Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Straight, travel should be inclusive to anyone and everyone, no matter who you love. Despite huge developments over the past few decades the reality is that the world still has a fair way to go to achieve equality and acceptance on sexual preferences.
Questions such as 'should I hide my sexuality?', 'is it okay to hold my partner’s hand in public?', or '2 beds or 1?' are still at the forefront of the LGBTQ’s communities minds when travelling, with a recent survey showing that a quarter of LGBTQ travellers still hide their sexuality whilst abroad.
To make travel the enjoyable experience it should be, doing your research and being prepared is vital. Keep these handy tips in mind when you're next doing vay-cay planning...
Research the destination
Destinations like London, New York or Greece are incredibly accepting and open to LGBTQ communities. However other destinations have certain laws and attitudes which you should check out beforehand. To get in the-know read up on the LGBTQ country information on travel.state.gov and find information specific to LGBTQ travellers in the Special Laws & Circumstances section. It’s also useful to do a simple Wikipedia search of LGBTQ issues in your chosen location; this will give you access to articles on the topic and a good overview of any issues you could encounter. This may mean being aware and respectful of certain laws once you arrive, or maybe rethinking your wanderlust hit-list if you don’t feel comfortable with the laws or views of a particular location.
Check out LGBTQ-specific websites
Covering everything from travel information, staying in LGBTQ-friendly hotels and the trendiest events around the globe, LGBTQ websites prove a handy source when planning your travel or looking for some informative inspo. But with so many sites to choose from, you need to be careful when researching.
The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association is a global travel network ‘dedicated to connecting and educating LGBTQ travellers and the businesses that welcome and support them along the way.’ Publishing an annual member directory and a listing of LGBTQ businesses and destinations around the world, the site caters for everything from tours to business packages. Out Traveler bring the latest on gay travel providing the likes of travel tips, interviews and destination guides, whilst Out of Office caters for luxury custom made travel experiences for Lesbians and Gays. If you’re looking for something a little more personal, register to GayCities to connect with a community of locals and travellers. The site and iPhone app also provides over 200 extensive city guides and LGBTQ events calendars. These sites often eliminate the stress of planning your trip whilst giving you peace of mind before setting off.
Read LGBTQ travel magazines
If you’re more inclined to print, there’s a whole heap of LGBTQ focused travel magazines full of great tips and travel knowledge. Passport Magazine covers all the regular gay travel information with a keen focus on business travel, international destinations and events as well as some in-depth articles about exotic destinations. Out magazine has a great travel & lifestyle section and ManAboutWorld is a digital magazine created to inspire gay travel.
Follow LGBTQ travel blogs
For first-hand knowledge and tips, travel blogs such as Nomadic Matt, Nomadic Boys, Travels of Adam, Quirky Travel Guy, Landlopers, and Globetrotter Girls are just a few of the many LGBTQ travel bloggers around. These guys offer a tonne of honest content and personal accounts on travel experiences with some great tips and travelling advice.
Consider a group trip
Like any new traveller, if you’re a little wary about travelling, group trips are a great starting place to begin your wanderlust. With companies catering to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender travellers, there are plenty of options out there. Group travel companies like HE Travel, Coda International Tours and Olivia Lesbian Travel take care of bookings for hotel rooms and excursions, whilst our very own Contiki, is a company that supports and champions first time travellers, with a core emphasis on inclusivity.
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Use filters when searching for hotels
Another handy tip is looking for “gay/LGBTQ-friendly” filter results when booking directly on hotel sites. If the filter is there, it’s a sure way to know you’re staying in LGBTQ friendly accommodation and won’t need to worry about the unnecessary ‘2 bed or 1?’ question. You can also search for gay-friendly hotels by looking out for TAG-approved properties.
While you’re there
Dependant on the area or type of trip you choose to go on, it’s advisable to be aware of your new surroundings and any potential risky situations. This may mean mentally preparing yourself for pass judgments, alternative laws or differences in opinions. But most importantly, have fun, explore and enjoy your travels!