If there’s a quintessential modern fairytale romance, Kirstie Pike and Christine Diaz have it. They’re queer. They met on Tinder. They began traveling the world together and became multi-platform influencers. What’s more modern?
Before the duo met in 2017, Pike had traveled to Asia and lived in various places, often working as a bartender. Diaz had only traveled in spurts around a media agency job, but she longed for better than corporate life where you still think about work even on vacation.
“It’s [basically] written that once you’re out of college, you get a job, and that’s your life…it’s nine to five,” says Diaz, on a midday video call, with Pike sitting beside her in their Denver apartment. “I was just hoping to not… live on [that] schedule.”
So, in 2018, she and Pike left for Asia for what became a 10-month trip. About halfway through, while in Malaysia, they took a photo together for Instagram. To their surprise, this led to receiving DMs from LGBTQ individuals around the world seeking advice on where and how to travel as openly queer people.
Inspired, they created the platform On Airplane Mode to address such topics. Now, the couple represents a lifestyle, has brand partnerships, works with tourism boards, has more than 88,000 Instagram followers, and has 374,000 TikTok followers. Their Instagram and blog contain guides, travel tales, and other such content, while on TikTok, they share their goofier sides and daily life as a couple.
With their business slogan “Hustle. Travel. Repeat,” they advocate that travel is always possible if you have the mindset to follow your passion and work hard for it. They also tout the benefits of couple’s traveling. Pike notes the tenuous nature of travel helps you get to know your partner more deeply.
Though such lessons are universal, Pike and Diaz are often referred to as a “lesbian travel couple.” They hope eventually there won’t be a reason for distinction between them and a straight couple but recognize the current value of that label and business element.
They help LGBTQ people pursue travel safely, given the persecution many countries still practice, but prove that traveling while queer is nevertheless possible. Simultaneously, they’re opening peoples’ minds to queerness – they’ve had many conversations about shattered preconceptions.
Pike and Diaz hope to continue this work, whether from their apartment or on their next trip – possibly Turkey or Peru.
“The more we continue to show representation and normalize our community, the more it’s gonna be exactly that: normal – which is what we want,” says Pike. “Traveling has changed us as individuals, and I hope with what we’re doing… we can help change [other] lives as well.”