GAY TRAVEL SHOULD BE ABOUT FAMILY… But a NEW Kind of Family

13710040_1800171663560661_2566890532595927934_n

I have traveled the planet.  More than almost anyone I have encountered.  Because of that experience I have learned a few valuable things to make the trip, vacation, journey even better than your hopes and dreams.  Here are a few suggestions.

 

First, TRAVEL WITH FAMILY.

It’s obvious, but frequently forgotten as to why.  Family can be relatives, yes.  But much more often for gay men and woman it is CHOSEN FAMILY that become so special in our travel.  Why?  Because the shared experience is everything.  The laugh’s, the wonderment, the tastes, the cultures and so forth should be experienced with FAMILY.  Key West has a beautiful marketing message of “One Human Family.”  That could never be more true when you explore the planet.  Make friends.  Then travel in groups of “family.”  Think of it as ‘HERDS’ in the animal kingdom.  There is safety in numbers… yes.  But, the experience is even more rewarding.

 

Second, SHARE BEFORE THE TRIP.

At ALandCHUCK.travel we have group Facebook pages for our RuPaul Cruise in Europe and North America, for Cuba and more.  WHY?  Because the shared experience before you travel can be as rewarding as the travel itself.  I constantly recommend to my guests to “Live In This Moment.”  To often we dream of the future or we relive the past.  But if we are not experience the RIGHT NOW we miss the vital nature of why we all travel in the first place.  So live RIGHT NOW.  Not the past and not the future.  Living in this moment as it relates to your vacation and travel is discussing with your friends and family what you are looking forward to, why, and what you want to experience.  THAT is living in this moment.  To start to explore what you want from your travel experience.  And by the way, I have learned that is so much more valuable or any T-shirt or something you buy along the way.

 

Third, DON’T OBSESS OR OVERPLAN.

I see this problem frequently in gay travel.  We are frequently in need to plan in minutia detail.  To dot every I and cross every T.  That’s fine.  But only to a point.  When you do this I have found it allows you to live in a travel space that is no longer the experience I discuss in SHARE BEFORE THE TRIP.  Instead, you are like a secretary, just planning and planning and planning instead of dreaming and exploring what you really want.  Don’t get caught up in silly details.  They spoil the greatest benefit of travel.  The experience itself.

 

I wish I could have taken my own advice 25 years ago.  I didn’t.  It took a long, long time to learn these simple principles.  But now I travel the world with wide-eyed appreciation of combining a Gay Man combined with the wonderment of a child.  I absolutely wish you the same.  We have so much to learn from travel.  We have so much JOY it can bring us.  But we have to approach it in the right way.  And then travel brings us happiness.

CUBA WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE

alandchuck cuba with eddie and al 
In December 2014 when a friend at the State Department told me of impending changes for People To People program for American’s to Cuba I was excited by the possibilities.  In June 2015 we announced the first Gay Cruise to Cuba.

Our program began December 2015 and we did 17 sailings with gay and traditional sailings for an 8 day cruise from Montego Bay to Santiago de Cuba, 2 days in Havana, Maria la Gorda National Park, and Cienfuegos.  It changed many lives.

First, there was FEAR TO OVERCOME.  Thousands telling me how terrible it was that I would risk American lives (especially gay ones) by visiting Cuba.  I patiently tried to educate those individuals that the inverse was actually true.  You will be welcomed, cherished even.  And that turned out to be true.

Second, the experience IN CUBA.  It was magical.  Learning about Cuban society, positive attitudes towards Elderly, Women, Gays… it was magical.  In every stay, the Cubans were warm and welcoming.  They invited me into their homes.  They shared the little they possessed.  But above all, I came to realize that the most spectacular part of the travel experience was not monuments, geography, food or beaches.  But people.  PEOPLE! How could they possibly survive 50 years of American embargo?  And thrive, with nothing.  That spirit is what I came to admire and love on my repeated visits.

Third, this travel experience is a time machine.  I asked people to trust me.  GO NOW.  Before the end of the embargo changes everything.  At the time, I had no idea we would watch what we are seeing in our Presidential election.  Hate, Walls, Division, and more.  The opposite of diversity and everything I believe in.  I argued (and still do) you can go now and it be UNIQUE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.  A time machine of Shangri-La that has not changed since Kennedy was President.

EDDIE AL IN CUBA

Finally, who could have imagined when I started this project… PULSE.  Edward Sotomayor was with me in April in Cuba.  To plan 2017.  He did.  But the magic of the island captures him.  His spirit captures Cuba.  The famous artist Santiago Hermes and his wife come to Sarasota for Eddie’s Celebration of Life and Candlelight Procession in front of 240,000.  World-wide news.  We now know… TOP HAT EDDIE … is the most visible face of the tragedy of Orlando.  But BECAUSE of Cuba, and so many other things that made him special.  He lead a new path for all of Gay America.

Cuba Adventure

In 2017 we return.  Even more special.  On December 1, 2017 an entire ship will travel to the island with 1200 guests in tow and the most famous drag queens in the world, to perform IN HAVANA.  The Gay Community in Cuba are literally doing a count-down.  I encourage you to join us.  For the reasons above.  BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, because this is unique in Gay American History.  How often in our lives are we presented an opportunity like this?  So I will return AGAIN.  Proud of what I have started at ALandCHUCK.travel and for our entire Gay Community. Proud of Eddie.  My staff.  And especially proud of YOU, that you followed my recommendation.  Because “Get OUT There” is more than the bravery of coming out of the closet.  It is about the bravery of a revolutionary change in human spirit.  Of who we are.  And CUBA represents that for all of us.  Including ME.

Al Ferguson

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DragStarsAtSeaNorthAmericaOfficialPage/