The world is a beautiful place, but not every place is warm-heartedly welcoming LGBT travellers – yet. Luckily there are some changemakers out there, conquering the world with love. We are on a quest to connect with these heroes and have them tell their story. Meet Ryan Thomas Woods, the guy behind OutWithRyan.com.
In three words:
Sassy, Outgoing & Collaborative
We love your tagline “exploring the world one fabulous step at a time”! Tell us more, who is Ryan?
Thanks for loving the tagline! Out With Ryan is all about exploring the world one fabulous step at a time. I’m always on the search for the most fabulous places for my followers to visit. And even if it’s not 100% fabulous (aka not necessarily marked as 100% gay-friendly destination), I still like to find the best reasons to visit a beautiful or cultural place that has an LGBT community.
I’ve been traveling the world on my own budget for years, even before I came out of the closet, and one thing I wanted to do – once I came out – was really carry the fabulousness and openness everywhere I went in the world, one gay step at a time. That’s when the full idea of “Out With Ryan”, my travel website, came into fruition.
When I wasn’t traveling, I started working in the Film & TV Industry in Canada and England starting in 2013. I always had a passion for digital video, and especially YouTube. I started my own YouTube Channel that grew to 21,000 subscribers and with the skills I learned in making digital content and building an audience, I took on a position as a YouTube Strategist up until 2016. In September, the 3 most important things I loved the most: my boyfriend, my home and my job completely fizzled. I literally lost everything important in my life, and I needed to start from the bottom.
We’re so sorry to hear! But it looks like you have only risen from then?
A few months later, I decided to start my own social media consultancy business and become a digital nomad, while focusing on creating travel content for OutWithRyan.com and other travel companies looking for travel content.
My dream has always been to travel the world, work remotely by owning my own business with the utmost flexibility and focus to work hard and help others achieve their dreams. That’s what I do now in between Canada (my home) and my new partner, Andrei, who’s based in Romania.
Tell us something about you we can’t find online yet!
I use to work on a dairy farm growing up and had farm animals as pets, including chickens, horses, goats, dogs, cats and a pot belly pig named Princess. Most people think I’m a city boy (which I can be), but the reality was that I was raised in the countryside and rural areas of Canada.
No way, we wouldn’t have guessed that! So when did you become a traveller?
Two key moments were significant in me catching the travel bug. First, my great-grandma always said “Travel when you’re young” – she traveled a lot when she retired, but she could only see and explore destinations that cruises took her too because it was too difficult to travel to most places that weren’t as accessible for a woman in her 80’s. This key message was important in my youth since it created the idea of seeing the world first before I was physically unable too after retirement.
Secondly, I was lucky that my History High School teacher decided to create a Graduation trip to Italy and Spain in 2010. I had a year to work and save up for this trip, which was the first time I had ever flown internationally! This was my first trip over the pond between North America and Europe and this trip changed my life at 17. I got to experience a whole different culture, see things I only read about in textbooks and had the freedom to do anything I wanted to do when the teachers went to bed. I got to live my Lizzie McGuire Movie moment! This is when the travel bug truly bit my butt and gave me the spark to see more of this fabulous world.
When did you start your blog, Youtube, and other travel channels? Have you always wanted to become a gay-travel inspiration?
Most travel bloggers started with a blog first, then create social media and a youtube channel. I’m the oddball since I did the complete opposite! I started uploading travel content (many are private now) back in 2010 after high school, and then in 2012 when I studied & worked in England, I created a travel blog to keep track of my travels and share with family/friends back home what I was up too! My old website gained a lot of traffic from other travelers, but it wasn’t authentic to me, because I wasn’t openly out to the public.
Between 2013 and 2016, I transited into an ‘adult’ and started a 9-5 and had no time to travel. However, when my life completely flipped in 2016 I wanted to get back into writing my travels and documenting my new experiences as an openly gay man.
This is when I created OutWithRyan.com and focused on gay-travel inspiration. The funny thing is that even though I’m out, I still have so many followers, who aren’t part of the LGBT+ community, looking forward to my fabulous travel advice! It’s great!
Who’s your inspiration?
Honestly, the LGBT+ travel community is my inspiration. The world can be such a negative and dark place, but it’s really the LGBT+ travel community that brings light, rainbows and inspiration to me and so many others! Everyone influences each other and it’s one reason why I’m always trying to collaborate and work together as a community instead of disassociating from the community and be #1. I don’t have a desire to be #1 – my desire is to inspire as many people as I can, even if it’s just one person. I get so many messages weekly from people on my website, Youtube or social on how much I inspire them to step out of their comfort zone, make them laugh or feel more confident and this truly makes me feel #1.
That is so beautiful! So, more about Youtube: we love your food-videos about comparing different countries through food! Tell us more, how did that start?
My food challenge videos started when I was living in England and one of the biggest questions I got asked was “What’s the food in England like compared to home?” and so I started this food challenge comparison, which many people also started doing. What’s interesting was that because was among the first, one of my videos reached over 1 million views! It’s pretty wild thinking 1 million people have watched me.
Want to see more Ryan? Check out his colourful Instagram
You did one with Daan & Karl from Couple of Men about Dutch food we heard, when can we see it?
I did do one with Daan & Karl from Couple of Men about Dutch food! We had so much fun filming it! At the moment I have a queue of videos for my YouTube Channel but that one should be up very soon! It’s a funny one!
It’s clear you love connecting to people worldwide, so if you travel, do you prefer solo-, group-, family-, or couples-travel?
For years I was doing solo travel and meeting new groups of people all around the world, and as of now, I find myself traveling with my partner or family & friends! It’s hard to choose which one I prefer since all types of travel offer unique experiences to remember.
You travel to gay-friendly and not-so-friendly destinations, which country surprised you the most?
Morocco was definitely the country that surprised me the most. I went when I was out of the closet, and I dressed as I normally would (bright colours), but also dressed respectfully to the culture in Morocco (i.e. wearing clothes that cover the shoulders, knees, etc.). I didn’t change to look less gay, but I didn’t wear clothes like tank tops, short shorts, and other clothing I might wear in gay-friendly places like Los Angeles.
Why it was so surprising was not once did I feel unsafe or feel that others knew I was gay, even though I didn’t change my attire or my voice to be “less gay”. In fact, because I was travelling with 3 of my girlfriends, all the Moroccan men thought my besties were my wives and asked me to trade them for camels. I couldn’t help but crack up every time my girls wanted to be sold for camels when I was in a country where being gay was a crime. It was the first time I felt safer as a gay man, compared to my straight females.
Growing up, my female friends always protected me from male bullies or homophobic parents, and in Morocco, it was the opposite; the gay male was protecting his female friends. It’s a story I haven’t really told yet, but it is definitely one of the most surprising ones!
What’s your favourite gay destination?
That’s probably the toughest question you can ask a gay travel writer! My top favourite summer gay destinations are definitely California (as a whole), Puerto Vallarta, Mykonos, Stockholm and Montreal. If you head over to OutWithRyan.com you’ll be able to see why they are all my favourite summer gay destinations!
What does your bucket list look like?
Exploring more of Europe is definitely on my bucket list at the moment! However, before I’m 30, I would love to live in Australia or New Zealand for up to 2 years! There’s just so much to explore on that side of the world and I truly want to live in both places at some point to fully immerse myself into the culture & community.
More travels or any big life changes coming up?
My boyfriend really wants us to move to a country that’s between Canada and Romania so it’s easy for both of us to travel around. We’re really thinking the south of Spain might be the best choice for us, so exploring Spain is my next travel plans as well as potential big life changes 🙂
Want to read more interviews? Check out It’s Va Bene about long distance relationships, The Nomadic Boys about gay travel blogging, Lindsay Cale about androgynous travel & Barry about racism while travelling.