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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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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World Adoption Day, taking place this year on Friday, November 9, is always an exciting opportunity to celebrate gay, bi, trans dads who created their families through adoption. But as our friends and supporters at Dove Men+Care like to remind us, this is also a great opportunity to consider the impact a national paid paternity policy could have on all our families, especially adoptive and LGBTQ ones. Driving the conversation beyond our Father's Day partnership, Dove Men+Care continues to be committed to championing paternity leave for dads everywhere, spotlighting the importance of taking as much time as you can during those early moments with your new child.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

We'd Fly Across the World for Our Baby Boy

As two gay dads prepare to take on a new adventure–launching a baby food business–they reflect on the path that got them there.

As we prepare to launch our next life adventure – a baby food business – we've been taking time to reflect on our journey. From softball in Chelsea, to flying 5,000 miles for the birth of our son, to turning our passion for childhood nutrition into a company, it's been nothing short of an epic fairytale.

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Gay Dad Life

From Stay-at-Home Dad to Work-at-Home Dad

In our latest Daddy Square podcast, Craig Sauer explains how being a stay-at-home gay dad is tougher in some ways than a "traditional" job

Don't mislead yourself: Stay-at-Home parenting is a full-time job - or more. It may be even tougher than the 'traditional' job because there're no days off, no sick days, no Medical, Dental and Vision coverage and no bonuses at the end of the year. Nevertheless, many dads choose to stay at home to take care of the kid(s). Some of them do it out of need to give their kids the 100% care they've always wished for, others do it as a part of a complete change in their life's direction.

We spoke with Craig Sauer, who chose to stay at home and take care of his three kids until they were old enough that he could follow his passion of photography and turn it into a business involving 3D Real Estate photography. Craig talked about being jobless before the kids came along and what part that played in his committing to be a stay-at-home dad, his full-time daddy job, and the transition to being a WAHD: Work At Home Dad.

Craig says that having a stay-at-home dad can result in some guilt in the partner. Therefore, he advices to couples who consider having one of them stay at home to have the roles of each one of them clearly defined before the baby comes.

"Not that one person has to do everything," Craig explains, "but it will be easier if one person will be Chief Management Officer of the household.

"One of the choices that we made was that I was up all night with the kids, and I was like 'don't be guilty, go sleep. I need you to be able to make your decisions for your job to bring us money, and when I'm stumbling through the day so you'll be able to say hey I think you're boiling the baby instead of the dinner' or something. So going into this with those roles agreed upon and defined was really helpful to us."


Episode Credits:

Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen
Guest: Craig Sauer, Craig Sauer 3D
Music: Hercules & Love Affair, "Leonora" buy here
Articles referred to in this episode:
Most Americans say children are better off with a parent at home (Pew Research Center)
The Amazing Journey These Gay Dads Took To Build Their Family (Huff Post)
Stay-at-home moms turning into WAHMs (CNN)
Daddy Square: The Podcast, Episode 2
'The everyday sexism I face as a stay-at-home dad' (BBC)


Single Parenting

Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said.

Kyle Ashworth has four kids from a previous straight relationship. After ten years of marriage, he came out to his wife. "It was the most painful and wrenching experience of my life," said Kyle. "In the cold morning hours that coming-out-day in March, I began a journey of authenticity and honesty." Today, Kyle is 36 years old and ready to live his next chapter. But before we get to that, we need to look back at what led him to where he is now: an out and proud single gay dad.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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