet lag, and hearing all about what happens when a polite Canadian and loud American travel together.
Plus, we hired an intern named Stevie and it’s NOT going well.
In Hot Takes, Tim reveals what item TSA once confiscated from him, and Eben reminisces about Peanut Butter & Fluff sandwiches and wonders: where did all the Fluff go?
Today’s guest gets punched in the face and thrown through panes of glass for a living. And no, it’s not Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Alice Ford is a professional stuntwoman and travel host whose job has taken her all over the world. She’s worked on movies like Transformers and Ender’s Game, documents her adventures on YouTube, and organizes sustainable group travel tours. We’ll learn what it takes to be a stuntperson (spoiler: Tim and Eben would never make it), whether she ever tries to sneak a cameo, and the lows of hosting group trips. Also, Eben admits to never watching travel videos, much to Tim’s consternation.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss media sensationalism in the US and its detrimental impact on global perspective. More importantly, they also talk about Hobbits, Tim’s dance moves, and chicken nuggets.
Ep. 22: From Castaway to Travel Host with Libby Vincek
When someone tells you they voluntarily spent a few weeks on a desert island eating bugs and sleeping in a bamboo shelter, you might assume two things: they’re insane, or they were on Survivor. Libby Vincek, former Survivor castaway, is here to tell us how being stranded on an island in Fiji with 19 strangers changed her view of travel. She also won an online contest -- yes, people actually win those things -- to host The Local Traveler in Thailand on Amazon Prime. We’re answering all the important questions, like “what sucks about filming a travel show?” “Is Survivor as brutal as it looks?” and “where’s the best airport PB&J sandwich?”
In Hot Takes, Eben and Tim discuss whether burgers are just glorified sandwiches, why they’d never compete on Amazing Race, and throw cold water on gas fireplaces.
Much to the dismay of the rest of the world, expats from New England are everywhere -- Colorado, California, even Oaxaca, Mexico. Today, freelance writer Catherine Tansey joins No Blackout Dates from the city that inspired the Disney film “CoCo” to discuss being an expat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Turns out, it IS possible to strengthen personal relationships during this time, even if a global lockdown forces you to move in with someone you’ve only been on five dates with. Catherine and the boys also come clean about cultural appropriation (we’re all guilty sometimes), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience Dia de los Muertos in Mexico and go on a “sugar skull” bender -- it’s definitely worth it.
In Hot Takes Tim and Eben break down what’s wrong with the Boston accent and why Canadians think their cities are so cosmopolitan, discuss the enduring appeal of their mutual favorite band, and pretend that they actually know what the GameStop fiasco is about.
It’s the biggest (and only) milestone in the history of No Blackout Dates. The 20th episode. We’ve somehow managed to convince 19 guests to talk to us thus far -- guests far more interesting than ourselves -- but this week we’re doing something different. Eben will interview Tim, and Tim will interview Eben. Tim comes to terms with having never become a rock star, and finally tells his story about being escorted out of the Hong Kong airport, while Eben describes the TWO times he tried and failed to fly in a hot air balloon.
We also field questions submitted by listeners, including “are some foreign airlines too sketchy to fly?”, “is it a dick move to request a song from a DJ?”, “how do I avoid airport anxiety?” and
“When will Canadians be dumb enough to let Americans back into their country?”
Ep. 19: Around the World with Amazing Race Winner Alex Boylan
We’ve had this podcast three months now, and neither of us have won ANY money racing around the world. Here to actually lend us some legitimacy is Alex Boylan, winner of the Amazing Race and host of Epic Villas on Amazon Prime. Alex is giving us an inside look at travel TV show producing, reality show casting, and what it’s like hosting a show about the world’s most luxurious villas. We’ll break down the toughest part about filming travel shows, and learn how realistic the Amazing Race actually is.
In Hot Takes, Eben and Tim debate what’s worse: having a bad cold for your whole life, or living in a neverending lockdown. Also, are donuts a dessert or a breakfast food? Our answers may surprise and infuriate you.
Ep. 18: Going Rogue at 30,000 feet with Chuck Thompson
Chuck Thompson wrote one of the travel writing industry’s most legendary books, Smile When You’re Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer. Chuck, Eben, and Tim go rogue together in this episode, airing all their grievances about air travel, luggage, writer’s retreats, baseball, and even the infamous Skymall (RIP). You will learn next to nothing about Chuck’s background, but you’ll walk away feeling like we all just had a round of drinks together, in adjacent aisle seats.
In Hot Takes, Eben and Tim discuss the controversy surrounding doorbells (yep, that’s a thing), the mysterious disappearance of phone operators, and whether travel podcasts are bullsh*t. Also, Eben wonders why people keep saying “hello” to him on hikes around Fort Collins.
Ep. 17: Shredding Pow and Dropping Names in Aspen, CO
If you’re like Eben, everything you know about Aspen, Colorado comes from Dumb & Dumber. Well, that’s about to change. Aspen is a world of ritzy A-list haunts, mini-castles, rented tuxedos, legendary ski shrines, and Aspen local and realtor Lane Johnson is here to tell us all about it. We’ll learn about some of the big names who call Aspen home, how not to embarrass yourself out on the town, and explore the ski vs. snowboard rivalry. You’ll also hear phrases like “hitting cruisers”, “shredding pow” and “doing an objective”. Eben isn’t really sure what they mean, but they certainly sound legit.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben reveal their hottest take of all about chocolate and bacon, and discuss plans to trick the Aspen locals into believing they have a shred of class.
Ep. 16: Inside the World of an International Dating Coach
Meeting people in a new place, different culture, or even your hometown bar, can be tough when you don’t know what to say. Enter Gareth Jones, a dating coach who’s helped guys all over the world overcome social anxiety and make genuine connections with women, even via text. He explains why cheesy one-liners fall flat, how to have engaging conversations that build attraction, and illuminates the role of culture in male/female relationships. Guys -- you’ll learn why you get so many flakes on Tinder. Girls -- you’ll learn why guys act like morons when they approach you at the bar.
In Hot Takes Eben talks about the Quarter Game -- his favorite game to play at the bar -- and Tim reveals what happened the first time he slid into someone’s DMs (spoiler: they got married).
If your New Year’s resolution was to drink less in 2021, you should probably skip this one. Jed Lirette, a Senior Ambassador and taste tester for Jack Daniel’s is helping us ring in the new year. After Tim comes clean about being intoxicated during a Covid test, Jed joins us for some good old fashioned whisky talk. We learn what it’s like to drink whiskey for a living, explore the phenomenon of “drink shaming”, and hear Jed’s true thoughts about White Claws. The prospect of consuming toe-infused whiskey is also discussed ad nauseum.
In Hot Takes Eben describes the Strawberry Surprise, a drink he invented (yes, it’s as fruity as it sounds), and discusses his dream job of becoming a professional eater.
When you think of up-and-coming comedy scenes in America, you probably don’t think of Alaska. Well, you should. Alaska’s comedy circuit is the gold standard for some of your favorite stand-up comics, and we’re talking to the guy who makes it all happen. Fairbanks native and stand-up comedian Jerry Evans books world-famous talent to perform in remote Alaska, and he’s giving us a peek at the state’s unique comedy scene. You’ll hear all about the time the lights went out on Jamie Kennedy, how Craig Robinson puked on stage, and learn whether Alaskans actually find Sarah Palin jokes funny.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben bond over their love of cereal, and Tim tells his only joke (it’s a real “door slammer”)
Ep. 13: An Austrian Proves You're an American Cliche
What’s it like to experience the United States for the very first time? Austrian citizen and certified non-American Marie-Louise Deutschmann is here to tell us. She took a gap year as an au pair in the small New England town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, leaving behind friends, family, and Mozartkugeln chocolate. Now, she's being brutally honest about her thoughts on American culture. We’re talking fake IDs, après ski, the American fried-food obsession, and unpacking ALL the stereotypes. The heated rivalry between Austria and Australia is also discussed.
In Hot Takes, Tim ponders taking a midlife gap year, and Eben describes his dream job at the Tower of London.
Ep. 12: Hotel Confidential with Author Jacob Tomsky
Hotels are a tale of two worlds -- one of fluffed pillows and white smiles, and the other of the sketchy sh*t that goes on behind-the-scenes. Jacob Tomsky, author of the New York Times bestselling book “Heads in Beds”, is here to take us behind-the-scenes. Jacob has worked every hotel job imaginable, and knows how to reward his favorite guests and punish those who get on his bad side. He lifts the veil of what it’s really like to work in a hotel, including getting solicited by a prostitute and walking in on guests during their sexcapades. He also explains how to get VIP treatment without spending VIP money (it’s easier than you think).
In Hot Takes, Tim recalls his wild days in a punk band and Eben talks about accidentally breaking into a stranger’s hot tub.
Tap into your inner degenerate with this episode all about gambling, casinos, and the Las Vegas lifestyle. Derek Stevens, owner of not one, not two, but three downtown Vegas hotels/casinos joins us to discuss, quite literally, what happens in Vegas. What does the life of a Vegas casino owner actually look like? Which game really has the best odds? How has Vegas evolved over the years? Derek also gives us the inside scoop on his brand new Circa Resort & Casino that just opened in October -- Vegas’ first-ever “adult-only” casino.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss whether gambling is for suckers, and if your friend who falls in love with the stripper is actually full of sh*t.
Ep. 10: A Flight Attendant Breaks The Code Of Silence
Learning what a flight attendant is really thinking is tougher than getting an affordable first-class upgrade. Until now. Betty the flight attendant, host of the Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase podcast, joins us to tell embarrassing, hilarious, and NSFW stories from the air. What are passengers’ most annoying habits? What’s the flight crew really doing on their breaks? How do you successfully hit on a flight attendant? All of these questions will be answered.
Tim and Eben debate the merits of street food, and Eben reveals his hack for getting extra meals on the plane. This week’s Hot Takes also features a special appearance by our friend and fellow travel writer Alex Bresler.
Mike Dewey lives the dream. Based in Los Angeles, he is a travel filmmaker formerly of Matador Network and currently at Moment. His travel vlogs on YouTube garnered over 40,000 subscribers, and eventually led to a full-time career as a travel filmmaker. After spending years traveling the world on film shoots, Mike found himself asking the same question repeatedly:
How do I get off the road?
Mike’s joining us to discuss the drawbacks of traveling for a living, including the difficulty of forming a routine, maintaining relationships, and being “that guy who’s never around.”
Tim vents about never making the Major Leagues, Eben reveals why he hates talking about his job, and the "Florida Man" game is played.
If you want to feel really, really bad about your chosen profession, try talking to an astronaut. Next year Matthias Maurer will become the 12th German to ever reach space when he takes a SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station (ISS). In the meantime, he’s here to talk to a couple of idiots who can barely spell ‘constellation.’ We learn what it’s like to prep for the most epic trip of a lifetime, how astronauts live on the ISS, what could (but probably won’t) go wrong, and which local cuisine Maurer will be taking into space.
On a much less inspiring note, Eben and Tim debate the merits of food trucks, and how they’d go about colonizing the moon if (God forbid) someone left them in charge.
Ep. 7: Florida (Wo)man Somehow Hosts Media With a Smile
Yeah, travel writers take a lot of free trips, but who actually hosts them and deals with all their bullsh*t? Amanda Harris, former director of PR at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, FL, joins us to discuss the highs and lows of hosting media. Now she’s pivoted to working with Miami’s top bars and restaurants, and has some inspiring words for anyone looking to reinvent themselves during the pandemic.
Also, Eben has a confession to make about eating off other people’s plates, and Tim reveals the biggest lie he’s ever told.
Ep. 6: Does Traveling During Covid Make You A Bad Person?
We’ve all been wondering the same thing lately: is travel safe, and will I be judged for doing it?
Konrad Waliszewski, founder of the popular TripScout travel app, is here to talk about all things COVID-era travel. Konrad’s been to over 100 countries and he’s helping us answer important questions, like: Which countries live up to the hype? Is travel shaming justified? Is TripAdvisor bullsh*t? How do you even pronounce Eben’s name?
Also, we discuss the miseries of the plane’s dreaded middle seat, and Tim comes clean about his sketchy former profession.
Photographer Carell Augustus is reimagining Hollywood like no one’s ever done before. In his new photo book, The Black Hollywood Book Project, Carell recreates iconic movie scenes with Black celebrities, flipping the script on how we view Hollywood history. Although steeped in the glitzy world of La La Land, Carell is keeping it real with us. He describes what it’s like to work with Hollywood’s biggest egos (it takes A LOT of patience), reveals which stars are a pain in the ass (sign the damn release, Dule Hill), and lays out his hope for the future of Hollywood. We’re name dropping for a good cause here, so check out the links below and stay tuned for the official book launch.
Also, Tim visits a questionable Japanese-themed spa and Eben discusses the struggles of eating way too fast.
Basketball took Phil Calvert around the world. Playing professionally in Europe, he got a taste for living and traveling abroad and knew he’d found another passion. Now based in Denmark, Phil is the star of Phil Good Travel on Matador Network and has built an Instagram following of more than 50,000.
Phil is here to discuss the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on the travel world, the new Green Book, racism in unexpected countries, the bizarre 2020 NBA season, and how he got residency in Denmark (and how you might be able to do it too). We also roast our friend and “Phil Good Travel” producer Rob Chursinoff, who definitely doesn’t deserve it.
Eben gripes about how he got screwed over on a recently booked trip to Portugal that never happened. Tim admits that he got Mom-blocked the only time he met a potential romantic interest on a plane.
A former Pizza Maker of the Year Champion, founder of the Brooklyn Pizza Crew, and owner of several pizzerias across NYC, Nino Coniglio is here to talk about all things pizza. We’ll learn why New York City has better pizza than Italy, and what it was like growing up in pizzerias on the rough streets of Brooklyn. We’ll also find out the truth about Chicago style, discuss the most popular pizza style in Naples (it’s NOT what you think), and Nino will help us answer an age-old controversy: does pineapple belong on pizza? If you can listen to this episode without salivating and immediately ordering pizza -- you’re stronger than we are. Also, Eben reveals why he obsessively tries the pizza in every country he visits, and Tim spills the beans about his questionable Halloween costume.
Press trips are the bread and butter of the travel writing lifestyle, and Todd Walker is here to give us the inside scoop. A travel writer, Fox 9 reporter, and former reality show host, Todd tells hilarious stories from the road and dissects the different personality archetypes you always meet on press trips, including “The Scammer”, “The Know-It-All”, and the Drama Queen”. We grapple with the ethical dilemma of hooking up with other writers on media trips, discuss feeling like absolute frauds receiving VIP treatment as travel writers, and answer the controversial question: is it ok to eat fast-food abroad? Tim reveals his ideal celebrity travel partner, and Eben recounts the single most gluttonous day in his life.
Also discussed: naked saunas, DUIs, Russian prostitute scams, and drinking alone.
Melanie Sutrathada joins us to peel back the curtain on the mysterious world of Instagram influencers. An actor, host, and content creator, Melanie exposes the less glamorous side of this dream job and answers all your burning questions. Is taking selfies for a living as awkward as it looks? Do influencers even believe in the products they promote? How, exactly, do you get over 100k people to follow you?
Also, Tim names his price for tattooing “No Blackout Dates” on his lower back, and Eben recounts his shocking 3AM experience in the San Juan airport.
Travel media pros Eben Diskin and Tim Wenger started No Blackout Dates to provide a forum for honest, unfiltered conversation about travel. We travel the world for work, and now we’re going to show you a different side of the travel industry, peeling back that glamorous curtain and giving you an inside look at the people and stories who make travel an irreplaceable part of our lives.
This isn’t a show to help you figure out how to quit your desk job and travel, and we’re certainly not going to give you a blueprint for backpacking your way across the world. What you WILL get is pro-level insight into how travel affects everything in a person’s life from work to family and from recreation to responsibilities.
Our guests include prominent personalities in the travel world including fellow travel writers, a pro basketball player turned pro traveler, a celebrity NYC pizza chef, and yes, even the mythical influencers you can’t stop following on Instagram.
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Tim Wenger is a travel journalist based in Colorado. He serves as an Associate Editor at Matador Network, where he's filed work from four continents, often looking at the intersection of outdoor recreation, conservation, and the economy.
After finishing a BA in Communications from Fort Lewis College, Tim jumped into the back of a Ford Econoline and spent a decade playing guitar in a punk rock band, where among other things he learned how to talk into a microphone -- the very skill that landed him on the No Blackout Dates podcast years later.
Eben Diskin is a travel writer, amateur pizza connoisseur, avid Indoorsman, and the Senior Staff Writer at Matador Network. While traveling, he pretends to enjoy activities like hiking, camping, fine dining, and museums, when all he really wants to do is slam Jack and Cokes at the hotel bar. He has a degree in History from Wheaton College and a definitely-not-useless Master's in Fiction Writing from the University of Edinburgh.
Everyone tells him he looks like the Property Brothers.