This New Boutique Travel Agency Offers Guides By Queer Icons and “It Girls”

At what point did you get the idea to start Haunt?

I got the idea for Haunt while I was on my second solo backpacking trip through Europe. I traveled a lot in my early twenties. Through immersing myself in this realm of unconventional connections and sharing information, which I think a lot of trans women do to survive, that allowed me the agency to explore the world. So one night, I was meandering Venice, and walking past a lot of overpriced, Americanized pizza places, when I stumbled upon this little trattoria called La Antica Postie Vecie. It was covered in these hand-painted frescos with waiters in white blazers and red velvet curtains. I thought, “Why had no one told me about this place?” And that’s when I thought, “I could bring people here.” That developed into curating hidden-gem focused travel for people with discerning taste who crave authenticity.

Now that LGBTQ+ communities are bigger and more visible than ever before, we have to look out for each other, especially when traveling. Was the intent behind starting your own travel agency to facilitate safe experiences for queer people?

I think that because of who I am, that it will always be an integral part. All our contributors thus far are part of the LGBTQ community. Mitch Grassi [of musical act Pentatonix] did our guide for Los Angeles; the model Raya Martigny, who is from Réunion Island, did our guide to Paris. The photographer Josephine Meng wrote the guide to Berlin. We all just happen to be queer.

I think the underground ethos of being a queer person is that you don’t really have to try to find one another because we’re all in this pressure cooker and constantly dealing with societal standards. We’re all crawling out of the margins in the shadows and finding each other. It’s beautiful.

Have you created a guide yourself? What would it be?

I made a sample guide for Paris to give to my writers. But I would love to make one of my hometown [of Monterey.] It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, and it can be kind of daunting. But there are lots of little treasures that my trans mother showed me in high school. Her name is Jourdain Barton; she’s a fabulous poet. She exposed me to a queer underground culture within this weird bubble of the Bay Area that wasn’t San Francisco.

What was a place that she introduced you to that opened your world?

She introduced me to this goth club in Santa Cruz: The Box. She jokingly, but also seriously, refers to herself as the Queen of the Punks. It was nice to hop in her car and drive 30 minutes to be in this Blue Monday environment with all of these goth kids, who are the kindest, nerdiest, most wonderful people. I was in my hardcore scene phase… and Jourdain exposed me to French nihilists. I find myself taking tidbits of what she showed me wherever I go now.

I know you just launched it, but what are your future plans for Haunt?

A year from now, I’d love to do something at the Chelsea Hotel. Maybe Paris. But I also want to stress that Haunt is for everyone; we want to be inclusive, and we want to expose people to different cultures outside the West, where they don’t just speak English. I’d love to have guides for Nairobi, Marrakesh, or Bangkok. My business is entirely woman-owned and operated. It’s important, and it’s why it offers this aesthetic perspective that comes from the sacred feminine. We’ll see that expand in the future. I want to bring an element of romance back to travel.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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