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!
S3, Ep. 12: Walrus Syndrome: The Psychology of Travel
If you’re like us, you spend a lot of time wondering what's going through people’s minds when they’re at the airport. Why do they crowd around the gate before boarding when their group won’t be called for another 20 minutes? Why do those same people stand up the second the flight pulls into the gate, even when they’re seated in row 57? Michael Brein is the world’s foremost – and perhaps only – Travel Psychologist, and he joins No Blackout Dates to discuss the logic behind these and other conundrums of travel.
On the docket is the science behind culture shock, why some people sleep better on planes than others, and how visiting faraway places impacts our mental well-being.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss how they calm their nerves when anxiety strikes while traveling, and the pair agree to disagree about whether or not one should always board the plane early when seated in Business Class.
Stories From The Road: 30 Years After The Revolution, Romania Is Still Rebuilding
In this week's Stories From The Road, Tim reads one of the most impactful pieces he's ever worked on as an editor. Writer Iuliana Marchian, a native Romanian, wrote a piece about the impact of the 1989 revolution against Communist rule in Romania. The piece covers the development of personal freedoms and how they've impacted trust in government, as well as how citizens have experienced progress in human rights and quality of life. Marchian describes a polarized society that is moving forward but still has many steps to take to fulfill all of revolution's goals. As a traveler, the piece offers many takeaways of how these impacts play out in daily Romanian life and how you can experience the country's true culture on a trip there.
S3, Ep. 11: Facing Fear and Sailing Antarctica with Lisa Blair
Sailing all the way around Antarctica is no easy task. Just ask today’s guest, “extreme sailor” Lisa Blair. She holds the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the continent, a title she almost perished in order to gain. Lisa joins the show to discuss her dangerous adventures in the Southern Ocean , her new book, “Facing Fear: The First Woman To Sail Solo Around Antarctica,” and what it takes to embark on such an incredible journey. She breaks down what was going through her mind as her ship nearly capsized in a raging torrent, and how she managed to rig her mast and make it to shore just in time.
Eben and Lisa met while on a cruise to Antarctica last December, and while this cruise was among the most extreme adventures Eben will ever be a part of, for Lisa, it was a walk in the park. The impacts of visiting fragile ecosystems is also on the docket today. Lisa dubbed her sailboat “Climate Action Now” to raise awareness of small efforts by everyday people to combat climate change -- a fitting PR move, since Antarctica is among the world’s most vulnerable spots to warming temps.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss extreme destinations they’ve always wanted to visit but never got the chance, and Eben breaks down the mood of the travelers on the ship as Antarctica first came into view.
Stories From The Road: What It’s Like To Sail To Antarctica on a Cruise Ship’s Maiden Voyage
It's called Drake's Right of Passage for a reason. Eben learned this the hard way back in December, when he embarked on the maiden voyage of the Sylvia Earle, a new ship from Australian cruise line Aurora Expeditions. En route he battled 20-foot waves, rowdy passengers, and the seclusion that only accompanies being stuck on a boat at the bottom of the planet -- all while doing his darndest to ward off seasickness.
On today's podcast, Eben recounts the journey through the story he wrote for Matador Network. It's a tale of true adventure -- so buckle up and don't let your stomach turn.
S3, Ep. 10: A Mad Search for Crappie On Mississippi's Lake Washington
Brad Chappell has spent a day or two on the water. As a professional fishing guide, it’s his job to take traveling fishermen out in search of Crappie, a freshwater game fish that’s part of the Sunfish family. It’s also his job to take newbies like Tim and Eben out, if they were to visit Lake Washington in Greenville, Mississippi. This week, Brad joins No Blackout Dates to discuss the life of a pro fisherman and guide – as it turns out, there’s far more to it than drinking beer on the back of the boat.
The trio gets into the techniques of guiding, Brad’s most rewarding moments as a guide, and what happens on those rare outings in which no one catches a fish (don’t ask for a refund). Also on the docket is the gear necessary for a successful trip out and what to expect if you, like Tim and Eben, aren’t exactly master baiters.
In Hot Takes, Tim ponders whether New England Clam Chowder is overrated, and the pair discuss the practice of eating seafood when you’re far away from the sea. Any who’ve been to Colorado can attest that the state isn’t known for its lobster. The ethics of “dynamite fishing” are also on the table.
Stories From The Road: Powder Lines + Cultural Clarity in Kyrgyzstan
In February, Tim embarked on a backcountry ski expedition into the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Along with a crew of five other skiers and snowboarders, he spent a week in a high-altitude yurt camp, ascending and descending 12,000-foot peaks and learning about Kyrgyz culture. When three Russian draft dodgers skied into camp one afternoon, the crew got a close-up perspective on how the mountains can provide a unifying force for good in a divided world.
S3, Ep.9: Jasper the Friendly Ghost Writer: Interview with an AI Chatbot
This week, we're exploring the true power of artificial intelligence by interviewing Jasper, an AI chatbot. Jasper's massive computer brain knows a lot more than you'd think, and it's equal parts impressive and frightening. We'll test Jasper's travel chops, get some useful recommendations, hear about its love life, and learn whether or not it's coming for our jobs. We'll also explore some of the ethical considerations when utilizing artificial intelligence for content creation. How do two guys "interview" a chatbot, you ask? Well, you'll have to tune in to find out.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss what they would do if AI actually did take their jobs. Neither want to leave the travel biz – and may end up becoming Airbnb hosts. The pair also ponder what the most AI-proof jobs are.
Stories From The Road: To Check A Bag Or Not To Check A Bag, That Is The Question
Today on Stories from the Road, Eben and Tim debate one of air travel's most divisive topics: whether or not to check a bag, when you don't necessarily need to. Eben is a firm non-bag-checker, and for his part, he reads his report on why you'll never catch him hanging 'round the baggage carousel. Tim isn't necessarily anti. He often checks his snowboard gear bag when traveling in winter, or a duffel on other occasions when having specific gear is necessary to make a trip happen. But in general, he's a carry-on guy (though long-time listeners are familiar with his stance on gate-checking). For his part on today's show, he reads the writer Matt Meltzer's take on why checking a bag makes the travel experience better for everyone.
S3, Ep. 8: How Artificial Intelligence Will Shape The Travel Industry's Future
Artificial intelligence is a controversial yet fascinating topic, particularly since the release of Chat GPT in November 2022. Matador Network founder and CEO Ross Borden joins No Blackout Dates to discuss how AI will shape the future of travel – from the way we research and plan trips to how we actually book and pay for them. The timing of today’s interview is of particular importance at Matador, as the company’s new AI-powered travel recommendation service Guide Geek officially launches this week.
Ross discusses the idea behind Guide Geek as well as how he sees AI coming to the forefront of nearly every aspect of daily life. The trio also get into where AI falls short and what needs to happen to keep it from taking over the world, Terminator 2 style. Are our darkest dystopian fears about to come true? No one knows. But as Tim says, you can spark a legal joint to the inevitability of progress. Even if that progress takes a while to win over popular opinion.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss their personal biggest fears surrounding AI. Both, it seems, are worried about the potential for harmful deepfakes to run rampant across social media. The hosts also fear that many aspects of the media – including travel recommendations and planning – might lose that personal touch.
Stories From The Road: For The Truly Dedicated, Northern BC Is The Best Place To Heli-Ski
This week on Stories From The Road, Tim reads the report of his heli-skiing adventure in northern British Columbia. As a dedicated snowboarder, embarking on a journey like this had long been a dream of his -- and last March, he had the opportunity to make it happen. He recounts the emotion that overtook him at times throughout the four-day expedition and speaks with his guide about what goes on behind the scenes of the operation.
"As I carried my board to the chopper on the first morning, I had been overtaken by mixed feelings of bliss, contentedness, and tranquility. It was nearly sublime, knowing before it happened that this would be one of the seminal experiences in my life. The blades spun, we lifted off, and as though these chapters had built to their inevitable climax, I had finally reached the point of no return."
S3, Ep. 7: What It's Like To Be a Foreign Correspondent
Foreign correspondents have a unique role to fill – reporting on situations happening across the world, for an audience back home. Tommy Walker has spent over a decade overseas, covering everything from current events to travel lifestyle. Tommy joins No Blackout Dates to share the inside scoop on what’s it like to be on the ground covering breaking news. The discussion gets deep into how a Chinese encroachment on Taiwan could impact travel to the island, how travelers are punished for poor behavior around the globe, and being on the ground in and around Ukraine during the invasion.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss how to interpret state-issued travel advisories that pop up when planning a trip. The pair also discuss the idea of visiting Ukraine or Russia right now, and the ethics of visiting countries that currently are or recently have been embroiled in conflict.
Stories From The Road: Sometimes a Dream Trip is One You've Already Taken
On this week's Stories from the Road, Tim reads a story by Matador's Alex Bresler, in which she argues in favor of revisiting countries rather than always visiting new places. The piece questions our need to constantly be adding new countries to our "travel list," and explores the benefits of returning to an old favorite. One of these benefits? Really familiarizing yourself with a country, or city, on a more intimate level.
S3, Ep. 6: Inside The Life Of A Traveling Exotic Dancer
These days, more and more jobs can be done while traveling. That includes stripping – and today, Stella is here to talk about what it’s like to travel to different strip clubs around the country as a professional dancer. She’s worked at clubs from Florida to Chicago to the northeast, and she breaks down the differences in the job based on location, including some insight into how one should behave when on the other side of the performance. She supplements her income between travels as an OnlyFans creator.
Stella’s viewpoint is a refreshing take on a profession that is often the victim of stereotyping. As it turns out, doing what she does takes thick skin and a lot of determination. In Stella’s case, it’s been a job she’s wanted since grade school.
Filling in for Tim today is our regular guest host Melanie Sutrathada, returning for the first time in 2023. In Hot Takes, Eben and Melanie discuss what travel job they’d love to have that they haven’t tried. Melanie, as it turns out, desires to visit every Baskin Robins store, while Eben would fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a circus performer. The pair also cover the social responsibilities of parents traveling with small children.
Stories From The Road: Visiting a Concentration Camp Is Not Just an Excursion. It’s a Lesson in Humanity.
In this week's Stories From The Road, Eben reads aloud his narrative of visiting the remains of the Treblinka concentration camp in Poland. As someone with ethnic ties to the Holocaust, the experience painted a vivid picture of one of humanity's biggest atrocities. For Eben's travel companion, visiting Treblinka proved equally jarring.
S3, Ep. 5: How to travel to the world’s most (allegedly) dangerous places
Travel to places far off the typical tourist track – think Iraq, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia – is an increasingly common theme here on No Blackout Dates. As the founder of Untamed Borders, a tour operator that hosts guided trips to places like Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Yemen, and elsewhere, James Wilcox knows more about the logistics of visiting often misunderstood destinations than perhaps anyone. James has built an entire business around creating itineraries for intrepid travelers looking to explore countries we often perceive to be dangerous or inaccessible.
James discusses how Untamed Borders plans and executes trips to dangerous locales, including his thoughts on state department warnings and how seriously they should be taken. He also talks about the important role of tourism in helping places impacted by war and other disasters get back on their feet.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben break down the times they’ve felt unsafe on the road, as well as the countries they really want to visit in order to gain a deeper understanding than what’s presented by the mass media.
Stories From The Road: Are Coworking Spaces Worth It Or A Waste Of Money?
The second installment of Stories From The Road pits Tim and Eben against each other in one of their most classic debates: whether or not coworking spaces are worth the money. Tim is famously pro-coworking, having held memberships at spaces across the world from Bali to Oaxaca to Colorado. He credits coworking for helping him find friends, clients, and professional development while traveling abroad.
Eben, on the other hand, takes a more pessimistic approach. He feels the coworking spaces are a scam -- that they charge way too much money for what is effectively a glorified coffee shop. Why pay money to go sit somewhere and be quiet, when you could do the same thing at a library -- and even take home a good book to read?
Let us know your thoughts on coworking spaces by dropping a review wherever you get your podcasts, or by shooting an email to noblackoutdatespod at gmail.
S3, Ep. 4: New Year, Same Pod, Fresh 2023 Travel Takes
To kick off 2023, Tim and Eben plunge into the depths of the travel industry – uncovering the trends they expect to see this year, along with their best travel stories from 2022. The hosts also break down the destinations doing things the right way – whether that be reframing an outdated image, innovating new ways to experience the destination, or just being a cool spot that offers a unique travel experience.
One breakthrough to note – the hosts appear to have flipped their opinion on guided tours, thanks to the rise of pioneering tour operators taking travelers to places they likely couldn’t visit otherwise, no matter how adventurous they are. Immersive experiences are on the rise, as are . . . zero-proof cocktails and highway rest stops? We’ll see about that.
S3, Ep. 3: On the Pacific Crest Trail, Kids Included
Marketa and David Daley hiked 1,300 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail -- an impressive feat far greater than most will ever accomplish in the wild. But the Daley's did it with their three young children, a monumental undertaking that required guts, parental instinct, and a lot of pep talking. Marketa joins No Blackout Dates to discuss the expedition and what it meant for her family.
She goes deep into how she and her husband prepared their children for the trip, and how they handled situations that arose en route. Also discussed is the trail lifestyle and why the pair have embedded their kiddos in it. Matador filmmaker Brian Lewis, creator of the Wild Toddler Chronicles and a parent himself, joins Tim and Marketa on this episode to create a trio of parents who enjoy spending time in nature with their kids. Both hosts approached this interview with an ear for learning.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Brian discuss the phrases they use to motivate their kids to go on an adventure. Brian wonders whether Tim has taken his daughter anywhere only to arrive and think, "Well, this wasn't a good idea."
Stories From The Road: My Car Broke Down in the Sahara, and It Taught Me About Trust
We're trying something new this week on No Blackout Dates. To complement our interview episodes, every other week we will feature a read-aloud of a crazy travel story from Matador Network. This week's adventure is from writer Nicholas Mancall-Bitel, entitled "My Car Broke Down in the Sahara, and It Taught Me About Trust."
The story is read aloud by our own Tim Wenger. We chose this particular narrative because it demonstrates many of the values that we hold true at Matador:
Travel is the best way to learn not only about other places and cultures but about yourself.
People are generally good and want to help each other.
When you're far from home and in a pinch, help tends to come from the unlikeliest of sources.
Few myths are as world-renowned as the Loch Ness Monster. Willie Cameron is Nessie’s biggest advocate, a lifelong resident of the region surrounding Scotland’s most famous lake, and a pioneer of Loch Ness tourism. He joins the show to educate the curious and dispel any naysayers, shedding light on the legend of Nessie and why so many believe that she’s down there. He also discusses the power of myth and legend to turn an otherwise sleepy lake into an international tourism sensation. Eben first met Willie while visiting Loch Ness, and after sharing a wee bit of whiskey with him, decided the time had come for No Blackout Dates to settle the question once and for all: Is the Loch Ness Monster out there?
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the myths surrounding pro sports teams, and whether or not the magic is ruined when historic losers (ahem, the Cubs) finally take home the trophy. The pair also discuss whether mythology tourism — i.e. seeking out the Loch Ness Monster – is better than “movie tourism,” where one visits film sights. It’s all about the unknown.
S3, Ep. 1: Exploring Asia’s Vanishing Cultures with Kevin Kelly
To kick off Season 3 of No Blackout Dates, Tim and Eben welcome Wired magazine co-founder Kevin Kelly . In addition to creating one of the most influential magazines in the tech space, Kevin has spent much of his life traversing Asia, documenting the vanishing cultures of the world’s largest continent.
He discusses this project, known as Vanishing Asia, which is now available as a massive three-volume coffee table book collection, and much more on the show. You'll learn why he believes the motorbike is the most revolutionary invention of all, and how the double-edged sword of modernization is improving connectivity while also erasing culture. Perhaps his most profound idea, at least as it relates to us, is his belief that the government should subsidize young people to travel the world.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the virtues of using international phone service and foreign sim cards when traveling abroad, and whether or not there’s a piece of technology that could make travel instantly better (global WiFi, anyone?).
No Blackout Dates is back -- bigger and better than ever -- for Season 3. Matador Network's official podcast takes an unfiltered dive into the world of travel, as told through the stories of guests who lead extraordinarily unfiltered lives. Adventures on tap this season include Wired magazine co-founder Kevin Kelly on his new project documenting the vanishing cultures of Asia, foreign correspondent Tommy Walker discussing how the China-Taiwan conflict will affect travel, and hosts Eben and Tim on a search for the Loch Ness Monster with the world's foremost expert on the legend.
S2, Ep. 42: The Free World Against Tyranny: The Fundraising War in Ukraine
Vladyslav Stadnyk has been raising funds to equip Ukraine’s military for over eight years. He joins the show this week to provide an inside perspective on what it’s really like in Ukraine since the country was invaded by Russia in February. Based in Kyiv, Vlad strikes a defiant and positive tone that captures the determination of Ukrainians to defend not just their country, but their way of life. As Vlad puts it, this isn’t just a war between Russia and Ukraine – it’s a war between Russia and the entire western world. Ukraine is just the country on the front lines.
Vlad’s nonprofit, Steel Wings, takes the donations it receives and uses the money to fulfill requests for everything from binoculars to helmets, and as you can guess, need has gone through the roof over the past 4+ months. In this episode, you’ll get the story behind the mission and learn what it’s like on the ground in Kyiv and across the country right now, and how you can help donate to the cause.
Tim and Eben skipped Hot Takes and News of the Day this week in order to give Vlad the platform to spread his good word.
This episode wraps up Season 2 of No Blackout Dates! Thank you for listening, and we’ll see you this fall for Season 3.
S2, Ep. 41: Searching For 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. He’s also written books about such expeditions, and has become a leading voice for high-risk, high-reward adventure travel.
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.
Zach Rosenbloom lived the TEFL dream and taught English in Japan for two years. Zach joins the show today to talk about one of the easiest ways to move abroad and have a job when you get there – teaching English to students in a foreign country. He discusses what it’s like to move somewhere and adapt to the place culturally, and what it’s like speaking English to a bunch of kids that don’t speak fluent English.
Today’s episode also features the return of Melanie Sutrathada, No Blackout Dates’ first-ever guest and go-to fill-in when one of the boys is out on the road. Melanie snd Eben dive deep with Zach on what it's like to live in Japan, and how he went about making it happen. If you’ve ever thought about teaching English abroad, this ep is a must-listen.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the hidden intercom systems that many hotels have, and what it takes to get your money’s worth out of those expensive airport lounges. Tip – don’t judge them by what you consume, judge them by what you’re avoiding by being in there.
S2, Ep. 39: What It's ACTUALLY Like To Be On A Cooking Show
Autumn Moretti was a MasterChef Season 11 runner-up. That means that she not only crushes it in the kitchen, but she’s dealt with Gordon Ramsay and other tough talkers face to face – and lived to tell the story. In today’s ep, Autumn spills the beans on what life is actually like on the inside of those well-trimmed cooking shows we all love to watch. She discusses what goes on behind the scenes, including her relationship with other contestants and what brought her to tears on multiple occasions.
It turns out that life on a cooking show is kind of like Covid quarantine – including being stuck in a hotel and only socializing with a limited group of people. For those wanting to earn on spot on MasterChef or another cooking show, Autumn gets into what makes a good sample dish to prepare for the audition, and what doesn't (hint: keep it simple). She also discusses what opportunities came from her time on the show and her plans for a restaurant of her own someday.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the best place to sit at the airport gate. Also, Eben is planning a bachelor party for a friend and wonders what is an appropriate amount of travel (and financial commitment) to ask of the attendees.
Mikah Meyer is the gay Bear Grylls that America’s national parks fans have always needed. As the first person to visit all 419 US National Parks Service sites, Mikah has established himself as a leader in bringing LGBTQ+ rights to the forefront of the American outdoors. He speaks at events and churches around the country about his quest to promote inclusivity outside. Mikah joins No Blackout Dates this week to discuss what we all can do to show support for those who may feel unwelcome in the great outdoors, and dives into the complex issue of reconciling religious devotion with an LGBTQ+ lifestyle.
Mikah and the guys discuss whether or not it’s a good thing that Pride events have gone mainstream, and why he feels so strongly corporations washing their logo in rainbow colors during pride month is a good thing. He also discusses the role of the church in welcoming the LGBTQ+ community, and his participation in advocating for it. The takeaways are relevant all year long, but especially during Pride month.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss why neither of them particularly care for multi-day camping festivals. They also discuss whether or not an expensive suitcase is better than a basic suitcase or even a lowly backpack.
S2, Ep. 37: From the Peace Corps To The Life Corps
If you’re both American and an avid traveler, you’ve likely considered joining the Peace Corps. Today, Tim and Eben speak with someone who did it – Ingrid Olson, an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) who served in Senegal from 2015 until 2017. During her time in Africa, Ingrid worked primarily in women’s health, but had a hand in a number of other causes along the way. She also learned the local tongue, partied in Dakar, and met the man she’s now about to marry. All in all, she remembers her time in the Peace Corps fondly, and in today’s episode, she spills the beans on what it’s actually like to serve overseas.
Ingrid discusses what makes a successful Peace Corps volunteer vs. one likely to drop out and head home early. She offers advice for anyone considering joining and serving abroad. And, to really put things into perspective, Ingrid discusses the awkward phase of re-integration to the United States and what she’s been up to since coming home.
In Hot Takes, the guys discuss what their ideal voluntourism opportunity would look like. And then they dive into why it might be better for everyone if restaurants started serving meals in reverse order.
S2, Ep. 36: From Mexico to Saudi Arabia: A Mid-Year Recap
A lot has happened for Tim and Eben in recent weeks. Most notably, Tim got Covid – finally. Beyond that, though, the pair have embarked on international travels that have offered fresh perspectives on global gallivants. This week, instead of probing the experiences of someone else, we look inward for a mid-year recap. Tim discusses what it was like traveling to Mexico with his seven-month-old daughter, while Eben recalls the unique experience of traveling in Saudi Arabia. The very different trips, one constant among them is that a good traveler is always prepared for the unexpected.
While Tim recuperates in quarantine back in Colorado, the pair ponder whether or not he acquired Covid in Mexico. If so, that would mean that Tim received a false negative when testing before flying back across the border into the United States – rendering the entire process of pre-flight testing entirely useless. Either way, here’s to a speedy recovery.
A stunning backdrop makes every party better. No backdrop better proves this than Iceland’s Westfjords, which served as the setting for the first-ever Detour Discotheque earlier this year. Jonny Ensall, Ink’s Global Editor in Chief and the mastermind behind the shindig, joins No Blackout Dates this week to talk about how he wrangled a crew of top-notch DJs, influencers, and revelers together to join him in the remote, tiny Icelandic village of Thingeyri for a “party at the edge of the world.”
Eben was fortunate enough to attend the event, so this episode serves as the official debrief between the party planner and the consummate party-goer. With Tim as their witness, the pair discuss such pressing topics as: Why disco was – and is – the best party scene society has ever known, why Icelanders fervently embraced Jonny’s festival concept, and how Eben sweet-talked his way into a vodka on the rocks when the bartender was instructed not to pour straight alcohol.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the awkwardness of being on a plane full of people you’re about to have a crazy life experience with but haven’t yet met. The pair also dive into the metrics behind eating hot food in winter and cold in summer, or vice versa.
S2, Ep. 34: Surprise Travel Is The Trip You Never Knew You Needed
You’ve heard of solo travel, adventure travel, and even revenge travel. But what about surprise travel? This week’s guest Lillian Rafton is here to enlighten us all on the new trend in travel – traveling to a mystery destination, potentially even somewhere you’ve never heard of. Lillian’s business Pack Up and Go sets up travelers – from solo to larger groups – with surprise destinations based on their interests and desired level of leisure. Are you an outdoorsy traveler? You might find yourself en route to a mountain town in Colorado. Into museums? DC, here you come. Into random shenanigans and off-the-road attractions? Welcome to Joplin, Missouri.
Lillian’s guests receive a postcard in the mail containing their destination – and they’re not allowed to read it until the day they head to the airport. Included are hotel reservations, itinerary suggestions, and one dinner reservation – the rest is as much a mystery as the destination. Traveling with Pack Up and Go is a true test of your self-control and discipline. Think you can hang?
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss what makes the ideal travel partner (if you’re open-minded and down for last-minute itinerary changes, you fit the bill). The pair then dive into the practice of brushing their teeth on airplanes, and it turns out the practice is actually rather controversial. Regardless, both admit to having done it.
S2, Ep. 33: What Airbnb's Biggest Update In A Decade Means For You
To say that Airbnb has revolutionized the process of booking – and enjoying – travel accommodations would be an understatement. Where else can you book a forest treehouse, a high-rise apartment with a rooftop pool, and a houseboat on the ocean, all in the same place? Airbnb just launched the biggest updates to its platform in a decade, and Catherine Powell, the company’s Global Head of Hosting, is here to tell us all about it. Going forward, you don’t even have to know where you want to travel in order to book a stay, with new “Categories” breaking properties down into niche lists. There’s even the mind-blowing, if rather ambiguous, “OMG!” category, which features everything from a home that looks like a snake to a Kellogg Doolittle house in Joshua Tree that resembles a giant mushroom.
Should you need two properties for the same journey, the new “Split Stays” feature allows you to book them both at the same time, with the company’s new AirCover policy to back you up in case anything should go wrong. All in all, the world’s most popular homeshare platform just got a massive upgrade – and we can’t wait to get out on the road and put it to the test.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the validity of having enemies – and both struggle to recount whether they have any (if you hate either of us, please don’t let us know in an Apple review). Tim asks Eben whether or not he would book a trip not knowing where it is headed, if it were to pursue his favority hobby.
S2, Ep. 32: The Guts and Glory of Touring The World in a Rock Band
Touring in a rock band is one of the most fantasized about – and widely misunderstood – lifestyles in the modern world. While everyone thinks it's all backstage parties and endless excess, the reality is far more down to Earth, though no less interesting. Dan Aid is here to set the record straight on tour life, having been around the globe with the punk rock band Authority Zero and toured with other acts as well.
Among other highlights of road life, Dan recalls sleeping in a rodent-infested squatter flat in Germany, which is actually a step up from sleeping in the van – no one likes to crash on those long, hard bench seats. He also discusses what he loves about touring, and why it’s so hard for many musicians to get off the road, when it’s the only life they’ve ever known. If you’ve ever played in a band, wanted to play in a band, or even just attended a concert and wondered what that guitarist’s life was like off-stage, this episode will fill you in on what you’re missing.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben whether Duty-Free shops are bullshit. They also discuss whether airlines are actually justified in their bag charges (actual hot take here) and whether war museums inappropriately glorfy war.
S2, Ep. 31: The Joys and Pains of Travel With Kids
Mother’s Day is coming up. For the No Blackout Dates crew, this is a holiday where we celebrate the brave and courageous mothers in our lives. The day is more personal for Monet Hambrick, however – a traveling mother of two who has spent the bulk of the past decade gallivanting across the globe with her family in tow. She’s written a children’s book about her travels and runs the popular blog The Traveling Child to offer advice (and commiseration) to all the aspiring vagabond families out there. Monet joins the show to talk family travel, and if you plan to hit the road with kids – soon or down the line – it’s time to listen to the established expert.
On the docket today are such important how-to’s as how to get your kids through layovers, long-hauls, and customs with as little hassle as possible. Monet also shares insight into what to bring along to make those long travel days easier, and recalls the one time she totally blew it when flying with her kids. Regular listeners know that Tim recently became a parent, so he has a lot to learn – and just in time, as baby Olivia will be boarding a flight to Mexico in T-Minus three weeks. In case you’re wondering, Tim bought his wife Alisha a brand new e-bike for her very first Mother’s Day, so he didn’t blow it, thank you very much.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss whether traveling with young children is even worth the hassle, given that they likely won’t even remember what happened. They also discuss traveling with their parents as adults, and what they do and don’t have in common as travelers.
Special Mother's Day shoutouts to our own mothers, Eileen and Lynn.
S2, Ep. 30: Photographer Chris Burkard on Risking It All For The Perfect Shot
To make a living traveling the world, you have to get down to the essentials. Photographer and global explorer Chris Burkard joins No Blackout Dates to discuss how, exactly, he manages to do that. Chris shares insight on everything from what makes a good story to how he packs for expeditions. One constant theme through all of this? Risk management. Through his commercial and travel-based work, including an admittedly large collection of “really bad” photos, Chris has honed in on what it takes to plan and execute extremely dangerous assignments. By taking balanced risks and remaining focused on getting the right shots, he’s progressed his work into one of the world’s most celebrated portfolios of adventure photography. He’s compiled some of the best of that portfolio into his new book, “Wayward.”
In addition to his surf and expedition shooting, Chris has also built a reputation as “that guy that goes to Iceland a lot.” He’s made more than 50 trips there, including a recent winter biking excursion across the entire country from north the south. He’s chronicled his work in, among other ways, a photographic essay book, “At Glacier’s End,” and a short film he produced called “Innur,” which documents the relationship between a father, his son, and Iceland’s toe-chilling surfing culture. He discusses the motivation behind all of this work in today’s episode.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the seesaw relationship between giving and receiving rides to the airport. This leads to a talk on whether or not airport parking is bullsh*t. The pair close with their thoughts on whether or not you’re actually supposed to turn your laptop off during takeoff and landing – and still don’t have a definitive answer.
Molly Duane has one of the most important jobs in two industries – she’s a nurse, for one, and a traveling nurse at that, easily catapulting her to the top of the list of who should rightfully get that final standby seat on any packed flight. Her work has taken her from her home in Salt Lake City to rural Montana, Houston’s concrete jungle, and elsewhere around the country on three-to-nine month stints. Molly joins the show today to school Tim and Eben on what it’s like to actually have a job with purpose.
Molly elaborates on how – and why – she goes about choosing the locations where she wants to post up for a few months (the availability of nearby hikes plays a big role). She talks about why it's so hard to find friends and partners when you’re in an out of town so often, why rural nurses are among the nation’s most hardworking professionals, and how travel nursing is a great way to find yourself trying out new activities.
In Hot Takes, the pair break down the ultimate decision one makes in airports – whether to take the escalator or the stairs – and whether or not the “out of office” email is obsolete. Tim shines here as a cardio guy. Eben confesses to being a kids' menu troll, and Tim admits that he’s a show binger (on the rare occasion that he watches TV).
S2, Ep. 28: Let There Be Red Light: Inside Amsterdam's Sex Industry (Greatest Hits Rerun)
In 2021, the city of Amsterdam announced it would move its sex workers out of the famed Red Light District in the heart of the city. Visitors have long ventured to the Red Light District, some to hire a sex worker and others out of sheer curiosity. This curiosity is part of why the city made the decision to relocate its sex workers – the women had become the subject of gawking and verbal abuse. Still, the decision has prompted confusion among travelers.
So we figured we’d go straight to the source. No Blackout Dates welcomes Mary, a veteran Amsterdam sex worker, to the show to discuss the move and how it will impact both the women being moved, and those who patronize them. Mary also sheds light on what life is like as a sex worker, and offers a firm rebuttal to any who cast doubt on the legitimacy of her line of work. Behind those red lights is a world shrouded in mystery, fantasy, and rumor, but the reality is that Mary and her colleagues are a beacon call for sexual satisfaction that for many, would go unanswered if it weren’t for their efforts.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the different kinds of people you find in strip clubs, and whether driving through a state means you’ve actually “been” there.
S2, Ep. 27: The Charmed Life of Travel with Sebastian Modak
Sebastian Modak is living the dream. As the 52 Places Traveler for The New York Times in 2019, he visited 52 places around the globe in a single year – and turned around a dispatch about each of them. A “third culture kid” who grew up as a vagabond between the US, Hong Kong, Colombia, India, Indonesia, and elsewhere, Sebastian is accustomed to picking up and moving on to the next place. Now, as editor-at-large for Lonely Planet, he continues to make this lifestyle his full-time gig.
On today’s show, Sebastian and Tim shoot the breeze about travel trends, over-tourism, and how random, unplanned experiences often pan out to be the best way to learn about a new place. The two cover how identity plays into the travel experience, and Sebastian explains that when traveling long-term and away from a loved one, being open to, and accepting of, the inevitable emotions that arise align the way is the best way to handle loneliness. Fortunately for us, he also offers advice on how to do so.
As Eben works on a film shoot in Saudi Arabia, Melanie Sutrathada rejoins No Blackout Dates for this week’s Hot Takes section. Melanie and Tim discuss the ethics of removing your shoes on a flight, and whether or not the travel rewards points gained by booking a group trip on your personal credit card are worth the stress of wrangling everyone’s money.
S2, Ep. 26: Expatriating And The Life Of An "Orbiting Spouse"
AJ Kinney coins a new phrase for us on today’s pod. The “orbiting spouse” is someone who moves somewhere because their partner got a sweet job offer – and ends up loving it so much that they full-on expatriate. AJ and his wife moved to Grand Cayman from Minnesota, a sharp lifestyle change from hunting and camping to fishing and fruity cocktails. AJ joins the pod to discuss expat life during Covid and after, what it’s like to live somewhere totally different than everything you’re used to, and how the biggest fish he ever caught didn’t actually qualify as a catch – and we’re sure it’s totally not a myth.
While Eben is out on a film shoot in Saudi Arabia, AJ fills in for Hot Takes – where TSA is discussed at length. We learn that technically, guacamole is a gel, and therefore can’t pass through security, but whole avocados are just fine. Tim explains why his knife set at home is missing one steak knife. And the pair also note their biggest pet peeves at restaurants and why the world would be a better place if everyone had to spend at least one year in the service industry.
S2, Ep. 25: The Great Indoors (Greatest Hits Rerun)
“Gatekeeping” is an unfortunate but common practice in outdoor-centric communities. Comedian Ivy Le is joining us today to discuss how this issue can be addressed. 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.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the differences between Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. They also discuss their earliest memories and conclude that remembering something at about age two or three is pretty common – smashing Tim’s vision of himself having an above-average memory.
Regular listeners of No Blackout Dates are familiar with Eben’s nonsense ideas for new restaurants. At the top of this episode, he breaks down his classic “zero waste” restaurant idea.
S2, Ep. 24: Behind the Hype of WeWork, Remote Work, and Coworking
To cowork or not to cowork? The pod’s age-old controversial question is finally getting addressed by an expert. We’re learning the truth about whether co-working spaces are bullsh*t or if they actually provide real value to remote workers. Joanne Flynn Black a former WeWork employee who lived through the company’s most turbulent era, is joining us today to talk remote work, online writer communities, and Airbnb hosting. Ever wondered what guest habits really piss off Airbnb hosts? Well, Joanne’s got the scoop.
In Hot Takes, we discuss lost luggage, travel PCR testing, sharing food at restaurants, and Eben’s most recent karaoke experience (hint: it involved a not-so-well-received rendition of “What’s My Age Again?”)
S2, Ep. 23: Concerning Hobbits: How Lord of the Rings Remade New Zealand Tourism
“The Lord of the Rings” revolutionized the Fantasy and Adventure genres in both print and film. What’s often overshadowed by the smashing success of the franchise is the impact LOTR had on the country that served as the backdrop for much of the footage in the film series – New Zealand. Ever since “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” hit theaters on December 19, 2001, fans have flocked to remote outskirts in the country where big scenes were filmed.
The film franchise is turning 20 years old, and to celebrate, Tim and Eben are joined by Sarah Handley, General Manager for the Americas and Europe at Tourism New Zealand. They’re discussing how the film’s legacy has impacted the country’s tourism sector, how New Zealanders really feel about film tourism, and whether the guys can be extras in the upcoming LOTR Amazon series.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss whether or not travel experiences are “tainted” by the simple fact that you’re somewhere new – is hiking in a faraway country actually better than hiking close to home? Also on the docket is whether Tim loves Blink-182 simply because it reminds him of when life was much simpler.
S2, Ep. 22: Dispelling Tequila Myths with the Añejo Aficionado
Rob Gerard is a tequila influencer in the truest sense. As founder of The Tequila Collective, Rob shows off (code phrase for “indulges in”) fine tequilas of all stripes. He has built a following based on his extensive knowledge of the world’s favorite agave liquor, a savant cross between Reposado Recommender and Anejo Assassin. As it turns out, our in-house Duke of Jack Daniels recently visited Tequila, Mexico, and found that despite being a whiskey guy, he’s able to bond with Rob over the watering holes each is familiar with.
On today’s docket is everything tequila – including a breakdown of the different types and what the differences are. Rob debunks the “tequila as a stimulant” myth, and discusses the rumors that tequila causes looser clothes and a worse hangover than other liquors. Rob proves that being an expert connoisseur of an alcoholic beverage can, in fact, provide ample value to a wide audience – as proven by the fact that he frequently gets TikTok messages from shoppers stumped in the aisle at their local liquor store.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss the validity of bar games and whether or not Rob is a better form of an influencer than the vain Instagrammers who talk about nothing but themselves. Tim voices his strong opinions about dog owners who approach him when he’s walking his high-anxiety dog, and Eben admits that he doesn’t actually like drinking tequila, even when in a Mexican restaurant.
S2, Ep. 21: Traveling Circus -- Life According to a Professional Clown
No matter what you think of clowns, you likely have no idea what their lifestyle is actually like. From living on a train with Ringling Bros. to performing for kids at a children’s hospital, Joy Powers has done it all on the professional clown circuit. She joins the pod this week to discuss what it’s like to clown for a living.
You’ll learn what it’s like to travel the country as a performing clown and whether or not scary clowns give the rest of the bunch a bad name. Joy talks about common misconceptions of clowns (they don’t all look like the clowns you see at the circus) and how the most rewarding part of her work is cheering up kids that, more than anything else, need a smile.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss solo cruising and irrational childhood fears. Vampires did it for Eben, while Tim discusses his terror at being dragged into the Burger King Kids Club. Murder Mystery dinners are also dissected, following Eben’s recent experience.
S2, Ep. 20: Booking Travel with Crypto, for Dummies
You have thoughts on cryptocurrency. Whether your opinion is bullish or bearish, it’s undeniable that the concept of DeFi (decentralized finance) is causing quite a ruckus in the media. How will cryptocurrency impact travel? To find out, we invited Ben Rogers on the show. Ben is the Chief Marketing Officer at Travala, a travel booking website that operates much like Expedia or Booking.com, with one major difference – its customers can pay in crypto.
Ben discusses how cryptocurrency will play a big role in the future of travel, and why Travala and other companies are poised to reshape the industry. But before all that, he breaks down what exactly cryptocurrency and Web3 are, in a manner that even Tim and Eben can understand – so no matter your level of experience with Bitcoin, you’re sure to gain a fresh perspective on one of the most widely misunderstood (and sometimes controversial) topics in modern discourse. You may even be convinced to open a “crypto wallet,” and if so, maybe you can guide Eben through the process.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss online travel agencies like Booking and Expedia more broadly, curious as to whether it’s worth it to book through them or through a hotel website directly. Also on the docket are horror movies and the pair’s utter avoidance of them and whether or not pizza can cut it on a fine dining menu.
S2, Ep. 19: People, Places, and Bathrooms to Love According to Samantha Brown
Samantha Brown is the reason you want to spontaneously book a flight to the other side of the world. She’s been in the travel hosting game for over 20 years, and you may recognize her from iconic shows like Great Hotels, Passport to Europe, and Girl Meets Hawaii. Her newest endeavor is called Places to Love, and Brown describes it as her ode to travel culture worldwide – to the people, and to the places they call home. Samantha joins No Blackout Dates to discuss everything from the travel industry’s evolution to the behind-the-scenes realities of travel shows.
Samantha shares whether TV travel hosts actually enjoy all the places they visit (or if they’re just playing it up for the camera), gives us the scoop on her friendship (or rivalry) with Rick Steves, and tells us why Europe has the worst bathrooms in the world. After this conversation, it's easy to see why she was Eben’s middle school crush.
In Hot Takes, Tim and Eben discuss whether or not it actually matters which day of the week you buy your flight. They ponder what makes a good travel show host and what their show would be like if they had one. And Eben wonders if Tim is the type of person that buys products just because a famous actor is selling it (he has been on the lookout for a Tom Delonge-branded mini-fridge).
S2, Ep. 18: Overlanding Europe and Africa on the Janga Bus
Remi Bumstead did what all of us have talked about doing at some point: buying an old bus and driving it across Africa to donate to a school for deaf kids. Ok, maybe not all of us. Remi’s bus, dubbed the Janga Bus, was bought in Germany, fixed up in the UK, and driven south from London across Europe and into Africa en route to The Gambia. Upon arrival, Remi and his trip partner Alexandra Zeitlin donated the bus to the Kadect School for the Deaf. Oh, and they turned the entire project into a documentary film – aptly titled Janga Bus – that debuts on Matador Network this month.
It’s an inspiring story of providing a much-needed form of transportation to deaf schoolchildren, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to school in their rural part of the country. On today’s pod, Remi joins the guys to talk all things overland travel. On the docket are sketchy border crossings, hiding film gear from international authorities, and how they pulled off this incredible feat. There’s talk of breakdowns, unforgettable meals, and the incredible people Remi and Alexandra encountered on the journey.
In Hot Takes, Eben brings up the practicality (or lack thereof) of vegan restaurants in a world that long ago accepted veggie dishes as normal. Tim shares his most embarrassing Valentine’s Day story, and the pair ponder pre-trip fear.
Marinel de Jesus is the type of outdoors-person the world needs more of. As the founder of The Porter Voice Collective, Marinel advocates for porters’ rights in top international trekking destinations including Peru and the Himalayas. She rallies for better working conditions, pay, and even food for the hard-working porters lugging our gear up the world’s highest peaks – and after hearing her speak about the cause you’d be hard-pressed to not want to sign on.
An avid trekker herself, Marinel and the crew dive into packing for treks, including what isn’t necessary to bring along (key takeaway – keep it simple, stupid). They also discuss Marinel’s other project, Equity Global Treks, which highlights long-distance jaunts led by women, for women. The trio also hit on what travelers can do to ensure that porters on their trip are treated fairly, and how to vet a tour company for proper treatment of staff.
In Hot Takes, Tim ponders a digital nomad he met briefly at the Denver airport and wonders aloud if he’s a stalker for continuing to follow this guy on social. Eben makes his case for Dry January being bullsh*t, and the two discuss the pros of ordering two drinks at the same time when at a busy bar.
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.