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.



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.



At 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.



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.

Let Love Define Family Series Explores LGBT Family Vacations

Let Love Define Family Series Explores LGBT Family Vacations

This article was originally published on The Huffington Post  |  By

There are a few things you hear over and over again from LGBT families that take LGBT-themed vacations: “It’s completely open and comfortable and a place where you are surrounded by people who are experiencing life in a similar way. It’s not about the destination, it is all about the experience.”

Jeffrey and Chris Hietikko-Parsons and their 8 1/2 year old son, Henry, from New Jersey, have been on 10 trips so far with R Family Vacations. “We always have an amazing time,” they explained. “Everything is so well planned and there is a high caliber of activities and entertainment. It’s not like other vacations — these feel like we’re on a trip with our extended family.”


Planning a vacation can be stressful for everyone involved: Where do we go? How do we get there? What do we do when we get there? What if we get bored? For the LGBT family, there is also the added challenge of finding a place to truly relax and feel comfortable. So, an entire industry was born to create the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure for everyone!

There is no doubt that family trips create memories and bonds that last a lifetime, but a big part of these vacations seem to be the sense of community and spending time in a place where kids, and adults, feel like their family isn’t so different.

One gay couple conveyed the story about how in just the past week, while going about their day-to-day business with their two children, they were asked by two waiters and a cashier, “Where is the woman of the house?” The quick response is that their 13 year-old daughter is our woman of the household. It can be a subtle reminder that some in society still see LGBT families as a sort of anomaly. That could be a reason why LGBT group travel is growing. It’s not just the activities, it is more about escaping to a world of acceptance and true relaxation.


“Where we live, being a gay family is not a big deal,” said Jeremy Gransky from Massachusetts, “but there are not many other LGBT families around us, so being in that environment with other families like us makes all the difference.” Jeremy and husband John Gransky, with two kids Will and Natalie, are looking forward to their 11th trip with R Family this summer.

“The kids are a big focus for us,” explains R Family Vacations co-founder Kelli Carpenter. “The trips will look like every other family vacation, but on a bigger scale. We’re always finding ways to bring wonder and excitement to the experience for everyone, but especially the kids.”

Stephen Botte from San Jose, and his son Francesco, continue on these excursions just for the experiences they have. “In society you’re the gay family, but with these trips you just a family enjoying a vacation. It’s a total VIP experience that you get to share with thousands of people just like you.”


Since LGBT families are growing, so is the industry. Two of these companies, R Family Vacations and Olivia Travel, are actually teaming up to provide a new inclusive package for everyone in the family!

“We’ve been in the business of lesbian travel for over 40 years and people started asking us about family trips,” explained Judy Dlugacz, founder of Olivia Travel. “Instead of trying to do it ourselves, we decided to partner with the best in the business, R Family Vacations, to create something wonderful for everybody.”

Both travel companies discussed how the LGBT travel market has changed and evolved to offer an array of destinations and options for singles, parents, kids and even extended family and friends.

Gregg Kaminsky, co-founder of R Family Vacations, said, “we started by providing trips for gay and lesbian families, but quickly discovered that people were bringing their parents, aunts and uncles, friends, and it developed into this great experience that was welcoming to all.”


The first collaboration between Olivia Travel and R Family Vacations will be a Mexican adventure at the Hard Rock Resort in Nuevo Vallarta, July 9-16, 2016.

Stephen was recently at the resort for an Atlantis vacation with some friends. “I was at this gorgeous resort and was sitting by the pool and my only thought was I wish that Francesco could experience this. Now he can, and we’ve already got the dates marked off on our calendar!”

Judy Dlugacz sums it up best: “we’re working hard to provide the best in activities and entertainment that will have something for everyone, no matter your definition of ‘family,’ this is the family vacation for you!”

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