Kirstie Pike and Christine Diaz, the couple behind the production company On Airplane Mode, have traveled to some of the most beautiful places in the world, from the beaches of Tahiti and Bora Bora to the ancient desert ruins of Jordan. They also know that these breathtaking locales can be incredibly dangerous destinations for female travelers. That’s why this Los Angeles-based sapphic power couple would like to share their first-hand experiences with other jet-setting queer womxn, to inspire them to travel the globe while avoiding potential perils.
What are your top 3 favorite destinations of all time?
The Islands of Tahiti were such a magical experience for us. The luxurious overwater bungalows in Bora Bora were an unforgettable experience. Polynesian culture also recognizes a third gender known as mahu, meaning “in the middle” or neither male or female. Mahu people are not only accepted but embraced and throughout history were often caretakers of children and the elderly.
Jordan is another favorite destination for us. It was incredibly easy to navigate from the bustling city of Amman to get to Wadi Musa where Petra is and then the iconic red deserts of Wadi Rum that you might recognize from films like Aladdin, Star Wars, and Transformers. While the LGBTQ+ community is still not legal in Jordan, it is one of the most tolerant countries in the Middle East for LGBTQ+ people. We felt challenged to change stereo-norms and even found a small queer community in Amman.
Taiwan was absolutely incredible. We were so lucky to visit the country for over 3 weeks and it offers a fascinating blend of traditional and modern attractions and stunning natural landscapes such as Taroko Gorge and Sun Moon Lake. In terms of LGBTQ+ inclusivity, Taiwan has made significant strides in recent years. It became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage in 2019, demonstrating its progressive attitude towards LGBTQ+ rights. Taipei, in particular, is known for its vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, with numerous LGBTQ+-friendly establishments, events, and the annual Taipei Pride Parade.
Where are you based? How do you like the gayborhood?
We are currently based in Los Angeles as of September 2022. We are so grateful to be in a city that is welcoming, inclusive, and diverse and offers so much to do. West Hollywood aka WeHo, is a renowned LGBTQ+ enclave known for its vibrant nightlife, inclusive atmosphere, and iconic landmarks like the rainbow crosswalks on Santa Monica Boulevard.
What are your travel recommendations for queer female travelers?
Travel-worthy Events and Festivals: Plan your travels around womxn-centric events and festivals. Pride parades and festivals are celebrated in many cities worldwide, offering an opportunity to connect with the local queer community.
Safety Considerations: While most destinations are becoming more inclusive, it’s essential to consider the safety and legal status of LGBTQ+ individuals. Research local laws and customs regarding LGBTQ+ rights to ensure you are aware of any potential challenges or risks.
LGBTQ+-Friendly Accommodations: Look for LGBTQ+-friendly accommodations that prioritize inclusivity and provide a safe and welcoming environment for queer womxn travelers.
Embrace Local LGBTQ+ Scenes: There are very few queer femme-owned businesses still going so it is so important for us to support their business.
Travel Insurance: Consider obtaining comprehensive travel insurance that covers any potential healthcare needs, including specific coverage for LGBTQ+ issues, if available
Tell us more about On Airplane Mode.
We started On Airplane Mode in late 2019 and it has now grown to become a successful LGBTQ+-owned business with over half a million supporters. On Airplane Mode is a platform dedicated to inspiring womxn and the LGBTQ+ community to pursue their passions wholeheartedly while embracing their unique identities and celebrating love in all its forms. We believe that our unique perspective, combined with our ambition, can contribute positively to diverse and inclusive projects. By sharing our experiences as an LGBTQ+ couple, we aspire to amplify the voices of marginalized communities, champion queer representation, and challenge societal norms.
What’s it like working together as a couple?
Working together as a couple has been really great for us. As we live, work, and travel together, it is so important that we communicate and create separate lanes for our work efforts. It can at times be a challenging dynamic but we have a strategy that works incredibly for us to make this business our success.
What’s your worst travel experience of all time? How did you cope with it?
When we were backpacking in Vietnam, we got our phone stolen in seconds from a stranger on a motorcycle. It felt terrifying because we only took one phone with us that night in case something like that were to happen. The difficult part was trying to get back home at 2 am without service, any English speakers, and/or transportation. We luckily stumbled upon a few people within the village who helped us get to our hotel but it was definitely scary.
Do you have any funny travel anecdotes?
We didn’t have it on our list of places to travel to but we had to pass through the Malaysian airport on the way to Singapore, our next stop. When we were at the airport they denied Christine from entering the country because she didn’t have enough pages in her passport for new stamps. The only two options we had was to be deported back to the United States, or to send our passports back to the United States and wait for them to send us a new one in 3 weeks… which was what we decided to do. We decided at that moment to explore the entire country of Malaysia. We could have let this hiccup derail our entire trip, but we decided to make the most out of it and Malaysia is still one of our favorite countries to date!
What are your must-have travel essentials?
Must-have travel essentials are definitely our camera equipment. We love capturing the special moments and hidden gems within each destination. We are so passionate about sharing the moments for others to experience and make sure to express this within our content. Honestly, dry shampoo is also a must – it is a lifesaver on long trips!
This interview has been condensed.