Former Chicagoans are Two Bad Tourists -- and sharing their international experiences

Sat. March 24, 2018 6:44 AM by Ross Forman

auston matta and david brown

photo credit // two bad tourists
They moved to Chicago in 2008 and within a year or so, David Brown and Auston Matta were already contemplating a move to California, probably San Diego, which is about a six-hour drive from Phoenix, where most of their families live.

It didn't take long for the Chicago winter woes to hit the two, hard, and they wanted out.

They knew they'd have to find new jobs on the West Coast, and that's what sparked the thought: What was the hurry to move and find new jobs immediately?

In 2012 after three years of planning and saving, they set off on a one-year adventure that led them to five continents and more than 35 countries.

They never returned to the U.S., landing in Spain and liking it so much that, well, that's now their home.

"We intended to return to the States after our year-long trip, (but), at the end, we decided to extend our trip for a few months by staying in Madrid ... and five years later, we're still in Madrid with no plans to return," Brown said.

Brown, 31, was a microbiologist in Chicago and now is an English teacher in Madrid for the American Language Academy. Matta, 35, was an engineer in Chicago and now works in marketing for the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.

They met in 2005 when both were attending Arizona State University. They started dating in 2006 and got married in 2010. Well, they got married for the first time in 2010 – in Sedona, Arizona.

At the time, Arizona did not have marriage-equality, so the marriage was not legally binding, however, "we still consider that our real wedding and count from that date," Brown said.

In 2014, they got married again in a small town in Spain, "so technically speaking, we are only legally married in Spain," Matta said.

Brown and Matta have visited more than 55 countries, and counting, with hundreds upon hundreds of flights logged. They are, Two Bad Tourists, a blog and online resource for LGBT travelers, focusing on international gay-friendly destinations, festivals and events.

"We encourage and inspire LGBT travelers to explore the world wherever they might want to go, while offering travel tips and advice we've picked up after six years of continuous travel," Brown said.

"We started our blog six years ago with no plans to provide any advice. We were about to embark on a one-year, round-the-world trip and we wanted to share our story with family and friends and keep a personal record of our travels. After a while, we realized we have a lot to offer readers and we really enjoyed blogging.

"Travelers face a lot of challenges on the road and have endless decisions to make, so it's always helpful when you can provide a tip, an opinion or insight. We also found there were not a lot of travel blogs geared to the LGBT community, so we thought it was important to be open and honest about who we are."

Two Bad Tourists has an audience of more than 100,000 LGBT readers and followers.

"We continue to travel and share our adventures on our blog and social media channels," Matta said. "While we don't travel full-time like we did for our first year (2012), we still make six to eight big trips a year and write lots of cool stories on our site."

Brown said they don't have any particular goals for Two Bad Tourists other than continuing to travel the world, discover news places and to share their adventures in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.

What's the best part of Two Bad Tourists?

"Traveling to awesome places and doing (it) together," Brown said. "There are many things we don't always agree on, luckily travel destinations are easy decisions for us. We've hardly ever disagreed on that."

More From Two Bad Tourists, David and Auston:

About Chicago:

"We absolutely love Chicago; it is one of our favorite cities, though we equally hate the winters. We loved our time in Chicago, but probably wouldn't move back because we just can't handle the cold," David said.

Favorite Travel Destination:

David: "Japan ... the culture, food and history were simply amazing."

Auston: "I also loved Japan for all the same reasons, but Cape Town, South Africa ties for first-place. The natural landscapes, wine country and wildlife are amazing. Second on my list in Europe is Lisbon, (which), ironically, I hated the first time I visited. But now it's one of my favorites."

Over-rated Travel Destination:

Mykonos: "We definitely enjoyed our visit to Mykonos and it certainly lives up to its reputation as a gay-friendly destination, particularly in the summer. But if we're being honest, there are many other Greek islands that are just as beautiful, if not more (so) than Mykonos, (and) have more diverse things to offer and are much less expensive."

Under-rated Travel Destination:

Slovenia: "It is awesome and would recommend it to anyone. It's surprisingly gay-friendly, particularly in the capital city of Ljubljana."

Top 3 Travel Tips:

"Book flights with, which allows you to choose a city and find all flights departing from that city within a certain time-frame. You can filter the results by price and discover the cheapest possible flights to a destination. If you're flexible in your dates and the travel destination, this can be a great option for low-cost travel to new places you might not otherwise consider.

"Travel during 'shoulder season,' which is the time just before or after peak tourist season. For example, many European destinations are packed and expensive in the summer months. If you visit (in) May or September, you will find fewer crowds, lower prices and a more authentic overall experience.

"Buy travel insurance if you're heading overseas. One time, travel insurance saved us from paying a $12,000 emergency room bill."

Travel Pet-Peeve:

"When someone sits in your pre-booked seat on a plane or train. When you ask them to move, you feel like the jerk, even though they're the one who took an already-reserved seat."

One Item You Must Travel With:

"Kind of obvious, but, our phone is probably the most-useful item when traveling. We use a ton of different travel and communications apps while on a trip."

Top 3 Destinations on your Must-Visit List:

The Faroe Islands, Egypt and New Zealand

Top 5 LGBT Destinations:

Iceland, Slovenia, Spain, Japan and Sweden

Favorite Chicago Restaurant:

Las Mañanitas in Boystown: "The food is good, but we honestly always went for the margaritas .... Seriously, the best ever!"

Favorite Chicago Bar:


Favorite Chicago Tourist Spot:

"We love the waterfront overall. We used to go biking along the path, north to south. The skyline views from the observatory are amazing."

Worst Thing About Chicago:

"WINTER! Did we mention, winter? It sucks!"

Best Chicago Pizza:

Lou Malnati's

For More About Two Bad Tourists:

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