Why Are You Trippin’? Choosing LGBT-Friendly and Inclusive Travel Options

Where In The World Is…

Summer’s still in full bloom, and there’s still plenty of time for carving out some sweet getaways, whether or not you hook up with a sweet travel agent. Where do you want to play today?

And… are you sure about that?

Choose Your Own Adventure

You’ve seen all the advertising hoopla before: “Come fly with us.” “Queers welcome here!”

Rainbow flags go up, and you trust you’ll be well cared for on your “gaycay,” so all you’ll need to worry about is, perhaps, simply having the best “vaycay” ever.

Queer travelers’ tales can be a hit-and-miss kind of deal. We’re not here to share horror stories, but to provide better, more affirming options for you.

The last thing you want on a honeymoon voyage, a BFF’s night out, or a romantic weekend rendezvous is to see scowling waiters, resentful concierges, easily-offended hotel managers, or even B&B owners who “don’t dig your friends’ vibes,” especially when you have an honest to goodness question, need or desire as a paying customer.

So, are LGBT-owned companies best? Or, is “gay-friendly” acceptable enough for you?

The truth of the matter is, you should always follow your gut.

Just because a lesbian friend of a friend owns a business, they may or may not be ethical, or they may be gay-friendly in theory but not in practice. Or, maybe they’re open to gay travelers, but not trans* travelers. And just because your Yahoo search unearths a keyword-friendly link to a major airline or travel planner doesn’t mean “gay-friendliness begins here.”

What’s a roaming soul to do? Take some extra time, if you can make some of it.

 LGBT-Inclusive Travel Options

Where to begin? First, ask questions.  Make a call or post a question on a timeline in a forum.

Scroll and stroll through a few of the options here, and if time permits, be sure to do at least a little sleuthing before making plans. Visit not only an official homepage, but find Yelp, Yahoo and Google reviews, see if you kind find some blog posts about the business, and you might even check out Twitter or Facebook timelines (not just posts, but visitors’ and customers’ feedback).

A quick click tip: check out amenity offerings in advance: if you find a hotel isn’t hooking you up, make sure you “fight for your right to party” (mini-bars aren’t just for straight folks).

A Word About Transgender and Intersex Travel

Because there are less folks (so far!) who proactively hang out Transgender Pride pink-blue-white flags alongside those rainbows, a bit of creativity is required should you want to plan before hitting the road, and if you want that extra vote of trans-inclusive confidence.

We’re preaching to the choir here, but trans folks are most concerned while traveling at home or abroad when it comes to medical care. Trans vacation-goers: be sure to have copies of all documentation you feel comfortable bringing, especially when traveling abroad.

Take extra supplies, supplements or items you need for personal and medical care, and get situated with the paperwork ASAP, so you can relax into the pleasure of traveling.

Though lived experience for trans folks changes exponentially by the day, finding trans-friendly or trans-owned companies with trans-exclusive or best interests in mind is harder. You can check out some of the LGB resources below, too.

But for more trans-inclusive options, it’s best to ask around, and consult folks and/or online destinations that have a history of solid trans advocacy and helpful advice, along with LGBT places such as:

* TS RoadMap Int’l

* Laura’s Playground Forums (FTM and MTF)

* Sparta (Military folks are often experienced travelers

* ISNA

* The Brown Boi Project

* Ask local (or closest, or in-state/country) LGBT or PFLAG center/groups

* Gender.org US State-by-State

* Search LGBT Housing resources in the area (by default, you’ll get a better feel for environments)

* Find trans-friendly or LGBT-friendly advice that comes directly from a governmental source (e.g. this one from the UK)

* Surf Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube, and ask questions – tons of indie trans groups and bloggers pop up all the time.

Also again, like with all else, follow your instincts.

Though the sites above don’t specifically have to do with travel, trans* folks share many empowering resources, and connecting with folks online or in trans-specific support groups or health-care focused groups is invaluable for all kinds of referrals, including travel spots, the most trans-inclusive travel agencies, or places, what’s most cool, amazing or best avoided, and how keep safety in mind.

LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Alternatives

For Bi Folks

If you desire bi-specific travel experiences, you can review some more general resources below (such as centers and the like), or inquire with bi-affirming support groups or forums, as it’s not yet common for folks to hang out an “Open” sign for bi-only travel experiences. You can find that information with a bit of investigation, or by approaching an out, bi travel agent or bisexual travel-related business owner (check your local or state-based LGBT chamber of commerce or business directory).

The Random Factor: Pick A Pride, Any Pride

If you’re not sure exactly where you want to go and have a hankering to explore, you might just want to plan a trip to a Pride event in a new city or country. Interpride’s got you covered.

If you’d rather have a walkabout, look for destinations in larger metro areas (preferably ones that hold yearly pride events and/or are near colleges, which tend to attract more diversity-aware business owners, for financial reasons, at least).

Got a little extra cash? Then search for LGBT-only and LGBT-specific travel groups, agencies, and travel agents (not just travel packages, which may or may not diversity-minded).

A couple of recommendations: Olivia,  IGLTA or Out-Adventures.com. (Al and Chuck Travel, for example, is a gay-owned branch of another company, and often has to negotiate LGBT travelers’ experience around a main travel group’s preferences—you don’t just have the cruise ships to yourself or your group).

Also check out:

* Airbnb (search for “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” and more—don’t just click go but read and talk to the owner(s) first

* Craigslist (yes, you can still find more than just bootie calls there.)

* Dinah In Color

* Gaydays.com, Gaydaysanaheim.com

* Spiritjourneys.com

* Damron.com

* Rfamilyvacations.com

* Kimpton LGBT Guest Loyalty Perks

* Sweet

* PurpleRoofs.com

All told, if someone’s going to be n “LGBT-unfriendly” jerk—or worse—you can’t control it.

But you can, with a little forethought, try to better the odds, and you can always control your actions and reactions in the face of discrimination.

The point of traveling (beyond that kind you need to or have to do) is all about the frolic, comfort and joy. So, “go and get you some o’ that!”

Happy Travels.

Would you rather know for sure that your travel agent is family? Does that even matter to you?