Could you tell us a little about your story and what you do, for anyone who doesn’t know you yet?
We are Kirstie & Christine, an LGBTQ+ couple from New York City that left our day jobs to backpack the world. Our adventures have taken us from the streets of Southeast Asia, to beer festivals in Germany, and the deserts in Rajasthan. We are sharing our adventures through beautiful content on our Instagram @onairplanemode__to inspire our followers to find their passion for traveling, all while celebrating who they are and whom they love. We also have a blog for our travel guides, tips and experiences during our travel as well as more on our lifestyle here.
Tell us a bit more about the trip that changed your lives.
When we first met, we always talked about taking a long trip where we would just buy a one-way ticket and not have to worry about time. We estimated a 3-month trip but that eventually became 4 months then 5 months then 9 months and here we are. The more we traveled the longer our bucket list became. We discovered more about ourselves and found a real passion for photography and traveling. We loved learning about cultures and fully being immersed in other people’s lives. Our trip opened our mind in so many ways, we went through 13 different countries in 9 months and developed a wider view for the world. We created a deeper bond for each other throughout our experiences, we challenged ourselves to talk to people without speaking the same language, we learned how to navigate in all 13 countries. It truly has given us a new perspective on how we appreciate life and motivates us to continue learning about different ways of life.
What has been your favorite destination you experience together so far and why?
For Kirstie, Malaysia is by far her favorite and for me, the Philippines is my favorite destination. Of course, this always changes with every trip but as of now, these are places we are craving to go back to.
Malaysia had many of the same qualities: beautiful islands and generous people. However, what stood out to us the most was the food! Malaysia, especially Kuala Lumpur, is known to be Asia’s melting pot. The food has many different influences from all over Asia which makes the food some of the best we had. Another favorite about Malaysia was the wildlife encounters. Whenever you go to the island of Borneo you will find orangutans, pygmy elephants, and the endangered proboscis monkeys! This is just to name a few, but you often find them in the wild here and it is a beautiful experience being so surrounded with nature.
The Philippines was just so underestimated. There are thousands of islands to choose from that are so rich in culture. It was so interesting to see all the different dialects and culture when you jump from each island. We created a bond with the locals and it just was so freeing. We stayed on Siargao island the longest where we woke up with the locals every morning at 5am to go surfing until the sun rises then we’d go to a local eatery where it felt like our very own mom was feeding us. Afterwards, we’d go back out to surf during sunset and then dance the night away. If the people didn’t win you over, then the tropical landscape will. We saw some of the most beautiful marine life here with coral reefs that were so colorful and thriving.
Through your experiences, what has travel taught you? What lessons does travel bring to those who experience it?
Traveling alters our life each and every new destination we visit. From an eco-perspective, we’ve seen first hand locals struggle from global warming issues like not being able to find fish for their family or seeing stretches of bleached coral. We learn how to be more open minded, live a sustainable and healthy life, care for our environment, and most importantly to be kind. A few things we have also noticed is that even in countries less privileged than we are in America people are still so kind and generous. This is something that changes you to your deepest core. You are challenged with a new and humble way of living which you will carry on through your years even after you are settled down somewhere.
Have you ever faced any hard circumstances or issues as a traveling LGBT couple?
Being an LGBT couple, we run into hard situations even in our own country. When we first went traveling, we were definitely nervous seeing that a lot of these Southeast Asian countries it is still illegal to be gay. However, the more we traveled the more we saw there are LGBTQ+ people everywhere.
Coming from NYC where we were comfortable with public displays of affection, we found it a little hard to not be couple-y but we understood and respected the countries we traveled to. PDA generally isn’t appropriate there anyway, gay or straight, so we didn’t feel completely outcasted. Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines were the most open and receptive to our relationship. We actually went to Taiwan specifically for Gay Pride. Taiwan just had legalized same sex marriage in 2019 and was the first asian country to do so.
What piece of advice would you give to new female travelers ?
With any place you travel to, you should always do your research and be observant of your surroundings. You want to be as safe as you can and make sure you’re prepared to deal with anything that could go wrong. When you leave your comfort zone, you have to trust your instincts, be confident in your decisions and embrace opportunities that may push personal boundaries.
Why do you think it’s important for women, specifically, to explore the world?
It is important for women to travel and explore the world because it is empowering. It is becoming one and finding yourself. Being a woman and traveling has helped me discover what I like and don’t like, how I plan to spend my personal time, and has given way to help me realize what I truly value most in this world. Exploring the world gives you a sense of freedom to fully embrace all that you do, and to start loving yourself more just for being you.