It’s a personal mission of mine to promote diversity in family travel. Online and in social media, the world of family travel can seem a bit homogeneous. Yet in real life, families come in all shapes, sizes, skin color, beliefs, configurations, orientations, income brackets, and abilities. It’s time we promote representation in family travel!
Fortunately, there are a number of family travel blogs out there who don’t necessarily fit the status quo. They can be families of color, LGBT families, single parent families, or any other variation of family.
Back in February, I reached out to a blogger friend of mine. We had a fun chat on the phone about travel philosophies and diversity in family travel. We also talked about our hopes for the family travel industry in general.
This post was updated on December 18, 2019.
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Bringing diversity in family travel
Rob Taylor, owner of one of my favorite family travel blogs, 2 Travel Dads, is someone I’ve been following for quite some time. A former Pacific Northwest parent, he and his family are always traveling to interesting locations. They travel both within the United States (they love National Parks!) and around the world. And they share their experiences on their blog.
I love that he represents a unique perspective, bringing representation in family travel. But I love even more that his goal with travel is to ultimately expand his kids’ world view. That is essentially every parent’s goal when they take their kids on a trip.
“You experience the world by being out in it,” he explained to me on the phone, “and I think it’s our job as parents to use travel as a means of fun, but also a tool for teaching our kids to be human beings.”
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Learning to travel with kids
For Rob, travel plays an important role in teaching his kids to be flexible and resilient. It also helps his family as a whole be more adaptable and minimize stress. As many parents know, traveling with kids allows for many opportunities for learning and growth.
Books like Kidding Around, compiled by Bradt Travel, share many stories of how families travel with their kids, and the many lessons they learn from those experiences. For Rob and his family, the frequency of travel helps make the experience less of a novelty and much more enjoyable.
“Repetitive travel has really helped us learn to travel with kids,” he said, “If you only do it once or twice a year, it becomes a stressful thing, and the kids also feel stressed. Traveling frequently has really taught us how to be efficient and also not to stress about the little things. When you’re traveling, anything can go wrong at any time, so why worry?”
Not that travel is always easy for Rob and his husband. Being an LGBT family, there are certain challenges that arise that other families may not necessarily experience.
“The challenge we face sometimes is being comfortable in our own skin when we travel in certain places,” reveals Rob.
Traveling with pride
Rob recounted to me times when he and his husband would be offered separate rooms, or separate beds. And there were even times when they would get stares or comments thrown at them while walking down the street.
“Knowing that we are indeed different than the majority of people in certain regions is very nerve-wracking,” Rob confided, “but it’s gotten better the more we travel with our kids, and knowing where we can go. It’s about traveling with caution, but also traveling with pride. And also not letting nasty comments or stares deter us from going out to see the world and experiencing things.”
It’s this idea of seeing the world that drives many family travel blogs to want to share their experiences with others. Rob and I talked at length about what it means to have diversity in family travel. We also talked about why it’s important for diverse voices like ours to be heard.
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The importance of representation in family travel
Rob remarks, “The need for us to be out there and to be visible is much stronger now. When you think about media coverage and what people are reading, it’s so crazy important for people to have something strong and fun and powerful to identify with.”
And 2 Travel Dads certainly embodies the idea of strong and fun and powerful. Their Instagram posts overflow with images of exploring the outdoors, kayaking in the water, or playing on the beach. And their Facebook Live posts document their many amazing travel adventures. Rob and his husband are showing other LGBT families that travel is possible.
“Having representation in family travel really speaks to people, and it pulls people,” he goes on to say, “it’s the visibility of more than one color skin or more than one exact type of family that’s important.”
Having quality in family travel blogging
“I’d like to see more people like us writing family travel blogs,” he adds, “people who are ethnically diverse, people who have different families, people with adoptive kids. We are still so under-represented. Thinking about the business of blogging, a lot of brands are starting to understand that investing in family marketing is really smart. I think that it’s important to have that diversity showing now, and to really have quality in family travel blogging.”
I couldn’t agree more. As a woman and a person of Asian descent, with skin that is on the darker end of the melanin spectrum, I feel it’s my personal duty to show other people like me that travel is possible. It doesn’t have to be limited to a certain demographic.
At the same time, Rob understands that there are certain things about family travel that are universal, no matter what your skin tone or sexual orientation. And no matter what your background, there is a certain amount of privilege in travel.
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Presenting travel from a family perspective
“Whenever we create content,” he explains, “we try to present it from the family perspective, and not just the gay family perspective. It makes it more accessible to people. It makes it so that they are hearing about what we’re doing as a family, and not what we’re doing as gay dads who have kids.”
In the end, we are all just parents, trying to share the amazing wonders that the world has to offer with our kids. No matter what our backgrounds, we all understand the value that travel can bring to our lives.
The family travel industry is not going to change overnight, but little by little, we can make steps towards inclusion and promoting diversity in family travel. Come join me in making this happen!
Note: All photos in this post are credited to Rob Taylor and 2 Travel Dads
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