Meg Ten Eyck is one of the world’s foremost experts on LGBTQ + travel. Meg has visited more than 60 countries, sits on the Board of Directors of IGLTA and Belmond Hotels, has spoken at conferences on five continents, has written three books and has had its content read by millions of people. Follow her adventures around the world on Instagram @MegTenEyck
At Skyscanner, we encourage everyone to travel, no matter how you identify yourself or who you love. But we also recognize that there are important considerations when planning your trip as a member of the LGBTQ + community to ensure your safety and create those incredible lifelong memories.
As a white, slim, queer woman from the United States, my travel experiences and expectations are different from those of my LGBTQ + friends who are BIPOC, transgender, disabled, etc. In an effort to be as inclusive and intersectional as possible, I’ve reached out to the best in the business for their advice and recommendations on LGBTQ + affirming travel planning.
1. Start your research with IGLTA
Founded in 1983, IGLTA aims to help travelers meet the challenges of LGBTQ + travel by offering a variety of travel planning resources and welcoming LGBTQ + travel experiences. Social acceptance and legal protections around the world are complicated, but IGLTA’s Marriage Equality Guide can simplify that, as it allows travelers to explore countries and regions of the world that offer same-sex marriage.
In addition to marriage equality, the guide also features an app that provides LGBTQ + rights and protections in over 250 countries and regions around the world. While marriage equality isn’t the only consideration in travel planning, it’s a great start for couples looking to plan a romantic vacation. It also serves as a benchmark for understanding where the destination lies on the path to acceptance.
2. Book with an LGBTQ + travel counselor
Jove Meyers, a well-known wedding and event planner, suggests hiring an LGBTQ + travel counselor. As a member of the LGBTQ + community himself, Jove frequently assists his couples with their honeymoon plans. “The best way to know a place is to partner with an amazing travel counselor, someone specializing in LGBTQ + travel, because they will know the best where you can go and be yourself without worry or fear,” says- he. A knowledgeable travel advisor can help you book with LGBTQ + loving travel partners, hotels and activities, so you can avoid uncomfortable and / or awkward moments during your trip.
“An LGBTQ + travel counselor like Kelli Carpenter understands that resorts that say ‘everyone is welcome’ may not really include us. She will make sure you are seen, celebrated and affirmed.
Ed Salvato, LGBTQ + Marketing Specialist.
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Uwern Jong, Chief Experientialist at OutThere Magazine, is on IGLTA Board of Directors and recommends to “seek out hotels, resorts, experiences and destinations that are truly part of the LGBTQ + community and have taken the time to engage or learn from it.” But Uwern also warns against “being very aware of the rainbow wash”.
The media dedicated to LGBTQ + travel news is a great resource to begin this research before you go. Discover EveryQueer, Out Traveler, Diva Magazine and OutThere Magazine.
“The best travel providers have some sort of LGBTQ + accreditation, do something that gives back to the community as well as their LGBTQ + staff, and invests in training and development to make sure their non-LGBTQ staff understand the needs. travelers and become allies of the community.
Uwern Jong, OutThere magazine
4. Connect with local LGBTQ + people
Some of my most memorable travel experiences are where I was immersed in the local community. I recently traveled to Argentina where I exclusively hung out with the locals. The queer women I met on the trip took me under their wing and gave me a glimpse into queer life in Buenos Aires. Local LGBTQ + people are always the best source of information for travel matters regarding safety, community, and events.
One of the best ways to connect with locals is through social media and dating apps. Connect with local LGBTQ + people through Facebook groups, search for Instagram hashtags in the language of the country you’re visiting, and don’t forget to contact through dating apps like HER, Grindr, or Scruff.
5. Stay in LGBTQ + affirming accommodation
Finding LGBTQ + affirming accommodation ensures that wherever you lay your head you are in an environment where you are safe and welcomed. With so many options, it can be difficult to decide what is the best scenario for your loved ones. Airbnbs can offer a level of privacy that hotels might not offer, but staying at a hotel or resort can give you access to staff who can guide you to locals within the LGBTQ + community. However, while hotel or Airbnb reviews may mention safety, they often don’t specifically address our concerns as gay travelers.
To combat security concerns in accommodation, Ed Salvato recommends “choosing hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Accor because they offer their staff in contact with customers a minimum level of LGBTQ + training. For luxurious, LGBTQ-friendly accommodations, try Preferred Hotels and Belmond.
Ed Salvato, LGBTQ + Marketing Specialist.
6. Follow LGBTQ + travel influencers
One of the benefits of the following influencers is that they all have their own backgrounds, interests, styles, and identities. At this point they’re like media pokemon cards – we’re trying to collect them all. Interact with content from LGBTQ + content creators to see what they suggest in terms of things to do, where to stay, and what some of the cultural expectations are in a region. For example, I love following Kirstie and Christine from On Airplane Mode because they have similar tastes and travel styles to mine. I know that when they like a destination, there’s a good chance I like it too. Influencers also give us an idea of how we will be viewed in a destination or what we should look for on a trip.
“As a queer plus-size woman, I start my travel planning with two goals: accessibility and safety. For accessibility, sites like AllGo can be very helpful, as well as the Fat Girls Traveling facebook group (which is LGBTQ + compatible) to find out what the activity will look like for a plus size gay traveler.
Ready To Stare’s Alysse Dalessandro is an advocate for tall travelers.
7. Download useful apps
From translation and currency conversion services to navigation, apps are game-changing when it comes to travel accessibility. Download apps like Maps.Me to always have a map on your phone (even when you’re without WiFi) and Refuge Restrooms are amazing at finding non-compliant bathrooms. In terms of safety, apps like GeoSure provide location-based safety information specifically for LGBTQ + travelers.
8. Find specific LGBTQ + cultural centers
In many destinations, there are LGBTQ + centers, historic sites, or entire gay neighborhoods dedicated to helping you on your trip. For example, New York’s LGBTQ Center has access to travel guides and information to point you in the right direction for your specific interests. Visiting local gay neighborhoods like Madrid’s Chueca neighborhood gives you a taste of LGBTQ + culture in Spain.
9. Plan your trip around LGBTQ + events
Planning your trip around local pride or an LGBTQ + festival or event ensures a connection with the local community. Events like Rose Girls in Buenos Aires or the White Party in Bangkok bring locals and travelers together to celebrate the queer community outside of pride festivals.
If you need help finding local events, IGLTA has published a series of LGBTQ + Travel Guides to a number of different countries around the world and also maintains a Pride Calendar which features hundreds of different events. pride around the world.
“Traveling for events allows you to support a destination’s local LGBTQ + community, but you’ll also be able to meet and network with like-minded people from around the world who are as passionate about travel and equality as you are. “
Uwern Jong, OutThere magazine
10. Consider traveling in groups for safety.
In destinations around the world where LGBTQ + identities are criminalized, traveling with a group can be a safe and empowering way to see some of the world’s most beautiful wonders. It is still illegal to be LGBTQ + in over 70 countries.
Traveling in a group allows you to blend in with the ambiance while visiting destinations like the Pyramids of Giza or Bali. Book tours with Wild Rainbow African Safaris owned by LGBTQ +, R Family Vacations or Source Events.
While the LGBTQ + community is increasingly accepted today, queer voices remain largely marginalized around the world. As a community, we face challenges as social acceptance, LGBTQ + policies and protections vary widely.
I’ve spent the past decade advocating for LGBTQ + issues around the world, but if I’ve learned anything it’s that traveling is extremely personal. Our identities impact our travel decisions and experiences, but they don’t stop us as LGBTQ + people from exploring the world. With the right resources, LGBTQ + explorers can have just as much safe and rewarding travel experience as our heterosexual / cis peers.
Find out where to go
Ready to go back? Plan your next trip by reading the latest COVID-19 travel tips and checking where you can go with our interactive world map.