Lesbian Travelers: Roxanne & Maartje from Once Upon A Journey

Lesbian Travelers: Roxanne & Maartje from Once Upon A Journey

with 23 Comments

There is “love at first sight”, and there is “friendship turning into relationship”.
When we found Roxanne and Maartje on Instagram, and saw the way they look at each other in their colourful travel photos, we were eager to know more about their love story… how they met, and what made them decide to travel together. Meet Maartje and Roxanne, the ladies behind Once Upon A Journey and full-time globetrotters since 2017!

 

Who’s that tall blonde girl? She’s taking my place as the funny tall blonde girl working here! She even works harder than me and people must like her much more – she’s so funny too.

 

We are Roxanne and Maartje, two Dutch girls in love with the world and each other. Our love story is definitely not one of love at first sight, but Maartje’s initial jealousy changed into friendly – and later romantic – feelings. Ever since, a lot of magic has happen, most of which we documented on our blog Once Upon A Journey.

 

Bitten by the Travel Bug

 

Yes, we’re your typical U-Haul lesbians! We were already living together in Amsterdam when our relationship started. But after five crazy-in-love-months, Maartje went studying abroad in the States. We were separated as long as we had been together. Luckily we had one week of travelling together – roadtripping Florida – and it was one of the best weeks of our lives! The travel bug bit us and that’s what hit us: we wanted to see more of the world. So a world trip was inevitable. We gave up and sold everything in 2017 and left – not knowing when (and if) we will return home. We are travelling ever since!

 

 

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Two lesbians in… Russia?!

 

We chose Russia as the first country to travel to. Frankly not many relatives were happy about that. Russia isn’t well known as a country that warm heartedly welcomes LGBT people. But we found out we can easily walk hand in hand as a femme lesbian couple, as we noticed many Russian girls do it. We didn’t show further PDA, to protect ourselves. Ever since, we have travelled to many countries with anti-gay laws and we refuse to boycott countries for that reason: we truly believe travelling is for everyone.

 

Meeting LGBT Locals

 

In every country we try to meet LGBT locals, often they approach us through Instagram. To us, it’s incredibly important to meet them and hear their stories. Their stories can be so very different from the (negative) news stories you hear. For example, Malaysia is usually portrayed badly regarding same sex relationships, but after living and travelling in Malaysia for four months, we have a totally different perspective. We even met a flamboyant gay guy who’s fully accepted by the people in his city!

 

 

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Adapt or Out and Proud?

 

Sometimes people ask us ‘but are you really out and proud in public in countries you travel to?’ The answer is complicated, because in Malaysia public kissing is forbidden in general (also for heterosexuals), so of course we won’t be kissing. In general, Asian cultures aren’t big on showing and talking about relationships – it’s considered “private business”. In Mexico, on the other hand, PDA is everywhere (and same sex marriage is legal) so of course we were openly affectionate! So are we out & proud? It really depends on the culture and their beliefs regarding relationships in general.

 

Adaptation is key. Like we found out in Russia, you can hold hands without anyone noticing you’re a couple. If it’s illegal in a country – it’s even less likely they suspect we’re a couple: they don’t know how to recognise it.

 

Top LGBT destination

 

Our absolute favourite – and worry-free – country is Thailand. We keep coming back. Thailand actively markets itself as a pink destination and we always feel so welcome. Thailand still has undiscovered places too! Like the islands Koh Mak, Koh Kood and the romantic Red Lotus Lake in Udon Thani.

 

Travelling isn’t always easy, especially not as a lesbian couple. But the world is a beautiful place: go out there to see it yourself!

 

 

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Follow Mei and Kerstin:

Travelers - Storytellers

Travelers at heart, Mei and Kerstin have been roaming the world together since 2002. Expats for over a decade, they used to live in Bordeaux, Paris, Athens, and San Francisco. They recently returned to their motherland to get married, and decided to stay to re-explore Luxembourg in depth. While they both have a full time job, they continue to feed their wanderlust by traveling the world whenever they can.

23 Responses

  1. Carmen Edelson
    | Reply

    These photos are so absolutely beautiful! Traveling with a loved one is the best. What an amazing series!

  2. Jas
    | Reply

    I was literally just in Malaysia and had no idea public kissing isn’t even allowed! Roxanne and Maartje look like a lovely couple though. Not to mention, their travel photos are just gorg!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      We didn’t know that public kissing is forbidden in Malaysia neither! But since we rarely show PDA in our own country, guess we’ll be safe then!

  3. melody pittman
    | Reply

    What an awesome story. I love their IG photos. They should both be fashion models, as well, with their uncanny sense of style. 😉 My daughter is gay and while she hasn’t traveled the world (yet), I hate that she has to think about so much before being herself. Thanks for sharing your story. 😉

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Melody. It takes time to embrace one’s sexual orientation, but your daughter will certainly come around soon. Traveling – meeting people from different cultures, discovering other traditions and lifestyles – can also help with “finding” oneself. So we can only recommend your daughter to travel more! 🙂

  4. Ketki Gadre
    | Reply

    I love the story and the way they are inspiring everyone to travel together. They have stunning photos. This is a lovely feature.

  5. Astrid Vinje
    | Reply

    What a cute story! I often forget to consider how different the travel experience might be for LGBT travelers. I’m glad that it doesn’t stop Roxanne and Maartje from traveling, though.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes, it can be hard(er) for us LGBT people to travel the world as a couple. There were times when people treated us differently when they knew that we’re a couple. But this never stopped us from exploring the world, just like it doesn’t stop Roxanne and Maartje from traveling. 😉

  6. Tammie
    | Reply

    I love that they simply learn how the culture deals with relationships and act accordingly. I agree that travel is for everyone!

  7. Milijana
    | Reply

    I like their attitude of refusing to boycott countries with anti-gay laws. Yes, travel is for everyone everywhere. Go, girls!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Travel is for everyone, and all places in the world should be for everyone too! 🙂

  8. Drew
    | Reply

    I believe travel is all about breaking down stereotypes and discovering the truth about a place. I think we tend to want to label things these days for convenience, but most places I’ve traveled to have a diversity that is not promoted because we want a simple explanation of what that area’s experience is. People all have different personalities, and because we meet one person, or hear stories from the news, we can’t assume all people in an area are this way. I’m glad you’re getting to experience it. Travel is a beautiful thing.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      You’re so right Drew: we have to go, see and experience for ourselves before forming an opinion whenever possible, and not let the media influence us.

  9. tayaramuse
    | Reply

    What a great feature and story! Happy to hear that Thailand is such a friendly place for the LGBTQ community – cannot wait to visit myself!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Tayra. We haven’t visited Thailand neither! But it looks like we should do it soon!

  10. mohanaandaninda
    | Reply

    Isn’t it such a wonderful adventure to travel with the love of your life? Travelling also changes our perspectives so much…we think of Russia as non-LGBTQ friendly but both of you seem to have such a lovely time. Of course, it is important that we respect the local culture. I travel with my partner and PDA is a strict no-no in India. Some hotels wouldn’t even let unmarried heterosexual couples with an Indian ID stay together!

    Thanks for doing this series, Mei! We love to learn more about fellow travelers and their stories 🙂

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thanks for your comment Mohana and Ninda! Do women in India change their name on their passport once they’re married? Because here in Luxembourg you don’t, so people can’t know from our passports whether we’re married or not.

      • mohanaandaninda
        | Reply

        Some women prefer to not change their surnames but some hotels will ask for the wedding certificate! It’s a hassle really and therefore we enquire before booking.

        • Mei and Kerstin
          | Reply

          Oh dear, it must be awkward to carry around one’s wedding certificate all the time! Do you know if there would be a problem if we asked a double room when traveling in India? Would hotels ask or say anything?

          • mohanaandaninda
            |

            It’s not a problem for international travellers. Most 3 star and above hotels don’t care 😊

  11. Ryan K Biddulph
    | Reply

    Awesome guys! So fun to travel with the love of your life.

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