7 Travel Tips For LGBTQ+
Travelling is one of life’s many pleasures. Whether it’s relaxing on a tropical beach, road-tripping down a coast, or exploring historical cities, get out there and enjoy it.
Photo by Quintin Gellar from Pexels
Travel planning can already be exhausting and overwhelming, but as LGBTQ+ identifying people, we’ve got more to consider. Until we all live in a peaceful, harmonious, and accepting world, it’s best to keep some tips in mind when traveling alone or with your partner/family.
Below are 7 tips for a fun, safe, and LGBTQ+ friendly vacation:
1. Pick A Vibe
This is the fun part. What type of vacation did you have in mind? Art museums and food tours or straight up chilling on the beach with endless margaritas? Do you want to be on the move and visit multiple places, or take in the scenery of one area? Many places have the best of both worlds but narrowing your focus will help with the next step.
2. Choose a Destination
While this step is also exciting, there are things to keep in mind as many countries and cultures are not accepting of gay people. In some places identifying as, or merely “looking” LBGTQ+, is considered a crime. When you think about the Maldives it’s mostly stunning white beaches and clear blue water, but it’s also a place where homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment. The same goes for Barbados.
Equaldex.com is a handy website that provides current laws and gay-friendliness of every country in the world, broken down by specific categories.
For some travel inspiration I chatted with Claudia Kapp and Iris Pascua, an openly gay couple and owners of Emmadonna Travel, an LGBTQ-friendly travel agency based in Santa Barbara, California.
Speaking specifically about gay-friendly travel destinations, they stated that most of the big cities in Europe are very gay-friendly. Think London, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Lisbon. “Do not forget about underrated cities of Croatia and Slovenia! Ljubljana is the most progressive city in post-communist Yugoslavia. We love how green the city is with its parks, rivers and cute boutique hotels that are starting to pop up all around town - an excellent place to visit for families!” said Kapp.
Also topping their list are Costa Rica and Mallorca, Spain, while Tahiti and Fiji are great for romantic destinations.
“Tahiti is overseen by France, which passed the marriage equality law, so it is legal to get married or have a ceremony. Also, the Island of Tahiti was voted the number 2 ‘Best Gay Honeymoon Destination’ by Travel + Leisure,” said Kapp.
Although Fiji is a conservative country, Pascua and Kapp said gay travelers shouldn’t feel discouraged to visit its beautiful island resorts and experience the happiest country in the world.
3. Do Your Research
Your vibe and destination has been selected. Now it’s time to do some research. I can’t stress this one enough. Talk to friends, go on websites, read travel blogs, and talk to travel agents that offer services for LGBTQ+ travel.
Just like how Fiji doesn’t offer same-sex marriage, all their other laws protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. Some countries that have a conservative reputation, could actually be quite friendly, and vice versa.
“When visiting Morocco recently, we were pleasantly surprised to hear that Yves Saint Laurent’s once had a love affair with business partner, Pierre Berge, while they lived in Marrakech, a city that inspired many of his designs,” said Kapp. “He was a fashion icon admired by locals and visitors alike whose lifestyle was never questioned. From wandering the alleyways of the medina, to staying at local riads, to dining at local eateries and enjoying private sunset dinners in the Agafay desert, we never felt uncomfortable but rather embraced by the locals that showed us around.”
I also learned that Tel Aviv hosts the biggest Gay Pride in the Middle East with more than 200,000 visitors every year just for that event.
“Visiting Israel during Pride Week is the ideal climate to see most of its landmarks in the country and will also give you a chance to immerse yourself in the local LGBTQ community,” said Pascua.
4. Call Your Mom… or Dad… or Chosen Family
Don’t stress out your loved ones. Let at least one other person in your home area know the details of your trip. It’s extra helpful to have designated check-in times with someone back home as well.
There are many handy apps out there where you can input all your flights, hotels, and tour guide information in one place, sharing it with others. A personal favorite is Travefy, it’s free and easy to use. WhatsApp is also easy to connect with loved ones through wireless internet, avoiding those confusing roaming charges.
5. Respect the Laws & Culture
Nobody wants to go back into the closet, but depending on where you are, it might be the best option for your safety to keep PDA to a minimum.
Since you already did your research, you know what you’re getting into. If simply being gay is a crime, just be extra careful. Some of these countries may not have good relationships with your home country and it could be a whole Bridget Jones Diary 2 situation.
“Remember that you are subject to the laws of the country you visit, and you should be careful with public display of affection, wherever you go. Many countries around the world have strong religious beliefs and are rather conservative, which affects straight couples just as much as gay travelers,” said Kapp.
6. Support Gay Businesses!
It can sometimes be hard to know which small or large business supports the LGBTQ+ community. More than that, it’s great to support our community in any way we can, including patronizing their businesses.
The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association is a great resource for travelers to find gay-friendly accommodations, cruises, destinations and events around the world. Their website even breaks down provider types specifying which businesses have LGBTQ+ owners.
7. Connect with Locals
Seek out places where the community is vibrant and accepting regardless of where you are. Research gay neighborhoods beforehand, chat with locals, and explore!
For single people, using dating apps is a fun and exciting way to meet people. Although, be careful about your environment. I definitely don’t want to prevent you from getting your freak on, but it’s been reported that some anti-gay countries use queer dating apps as bait.
Yep, it really happens. The Independent reported in 2014 that police in Egypt used social media and apps like Grindr to “trap gay people.” Be cautious and when in doubt, chat with locals on how to meet people the old-fashioned way.
Emmadonna Travel compiled this list of queer travel blogs with great tips for singles and families:
Autostraddle’s Queer Girl City Guide : city-specific recommendations for LGBTQ (and LGBTQ-friendly) activities, restaurants and events around the US.
Travels of Adam : LGBTQ-friendly travel in Europe, off the beaten path restaurant reviews, museums, cultural events and the latest LGBTQ news
Gastro Gays: a great blog for foodie travel all around Europe with the latest restaurant recommendations
Dopes on the Road - lesbian travel mostly around the US, covering topics like the best romantic lesbian resorts and Disney vacations for lesbians with kids
2 Travel Dads : if you love Disneyland and Hawaii for your family travels this blog is for you, it includes hotel recommendations and activities for the little ones
Travel Latina : an immersive blog that features a collective of Latina/Latinx women and gender non-binary travel writers. It’s not comprised strictly of LGBTQ bloggers, but has a great queer contingency and focuses on in country-specific cultural events.
The Trans Traveller : a great blog by Taylon Stulting that addresses some hard issues that trans travelers face around different continents and countries
Travelling is stressful enough as it is, but hopefully, these few tips will help the planning process. And if you’re ever confused or stressed out, consult a professional that’s been there. The ladies of Emmadonna Travel have been almost everywhere in the world and I couldn’t resist asking their favorite places.
“It’s a toss-up between Spain and Australia as both have an eclectic food & bar scene, it’s easy to get around the cities (good public transportation), we felt safe, there’s no shortage of things to do, and LGBT friendly,” said Kapp.
Add those to your bucket list. Happy traveling!
Emmadonna Travel specializes in creating bespoke itineraries based on our client’s travel style. They do everything to make sure you’re comfortable on a vacation from start to finish. No more sifting through hundreds of websites, they have the best tour operators, hoteliers, guides and experiences so travelers don’t have to worry about the details or logistics. They also design Mystery Trips for travelers that are particularly adventurous or want to plan that very special engagement get-away.
Equaldex is a collaborative knowledge base for the LGBT movement. The website aims to crowdsource every law related to LGBT rights to provide a comprehensive and global view of the LGBT rights movement.
International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association is the world's leading network of LGBTQ-welcoming tourism businesses. They provide free travel resources and information while continuously working to promote equality and safety within LGBTQ tourism worldwide.