10 Travel Planning Tips for LGBTQ+ Explorers


Meg Ten Eyck is one of the world’s leading experts in LGBTQ+ Travel. Meg has visited 60+ countries, serves on the Board of Directors for IGLTA and Belmond Hotels, has spoken at conferences on five continents, written three books and had her content read by millions. Follow her adventures around the world on Instagram @MegTenEyck

At Skyscanner, we encourage everyone to travel no matter how you identify or who you love. But we also recognise there are some important considerations when planning your travel as a member of the LGBTQ+ community to ensure your safety and create those amazing lifelong memories.

As a white, thin, queer femme from the United States, my travel experiences and expectations are different than my LGBTQ+ friends who are BIPOC, transgender, disabled etc. In an effort to be as inclusive and intersectional as possible I reached out to the best in the business for their tips and recommendations on LGBTQ+ affirming travel planning.

1. Start Your Research With IGLTA

Founded in 1983, IGLTA aims to assist travellers in navigating LGBTQ+ travel challenges by offering a variety of trip planning resources and LGBTQ+ welcoming travel experiences. Social acceptance and legal protections around the world are complicated, but IGLTA’s marriage equality guide can simplify this, as it allows travellers to explore which countries and regions around the world offer same-sex marriage.

In addition to marriage equality, the guide also features an application that sources LGBTQ+ rights and protections in over 250 countries and regions around the world. While marriage equality isn’t the only consideration for travel planning, it’s a great start for couples looking to plan a romantic holiday. It also acts as a baseline for understanding where the destination is on its road towards acceptance. 

2. Book with an LGBTQ+ Travel Advisor

Jove Meyers, a well-known wedding and events planner, suggests hiring an LGBTQ+ travel advisor. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community himself, Jove frequently assists his couples with their honeymoon plans. “The best way to know about a location is to partner with an amazing travel advisor, someone who specialises in LGBTQ+ travel, as they will know best where you can go and be yourself without worry or fear,” he says. A clued-in travel advisor can help you book with travel partners, hotels and activities that are LGBTQ+ loving, so you can avoid uncomfortable and/or awkward moments during your trip.

“An LGBTQ+ travel advisor, like Kelli Carpenter, understands that resorts that declare that ‘all are welcome’ may not truly include us. She’ll make sure you’re seen, celebrated and affirmed.”

Ed Salvato, LGBTQ+ Marketing Specialist.

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Uwern Jong, Chief Experientialist at OutThere Magazine, is on the Board of Directors for IGLTA and recommends “researching hotels, resorts, experiences and destinations that are truly part of, and have taken the time to engage with, or learn from the LGBTQ+ community.” But Uwern also warns to “be very aware of rainbow-washing.”

Media outlets dedicated to LGBTQ+ travel information are a great resource for starting this research before you go. Check out EveryQueer, Out Traveler, Diva Magazine and OutThere Magazine.

“The best travel providers have some sort of LGBTQ+ accreditation, are doing something that gives back to the community as well as their LGBTQ+ staff, and are investing in training and development to ensure that their non-LGBTQ staff understand the needs of travellers and become allies to the community.”

Uwern Jong, OutThere Magazine

4. Connect with Local LGBTQ+ People

Some of my most memorable travel experiences are the ones where I was immersed with the local community. I recently travelled to Argentina where I exclusively hung out with local people. The queer women I met on the trip took me under their wing and gave me an insider’s look at queer life in Buenos Aires. Local LGBTQ+ are always the best source of information for travel questions around safety, community and events.

One of the best ways to get in touch with local people is through social media and dating apps. Connect with local LGBTQ+ people via Facebook groups, search Instagram hashtags in the language of the country you’re visiting and don’t forget to reach out via dating apps like HER, Grindr or Scruff.

5. Stay in LGBTQ+ Affirming Accommodation

Finding LGBTQ+ affirming accommodation ensures that wherever you’re resting your head, you’re in an environment where you’re safe and welcomed. With so many options it can be tough to decide what the best scenario is for your loved ones. Airbnbs can offer a level of privacy that hotels may not offer but staying at a hotel or resort can give you access to staff that can guide you to local people within the LGBTQ+ community. However, while hotel or Airbnb reviews may mention safety, they often won’t speak specifically to our concerns as queer travellers.

To combat issues around safety in accommodation, Ed Salvato recommends “choosing hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Accor because they offer their customer-facing staff a minimal level of LGBTQ+ training. For luxurious and LGBTQ-welcoming accommodations try Preferred Hotels and Belmond.”

Ed Salvato, LGBTQ+ Marketing Specialist.

6. Follow LGBTQ+ Travel Influencers

One of the best parts of following influencers is that they all have their own unique experiences, interests, styles and identities. They’re like media pokemon cards at this point – we’re trying to collect them all. Engage 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 an area. For example, I love following Kirstie and Christine of On Airplane Mode because they have similar tastes and travel styles to me. I know that when they love a destination, chances are, I will too. Influencers also give us an idea of how we will be perceived in a destination or what we should be on the lookout for while travelling.

“As an queer, plus-size woman, I start my travel planning with two focuses: accessibility and safety. For accessibility, sites like AllGo can be super helpful as well as the Fat Girls Traveling facebook group (which is LGBTQ+ friendly) for finding what the activity will be like for a plus-size queer traveller.”

Alysse Dalessandro of Ready To Stare is an advocate for plus-size travellers.

7. Download Helpful Apps

From translation services and currency conversion to navigation, apps are game changers for travel accessibility. Download apps like Maps.Me to always have a map on your phone (even when you are without WiFi) and Refuge Restrooms is amazing for finding non-conforming bathrooms. In terms of safety, apps like GeoSure provide location-based safety information specifically for LGBTQ+ travellers.

8. Find LGBTQ+ Specific Cultural Centres

In many destinations, there are LGBTQ+ centres, historical sites or entire gaybourhoods dedicated to helping you while you are there travelling. For example, The LGBTQ Centre in New York City has access to travel guides and information to point you in the right direction for your specific interests. Visiting local gaybourhoods like the Chueca District in Madrid gives you an insider’s take on the LGBTQ+ culture in Spain.

9. Plan Your Trip Around LGBTQ+ Events

Planning your trip around local Prides or an LGBTQ+ festival or events guarantees a connection to the local community. Events like Rose Girls in Buenos Aires or Bangkok’s White Party bring together locals and travellers alike 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 it also maintains a Pride Calendar which features hundreds of different Pride events around the world.

“Travelling 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 all over the world, who are as passionate about travel and equality as you are.”

Uwern Jong, OutThere Magazine

10. Consider Group Travel for Safety

In destinations around the world where LGBTQ+ identities are criminalised, travelling with a group can be a safe and affirming way to see some of the most beautiful wonders of the world. It is still illegal to be LGBTQ+ in 70+ countries.

Travelling with a group allows you to blend in while still seeing destinations like the Pyramids of Giza or Bali. Book tours with LGBTQ+ owned Wild Rainbow African Safaris, R Family Vacations or Source Events.

While the LGBTQ+ community is becoming more widely accepted today, queer voices remain vastly marginalised around the world. As a community we face challenges because LGBTQ+ social acceptance, policies and protections vary widely.

I’ve spent the last decade championing LGBTQ+ issues around the globe but if I’ve learned anything it’s that travel is immensely personal. Our identities impact our travel decisions and experiences but they do not prevent us as LGBTQ+ people from exploring the world. With the right resources, LGBTQ+ explorers can have just as safe and rewarding travel experience as our straight/cis peers.

Discover where you can go

Ready to get back out there? Plan your next trip by reading up on the latest COVID-19 travel advice and checking where you can go with our interactive global map.

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