Planning a trip to a new destination should be fun and exciting. It’s a time that many of us look forward to the most, and it’s generally the highlight of our year. So, what happens when planning a trip evokes feelings of anxiety or fear? Unfortunately, this is the reality faced by many LGBT+ Travelers.
In fact, almost 80% of LGBT+ travelers have concerns over how they will be treated when visiting a new destination. With 73 countries around the world still criminalizing homosexuality, it’s understandable that LGBT+ travel can be a daunting prospect.
My girlfriend and I have travelled the world full time as a lesbian couple for the past two years. We have visited gay-friendly destinations, travelled off the beaten path, and been to countries where homosexuality is still illegal.
While it’s been the most incredible two years of our lives, I can tell you it hasn’t always been fun and rainbows. With this in mind, the goal of this blog post is to help other LGBT+ travelers prepare for the perfect trip.
1. Research your Destination
First and foremost, the most crucial step in planning your trip is to research your desired destination in advance. While there are many gay-friendly destinations around the world, this is by no means universal.
Understanding the legal and social attitudes surrounding the LGBT+ community is imperative for a safe and enjoyable travel experience.
For example, many LGBT+ Travelers do not want to visit countries where homosexuality is still illegal, and that’s understandable. Others, such as ourselves, do not boycott them altogether but find a way to act appropriate to local customs.
Either way, this comes down to your personal preference and what you feel comfortable with. Check out the Human Dignity Trust website for more information on the countries that criminalzse homosexuality.
2. Do Not Let Fear Rule your Decisions
Which leads me on to my next point. Try not to let fear stand in the way of the dream destinations you want to visit. If this were the case for us, we wouldn’t have had the amazing experiences that we did in countries such as Malaysia (where homosexuality is illegal) and India (need I say any more).
It may require some adaptation on your part; however, understanding new cultures and ways of life is one of the most exciting elements of travel. If you’re open-minded, you’d be amazed at how rewarding your travel experience can be.
3. Be Prepared to Adapt
I’m sure it comes as no surprise, that being prepared to adapt is part and parcel of traveling as an LGBT+ person or couple. Having said that, it’s not necessarily limited to LGBT+ travelers either.
Traveling to any new destination, regardless of your sexual orientation, is likely to require an element of adaptation. Whether it be the clothes you wear, the food you eat, how you carry yourself, or how you act with your significant other.
Ultimately, it’s about recognizing what is socially acceptable and behaving in a way that’s both respectful and appropriate. For example, PDA (Public Displays of Affection) is discouraged in many countries around the world – even for heterosexual couples.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: If you plan your trip with an open mind and find yourself willing to adapt, the sky is your limit!
4. Support LGBT+ Travel Companies
For added reassurance, you could always consider booking your trip through an LGBT+ travel company. While said holidays are often pricy in comparison to booking independently, they do allow peace of mind that you’re in like-minded company.
If you’re not sure where to start looking, the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association features a list of LGBT+ Travel Companies. These include gay-friendly accommodations, tour operators, and travel agents.
Alternatively, you can book your accommodation through companies like misterb&b and Purple Roofs who specifically cater to LGBT+ travelers.
5. Connect with other LGBT+ Travellers and Locals
This point is one we wish we had considered when setting off on our travels for the very first time. The best way to prepare yourself LGBT+ travel is to connect with others who are in the same circumstances as you.
First of all, you could read dedicated LGBT+ travel blogs such as our own, or our good friends The Nomadic Boys. We both share our experiences traveling as an LGBT+ couple, as well as helpful travel advice and recommendations.
Otherwise, we suggest using social media or dating apps to connect with other LGBT+ travelers or locals. For example, Facebook allows you to search for any dedicated LGBT groups in your area. Or navigating certain hashtags, such as #lgbtberlin, on Instagram will yield all things LGBT+ locally to you.
Preparing a trip as an LGBT+ traveller does not have to be the unsettling affair you might expect. By utilizing our tips and resources, you can look forward to a memorable, and most importantly, a SAFE, trip of a lifetime.