By Philip Sheldon, CEO Blessings make our lives richer. They can be broad and formal, like those offered by a priest, rabbi or imam to the faithful. Or as intimate and informal as the random “bless you’s” that follow sneezes on a crowded flight. As a world traveler I tend to experience blessings in a [...]

The Touching Story of the Ensley Key West Wedding

By Philip Sheldon, CEO Our home town of Key West has a long tradition of being a military town, and a more recent but equally important reputation as a very welcoming town for gay men and women. Even during the “Don’t ask don’t tell” era, the two communities co-existed without too much friction. However, now [...]

At Home in a Distant Land: Puglia, May 2014

By Philip Sheldon, CEO Last winter, my staff challenged me to name the last time I went on a real vacation, rather than travel for a conference, a family visit or to research or lead an HE Travel gay tour. I couldn’t remember. So I checked our calendar of great spring and summer tours, and [...]

Is Dallas a Gay Hotspot? Is Everything Bigger in “Gay Texas?” (Part 3)

By Zachary Moses [This is part 3 of 3. To start at the beginning, click here for Part 1. If you missed the last segment, read Part 2] Continuing the night on the town… Our next bar stop was the Dallas Eagle, a leather and fetish bar. Soon after arriving I was chatted up and [...]

Is Dallas a Gay Hotspot? Is Everything Bigger in “Gay Texas?” (Part 2)

[This is Part 2; to read Part 1, click here!] Day 3: The Food Keeps Coming. They Should Call This the Dallas Food Tour! When the alarm went off this morning, I felt like a roulette ball was spinning around the inside of my skull. When the ball fell into the 30 slot, I realized [...]

Is Dallas a Gay Hotspot? Is Everything Bigger in “Gay Texas?”

Day 1: How much food can you eat? Why the hell did I fly to Dallas? Honestly, for several months I have been confused about why I accepted this invitation, ever since Michael Doughman from the Dallas Tavern Guild contacted me out of the blue and invited me to visit his city. Is there a gay Texas though? [...]

Gay Namibia, Africa Tour Research: Civilized and Not So Civilized (Part 4)

Namibia Part 4 If you haven’t read the previous posts regarding Namibia, click here to start with Part 1. I thought they would never find everyone at the outdoor reception to take us back to our hotels. It was dark, people were drunk, and the party was clearly still going. Even though the town of Swakopmund [...]

Welcome to Gay Saba, The Caribbean Queen

By Robert Walden, HE Travel Tour Director I’ve been diving with Alyson Adventures (HE Travel) on Saba every year since 2000. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. On Saba you can enjoy a completely different experience from all the cruise ship stops, party beaches and casino-packed towns that typify so much of the Caribbean. Saba offers an intimate Caribbean [...]

Gay Namibia, Africa Tour Research: Flying Kites, and Fire Pits (Part 3)

Today was the big day of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) opening ceremony for their world summit in Swakopmund, Namibia. Today we were to hear a speech from Hifikepunye Pohamba, the President of Namibia, who was pleased and proud to welcome us to his country. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the [...]

SOUTH AFRICAN ODYSSEY: An Overview of This Rich and Inspiring Country.

By Philip Sheldon, CEO In May 2013 I spent two weeks exploring the colorful, vast country of South Africa, the Rainbow Nation. After apartheid ended, Nelson Mandela gave his country this new nickname as they embarked on their new course that welcomed every citizen to take part. Like a kaleidoscope, it is a land of [...]

Gay Namibia, Africa Tour Research: Into the Wild Lands (Part 2)

By Zachary Moses Day 1: Deep into the Bush We were met by Jens in our hotel lobby. He wasn’t what I’d expected when I heard the tour would be put on by a company called African Bikers. I guess I expected someone who looked a little more…African. Jens was a 6-ft-tall, blonde, blue-eyed, bespectacled [...]

Gay Namibia, Africa Tour Research: Getting there is Half the Adventure (Part 1)

By Zachary Moses I flew to Africa. All the way to the bottom of the planet. This was one big check mark off the bucket list! Africa, a land of dreams. A land lost in time. OMG, I had no idea what to expect. It gives me goose bumps just writing about it. The first [...]

Puglia: The Italy Time Forgot (Part 3)

This is part 3 in a three part series. To read Part 1 click here. Day 5: Polignano a Mare and Alberobello Today we took the day off from biking to go on some sightseeing visits. One of our regular drivers had fallen ill and couldn’t come, so I got to demonstrate my awesome driving [...]

Puglia: The Italy Time Forgot (Part 2)

By Zachary Moses This is Part 2 of a series. Click here to read part 1. Day 2 Museums and Molfetta Can you believe it? We woke this morning completely free of hangovers. I would have figured with all the wine we were drinking last night that it would have led to some worn out [...]

Puglia: The Italy Time Forgot

I arrived in Rome, Italy several days before my biking tour in Puglia. I checked myself into the strangest bed and breakfast I’ve ever stayed at: just a second bedroom in some strange guy’s flat. There was no kitchen, the bathroom was shared with the owner, and he had a habit of bringing loud women [...]

Why I am passionate about South Africa!

By Philip Sheldon CEO I step out from my One & Only Cape Town private bungalow onto my lagoon-side deck and look up – there is Table Mountain – right there – it is no longer just a photo. And in an hour I’ll be on top, gazing out at the rugged shoreline and Cape Town’s [...]

Why a Gay Tour of Spain?

By Philip Sheldon CEO Why I’m Passionate about Spanish Treasures! Our new Spanish Treasures gay tour has literally been in the making for decades. One of my favorite hobbies as a boy was to put together puzzles, and one of my favorites was of a Spanish town that was perched on top of a cliff. [...]

Gay Hawaii tour, Rainbows and Rain forests (Part 3)

By Zachary Moses This is part 3, to read Part 2 Click Here! I’ve dreamed of visiting Kauai since I was a little boy, and learned that the prettiest parts of Jurassic Park were filmed there. To justify a visit to Kauai, I knew I would have to create a legitimate reason for HE Travel to create a [...]

Gay Hawaii Tour: Rainforests and Rainbows

I love Hawaii Part 2 By Zachary Moses This is part 2, to read Part 1 Click Here! Day 4 (continued): Sunset Cruise After checking in to the Hilton Waikaloa resort this afternoon, I rode the tram all the way to my hotel at the far end of the property. It took about 20 minutes. [...]

Gay Hawaii Tour, Rainbows & Rainforests

By Zachary Moses I love Hawaii. It was the first place I ever visited that required a big flight over the ocean. Years ago I went with a boyfriend who thought it was acceptable to put himself in first class and me in coach. He thought it was funny to come back and tell me [...]

Zach’s Account of Grand Canyon Splash (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a Two Part Series. To Read Part 1 Click Here! Day 5 Continued: For those of you that read Part one, you may have noticed that I did not include details about dinner or happy hour from Day 5. It’s because we were having too much fun!! When we got [...]

My First American Gay Wedding

By Philip Sheldon, CEO HE Travel I flew to New York City on Labor Day weekend to attend my first officially licensed American gay wedding. The two spouses are from Florida, which is trying mightily to not recognize the deep commitment these two men have for each other. Happily, the State of New York welcomed [...]

Zach’s Account of Splash Grand Canyon Rafting.

This is part one of a two part series, to read part two Click Here! HE Travel has been rafting the Grand Canyon for 40 years. In fact the first gay tour ever offered was a Grand Canyon rafting trip that our founder Hanns Ebensten organized in 1973. We are currently the only gay tour operator running annual trips down [...]

Gay Travel in Barbados Tour?

In May I attended a familiarization (FAM) tour of Barbados, along with a dozen other winners of the 2012 “30 under 30 Top Travel Professionals” award from Travel Agent Magazine. The host’s goal for a FAM trip is to showcase their destination to travel pros that have the highest likelihood of selling their clients a [...]

Zachary Moses is Man About World’s Newest Correspondent

Zachary Moses, our Director of Marketing & Adventure Tour Development was recently invited to become the newest Global Correspondent for the online “Man About World” magazine. You can read more about it by clicking here! Previously Zachary was recognized by Travel Agent Magazine as one of the top 30 young travel professionals in the country, and currently works as [...]

Amazon Woman: Creation of a New Adventure in the Jungle of Peru (Part 3)

This is Part 3 in a series. Click to read Part 1 and Part 2. Day 4: Birding, Fishing, Hiking, and Daring each other to eat things we found in the Amazon Rainforest We met at 4am and went down to the dock for a birding expedition. The morning was misty and cool and the [...]

Amazon Woman: Creation of a New Adventure in the Jungle of Peru (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Click HERE to read Part 1. Day 3: Entering the Rainforest This morning we gathered our belongings and set out for the port, where we had a bit of time to kill before our boat arrived. We saw more grilled and roasted meats for sale, and a [...]

Amazon Woman: Creation of a New Adventure in the Jungle of Peru (Part 1)

Back in April, my colleague Scott and I were sent to Peru to work on developing two new tours in the Amazon Rainforest. I was chosen for this expedition in order to create our new Amazon Woman tour for lesbians, and Scott was sent to get perspective on a new Amazon cruise for our gay [...]

Contrasts of the Canyon

R. Darin Hollingsworth

Loire Vacation

A bike was the perfect way to see France’s romantic Loire Valley. When I told my friends I was going on a five-day bicycling tour of the Loire Valley in France, they laughed. They knew what kind of shape I was in: ten pounds overweight and not a toned muscle in my body. I was [...]

NTA Conference & Ethiopian Tourism

By Zachary Moses Recently I was asked to serve with the Young Professionals Advisory Group of the NTA (formerly called the National Tour Association), and HE Travel CEO Phil Sheldon was appointed to the Small Business Advisory Task Force. Our company is currently the only gay tour operator that is a member of the NTA. [...]

Designing a Gay Patagonia Tour (Part 3)

By Zachary Moses This three-part series follows Zachary Moses as he develops HE Travel’s Adventurous Gay Patagonia Tour. Click to read PART 1 or PART 2. Day 7: Horseback Riding and Kayaking Among Icebergs No gay Patagonia tour would be complete without a beautiful horseback ride through the crisp morning air with Paula, the general manager [...]

Designing a Gay Patagonia Tour (Part 2)

By Zachary Moses This is Part 2 of a three-part series about developing HE Travel’s Adventurous Gay Patagonia Tour. To read Part 1 CLICK HERE. To read Part 3 CLICK HERE. Day 4: Enter the Estancias After waking up to a beautiful Patagonian dawn we got up and had breakfast in our hotel. I ordered [...]

Designing a Gay Patagonia Tour (Part 1)

By Zachary Moses Last January I left on one of my most ambitious expeditions to date. A gay Patagonia tour; a tour at the bottom of the world. The last touch of greenery before the vast frozen white and deep blue landscapes of Antarctica. I flew on New Year’s Eve and practically had the airports [...]

Researching a Gay Multisport Tour From Miami to Gay Key West (Part 3)

This is Part Three of the research expedition that inspired the our fabulous South Beach to Gay Key West multi-sport tour. Click here to read (Part 1), Click here for (Part 2) Day 3: Begin the Kayaking OMG!!! We stayed up way too late last night celebrating our 100+ mile bike ride to get from [...]

Gay Bike Tour and Kayak the Keys Research Tour (Part 2)

This is Part 2. To read Part 1, Click HERE. To read part 3,  Click HERE. To read about the tour that was inspired by this research trip, Click HERE. Day Two: Curry Hammock State Park to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park What a gorgeous morning to continue researching our new gay bike tour! [...]

A Gay Date Through the Streets of Cairo.

Reblogged with permission by the Breakaway Backpacker, Jaime Davila The door-opened lights went on in the dorm as if it was not 2am. I woke up pissed, but was freezing cold and needed to pee. I realized it was the hostel worker showing people the dorm. I handled my business, and then went up to [...]

Miami South Beach to Gay Key West Research Tour (Part 1)

By Zachary Moses This is part 1 of a three part series. Click here to read part 2. A gay multi-sport tour of the keys? Why didn’t we think of it before? Of course we should do a gay Keys and Key West tour! HE Travel has been headquartered on this sunny, gay-friendly island for [...]

An Extraordinary Gay Adventure in Costa Rica

By Brian of Talk Gay Travel, Originally posted January 16, 2013   We recently caught up with Chris, who had just gotten back from his trip to Costa Rica where he was part of an HE Travel excursion. HE Travel is the result of a merger of the venerable gay adventure and tour operations of [...]

The Great Israel Adventure (Part 3)

If you haven’t read about the first 10 days of our adventure in Israel click here for Part 1 and Part 2. Day 11 The Eilat / Petra Extension We got off to a late start from Tel Aviv today for our flight to Eilat. This was a Saturday (shabat) and since many Israeli airline employees consider [...]

The Great Israel Adventure Tour (Part 2)

By Zachary Moses If you haven’t already read about the first 5 days of my Israel adventure, click here to read part one… Day 6: The Hula Valley and Jerusalem This morning we got to ride bicycles through the Hula Valley, the finger of northeastern Israel that is below the Golan Heights, between Lebanon and [...]

Vegas 35 under 30 award and the Luxury Travel Exchange

By Zachary Moses I couldn’t believe it when I was selected as one of Travel Agent Magazine’s 35 under 30 top travel professionals, featured in their magazine, and invited to the Young Professionals Conference in Las Vegas. Did they check the names right? Maybe they mixed me up with someone else.  I read my bio [...]

The Great Israel Adventure Tour (Part One)

Day 1 It was such a thrill to see the Israeli coastline as we descended toward Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. A year of hard work was about to pay off as began our inaugural Israel Adventure Tour. Last year I was honored to be the guest of the Israeli Tourist Board for my first visit to [...]

Zach wins 30 under 30

Dear friends, I am excited to announce that Travel Agent Magazine selected our HE Travel / Alyson Adventures Marketing Director Zachary Moses as one of 2012′s “30 Under 30″ most accomplished travel professionals under the age of 30. He is featured in the current issue of the magazine: (link to his page). Zach has been invited [...]

Women’s Grand Canyon Splash! (Part 3)

This is Part 3 in a series by Guest Blogger Sara M. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Day 6 The morning heated up quickly, and we had little cloud cover through the day. On previous days, we had periods of clouds or rain that kept the heat from being stifling. Now we [...]

Women’s Grand Canyon Splash! (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a series by Guest Blogger and Alyson Adventures Host SaraM. Read Part 1 here. Day 3 There isn’t any music on the river, unless you make it yourself just to hear your voice echo off the vast walls; but after a few days, you begin to feel the rhythm of [...]

Women’s Grand Canyon Splash! (Part 1)

Guest blog by Alyson Adventures Splash! Grand Canyon Rafting host Sara M: At the end of July 2012, I had the amazing opportunity to host a group of women on an 8-day camping and whitewater rafting adventure down the Grand Canyon. We boarded a motorized boat with an experienced Captain and mate (called the Swamper), [...]

Tortuguero Expedition, Gay Costa Rica Part Three

By Zachary Moses See Part 1 and Part 2 of this trip. This morning began with a chocolate tour. We all walked from Pozo Azul to the neighboring compound (a community cooperative) and checked in. The tour crossed a long, narrow, hanging steel bridge to get to the other side of a massive ravine. It was [...]

The Gift of Family

By Phil Sheldon I believe that one of the greatest gifts that the LGBT community has offered to our families, friends and neighbors is the importance of “intentional family” – in other words celebrating bonds that go beyond simple friendship, with a diverse cross-section of people in our lives. I think we LGBT folks (and [...]

Puerto Rico Bike Tour Site Inspection (Part 3)

By Zachary Moses This is the last in a blog series. Click to read part 1 or part 2 of this article. After our early morning ferry ride from Vieques to the mainland Puerto Rico port of Fajardo, we drove into the El Yunque Rainforest. Our hotel sits at the entrance to the national park. [...]

Puerto Rico by Bike Site Inspection (Part 2)

By Zachary Moses This is the second installment. Click to read (part 1) if you missed it. The flight to Vieques was absolutely stunning, not to mention that it saved us 5 hours of travel time compared with taking the ferry. It was so much fun. The charter planes are meant to carry 8 total [...]

Puerto Rico by Bike the Site Inspection. (Part 1)

By Zachary Moses Click to read (part 2) I started my trip from Key West to Puerto Rico by rental car, since flying to Miami would have cost the yearly operating budget of the city of San Francisco (metro area only) – plus the $25 checked bag fee (ouch!). I love rental cars: this one [...]

Tortuguero Expedition, Gay Costa Rica Part Two

(Continued from Part 1) […Skip to Part 3] By Zachary Moses Today we departed from our tranquil lodge in Tortuguero and started our journey toward Sarapiqui. We retraced our path through the winding streams of the delta, then followed the river back to the restaurant where our bus was waiting for us. During the boat ride [...]

The Art of Tour Development

By Zachary Moses Have you ever seen an image in a magazine and thought to yourself “wouldn’t it be great to visit that place?” Perhaps you cut out the image from the magazine and stuck it to the side of your fridge with that plumbing or real estate refrigerator magnet that has been mysteriously on your [...]


By Zachary Moses I departed Key West bright and early. I hardly even remember the flight to New York for the GLBT Expo. I was so sleepy that I spent the majority of my time on the plane sawing logs. Due to a delay of my flight from Atlanta to Newark, I got the opportunity [...]

Tortuguero Expedition, Gay Costa Rica Part One

By Zachary Moses Oh my god! You should have seen the water around Miami! The flight from Key West to Miami was one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. The night before had rewarded us with a torrential downpour of fresh rain that had increased water levels throughout the Everglades, and the sun was glimmering [...]

Off to the Holy Land

By Zachary Moses I was recently invited to participate in a tour of Israel, hosted by the Israel Tourist Board. Their goal was to show me and the other participants as many highlights of Israel as they could in less than one week. I have to say that Israel far exceeded my expectations, right down to the fresh [...]

Cuban Sojourn – Part 2: On the Road to Cienfuegos and Trinidad

In the middle of our week-long humanitarian trip to Cuba we took a two-night “road trip” to see a portion of the countryside and the Caribbean coastal port cities of Cienfuegos and Trinidad. During our brief stop in Cienfuegos, we walked along the main shopping street and in the main square, surrounded by a church, a [...]

Cuban Sojourn – Part 1: Havana

In early November 2011 I had the privilege of being a participant in a fully-licensed humanitarian tour of Cuba with 15 other American men. Our group donated over 200 pounds of medical supplies to a home for elderly women and for an HIV/AIDS clinic. During this trip we spent time in Havana on the north [...]

Valley of the What?

Written by Zachary Moses  …Kings -yes, Valley of the Kings - and we’re not talking about King Tut’s burial place in Egypt. Our Valley of the Kings cycling tour in the Loire Valley of France has so many chateaux built by Kings that we have renamed the tour Valley of the Chateaux. I had the pleasure to be a guide on our September 2011 tour, [...]

Big Gay Group in Big Gay Loire Valley

By Zachary Moses: Marketing Director I knew I was no longer in the United States, when I looked out my subway car door and saw an attractive man wearing a shirt that fit! I mean it actually fit, like it was tailored by a professional. I really doubt this shirt came from a generic mall [...]

In Cuba with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra—a timpanist’s tale | Harvard Magazine

In Cuba with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra—a timpanist’s tale | Harvard Magazine. This is a lovely article by a young timpani player with the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra about a recent trip to Cuba by the Orchestra. They performed concerts with their Cuban counterparts in three cities, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara and Havana. The culmination of their tour was a [...]

Phil Sheldon & Catherine Heeg: Changes in Tourism Industry

Join a lively conversation with me (Phil Sheldon), owner at Hanns Ebensten Travel/Alyson Adventures and member, China Inbound Task Force at NTA and graduate of ITMI. In this interview I share my insights on how the tourism industry has changed and how a tour director can provide ‘ecology of place’ for tour guests. While experiential [...]

Key West Pride and the Mr. Pride Festival

Key West Pride and the Mr. Pride Festival

Pride festivals are happening all over the country. This month during Key West’s Pride Festival, Zachary Moses got it in his head that he should enter the Mr. Pride Pageant at the last minute. Lacking the time to put together the standard million dollar talent show that is his style (complete with swans, swimmers and [...]

Donation for the Hill Country Ride For Aids

Each year Alyson Adventures and Hanns Ebensten Travel give back to the community in ways that not only help people, but embody the spirit of the tours we offer. Along with making monetary contributions and volunteering our time, we offer several of our unique tours each year to non-profit organizations to enhance their fund-raising. One of our donations [...]

Meditations on Mount Athos

I was very moved on Easter Sunday 2011 to see the 60 Minutes story on CBS TV about the monasteries of Mount Athos in northern Greece. As the 60 Minutes narrator said, this peninsula has probably seen less change over the past 500 years than any other inhabited place on earth. I led small groups of [...]

Fun In Baja Arizona

By Zachary Moses I couldn’t have asked for a more fun group to travel with on my first Alyson Adventures biking tour. Everyone became comfortable with each other very quickly and we became fast friends. I’d say I burned more calories from laughing on this tour than from riding a bike. This tour was also [...]


As I look back on the 10 years since I bought Hanns Ebensten Travel, the theme I would give to this decade is resiliency. On September 10, 2001, my client and good friend Dr. Don Butterfield said that I had had things pretty easy – I wouldn’t know what I was made of until I [...]