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Traveler Tuesday – Howard of Backroad Planet

Travel Blogger Howard of Backroad PlanetThere are a lot of dynamic travel duos out there and I always appreciate those who can not only travel together for long periods of time but who can also make the blog thing work. I guess I sort of have that with the wonderful photos the Mr. Misadventures provides for my own blog, but sometimes I wish he could also write a post or two for me 😉

Backroad Planet is one of those talented teams, two gents from Florida – Howard and Jerry – who make it look easy with all their backroad adventures! I manage to separate the two long enough to get Howard to participate in Traveler Tuesday!

Let's meet Howard!


When and how did you become a traveler?
I have been traveling all my life, but travel kicked into high gear when I was eleven years old. My parents became missionaries to Latin America and I lived alternately in Mexico, Chile, and Paraguay, until I returned to the USA to attend college.

Howard's Passport

Where do you love to travel?
This a a difficult question because like most travelers I love many places. Still, if I am perfectly honest, I have to admit I enjoy travel in Europe the most. Europe has the scenery, history, and culture that intrigues me more than any other destination, and I can't get enough!

Most memorable travel moment:
I have learned that the most memorable travel moments are not the ones you plan, and they typically are not the ones that cost the most. I am talking about moments when synchronicity happens, when it seem that the planets align and something special occurs. I have been blessed with several such moments, but one that comes to mind is when my travel partner Jerry and I were driving the Canopy Roads around Tallahassee, Florida, where grandfather oak trees draped in Spanish moss overhang the roadways.

Elton John's Live in Australia CD was playing on the stereo, and suddenly it seemed as if the scenery and music were moving in tandem. Neither of us spoke for a long time, afraid that the sound of a human voice would break the spell. Later, we brought it up and knew that we had witnessed a special moment in our lives and travels. Cruising the Danube into the lights of Budapest at midnight was unforgettable, as well . . . .

Budapest Midnight Arrival

What won’t you travel without?
I think most travel writers require some type of electronic device for photography and note taking. I have traveled frequently without taking my laptop, but I don't think I would ever leave home without my iPhone. My organized life and work fit in my pocket.

A day isn’t complete until…
Jerry and I hold court. We typically catch up either in person or by phone before the day is over.

Howard and Jerry

A quirky daily habit of mine is…
Blasting my CD player while in the shower.

Travel essential – 3 things you always travel with:
Nike cap, dental floss, business cards

Travel Essentials

Name one thing people would be surprised to find in your travel bag:
A candle. You need one when you share restrooms with other people.

Perfect travel day from start to finish:
A perfect travel day would include three meals of local cuisine, a hike or walk, a visit to a historical site, a scenic drive through the region, and a visit to a museum or art gallery.

What are your favorite food cities? What restaurants do you go to in each?
My favorite food cities are New Orleans and Washington, DC. We typically like hole-in-the-wall joints, and both cities comply. When it comes to food in NOLA's French Quarter, it's hard to go wrong. However, I will mention that I enjoy the Ferdi Special Po-Boy with extra debris at Mothers Restaurant, the Po-Boys and potato salad at Parasol's in the Garden District, and of course café au lait and beignets at Café Du Monde on a rainy afternoon.

Parasols Po-Boys

Pat O'Brien's is the iconic location for Hurricanes, and we like them, but for take-outs we tend to gravitate to Café Maspero on the corner of Decatur and Toulouse. In Washington, DC, breakfast is either salmon patties at the Lincoln Waffle Shop that fronts the Ford Theater or anything with sourdough bread at Founding Farmers. For dinner, it's the Old Ebbitt Grill, starting with the oyster bar.

Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
I recently visited Santa Claus, Indiana (yes, it is a real place). It has been a town with a post office since 1856. I has a huge theme park called Holiday World attached to Splashin' Safari, a water park, and the town lies near the Lincoln Boyhood Home National Memorial. Surprisingly, Santa Claus has no Main Street, no historical district, and no hometown restaurant that serves breakfast. Very strange….

What has travel taught you?
In summary, I have learned that people everywhere are more alike than different. But going deeper, I have learned that travel opens your eyes to differences, and it changes you organically from the inside out. Mark Twain said it best, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness . . . .” I won't get political, but I will say that I believe we would not struggle with many social and religious issues today if people would get out of their hometowns and see the world.

Best and Worst place you’ve been to and why?
Perhaps the best and worst place I have been are one and the same. Paraguay is a landlocked peanut-shaped country located smack-dab in the center of South America. It has survived war, dictators, poverty, and limited natural resources. It is frequently the butt of jokes and scorned by neighboring countries as the poor and ignorant underdog. There are cardboard slums and smelly marketplaces and humidity that makes your head sweat at night.

But Paraguay is not just a place I visited. I lived there for many years as a teenager and visited later as an adult. It is my second home, and I love it and long to return. I love the food, the tropical foliage, the history. But most of all I love the people.

Why? Because they loved me. Paraguayans truly live out the “mi casa es su casa” philosophy. Through it all, I believe Paraguay has been vindicated because they recently ranked #1 as the happiest country on Earth on the 2015 Gallup poll, a title they have held four years running.

What's one location on your bucket list?
I love waterfalls, and Plitvice National Park in Croatia has been on my bucket list for a long time….


Hotel: Windsor Hotel in Americus, Georgia
Airline: Delta
Airport: Tampa International
Mode of Transportation: roadtripping in an SUV or river cruising
Travel snack: beef jerky
Country: UK
Travel Gear: Rick Steves Civita day pack
Travel App: Google Maps
Travel Book: Confederates in the Attic by Bill Bryson
Travel Movie: Paper Moon starring Ryan and Tatum O'Neal
Song on your smartphone: Emotion by Samantha Sang

Thanks Howard!

You can keep up with Howard (and Jerry!) on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. Wherever you catch them, I am sure you will enjoy their adventures!

How about you? What would you like to know about Howard?

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  1. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    I can’t wait to check out his blog. Sounds like he goes lots of interesting places.

  2. Wow! What an honor to be featured on Traveler Tuesday! Thanks so much, Andi, for including me in the ranks of so many experienced world travelers. Here’s to us and all of our wonderful readers and fellow citizens of the world!

  3. Bringing a candle along is going to be a must-pack item for me from now on, love it! I usually end up sharing a room when traveling, and never even considered this before, so thanks for the tip! 🙂

    1. Glad to help, Aeryn! I find that the little candles in a glass jar with a lid work best for travel. When flying, be sure to buy matches or a lighter when you arrive at your destination.

  4. I like that you are featuring other bloggers that otherwise, I won’t discover. Hi Howard! I’m hopping over there to check your blog.

  5. Dorothy Boucher says:

    Hi Howard, nice to meet you.. I really enjoyed reading about you and the food looks delicious!! 😉

    1. Nice to meet you, Dorothy! The food in the picture is from Parasol’s in New Orleans’ Garden District. We happened upon it while doing a walk around the neighborhood. Love that place!

  6. Amber Ludwig says:

    Seems like Europe tends to be a universal travel favorite!! I may have to stomach the flight and visit one day 😉 All these traveler tuesday people are inspiring me!!

    1. Europe is my favorite destination, Amber. I will be returning in early December for the third time this year. Scenery, history, culture, food and wine . . . . Europe has it all! Let us know if you need help planning your trip.

  7. I’m fascinated about the Santa Claus, IN information. Who knew? He sounds like a great guy to watch for fun travel info!

  8. Debbie Denny says:

    Oh I love this interview. It is the little things other travelers talk about that help me. Awesome journeys.

  9. This was fascinating! I loved learning about Howard, and am looking forward to following his adventures on his blog! (And think I will now travel with a candle!)

  10. woohoo!! delta ftw!! 🙂 we’re originally from atlanta.. so naturally we support atl companies. 🙂 also this post has me itching to go back to new orleans to eat!

  11. I love the candle tip! Such a great interview. It was nice reading about Howard.

  12. My husband is a Marine and while he was traveling with the Corp, he would always pack beef jerky! He still does to this day too, no matter how long or short the trip. I guess it is because it won’t go back and is kind of a back up food source in his mind. Is that your reasoning too?

    1. Christine, I am afraid the reason beef jerky is my favorite travel snack is because it tastes so GOOD! But you are correct in your assumption that it keeps well. My brother-in-law makes beef jerky in his dehydrator, and he occasionally gives me a bag for road trips. On times when we have not devoured the supply in a single trip, I find that it keeps well for weeks or even months in the glove compartment.

  13. I had the pleasure of meeting Howard in person recently. I’d love to join him in NOLA or DC for a meal, they are two of my favorite food cities too!

    1. Hey Brianna! Great to meet you in person at TBEX, too! There is no question that we have similar tastes in travel and food! Here’s to our paths crossing again at a great foodie destination . . . .

  14. As a dentist’s wife, it makes me happy any time I see someone talk about flossing. Haha! My husband makes sure floss is always on our packing lists. This was a cool interview, I love seeing what other people bring with them on trips. It says a lot about what is important to you.

    1. Haha Jenn! Glad you enjoyed reading about one of the indispensable items on my packing list. Guilty as charged! I am one of those rare people who feel compelled to floss daily, and besides, I can’t handle feeling anything trapped between my teeth.