Travel

An 8-Day Trip to Israel for Gay Dad Families

Organized by OUTstanding Travel in Collaboration with Gays With Kids


This once-in-a-lifetime trip offers the best of Israel in a vacation designed specifically for gay dad families. Based on feedback from dads, we've improved on the original itinerary. Highlights include: one hotel (in Tel Aviv) for the entire trip, a flexible agenda that allows you to relax on your own or enjoy pre-planned tours, and the opportunity to meet with local gay dad families.

Nadav Peretz, the founder of the Israeli gay travel company OUTstanding Travel, met Brian Rosenberg, one of the founders of Gays With Kids, in New York City last summer. It didn’t take them long to come up with a great idea: an 8-day trip to Israel especially for gay dad families!

When Brian told Nadav he had not been to Israel since 1985, Nadav felt that he just had to arrange for Brian and one of his kids a visit to the Middle Eastern LGBT oasis that is Israel. This past November, Nadav hosted Brian Rosenberg and his 6-year-old daughter Sadie in Israel, to plan the gay dad family trip. Below you’ll find the exciting itinerary. Check here for more information about accommodations and rates.

Nadav Peretz, founder of OUTstanding Travel

Itinerary for the Gay Dad Family Trip July 30 – August 6, 2017

Day 1: Sunday, July 30 – Tel Aviv

Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport your family will be greeted by an OUTstanding travel rep, who will assist you with your baggage and escort you to the transfer that will take you to the hotel. That night you'll have a chance to meet with the other gay dad families on the trip at a special welcome reception and dinner just for our group.

Sadie, Nadav and Brian in Old City, Jerusalem

 Day 2: Monday, July 31 – Old City Jerusalem

Following an authentic delicious Israeli breakfast, your family will see history come to life during a fun, family-friendly walking tour of the beautiful Old City. Historical marvels and spiritual landmarks abound, including: the Western Wall, the Tower of David and King David’s Tomb, the room of the Last Supper, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Via Dolorosa, the Arab market and more. We'll leave time for you to wander on your own through the charming Armenian, Jewish and Christian quarters.

In the afternoon you can join our tour of the underground wonderland of the City of David or remain at the hotel for refreshing fun in the pool.

Back in Tel Aviv, we’ll enjoy a group dinner at our hotel.

Day 3: Tuesday, August 1 – Tel Aviv

If the kids let you sleep in, start your morning at leisure, with a bountiful breakfast and some time on the beach – splashing in the waves, building sandcastles or playing Israeli "matkot" paddle game.

Time will be set aside to meet with a few local Israeli families to learn about life as gay dads in Israel. We hope you'll forge new friendships that last well beyond the trip!

Brian and Sadie with Arnon Angel, Dan Goldberg and their kids at their famous Tmol Silshom Restaurant in Jerusalem

Day 4: Wednesday, August 2 – The Dead Sea: Where Everyone Floats!

Grab your swim gear and hop on the bus as we venture to the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea!

We begin with a family trek to the Ein Gedi Falls where, if we are lucky, we'll spot local ibex and hyrax hanging out on the cliffs surrounding us. Time and water depth permitting, you can even take a plunge into the crystalline waters of the falls.

Then it's just a quick drive to the Dead Sea, where everyone floats! This is an experience like no other, one that kids of all ages will recall for the rest of their lives. Afterwards, we'll have lunch at the Lot Hotel, we're even the pickiest of eaters will find something at their large buffet!

Sun-kissed and bellies full, we'll head back to Tel Aviv.

Dead Sea

Day 5: Thursday, August 3 – An Adventure in the Carmel Region

After breakfast, we'll leave Tel Aviv and travel north to visit the ancient city of Caesarea, built by Herod the Great and once the seat of Roman rule. Tour highlights: the excavated Roman Theater and aqueduct once used for conveying water to the city, and the  awesome Hologram room.

Then we're off to visit the beautiful old port city of Haifa, where the kids will love running up Mt. Carmel. Dads will enjoy the incredible panoramic view of Haifa Bay and the breathtaking Bahai Gardens with its impressive Shrine and gorgeous world-famous gardens.

In Haifa, we'll stroll through the old German Colony neighborhood built in the mid 19th century by the Templers. We'll even stop at a Druze village for some classic local Druze hospitality and learn about this great community that lives in Israel and serves in its army.

Day 6: Friday, August 4 – Tel Aviv…The City That Never Sleeps!

After breakfast we invite you to get caught up in the excitement at the Carmel Market with its traditional Friday shopping rush, and the adjacent Nahalat Binyamin Arts and Crafts Fair. We'll explore the White City of Tel Aviv, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while strolling along the renowned Rothschild Boulevard – a mix between a commercial center with major financial institutions, a cultural center with a theater and concert hall, and a culinary center with dozens of top restaurants. Our journey includes a walk through Neve Tzedek, built in 1887 and known for being the first neighborhood of Tel Aviv. But your kids will enjoy the area's delicious ice cream!

Explore the historical sites of Old City Jaffa, one of the oldest port cities in the world; walk along the ancient cobbled streets along the Artist's Quarter, and stop for a bite at one of the local hummus joints.

Afterwards head on down to enjoy the beach and the glistening Mediterranean waters or take a dip in the pool; basically its time to relax.

As the the sun sets and the city slows down, we will enjoy a truly special Shabbat dinner with local gay families.

Tel Aviv: Beach

Day 7: Saturday, August 5 – R&R; Tel Aviv Style

Free day to enjoy the day as you and your family want.

Day 8: Sunday, August 6 – Departure Day

Following breakfast, check out from the hotel and transfer to Ben Gurion International Airport for your flight back home, taking with you everlasting fond memories of your family trip to Israel.

Goodbye and Le’Hitraot (till we see you again)!

Brian and Sadie with members of the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers

Nadav Answers Some Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Israel a great place for families?

Nadav: "Israel is a small country, and that makes it ideal for family vacations: The short distances between locations make traveling with children very easy. Despite that small size, it offers a great variety of things to do: You can snorkel in the clear waters of the Red Sea in Eilat. You can float on the salty blue waters of the Dead Sea; ride a Jeep in the sand dunes of the Negev desert or through the hills of Judea. You can delve into the incomparably rich history of Jerusalem, a city holy to people of many faiths; or visit the spectacular museums, but I suggest that you make time to check out Jerusalem’s world-class shopping as well, and to discover its many cafés and restaurants. You can swim in the Mediterranean Sea while you’re in Tel Aviv; kayak in the Sea of Galilee near Tiberias or, if you prefer, just take it easy and relax on a beautiful beach instead: The weather in August is going to be beautiful. You may like it so much, you may want to come back next year!”

Brian and his daughter Sadie near the Western Wall in November 2016

What makes Israel so special to the LGBT community?

Nadav: "First off, Israel on the whole is a very gay-friendly country. Tel Aviv in particular has a very large and visible gay community. Its annual Gay Pride Parade attracts more than 200,000 people! Gays are everywhere in this beautiful city on the sea. It also has a gay beach, Hilton Beach. The city is one of only a handful of cities in the world that has a monument dedicated to LGBT people persecuted by the Nazis during World War II.

“Israel is also progressive in the way it treats LGBT people. Gays and lesbians serve openly in the military; an increasing number of gay recruits do full military service, often in combat units. Unit 8200, an elite intelligence unit is known for its large number of openly LGBT soldiers. In 2013, the Israel Defense Forces even announced that a transgender woman would be allowed to serve in the army as a female soldier, something only very few countries allow. Basically, Israel is an amazing place for the LGBT community, both for those who call it home and for those who are here just for a visit.”

 What is so special about this trip in particular?

Nadav: "This trip is an opportunity to see Israel in the company of families like your own. This family trip to Israel is the first of its kind, with gay families from all over traveling together in Israel, a gay-friendly country like no other. So this isn’t just a trip to a gay locale like San Francisco or Toronto, or a trip for gay families in just any other vacation spot, but rather a true mixture of the two, giving you and your children an opportunity to travel this beautiful land with its rich history and to really see Israel from the perspective of those who call this place home.”

Light Festival: Jaffa Gate

Will there be an opportunity to meet Israeli gay dad families?

Nadav: "Gay dads from all over Israel will be joining us on various parts of the tour. Whether it is on the tour in the Old City of Jerusalem or during beach time in Tel Aviv, you and your children will have the opportunity to spend time with them and make new friends on the way. These joint activities will allow you and your kids the opportunity to experience Israel from a local gay perspective.”

 

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A Disney vacation is, for many, a once or twice in a lifetime experience. There's a gazillion articles full of Disneyland tips out there but our fresh take comes off of our first trip to Disneyland as a family of four. And gosh did we learn a lot.

Where to stay at Disneyland

The biggest cost for a family when visiting Disneyland what is of course either the transportation to Southern California or the actual Park tickets depending on how many days you are going. Lodging at Disneyland is also expensive, but there are ways to make sure that you are spending your money wisely.

I'm sure this is obvious to most people booking a Disneyland trip but staying in one of the three Disney properties is going to run you the highest hotel bill. There are lots of Good Neighbor Hotels very close to the park from which you can either walk or take the Anaheim Resort Transit. Book a good neighbor hotel and it doesn't even have to be one of the nicest ones, because seriously, how much time are you actually going to spend in your hotel? You are there to be either in Disneyland or California Adventure so just be sure that you pick a property that has great ratings for cleanliness and is close enough for how your family will spend their days.

When to go to Disneyland

One of the most common Disneyland tips we see is when to go to Anaheim with your family. There are a few different ways to determine what is going to be the right time when the parks aren't too crowded. Here are three tips to help you pick your dates for a Disneyland family trip.

Here in the United States we don't have a lot of holiday weeks. But we do have common periods when schools let out for mid-year breaks. This is the prime time for many families to make the journey to Disneyland. This is also when you will find the largest crowds and longest wait times for your favorite rides. If you're cool with pulling your kids out of school, pick a time when most schools, particularly in Southern California, hour in session. This might not coincide with your own kids' spring or winter break, but it'll be a great opportunity to have smaller crowds and win loads of awesome parent points for pulling your kids out of school.

Annual pass blackout days

If you are not familiar with Disneyland and its annual pass situations this might sound strange. There are different types of passes that Southern California residents and Beyond can purchase. Each pass has a different set of blackout dates during which they cannot use their passes for the parks. If you research the dates when the most number of passes are blacked out you may hit the jackpot for being at the park with a smaller crowd than usual.

True, blackout dates exist because that's when more people want to be at Disneyland or Disney's California Adventure, but keeping in mind vacationers philosophies about missing crowds and knowing it's busy paired with restrictions on passes and you will find the perfect balance of small crowds and swift lines.

Seasonal transitions

One of our favorite times to be in Disneyland is during holiday time. This is that special moment between Halloween and New Year's (or slightly after) that the park is decked out in lights, wreaths, and trees. Not only is it more festive than you can imagine but also plays off of the first tip we gave: a lot of kids are in school so not a lot of families traveling to Disneyland.

Saving money in the parks

You'd be surprised at all the different ways you'll spend money when you visit Disneyland. It's a lot more than just Park admission and accommodations. From dining in the Parks and random souvenirs, to necessities you didn't plan on that you have to purchase once inside, you can save.

Saving on dining

If you read a lot of family travel articles you'll find people praising and criticizing the families who always have their own snacks with them. Well, this is a necessary step to take both for saving money in Disneyland and for making sure the kids are happy. I don't know about you but our kids get hangry in a heartbeat. There's nothing quite like a hungry, angry child to ruin your magical memories. Be prepared with snacks in your pack at all times. It saves money and heartache.

For mealtime Disneyland tips, we'll tell you that the best options are the ones that are easy and a little out of the way. Does that not make sense? Basically, where the menus have simple options and ample seating you will find the swiftest and most cost-effective dining options. Example: The Hungry Bear Cafe in critter country keeps it simple with burgers or wraps. The menu is small and the cast members are efficient. There is a ton of seating and you can be in and out in a heartbeat for less than dining in one of the full service restaurants. Our favorite quick service dining option is Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land (Disney's California Adventure).

Saving on unplanned purchases

Does anybody ever plan to be stuck in Disneyland in the rain? No. But after one experience you'll know that you need to have an umbrella or a rain poncho at the ready. As silly as they are ponchos are the greatest invention ever for a rainy day in Disneyland. This is one of the Disneyland tips that we didn't listen to on our first trip there during a February long ago... and we were drenched.

Another way to save is by traveling with a backup battery/power bank to recharge your devices while you're in the Parks. Disneyland does have portable chargers that you can rent for a certain fee over the course of your visit, but do you want to spend $30 at a charging station when you could just bring your own power pack? No.

Souvenirs are their own thing. Of course there are loads of cute nick-nacks and t-shirts you could buy when you travel, to Disneyland or anywhere else, but do you need them? The best way to save money on souvenirs is to not go souvenir shopping. So simple. You could be doing many other fun things instead of browsing shelves of stuff. The exception to the souvenir thing is a good pair of Mickey Mouse ears. They're a must.

How to plan your days

Before we arrived in Disneyland with the kids we decided that there were a few key experiences we wanted them to have. We researched what times certain shows or parades were happening and then weighed that out against how much time we new they could last within the parks. For us the big-ticket experiences were:

Meeting certain characters

Download the Disneyland app to see where characters are in real time within the parks. There is also a paper guide that you can get when you enter either Park, but the app helped us land our two Disneyland unicorns: boom.

Experiencing Disney Entertainment

Again, the Disneyland app lets you know the times for everything as does the schedule. If you are going to be in the parks for several days don't stress about hitting three different parades in one day and also watching the fireworks. Plan on doing rides or dinner nearby a parade route so that when you are done with whatever you're doing you can just park yourself for a few minutes before the show starts.

Other experiences that might be high on your parent list of what you want your family to do in Disneyland could be different attractions or meeting every single character, so do what you have to do to make the experience as magical for everyone as possible. Don't add stress to it, use the tools that Disney has given you to make it easier.

Best way to capture memories

We wrote an article about tips for taking your best family travel photos, and I think the strongest suggestion we have from our list is to just be comfortable taking a family selfie. A family selfie means that everybody is in the photo so there's not one person missing from every single picture. A family selfie means that the kids will probably cooperate with you better than waiting for a stranger to take their picture. Family selfies bring you into the moment or into the action and you usually get some pretty hilarious faces.

Other ways to ensure you're getting great pictures in the Disney parks is to leverage character hosts (cast members who are hanging out with your favorite characters) and PhotoPass staff. The PhotoPass photographers that you find floating around the Disney parks won't just do their own pictures with the Disney cameras but they'll also help you with your own pics.

With a little planning and prep work, you'll no doubt have an awesome Disney vacation with your family. The biggest key to having fun once you're there is to keep a good attitude and don't get stressed. That's where the prep work comes in and believe me, keeping a relaxed state of mind throughout your whole Disney Experience is going to make it more fun and memorable for everybody.

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School break is upon us, and many of our families are looking forward to a week or two of vacation at our favorite beach or lake house. But how does an 8-month family trip around the world with your 7-year-old sound? To some, this might sound like a nightmare, but to these two dads, Trevor Burgess and Gary Hess, and their daughter Logan, it was the trip of lifetime!

They shared some of their favorite travel photos with us, gave us the highlights of their enviable vacation as well as offered some great advice to other gay dad families considering a trip around the world!

About Trevor and Gary

Trevor, 44, and Gary, 46, met 20 years ago at a Pride block party in Boston. They were married October 8, 2008, and became dads through adoption. They were lucky enough to be in the delivery room when their daughter Logan was born in 2009. They finalized her adoption four months later.

Gary is a stay-at-home dad and part-time realtor, and Trevor is a real estate developer and retired bank CEO. It was when his bank was sold in July 2016 that they were able to take time off and travel the globe. They were abroad from August 2016 to March 2017.

Oh, the Places You'll Go

Using England as their base, they visited the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Sweden, Belgium, France, Denmark, Scotland, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

The family faves?

"New Zealand, the Netherlands, and England," shared Gary. "New Zealand was beautiful and the people were extremely welcoming.We visited Auckland and Marlborough (wine!) but there is so much more we would like to see of the country."

Auckland, New Zealand


"The Netherlands is just lovely," Gary added. "Amsterdam is a vibrant city filled with beauty and culture."

Amsterdam, Holland

Logan loved the gelato in Italy and the fairytale castles in Germany! But despite the weather, England was the family's favorite, with endless things to do and see.

Traveling as a Family

"Our favorite thing about traveling with Logan first and foremost was the quality time we got to spend with her," said Gary. "Visiting different countries and experiencing different cultures through her eyes was fascinating."

But it wasn't always smooth sailing traveling with a youngster, and the dads had to mindful of her limits and to make sure what they were interested in seeing, was also interesting for her.

"Museums don't always hold the same appeal for children as they do for adults!" elaborated Gary. "We tried to find exhibits that would interest all three of us."

Bath, England

As a gay dad family touring many countries, both Gary and Trevor can attest to not experiencing any hostility. They admit that they kept to fairly liberal countries with perhaps Singapore being the only outlier, but they experienced only hospitality towards their family.

5 Bits of Advice to Other Gay Dads Considering a Long Vacation

#1: "We used London as a base while in Europe. It was "home" so we didn't have to take all our belongings every time we traveled to a different place."

#2: "You have to find things to do that will interest your child. You won't be happy if they're not happy."

#3: "Use a babysitter on occasion so you can have an adults night out or to do things you'll enjoy but know your child won't."

#4: "If possible have friends and relatives visit you while you're traveling. It's a good reminder of home so it provides an added sense of stability for your kids."

#5: "Find other kids for your child to play with. We went to lots of playgrounds throughout the world!"

I know our bags are packed! What about yours?

Capri, Italy

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In the last week, we've seen two upsetting incidents involving gay dads and the airlines: Southwest didn’t allow a gay dad family traveling with their kids and an 83 year old grandmother board together and United detained a gay dad for having his hands too close to his son’s genitals.

Whether these incidents were intentional profiling or innocent mistakes is debatable, but the debacles were enough for some dads to start second guessing their travel plans.

But at least one airline has gone out of its way to send an unequivocal message that the LGBTQ community is welcome aboard their aircrafts. Iclelandair just released an ad featuring a gay couple as its protagonists. Watch the ad below:

Even better: the company didn't create the ad in reaction to the controversy at other airlines. The timing was purely coincidental.

“We just think it’s natural and normal for advertisement to portray diversity," Icelandair's brand manager Jón Skafti Kristjánsson told Gay Iceland. "LGBTI+ people enjoy travelling just as much as the next person, of course. To be honest, we didn’t intend to create an ad that would only appeal to gay people, although it is likely to raise special interest amongst them."

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Change the World

Gay Dads Featured in Enfamil Commercial

A new ad for Enfamil showcases two gay men talking about their daughter.

The best kind of inclusion is when you're not singled out but instead included right along with everyone else. This kind inclusion inspires others to pursue their own dreams and desires, just like any one else. As part of our popular culture, we know that brands are uniquely suited to inspire us in this way.

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Cooking with Kids: An Interview with David Burtka

David Burtka sits down with us to talk about his new book "Life is a Party."

When you're a young couple it's easy to order in or dine out on a daily basis, but when the kids come along, spending time in the kitchen to prepare nutritious and healthy meals for them can become a problem for some dads. We turned to gay dad and celebrity chef David Burtka who just published his debut recipe book Life is a Party, to get some advice, inspiration, and support as we take our baby steps in the kitchen.

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Politics

Daughter of Married Gay Couple Who Used Surrogacy Abroad Isn't Citizen, Says U.S. State Department

A decades-old law can be used to discriminate against gay couples who use surrogacy abroad.

James Derek Mize and his husband Jonathan Gregg are both American citizens, but their daughter, born via a surrogate, may not be, at least according to the U.S. State Department.

The New York Times took an in-depth look at this case in a piece that ran in the paper yesterday. While James was born and raised in the U.S, his husband Jonathan was originally born in Britain. That may be enough, according to the State Department, to deny their daughter citizenship.

"We're both Americans; we're married," James told the New York Times. "We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn't be able to be in our country."

According to decades-old immigration law, a child born abroad must have a biological connection to a parent that is a U.S. citizen in order to be eligible to receive citizenship upon birth. Children born via surrogacy are determined to be "out of wedlock," according to the Times report," which then requires a more onerous process to qualify for citizenship, such as demonstrating that a biological parent is not only an American citizen, but has spent at least five years in the country.

The intent of the law, which dates back to the 1950s, was to prevent people from claiming, falsely, that they are the children of U.S. parents. But LGBTQ advocates argue this archaic policy is being used intentionally to discriminates against same-sex couples, who often have to rely on donors, IVF and surrogacy in order to have biologically children, and are thus held to a higher standard.

"This is where our life is. This is where our jobs are," James told the Times. "Our daughter can't be here, but she has no one else to care for her."

Read the whole story here.


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Couple That Met at the Gym Now Spotting Each Other Through Fatherhood

How two real New-Yorkers became two soft-hearted dads

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

Byron and Matthew Slosar, both 41, met ten years ago at one of New York City's Equinox gyms. "I asked him for a spot on the bench press," smiled Byron. The couple were married September 22, 2012.

Surrogacy was always the way Byron and Matthew wanted to become parents. They chose to wait and become dads later in life, until they had established careers and the financial means to pursue their chosen path.

They signed with Circle Surrogacy after interviewing a few agencies. "We immediately connected with their entire staff, particularly Anne Watson who lovingly dealt with my healthy neuroses on the daily for 1.5 years," said Byron. "They definitely personalized the service and helped us understand all 2,000 moving parts." The dads-to-be were also very impressed with how much emotional support they received from Circle.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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