What It’s like to Travel America As a Gay Couple Living in an RV: Episode 2 of Travel + Leisure’s New Podcast (Video)
Brad and Matt Kirouac are literally going together — but their journey isn't a regular vacation. This married couple from Chicago is on a quest to see all of America's national parks, and they're doing it in a 26-foot RV.
On Episode 2 of Let's Go Together, Matt and Brad share their experiences traveling around the country, what they've learned about the parks, and what the parks have taught them about their own lives.
Before they hit the road, Matt was traveling the world as a writer while Brad worked as an event manager for a maple syrup farm. Their busy lives didn't lend much opportunity for the couple to spend quality time together, so they decided to make a change.
"We thought, well, why don't we do an RV lifestyle?" Brad told Let's Go Together host Kellee Edwards. "We were really excited we would be able to do this together."
Along the way they've seen plenty of parks, including two of their favorites: Big Bend National Park in Texas for Matt and Biscayne National Park in Florida for Brad. But they've also been forced to adjust to life in an RV and the practicalities that come with that.
"Obviously we just don't have the space in a 26-foot RV," said Matt. "So it forced us to refocus on the things that not only we need, but we love the most and bring us joy and comfort."
The couple has also learned to navigate their identity as a married gay couple who find themselves, at times, in places that's don't always feel so welcoming. But that has never stifled their love of national parks, which as Matt said in essay for Travel + Leisure, are "a source of comfort and inclusion, especially as a hiking-obsessed gay man hoofing it through red states."
"One of my favorite things about the national parks is they do feel like very neutral places that kind of transcend — all walks of life and backgrounds and like political alignments and all that," Matt said on the podcast.
Throughout their journey they've built their own community, Hello Ranger, to celebrate and educate people about the U.S. National Parks system. "Our goal is to showcase and support the communities that are connected through national parks, from families and van-lifers to retirees, artists, educators, diverse groups, and those with disabilities," they share on Hello Ranger's website. "National parks are the rare places where we can all find common ground, and become #UnitedByNature."
The couple has their own podcast, are ambassadors for different regions and parks, and are even launching a social community to truly share their love of the great outdoors.
"Don't let fear or anxiety dissuade you from carving your own path and exploring whatever it is you want to explore, whether it's a national park or a different city or a small town, whatever it is," Matt said.