Parting Shots: Zoom Around The World With Bryan Herb

By @ 10/03/14 in Gay travel, ManAboutWorld, Parting Shots, Travel

kidsBryan Herb is a co-founder and co-owner of Zoom Vacations, a tour company founded to meet the evolving social, emotional, physical and spiritual needs of the gay and lesbian leisure traveler, as well as their families and friends. We asked him to provide photos for the Parting Shots section of this month’s issue of the magazine. Here are more photos of Zoom trips and a Q&A with the peripatetic Herb.

1. Why do you love luxury gay travel?

Like anyone who has been bitten by the travel bug, I love seeing new places and learning about different cultures. I notice that a lot of us in the LGBT community tend to be over-achievers and workaholics, so I especially appreciate seeing incredible destinations with like-minded people while staying in wonderful accommodations and enjoying once-in-a-lifetime activities. Luxury gay vacations are comfortable, enriching, and pampering, giving ample opportunity to recharge our batteries, and this is exactly what a vacation should do.

2. How far in advance do you plan the trip?

We start planning most of our tours at least two years in advance, but sometimes longer. We always want to have time to visit the destination first before offering it to our travelers. On location, we interview to find the best guides, inspect a wide number of hotels, and spend a lot of time finding unique activities and things we can create to make our tour truly experiential and unforgettable–stuff the average tourist wouldn’t do on their own, or that you need a group to do in order for it to be affordable, such as dining in a private mansion, or creating a cocktail party in a scenic locale.

ZoomCocktails

3. Who do you travel with?

Sometimes I love traveling with close friends, and sometimes I love traveling all by myself. Honestly, I also really love traveling with people I do not know because it is such a cool way to get to know others. I believe that traveling unites people, and some of my best friends are people who I met as part of a tour group. I also think it is interesting to travel with “strangers” because they introduce you to things that you may not have known about or thought about if you stay too much in your familiar circles.

4. What surprised you about luxury gay travel?

I have been doing this for quite a while, but I think when I started many years ago, I was concerned that luxury gay travel would seem snobbish. To the contrary, I have met some of the most gracious, down-to-earth and kind-hearted people through organizing these tours. And, I have also made great friendships with our partners around the world.

5. What do you know now that you wish you knew before your first luxury gay trip?

I wish I would have seen the importance of a good work-life balance. When we started Zoom Vacations, I was averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night, and I was spending so much time on little things that I now realize I didn’t need to. Today, I am working a lot smarter.

ZoomBRazilbeach

6. Favorite moment was …

Our group was in Varanasi India, and there were street merchants everywhere selling various things. One of our travelers, Mike finally succumbed to a young, adorable boy in ragged clothes selling the silver paint to anoint our foreheads and agreed to a sale which comes to about 2 dollars. The boy didn’t have change so Mike told him he could keep it. “No, sir” the boy says, “I will bring to you”.

We proceeded through the city streets and just when we had completely forgotten about the boy, he miraculously found us and presented Mike with his change, some of which was coins. Mike told him he could keep the coins, and the boy responded, “no, please, sir, give them to the poor people.” We were humbled to our core.

7. What could hotels do better to address your needs as a gay traveler (whether leisure, business or group traveler)?

Concierges at various hotels all over the world often know a lot about straight venues but sometimes will not know anything about gay venues. Of course there are exceptions and a lot of concierges are gay themselves and know quite a bit about gay nightlife. One thing that has improved markedly over the years is that most hotel personnel no longer assume that two men or two women in a hotel room need two beds.

8. Describe the most hilarious travel moment you ever had.

There have been many and probably many more funny than this one but the one that is coming to mind, is the time I was on a left on the flight and these flight attendant kept trying to offer me oysters, and as I looked at the plate it was this big hunk of meat. I kept saying, “that is not an oyster”. Other passengers started paying attention and other flight attendants got involved. Finally a flight attendant corrected her and said, “no that is not oyster that is ostrich.” Mystery solved. Of course there are countless funny things when one word takes on a totally different meaning in a different country. Even words like “fag” and “fanny” mean something totally different in the UK than they do in the States.

ZoomYoga

 

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Editor’s note: Bryan Herb is an inspiring traveler, who’s shared his love for this planet with thousands of fellow travelers. One of his favorite places in the world is Machu Picchu, Peru. In his own words, this is

“Me and Machu Picchu: A Love Affair. Perhaps no other place on Earth has captivated me quite like Machu Picchu in Peru. It is as if someone took everything I love and put it in one place. Continue reading here



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17 comments


  1. Kelly

    It’s so interesting to hear from a seasoned traveler like Bryan and learn what experiences have touched him the most. It’s often the little things or the people you meet along the way that are forever etched in your memories.

  2. Joe

    These pictures look so custom. I would love to go on a trip like this.

  3. Steve Albright

    I love what Bryan Herb said about Varansi, India. I just added it to my bucket list!

  4. Jessanthepuss

    How exciting and what awesome anecdotes! Yes…work life balance is a must and this trip seems like the way to accomplish that balance. We work and work and seldom reward ourselves. A trip such as this would probably be life changing for most people!

  5. Patrick

    What a great story Bryan! May your travels keep inspiring others to do the same =) The travel industry is so important to the world economy… which reminds me, I need a vacation! And loved the Varanasi India story.

  6. Daniel

    It was said to me once that only when we travel, do we learn to appreciate other cutures and other people. Bryan and Zoom give such a unique travel experience, one can’t help but come away with new found respect for others. Bryan has inspired my partner and I to continue seeing the world.

  7. Wayne

    As an avid Zoom Traveler who has been on many Zoom travels, I can honestly say there is not better group to go with than Zoom Vacations! Great coordination, great thought, and great adventures…not to mention the greatest group of friends you’ll make!

  8. JERRY PETALAS

    I love Bryan’s outlook on the world. His attention to detail while trip-planning and his friendly demeanor make Zooming around the world with him and/or Joel experiences I will always remember. Travel should not be an optional thing in my opinion, but rather something that budgeted for, like food or housing. It is a necessary expense, as meeting people from all cultures teaches you how to live happily and tolerantly in your own.

    I learned one of my favorite quotes while traveling with Zoom Vacations. It is from Jawaharal Nehru: “We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” Awesome, right? So where to next?

  9. John

    I traveled with Zoom Vacations to Rio de Janeiro for New Years about 5 years ago, and it was truly amazing. I then hired them to plan a private trip for me, and it was more spectacular than I could have imagined. I love how Bryan’s passion and personality come through in the interview. Both he and Joelle, the other owner at Zoom Vacations are creating really unique travel experiences, I haven’t seen anywhere else, gay or straight!

  10. Kevin Herdman

    I love this story also. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing parts of the world with Brian, and he never fails to make each trip educational, fun and memorable.

  11. Rico Ricketson

    After reading this, my view points on luxury gay travel have been changed by Bryan’s insights. I too thought it would be “snobbish”. But, after reading this I am planning to work with Zoom vacations to go on a stellar luxury gay vacation.

  12. MYA

    Brian, you always create the most amazing, memorable experiences for your guests. Each and every vacation is so well developed, planned and executed that every day and night brings once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to experience the wonders of the world in a relaxed, but well organized manner. Kudos to you and your team, keep up the good work!

  13. Marc Samuel

    I just want to say that it is fantastic to hear stories from Bryan, who has been a part of wonderful travel experiences for me.

    If anyone gets a chance, do yourself a favor and participate in one (or more) of the Zoom Vacations travel experiences. You’ll love it. I did.

  14. Larry S

    I recently met Bryan through an old friend of mine and am very impressed with the care and attention that clearly goes into planning and executing these remarkable adventure vacations. I look forward to embarking on my first Zoom vacation in the coming year

  15. Jason K

    This is spot on, Bryan! Love the India anecdote – it is a pure illustration of the transformative nature of travel which is to lend us the ability to see the world around us through new and unique lenses.

    Your sensibility clearly shines through all that Zoom sets out to do – provide a comfort zone to travel to new and exciting locations, and to grow through doing do, without the worry about being gay outside of the US. In the process you and your guests have been ambassadors around the globe.

    Bravo!

  16. Tony

    Knowing Bryan Herb, I can say that he works extremely hard to make the experience of traveling with Zoom Vacations to be beyond luxurious and endolged with unique accommodations. I was not aware that Zoom Vacations plans their trips so much in advance before they publish them on their website; however, it makes sense to me now why traveling with Zoom is such a remarkable experience.

  17. Brian Mattes

    I’ve been on three Zoom vacations and each has been a terrific experience. Having Bryan along is like traveling with your best friend — and one who really knows the world and how to enjoy it thoroughly. He cares — truly and sincerely — in fact, he’s absolutely passionate about travel and those traveling with him. His meticulous advance planning, attention to details, and eye for excellence make traveling with Zoom Vacations an extraordinary pleasure. And, well, there’s also his always cheerful and sunny personality, too!

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