Travel

Rob and Chris: 2TravelDads, Two Travel Kids

“We had kids to spend time with them,” says Rob Taylor. “To show them the world, teach them and see how they respond to things — it’s really fascinating to see how their little brains work.”


Calling the forests of Suquamish, Washington, home, Rob and his husband Chris run the popular 2TravelDads blog, and are hailed by The Huffington Post as one of the “world’s top male travel bloggers.” Tales of adventure with sons “Panda”, 4½-years-old, and 14-month-old “Koala” (codenamed for privacy) to Mexico, Napa, and even across Puget Sound to Seattle, Rob and Chris not only paint vivid pictures of destinations perfect for kids, but sprinkle in a few kernels of wisdom on how to travel with charges so young.

Chris with the two boys at Fort Matanzas National Monument, St. Augustine, Florida

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Together for 11 years and consummate travelers before fatherhood, Rob and Chris were determined to give their kids the travel bug. Conventional wisdom dictates once children are in the picture, the freewheeling lifestyle of footloose parents must radically change to something more rooted and sedentary. Not so, says Rob.

“There’s no reason to change how we live and travel,” he adds. “You just keep on going and keep on having fun so they keep on having fun. With our oldest, we took him on his first flight when he was around 5 months old, and he has the cutest little passport picture. With our youngest, he was 2 months old when he went on his first flight.”

Parents may balk at the idea of globetrotting with young children, but Rob extols the virtue of getting kids in the air, on the road, or over the waves as soon and as often as possible. The logic is straightforward: the sooner the child learns how to travel, the sooner travel becomes that much easier. Judicious use of iPads, Yahtzee and the Endless Series family of educational games also makes for an easier commute, and with his kids, Rob has traveled only between Canada, the United States, and Mexico so far. With regards to air travel, Panda and Koala are never in a plane for more than six hours. Another tip: always use your own car seat even if airlines or ships offer one; you know the settings and your children are used to it.

Rob (left) with Panda at the back, and Chris (right) holding Koala in the front, Latourell Falls, Oregon

First Star to the Left ...

While Koala is still playing catch-up, Panda is old enough to understand when he is in a new destination; a favorite getaway for their fathers is Mexico, and Rob describes how when they step off a plane and get hit with the famously warm breezes of San Lucas or La Paz (contrasted to the sodden Pacific Northwest), his eldest immediately switches gears.

“He knows the second we get off the plane and it’s hot out that he has to probably start saying ‘gracias’ and ‘buenos dias.’”

However, aside from Panda telling Gays With Kids he “wuvs the beach,” his input into destinations as of yet remains minimal. That does not mean Rob and Chris aren't taking notes when something resonates. Rob relates how, even at an age when "The Berenstain Bears" is heavy reading, Panda has an intense fascination with a very adult pursuit: architecture. Serendipitously, during a trip to Florida, the family of four toured old Colonial-Age Spanish and British forts, with their turrets and parapets and bastions  — motifs very absent from modern-day buildings. Panda was enthralled.

“It was the highlight of his life!” Rob recalls.

Sunset at Jax beach, Florida

... And Straight On Till Morning

“When you're traveling with kids, you start to see them doing that when they are 2 years old,” Rob tells Gays With Kids. “They may not be the most articulate speakers at that age, but you can see what they enjoy and the things that really stimulate their brains.”

Moreover, by the age of 2, children develop all the neurons they will ever have in life and are primed and ready to go about the business of learning the great, wide world. It is a foregone conclusion that children are, for better or worse, hardwired to absorb information wholesale, and it is that nearly unlimited capacity for learning Rob and Chris want to use to their sons’ advantage.

But some concessions have been made. “Since our youngest was born was we’ve had a lot less beach vacations because a baby on a beach is kind of a nightmare,” Rob laughs ruefully. “It is really difficult to keep a baby under control with sand all around; it’s just such an interesting texture that they have to get into it and put in their mouth.”

So the beach is out. The county’s vast array of state and national parks, however, are very much in (check out Gays With Kids' profile on travel to Niagara Falls). They are family-friendly in the truest sense, easy on the wallet ... and are nowhere near sand.

“The next place we are going is northern California to tour Yosemite, Sequoia, Redwood and Kings Canyon National Parks,” Rob says, and goes on describe how the parks have long been on their itineraries, “They’ve got great history; they’ve got great nature. Put those together with camping and lodges and they are great for kids.”

Family hike in Glacier National Park, Montana

Been There, Done That?

Very young children are still a long way away from the jaded teenager stage; going to the same vacation spot over and over again, at least in the beginning, will not result in the dreaded eye-roll. Rob notes that even if they visit the exact same place they did a year or even a few months before, both his children find something new they missed on the previous go-around. But in what may not come as too much of a surprise for any parent, Rob and Chris found the unpredictability of big-city urban environments more than a little nerve-wracking.

“We live in a place where we leave our doors unlocked and we have a huge yard; there’s trees all around us,” Rob says. He found that going from that to downtown Seattle while Chris was attending a business event there was more jarring than going to a place where Spanish is the lingua franca.

“Even though we had a great time going to Pike Place Market and seeing them throw fish, we were for the most part stuck in the hotel because you can’t necessarily take your kids out in downtown Seattle and just chill on a corner. You don’t know who is around you.”

It is those kinds of forthright accounts that make 2TravelDads as popular as it is. Not that the Taylors badmouth a locale; in a world where almost every destination bills itself as family-friendly, they make it a point to get into the details and “degrees of.” Some places are simply more friendly than others.

“We get to do things that I thought I would never get to do with my kids, like take them places and go on tours and stuff that I never got to do when I was little,” beams Rob, giving every sign of a life well-lived, well-loved, and, of course, well-traveled. “And we don’t want to leave our kids at home because they would miss out on that!”

Taylor Family on a ferry at Fort Matanzas National Monument, St. Augustine, Florida

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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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The first day of spring has sprung and we're already thinking of family vacations! For travel ideas for your gay dad family and also for excellent photos, we didn’t have to look further than 2TravelDads, the gay dad travel blog that goes from one adventure to the next (and we travel along vicariously). Check out some photo inspo and travel guides from the two dads who can't get enough of traveling and exploring with their two sons.

 

Yosemite National Park, California

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After a Heartbreaking Loss, These Adoptive Gay Dads Learned to Open Up Their Hearts, and Home, Once Again

After the death of their three-month-old daughter, Nick and Sean struggled to go on. But with the help of their adoption agency, friends and family, the dads welcomed a baby girl into their family last fall.

Nick Bryan and Sean McGuire, who live in Columbus, Ohio, have suffered heartache that no parent should ever have to endure. They became first-time dads in 2016 when they adopted a baby girl who was born two months premature. Sadly, their daughter did not make it to 4 months, and passed away due to premature complications. The dads struggled to go on. But with the support of their family, friends and a wonderful adoption agency, they tried again, and in November last year, another little girl was born, and she had two daddies ready to love her with all their hearts. Here's their family's story.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

When Traditional Adoption Wouldn’t Work for This Tennessee Gay Couple, This Woman Stepped in to Help

A woman who had formed her own family through IVF after struggling with infertility not only offered this gay couple her extra embryos -- she offered to serve as their surrogate.

Justin and Matthew live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and have been together for 11 years. They met through mutual friends and the first time Justin saw Matthew, he knew there something special about him. They both wanted children, and after almost 4 years of dating, they decided to begin their journey to parenthood.

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Change the World

Federal Judge Rules Against Adoption Agency's Attempt to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Parents

Many challenges to LGBTQ adoption continue to exist, however, including a Federal amendment that would grant tax-funded adoption agencies the right to discriminate nationally.

This week brought us some much-needed good news in the fight to protect LGBTQ adoption rights: U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker ruled that Catholic Services Society (CSS) violated the city of Philadelphia's Fair Practice Ordinance due to the organization's refusal to work with prospective parents' based on no other reason than their sexual orientation.

The decision is the result of a suit brought by CSS against Philadelphia. Last May, the city announced it was suspending foster care placements with two agencies, CSS and Bethany Christian Services, given their refusal to place children with LGBTQ prospective parents. While Bethany Christian Services ultimately agreed to stop discriminating against same-sex parents, CSS sued the city instead, and lost.

Judge Tucker found that no "substantial burden" existed on on CSS's religious exercise in providing foster care to children, writing that, "In essence, if CSS provides its services consistent with the minimal requirements of the all-comers provisions of the Fair Practices Ordinance, then CSS may continue to provide foster care to children.

Elsewhere around the country, however, the news on LGBTQ adoption rights has been much less encouraging. Over the course of the year, news hasn't been great for the LGBTQ community's adoption rights. Over the course of the year, a slew of anti-LGBTQ adoption measures have been cropping up in state legislatures all across the country. At the federal level this month, Republicans passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that if enacted will allow tax-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ adoptive parents on the grounds of religious freedom.

Get Involved!

Want to take action? Look up your federal representatives here and demand they reject the inclusion of the anti-LGBTQ amendment in the appropriations bill passed by Republicans earlier this week.

Have you experienced discrimination as a potential gay adoptive or foster parent? We want to hear about it. Contact us at dads@gayswithkids.com and tell us about your experience.

And stay tuned to Gays With Kids as we continue to monitor and report on developments in anti-discrimination protections for adoptive LGBTQ parents, on both the state and federal level.

Change the World

Gay Dad's Family Car Vandalized with Homophobic Slur in Tennessee

"Sometimes people do things to try and make you sad," Michael told his sons following the incident. "But we have to be better than that."

Michael Quinton, a gay man living in Dandridge, Tennessee, had just arrived at home on July 6th when he noticed the damage done to his car. His tires were slashed, the car seats sliced up, and the radio rendered useless by a sharp object.

"My first reaction was a flood of every emotion," he said. "Angry, mad, sad, disheartened. As I took a look at the vehicle I saw more and more damage."

The physical vandalism, however, was nothing compared to the emotional damage inflicted by this next part of the crime: the word "fagot" had been etched into the side of his car.

Though Michael was clearly the intended target of the crime, he was particularly worried about how the incident might affect his two sons, Blake and Clayton, whom he had adopted with his ex-husband.

"I called my mom who lives a few minutes away to come sit with the boys as an officer was coming out," Michael told Gays With Kids. "At that moment I didn't want them to see the vehicle or the words carved into it.

Michael called the experience "eye-opening," adding, "Come what may I have to ensure [my sons] are taken care of. I have to show them that love wins and without a doubt there is nothing wrong with the way you love. One day they very well could help change the climate in this country."

As far as the perpetrator, Michael has his suspicions of who might behind the damage, and has shared them along with some potential evidence with the detective involved. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime. Michael has spent most of life in east Tennessee and says this was the first time he had ever experienced an act of hate. From sharing this horrible experience, a lot of people have reached out to Michael and his family to send words of support and kind messages. But Michael is still worried.

"In the end, the tone of this country has done a 180," he said. "I honestly feel worried that things will continue to happen to families like mine or anyone viewed different in others' eyes."

New data has shown that hate crimes have risen 12% in the past year, and that is only those that are reported. The African American community has been the most targeted, followed by LGBTQ people.

Michael with his kids

The damage to Michael's vehicle has also been a blow to family, symbolically, he says. Michael is recently divorced from the boys' second dad, and is now raising them full-time. The car, a bright blue Kia, came to represent so much more than a vehicle; it meant a new beginning for Michael and his boys after the separation.

"So many memories have been made in that vehicle over the last 18 months," shared Michael. His youngest son, Blake, "processes things a little different than your average 7 year old," Michael says. "You take away routine, structure, consistency, security and he doesn't do too well."

Since the incident, the family has been comforting each other by sleeping together on the couch every night. Michael has always kept an open conversation with his kids, whether it be about their adoption (Blake originally came to Michael through kinship guardianship, and Clayton is Blake's biological older brother whom Michael later adopted as well), divorce, and now this.

"I told them that sometimes people do things to try and make you sad," said Michael. "But we have to be better than that and know that we can't stop loving and that we have each other and I wouldn't allow them to be hurt. We also have to be able to forgive in order to find peace."

The car, sadly, is beyond repair. Fortunately, Michael has a vehicle supplied by work he can use for family drop offs, baseball practice and medical appointments. But eventually, he'll need to get his own car again. As a single-income father, Michael has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the insurance deductible and/or possible replacement of the car.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Michael didn't miss an opportunity to through some well-deserved shade back at the perpetrator of this heinous act. "Who spells faggot..... fagot?" he wrote on a post he published to Facebook shortly after the incident. "Doesn't most everyone have access to spell check with their phone? I mean come on!!!"

Fatherhood, the gay way

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