"When you're two gay men starting a travel company for the LGBTQ+ community, you're already in the thick of it."

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Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughn
Credit: Andrew Herner

There's nothing quite like the excitement of planning a trip. From deciding where to go, to researching what to do, see, eat, and explore while you're there, every piece of the journey is a thrill. And we're just as excited as you are that both planning and actually taking trips are back on the table.

We're celebrating the return of travel, be it staycations around the block or finally taking those epic bucket list journeys you've long been dreaming of with new episodes of our podcast, Let's Go Together, which highlights how travel changes the way we see ourselves and the world.

In the first season, our pilot and adventurer host, Kellee Edwards, introduced listeners to diverse globe-trotters who showed us that travelers come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. From the first Black woman to travel to every country on Earth to a man who trekked to Machu Picchu in a wheelchair, we met some incredible folks. And now, in our second season, we are back to introduce you to new people, new places, and new perspectives.

In this episode, guest host Tanner Saunders, Travel + Leisure's experiences editor, sits down with newly engaged celebrity couple Jaymes Vaughan and Jonathan Bennett to chat about LGBTQ+ travel with their new company, OUTbound Travel.

"What we did was we looked at gay travel and things that we liked about it and things we didn't like about it in many aspects. And we said, 'OK, let's take all the things that we're not huge fans of and change them and create the experience that we want,'" Bennett says. "With that, I think comes the inclusion because when you're two gay men starting a travel company for the LGBTQ+ community, you're already in the thick of it. We know what we want and what our friends want and people that are friends of ours in the community and the allies want."

As Bennett and Vaughan explain, for their trips, the couple fully charters cruise vessels that become OUTbound ships.

"What we love is the idea of an intimate, more family-based experience, because we are all members of the LGBTQ+ community and we want our experience to feel like you're a family and a community at sea," Bennett says. "And so, the first thing we did was we reduced the size. The second thing we did was what we loved about the ships is we loved going and seeing the destinations, but what we love most is getting off the ship and getting out in the world and seeing everything."

Vaughan adds, "We're all about creating an approachable experience on board where everyone feels like they're part of the family. If you're ever a person that thought, 'Oh, gay cruising isn't for me because I won't fit in with this clique or that clique,' that's what OUTbound was created for. There are no cliques. It's all about us creating our family on board where everyone is welcome."

Ready to hear more from Bennett and Vaughan? Listen to our podcast, Let's Go Together, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Player.FM, and everywhere podcasts are available.