Frank and Lissette — otherwise known as BBQboy and Spanky — are a Canadian/American couple who lived in Montreal for over 20 years. In 2014, they left Canada to travel full-time. They’re “slow”travellers, usually staying in one location for a month or two and using it as a base to explore a region. Their travels have taken them through Asia, Africa, and Europe.
You can read about their adventures on their blog, The Travels of BBQboy and Spanky.
Frank was kind enough to answer a few of our questions below.
TA: Where are you from?
Frank: I’m originally from a small town outside Quebec City. But I travelled a lot as a child and lived in Africa and West Coast Canada before making Montreal home. Lissette is from New York city and relocated to Montreal in her early 20’s for work.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Frank: 4.5 years. I’ve always travelled and always dreamt of travelling full-time. Lissette is along for the ride.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Frank: Slow travel. We stay somewhere a month or two and really try to get to know a region. It’s also the most sustainable and inexpensive way to travel.
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Frank: For me, South Africa was a highlight. We stayed in the Cape region for three months and the geography and natural beauty is stunning. For Lissette, Croatia is her favorite place. She really connects to the people.
TA: What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Frank: I want to see more of Africa.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Frank: Learn to say “hello”and “thank you” in the local language, smile and be polite. These small things go a long way.
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Frank: Ukraine. We spent two months there this year and intend on going back next year.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever been given?
Frank: Don’t over-plan, leave room for flexibility, don’t cram 10 cities in 15 days.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Frank: Travel light. It took us a few years, but now we only travel with carry-on. You really don’t need much and whatever you don’t have you can buy. Besides that, get a SIM card upon arrival and do a bit of research on how you’ll get from the airport to the final destination.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Frank: Safety. I always get questions about safety, mostly from Americans who are afraid of what’s out there. The world is mostly very safe.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Frank: South Africa. Best food we’ve come across, everything from Springbock steaks to Indian food to sushi. Very high quality standards. And the wine is fantastic and inexpensive.
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Frank: Again South Africa. Take your partner to the vineyards at Stellenbosch or Franschhoek.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you’ve ever visited?
Frank: Prague and Seville are both beautiful and don’t have to be expensive (if seeing them the right way).
TA: Have you ever met someone while traveling who changed your life?
Frank: I was travelling solo in Sarajevo when I met two older men. We started talking and they invited me to a restaurant with them. For 8 hours we drank wine and ate local specialties. Everything was superb. At the end of the night, when I reached for my wallet they said, “No, you are our guest.” I insisted, but they repeated that I wouldn’t pay. Then the man said to me, “Repay the hospitality to someone else in the future.” That experience warmed my heart. I intend to return the favour to a solo traveller somewhere one day…
TA: What are the best places to travel solo and why?
Frank: Almost anywhere in Europe — because transport is easy and (most of it) is safe for both male and female travellers.
TA: What’s something that other tourists do when traveling that drives you crazy and why?
Frank: That would take more space than I have here. Many tourists behave in ways they never would at home and that stems from disrespect for other people and cultures. And the selfie should be outlawed.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Frank: Mexico. I visit my mom there every year. Tons of beauty, colors, friendly people, and good food. And some of the towns in Central Mexico are incredible — if they were in Europe (and not Mexico) they’d all be jam-packed with tourists.