Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Howard Blount
Occupation: Travel Writer
Hometown: Plant City, FL
Residence: Plant City, FL
College: University of South Florida
College major: M. Ed. Educational Leadership
Facebook: Backroad Planet
Pinterest: Backroad Planet
Google+: Backroad Planet
YouTube: Backroad Planet
Short bio: Howard Blount is founder and editor of the travel website Backroad Planet. He has traveled internationally since boyhood and lived abroad in Mexico, Chile and Paraguay. Now his passion is navigating the roads-less-traveled of this amazing planet in search of anything rare and remote. Howard is a writer and consultant and has published with major houses such as Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill.
Howard writes primarily for Backroad Planet, his road trip, fly-drive and river cruise travel blog. Backroad Planet promotes the philosophy that taking scenic routes, scouting offbeat sites, stopping at roadside attractions and getting immersed in local flavor are the best ways to travel. Active daily on social media, Howard through Backroad Planet has a combined organic following of over 34K and a Klout score of 70. Howard and his travel partner Jerry Woods have collaborated with major brands and DMOs such as Viking Cruises and VISIT FLORIDA. Howard and Jerry love participating in press trips and other forms of sponsored travel, and they welcome opportunities to work with travel brands, CVBs, DMOs, and tourism boards.
Recently retired from his 35-year career as a middle school teacher, Howard would much rather be doing anything that includes mountains, waterfalls, dachshunds, gospel choirs, books, restored classic movies on Blu-ray, autumn, Florida springs, rain and other gloomy weather, log cabins, cracker shacks, abandoned sites, unearthed history, genealogy, museums, documentaries, scenic and historical sites, castles, cathedrals, the Civil War, National Park Passports, quotes, Steely Dan, Diet Pepsi, anything Apple, all things British, and lists. And on a random note, Howard is a fourth cousin once removed to Truman Capote.
How often do you fly? Once or twice per month.
How many countries have you been to? 20-ish.
How many continents have you been to? 4
Earliest travel memory: I remember early family road trips, but my most defining travel memory is age eleven when my family did our first mission trip to Chile.
Favorite American city: Washington, DC.
Favorite international city: London, UK.
Least favorite country: North Korea.
I have no desire to go to: North Korea, other than to say I’ve been.
Friendliest people in the world: For the fourth year running, the 2015 World Gallup Poll found the people of Paraguay to be the happiest people in the world. Having lived there for several years in my youth, I can vouch that Paraguayans are the most loving, selfless people I have ever known.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: Jamaica and UK, based on my experiences at Montego Bay Sangster and London Stansted.
Favorite World Heritage Site: The Jesuit Missions at Trinidad and Jesús, Paraguay, as featured in the motion picture The Mission with Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons.
Favorite airline: I am typically an economy passenger, and I find most airlines today are generic clones of each other, looking to nickel-and-dime passengers at every turn. I miss many American airlines from the glory days of flight, such as Pan Am, National, Eastern, and Braniff, and Latin American airlines such as APSA, LAB and LAP. I don’t, however, miss the smoking.
Favorite aircraft type: Boeing 767 and any aircraft with two-seat rows.
Aisle or window: Aisle, always.
Favorite airport lounge: Air Berlin Lounge, Dusseldorf, Germany.
Favorite U.S. airport: Tampa International.
Favorite international airport: Tampa International.
Favorite hotel: Windsor Hotel, Americus, GA.
Favorite cruise line: Viking.
Favorite travel credit card: Barclays.
Favorite island: Bush Key, Dry Tortugas NP, FL.
Favorite beach: Indian Rocks Beach, FL.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington, DC.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: WB’s (formerly Jerry’s), Chattahoochee, FL.
Favorite bar: Fish City Grill, Lakeland, FL.
Favorite fruit: Fuji apple.
Favorite food: Pasta, pasta, and more pasta.
Least favorite food: Raisin & carrot salad.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Cape Cod.
Favorite travel movie(s): Driving Miss Daisy.
Favorite travel show(s): Rick Steves’ Europe.
Favorite travel book(s): “Confederates in the Attic” by Anthony Horwitz.
Right now I am reading: Recently finished “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Mike Miller’s Florida Heritage Travel E-Zine/National Geographic/Mapping Megan.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course!: Atlas Obscura.
5 things you bring on a plane: iPhone, Nike cap, dental floss, business cards, chapstick.
What do you always seem to forget? 220V converter.
What do you like least about travel? Missed connections and layovers.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? A book or Toblerone bar.
Favorite travel app(s): Google Maps.
Most embarrassing travel moment: Frantically digging through a gas station garbage can in front of God and everybody, believing I had accidentally thrown away my National Parks Passport. I later found it in the side pocket of a duffel bag.
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: As a roadtripper, I am embarrassed that I have not driven Route 66.
Worst travel moment: The retina in my right eye detached and tore while visiting the UNESCO World Heritage windmills at Kinderdijk, Netherlands, on the first day of a Viking River cruise. I had to be evacuated for surgery in the US.
What’s your dream destination? Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia.
Favorite travel charity: Amnesty International.
Best travel tip: When deciding whether to take advantage of an opportunity while traveling, even though I may be exhausted, I always remind myself, “I’m here now.”