Travel

5 Fabulous Tips From Gay Dads for Vacationing with Kids

A family vacation with young kids is harder a vacation at all... unless you head this advice from our seasoned gay dads travelers!

It's the summer holidays, and that means family vacation! Now, vacations with kids under 8 might make you break out in a cold sweat, but we've got some tips for you from fellow gay dads to help make family trips easier. From road travel to flying, to helpful planning hints while away, these dads have got you covered.


Tip #1. Skip Morning Flights! 

Christian and Brad with their 2 year old son, on vacation at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

As frequent flyers before having a kid, Christian and Brad had to get used to the added time everything took at the airport. From checking bags - they rarely did this before becoming dads - TSA screening, boarding... it all took much longer. Here's their tips to avoid the long waiting times:

  • Avoid early mornings flights to skip the rush
  • Get to the airport early, and find the amenities for families. At SFO there are nurseries by the gates with comfy chairs and changing tables and most airports have playgrounds.

"Joe turns 3 in October and has been on 24 flights—we are finally getting the hang of it!"

Tip #2. Pick a Hotel with a Pool

Derek and Asher with their 3 year old son on vacation in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

These dads recently went on a road trip from NYC to Tennessee to visit family. "The highlight of our trip was getting to see our family and spending some important quality time with our son's Grammy, uncle, aunt and cousins. We love getting to take our son to new places, visit family and even some of our favorite places to visit from our childhood!"

Some of their tips for the long road trip:

  • Pick a hotel with a pool. For road trips requiring a hotel stay, always pick one with a pool. An early riser gets to swim before getting in the car.
  • Seemingly spontaneous gifts. We like to pack little wrapped "gifts" that will help keep our son entertained during the traveling. As we notice him getting more antsy we pull out a mini gift.
  • Plan activities. I would also recommend planning activities ahead of time that you know will motivate and excite your little one. Even simple things like stopping for ice cream or pizza can totally be an icing on the cake of a fantastic day!
  • Pack the comforts. Pack your child's favorite stuffed lovelies, blanket and even a pillow to make their travel bed feel as close to home as possible.

Tip #3. Involve Your Kids in the Planning

James and Owen with their three sons on a Disney Fantasy Cruise.

These London dads love to travel and take there three adopted sons to Disney World, on a Disney Cruise or to the Caribbean. With three kids, they definitely have some great tips!

  • Be prepared for waiting time. Have activities for the kids to do from coloring in little travel toys and I hate to say it electronics. Trust me this is when they can keep everyone calm and in the holiday spirit
  • Get the kids to help with the planning. Having the children involved in the holiday planning makes them feel a part of it, and when it's not going to plan they are more with supporting it instead of throwing a wobbly.
  • Schedule in YOU time. Find places where you get a least an hour of your time. We love a Disney vacation or a cruise because we get Daddies time, usually to talk about our boys. Finding a hotel that give you a couple moment is so important for everyone sake.

Tip #4. Bring LOTS of snacks

Duane and DeVere on the recent trip to explore Portugal with their son Reed.

This DC family that love to travel! Their favorite vacation with their son was to Uruguay, and the love to experience new cultures, meeting people whose experiences are different from their own. "We also love to show our son how magical the world is beyond just his day to day experience." Here are some great tips that have worked for them:

  • Bring lots of snacks for flight. You never know when the next meal might be!
  • Build in some good outdoor/ playground/ running-around time each day.
  • Don't overload the itinerary and stay flexible. Don't try to do marathon sightseeing. Intersperse activities with down-time throughout the day.
  • Expose your kids to new sights, smells, tastes and sounds. Reed learned to identify church bells and developed a taste for fresh grilled fish.

Tip #5. Do a test run

Erik and Adam recently went on our first trip with our two baby girls

These dads learned a lot from their first trip with their 19-month-old twins - a road trip to Los Angeles from Phoenix, Arizona.

  • If you're trying anything new during your travels, as in a different sleep set up or different foods, do a test run before you leave so your child can start to adjust before the trip. For example, our girls have slept in their cribs since birth, but we couldn't pack them for our recent trip due to space. So we bought a couple of portable pack-n-plays and had our girls nap in them a couple of days before we left so they could get used to them.
  • Pack a variety of things (like toys, books, etc.) for your little ones and throw in a couple of new items that they haven't seen/played with before. Especially for long road trips, if the kids don't want to nap, you'll need something to keep their attention!

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Change the World

Miami Tourism Board Releases Vacation Guide for LGBTQ Families

Miami isn't just about circuit parties! The LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide showcases many options for queer parents, too.

As gay people, it can be difficult to find vacation spots that are LGBTQ-friendly out of the normal travel "fruit loop" — New York, Mykonos, San Francisco; repeat. For those of us with kids, the Venn diagram of destinations that are both queer and kid friendly can seem practically non-existent.

Fortunately, that's starting to change as the tourism industry realizes that LGBTQ families are a growing segment of vacationers. One city to quickly pick up on this trend is Miami. While the gays have long flocked to Miami for party weekends, the city has also recently noticed an uptick in the number of LGBTQ visitors who are parents. In response, Miami's tourism board release a guide, LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide, that includes loads of options for queer parents and their kids. Amid Miami's legendary circuit parties, it turns out, are tons of family friendly things to do — like the Museum of Science, an eco-adventure theme park, and other kid-focused events all year long.

Who knew?

"When I came onboard as Director of LGBTQ Marketing a little over a year ago, I found that our LGBTQ messaging was centered around our annual events," said Dan Rios, who works with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Massive parties like the White Party and Aqua Girl are a central part of the city's LGBTQ offerings, he said, but he was also worried the city was "developing a reputation solely as a party destination. "I want to diversify that message to highlight everything else that Greater Miami has to offer."

Hence the city's family-friendly guide that includes offerings within "art and culture, dining, beaches, fitness," Dan said. "We have unique and amazing family attractions that we had been promoting to our general audiences for decades. I saw this as an opportunity; an opportunity to introduce our attractions to LGBTQ families, and an opportunity to further promote our attractions -- it was a win-win."

Dan said the Bureau is also in the midst of a campaign that will prominently feature LGBTQ parents within different travel destinations throughout the city, which will be featured throughout both LGBTQ and mainstream websites, publications and advertising.

We applaud the effort to reach out to LGBTQ families, and hope more cities follow Miami's lead! Be sure to check out the guide here.

Gay Dad Photo Essays

Seas the Day! Pics of Gay Dads and Their Kids Beachin' it Up

Our Instagram is FLOODED with cute pics of gay dads at the beach with their kids... Here's some of our favs!

'Tis the sea-sun for some splashy summer pic of queer dads and their kids!

It's hot and that means tons of dads rush to the shores with their kids, resulting in the best Instagram shell-fie pics of the summer. Enjoy these great family photos of fathers enjoying the waves with their kids in the Mediterranean sea, the beaches of Hawaii and along the California coastline.

Seas the day!

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These gay dad families are soaking every last day of summer. Check out our photo essay of gay dads on family vacation!

Yes, it's already August, and yes, summer will be winding down in the months to come. But don't tell that to these gay dad families, who, at least according to their Instagram accounts, are taking advantage of these long summer days. Take a look at our photo essay of gay dads on summer vacation with their families, and try not to get too jealous like we did. ;)

If you didn't already know, summer is here. But ignore the mosquitos, muggy temperatures, and uncomfortable amounts of dripping sweat, and focus on the best months of family time! Summer means having tremendous fun outdoors with the kids, preferably near a body of water, and these dads are sharing us how it's down.

Check out this sun-drenched album, and if you're not already there, start daydreaming that you're poolside, fruity cocktail in hand, with happy kids playing (with minimal observation required).

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Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

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Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


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Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

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Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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