Roxanne & Maartje Have Been Traveling The World Together For Three Years And Inspiring Other LGBTQ+ Travelers To Do The Same!
What is GAFFL?

GAFFL connects solo travelers with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

19th Jul | 7 min read
“Don’t limit yourself by boycotting countries just for its laws; it doesn’t do any good. There is a lot more possible than you think and the world can be really beautiful.”

Roxanne and Maartje, are a couple from the Netherlands. For three years, they have traveled around the world, and been fully nomadic, but since the beginning of 2020, they are based in Amsterdam again. On the road, they started Once Upon A Journey. Originally, Roxanne and Maartje wanted to write about fairytales all around the world, but many people wanted to hear their stories and see their pictures instead because they wanted to know what it was like to travel the world as a lesbian couple. Once Upon A Journey is a great resource for all travelers, but especially for LGBTQ+ travelers. You can also follow Roxanne And Maartje's adventures on Instagram, and Youtube and connect with them on GAFFL!

Why We Travel

We believe we were born with the travel bug! So when we met, we knew traveling together was inevitable. While studying, we did small trips to Europe. Our first-ever trip was to Rome (such a romantic city). After we both finished university, we sold everything we had, packed our bags, left the Netherlands behind, and started traveling full-time. We saved as much as possible and were ready to see more of the world.

We love meeting new people, trying different foods, seeing new places, and experiencing other cultures. And on our blog, Instagram and YouTube we share our stories from all over the world. 

Traveling as members of the LGBT+ community requires more precaution, as we aren’t welcomed with open arms everywhere. Still, in 2020, it’s illegal to be gay in over 70 countries! So when we go to places, it involves research. Is it safe to go here? Can we hold hands on the streets? Can we share the same bed? On our blog, we share tips for LGBT+ travelers. Visibility matters and we hope our travels can help LGBT people globally to have hope, to inspire them to think bigger! It’s our biggest belief that travel is for everyone and we’re determined to show how beautiful the world can be. We don’t shy away from countries that aren’t LGBT friendly, but we also celebrate the places that are.

We've Made Many Long Lasting Friendships During Our Travels

This is something we love about traveling. It’s so easy to meet other people, no matter if they are tourists or locals! And thanks to the online world we have met some of the most amazing people. 


Through Instagram, for example, we met New York City-based lesbian couple Gabi and Shanna (@27travels) and it’s always so good to see them! We even stayed at their house on our second visit to NYC and got to cuddle their adorable cat, Rascal. Later, we got to go on an epic trip to South Africa together!

How We Choose Where To Travel Next

Often we travel to certain countries for specific events, like Pride, or even a lantern festival in Thailand. We do still have quite some places on our travel bucket list that we want to go to (the more you travel, the longer that list will be). So if we get the opportunity to visit those places, we go! For example, in August this year, we saw an opportunity to go to Iceland and we took it. And we were blown away by the beauty of the country! 

When we started our world trip in 2017, we had the goal to see Maartje’s friends all over Asia, who she met while studying abroad in the United States. We didn’t want to fly to Asia, so we thought: why not go there by train?! We took the Trans Mongolian Express to Asia and visited Maartje’s friends in Singapore and South Korea and many other incredible places. 

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We Don't Shy Away From Countries That Aren't LGBTQ+ Friendly

Safety always comes first. We research the local laws, we try to find out what the public opinion is like (because laws are not always aligned with public opinion) if we know another queer person that traveled there – we reach out and ask what it was like. It’s always good to realize everyone’s experience is different. 

As a femme cisgender white girl couple, we have the privilege of being ‘invisibly’ queer in most places. If we pretend to be ‘just friends’ we can travel to many places safely. But that is not the case for all queer womxn or other people from the LGBTQ+ community. But it definitely changes our approach – we have to rethink our online presence in these countries for example and be careful where we do couple-photoshoots.

See the best travel tips in their lesbian travel guide

We Try To Travel Often

We traveled non-stop for 3 years. We weren’t based anywhere so we traveled from place to place. Sometimes we stayed at one spot longer than others, for example to house sit for a couple of weeks. The longest that we have been away from the Netherlands been 15 months. 

Since we are Amsterdam based again, we had planned to travel for a maximum of 4 weeks in a row. But 2020 looks a lot different than we thought (not just for us of course)! 

Recently, we went to Iceland and traveled around the country for 2.5 weeks; that was perfect! We always love to take our time while traveling. If you travel too fast it can be really tiring. 

Our Best Travel Memories

That has to be the lantern festival in Thailand! We visited 2 years in a row, in 2017 & 2018, as it’s such a magical experience. Thousands of lanterns floating into the sky, all around you.  Just like that one scene in Tangled (if you have seen that movie!). 

And during the first time we visited this magical festival, Maartje proposed to me! So this festival is extra special for us.

Another travel memory that we will never forget is swimming with hundreds of Mobula rays in Mexico. And the best part: them jumping out of the water! We went to Baja California Sur specifically to see these beautiful animals. And it was amazing!  

Some Things That Prevent Us From Traveling More

Right now, a pandemic! But normally not many things. Of course, we can’t travel to every country in the world. Or we can, but we need to be careful. As our relationship is still illegal in many countries. We are privileged to have a strong passport, so that doesn’t stop us. Sadly, we know this is a very valid reason that prevents many people from traveling more. Because we can work remotely, that is not an obstacle and so far, we don’t have any other ties that bind us to one location.

Family is the main reason why we decided to base ourselves in the Netherlands again – it is the reason we cannot imagine ourselves traveling for 15 months straight again. We would miss them too much – especially since we have adorable niblings (a gender-neutral term for nephews/nieces) now!

Our Travel Bucket List

We’ve never visited South America and we really want to go! Though maybe we should learn some better Spanish first. Other places/moments that are still on our travel bucket list: lavender fields in South France, Holi and Diwali festival in India, Northern Lights, and hot air balloons in Cappadocia. Those are on the top of our list!

Advice To Other LGBTQ+ Travelers

Our best advice is to ‘test the waters’ by traveling to destinations that are well known for being welcoming to the LGBT+ community. You should not have to worry about LGBT+ safety when you start out traveling, there are already a lot of other worries that travel brings! Some places we love are Thailand, Taiwan, Bali (not Indonesia, but Bali!), Sweden, and Mexico.

And when you are comfortable with traveling, you can absolutely travel to less welcoming places, if you want to! And if you are willing to adapt to local laws/opinions and gender-expectations, you can absolutely discover all the world has to offer safely. Going on a group trip is another way you can travel more safely in places. Don’t limit yourself by boycotting countries just for their laws; it doesn’t do any good. There is a lot more possible than you think and the world can be really beautiful (surprise!)!

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