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Portrait of Pride

The Globetrotter Guys

by Robert Adams
Taipei Pride 2023 L to R: Sion and Ben at Taipei Pride

It can be hard enough to live day to day life as an LGBTQ+ person, let alone go out of your comfort zone and travel!

L to R: Sion and Ben at Taipei Pride (Photos courtesy of The Globetrotter Guys)

The Globetrotter Guys (theglobetrotterguys.com) is an award winning gay travel and lifestyle blog that was created in January 2018 by Sion and Ben, a married gay couple from the UK who have been together for over fifteen years and share a passion for traveling the world.

They have partnered with many different companies and brands to help them promote LGBTQ+ related services, or enter the LGBTQ+ market. Ben has worked in the travel industry for over 14 years. He started his career winning awards as the best young modern apprentice in his first year, managing an international High Street travel agency in Manchester. He now focuses exclusively on The Globetrotter Guys.

Sion previously worked for an accountancy company before moving into the charity arm of the same corporation, helping young people into employment. Prior to this, he studied for a Masters in Physics at the University of Manchester. This combination of skills and experience has allowed them to grow their blog and social media presence quickly, understand the travel industry, and provide exceptional service to their clients.

According to Sion and Ben: “It can be hard enough to live day to day life as an LGBTQ+ person, let alone go out of your comfort zone and travel! We want to try and break down some of these barriers and make travel for LGBTQ+ people easier. We are doing this through sharing our own experiences, producing LGBTQ+ guides to destinations, and interviewing people from all around the world to find out what it’s really like to be LGBTQ+ in their countries. We hope to inspire, educate, promote safety, and get more people travelling!”

The Gay Village During Manchester Pride

The Gay Village During Manchester Pride

Where do you live, and why did you choose to make this your home?
Sion: Maybe the better question is where do we live currently?! We currently live in Manchester, but we have moved around a lot over the years, having spent short periods living in both Madrid and South Africa.
Ben: However, Manchester is where we first met back in 2008 and when it comes to living in the UK, we couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Manchester is the gay capital of the north with its famous gay village (aka Canal Street) which is just a 20- minute walk from our house. When choosing somewhere to live we need to know that we are going to feel comfortable as a gay couple so Manchester was always going to be a winner.
Sion: For now! We do have our hearts set on relocating back to Madrid eventually.

Where did you first meet?
Sion: We first met in Manchester in 2008 when we were 19. I was in my first year of university and it was my final night out before heading home to Wales for the summer. For Ben who lived in Halifax (one hour from Manchester) it was his very first gay night out ever. I was not fully out at the time, but the one friend who knew kindly commandeered the night out so that we ended up in a gay club, and that’s where I met Ben, on the dance floor at a nightclub called Poptastic.

Maspalomas Gay Beach, Gran Canaria

Maspalomas Gay Beach, Gran Canaria

Where did you go on your first holiday together and why?
Ben: When we met I worked as a travel agent so I was always looking out for good deals. However, given Sion was at university on a student budget and I was an apprentice travel agent at the time, we had to look at somewhere cheap and cheerful. We ended up booking Gran Canaria, which looking back is comical because we had no idea quite how gay Gran Canaria was as a destination when we booked it at age 19! Gran Canaria seems to be the first holiday destination for a lot of gay couples we know!
Sion: Yes, and funnily enough it’s the place we have returned to the most times out of anywhere in the world since. It’s cheap, cheerful, has many great pride events, and is super gay! Tell us about yourselves and what you did for a living before you decided to start your own business.
Ben: My entire career has been in travel, from an apprentice in Halifax to store manager of an international High Street agency in Manchester, so I have been pretty consistent in the industry I have sat in.
Sion: I have been a little more mixed. I spent 5 years working at one of the big four accountancy companies in corporate tax and it may not shock you to know that whilst it was technically a good and well-paid job, I did not find the job enjoyable in the least. I then moved internally to the charity arm of the company and worked with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them gain employability skills. I genuinely enjoyed this job and loved seeing the positive impact for the young people.

Aruba during the Atlantis Gay Cruise for Sions Birthday, 2023

Aruba during the Atlantis Gay Cruise for Sions Birthday, 2023

Speaking of starting you own business, when did you decide to make the big move and what was your inspiration to it?
Sion: This has a two-part answer because it was quite a while before we realized there was potential for a small business to be born out of what we were doing. In 2018 we decided to quit our jobs, take our life savings, and leave on a one-way flight to travel for as long as possible and end up in New Zealand on a working holiday visa. At the same time, I had seen people set up travel blogs, including gay travel blogs, and thought ‘why not set up our own.’ I learnt how to create a website, came up with a name, and then started learning about social media and set up our Instagram account @theglobetrotterguys. It wasn’t until 6 months into travelling when we had our first collaboration with Celebrity Cruises that we had the realization that there was a need for businesses to engage with LGBTQ+ travelers and that having grown our audience, this was something we could offer.
Ben: We continued building our brand, but then of course Covid came along and travel stopped. We had to get our old jobs back, but the whole time during Covid we never stopped creating content, writing, and engaging however we could. This meant that we still came out of Covid strong and when travel opened again, we were ready to hit the ground running.
Sion: So that’s when the real big move came. In January 2023, 5 years in, we both gave up our salaried jobs and went 100% self employed hoping that we would be able to earn enough from The Globetrotter Guys to pay our mortgage and get by. It’s now 2024 and we are still here. It’s been tight and it’s been tough, but we are continuing to work hard to build our business up.

When did you get engaged, and who proposed to whom?
Sion: We got engaged on February 8, 2014, which is easy to remember as Ben proposed to me on my 25th birthday! It was all under a ruse as he had taken me to New York for my birthday and on the night itself, took me to the rooftop of hotel for a birthday surprise. He had the hotel clear the rooftop of snow, set up a table with music, wine, and roses, and limit access so it was just us. This is where he proposed, and to say I was impressed would be an understatement!

Wedding in Chester, 2017

Wedding in Chester, 2017

Where did you get married and when? Please describe what this experience was like and what it meant to you.
Ben: It took a few years before we actually got married. We got married in March 2017 in Chester, which is roughly halfway between Wales (Sion’s family) and Yorkshire (Ben’s family). It was a super emotional day with so many smiles, laughs,
and happy tears.
Sion: Haha yes, we were emotional wrecks but in a nice way, we could hardly get through our vows without crying! I think its an interesting question in terms of what it meant to us because in my mind, it doesn’t or shouldn’t change anything— you are already solid together and that’s why you can get married rather than getting married to become solid. What I felt was really special is something I did not realize until later; this was probably the one time in our lives that we would have all the people we loved in one room at the same time and that meant a great deal.

Where did you go on your honeymoon, and why did you choose that particular destination?
Ben:
We wanted somewhere hot with a balance of beach time, activities to do, and specifically somewhere good for scuba diving.
Sion: We also wanted to choose somewhere that was a good value as we wanted to do a three-week long honeymoon!
Ben:
The Philippines ticked all these boxes and ended up being the perfect choice. We split our time over three different areas as we wanted to see different things, but not feel too rushed. We started on Cebu Island known for its canyoneering adventures, then to El Nido known for its beauty and incredible diving, and then finished on Boracay known for its beaches. I think we are overdue a visit back!

The Castro, San Francisco

The Castro, San Francisco

Please describe what it means to be a gay couple traveling the world. What are some of the biggest challenges and the best rewards?
Sion: When we get asked what we mean by gay travel and what it means to travel as a gay couple, for me I find it helpful to explain by thinking about your own personal travel checklist. For a lot of non LGBTQ+ people, their checklist will focus on the activities, the weather, the hotel etc., but the key difference when traveling as agay couple is that this checklist often starts with ‘is it even legal for me to exist in this country?’ There are a lot of extra, quite serious safety considerations to make when planning and during a trip. Even with the best laid plans in the world it’s hard to ever be completely safe and away from homophobia. Sometimes people may choose to compromise and go back in the closet, but that’s a very personal choice, something we would prefer not to do.
Ben: In terms of rewards, being in a minority can also bring people together and we feel privileged to have met so many incredible people from around the world that we might not have met otherwise, simply because we might attend LGBTQ+ events or seek out safe spaces to find our tribe so to speak. I think another reward that might not be so tangible or obvious is the long term impact of being out and being visible in a destination, you never know who might spot you travelling as a gay couple and take some comfort or strength from it, especially if they themselves are not yet out.

Have you traveled to any countries that you think LGBTQ+ people should avoid visiting?
Sion: It’s hard to say. On the face of it, no; and that’s because we have chosen where we travel to quite carefully. There are some destinations we visited during our first backpacking trip in 2011 that looking back could be questionable to visit now. Back then there was less information on social media and we were quite naïve to the nuances of travelling as a gay couple. Now we know more about anti-LGBTQ+ laws in different countries. For example, in Malaysia we would approach things differently. However, it is worth saying that when we went to Malaysia, we had a positive experience and know that friends that have travelled there more recently have had positive experience. The tricky thing when thinking about those destinations is that you might have an ok experience as a tourist, but a local person would not receive the same treatment. It’s important to remember you may well be in a tourist bubble and you should not forget the reality could be very different for a local.
Ben: Ultimately, we would never say categorically boycott a destination. LGBTQ+ people exist everywhere and visibility is important, however, your safety must always come first and should never be compromised and we feel that should be the deciding factor in where you visit.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

You recently posted a reel on Instagram titled: “Why we hold hands? And why it sometimes scares us…” Tell us about this.
Sion: We wanted to post this because it’s such a small simple act, but one that can attract some big consequences. We wanted to give non-LGBTQ+ people a glimpse into one of the daily things we have to be very conscious about and it was interesting to hear how shocked people were in the comments that we have to give holding hands so much thought.
Ben: We wanted to share the reasons why it was a positive thing to do, and also why it was scary.

In terms of why we do it: #1–Neither of us ever saw a gay couple hold hands until we were both adults. I think seeing that when we were younger would have really helped us both. #2–Representation. You never know who’s watching and who might be positively impacted by seeing gay couples holding hands. #3–Because we are a couple who love each other, simple as that (although of course it’s not that simple). #4–Normalization. That we even feel the need to make this post speaks volumes. Seeing an LGBTQ+ couple holding hands should be something and nothing. In a few places it is, but most places aren’t like that. #5–Why shouldn’t we?



However, we still get scared to hold hands and sometimes we do let go because: #1– Physical violence. Some people can get violent if they see you holding hands. Even here in Manchester we’ve had bottles thrown at us. #2–It’s exhausting trying to constantly be alert and judge your environment. We often see people ahead and then go through a whole process of should we let go, will we be ok, etc. #3–Verbal harassment. Again, this happens a little too often. Getting called slurs can be scary.
Sion: We posted this for all the above reasons and expected as usual to receive both positive and negative engagement, however we did not expect the post to blow up as much as it did and to date it is still our top performing post.
Ben: One of the things that surprised and touched us the most from the comments on this post, were the sheer number of positive comments from parents of gay children, all sharing the same concerns and hopes for the future for their own children. It was really heart warming to read.

In Milan for the IGLTA Travel Conference

In Milan for the IGLTA Travel Conference

What travel destinations, that you haven’t been to yet, are on the top of your must-visit list and why?
Sion:
We are constantly talking about our bucket list and trying to manifest it! We actually hit our number one bucket list destination this February! We ended up on a cruise to Antarctica, where we were able to kayak with whales and walk amongst the penguins. We both said this was the best travel experience of our lives and we don’t quite know how to top it!
Ben: Moving on to our next must-visit places, we really want to do the Galapagos Islands. We love destinations that offer incredible wildlife and unique experiences, and if we could scuba dive and see a hammerhead shark, we would be very happy!
Sion: When it comes to looking at must-visit destinations for the gay scene, we are embarrassed to say we have not yet made it to Puerto Vallarta! We have many friends that go regularly, and it looks incredibly fun and super gay, so that is pretty high on our gay bucket list. Equally, we learnt this year about how LGBTQ+ friendly Tahiti is and always has been, something that we are sure many people are not aware of. We are very keen to visit more destinations that people might be surprised to find out how LGBTQ+ friendly they are.


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