The vast majority of the world is becoming increasingly tolerant of people from all walks of life. People can travel almost anywhere they desire regardless of their age, sex, ethnicity or sexual preference. However, a few places have not yet embraced the modern lifestyle. It is advisable to read up on the traditions and culture of your chosen destination before departing. The following tips will help you choose the perfect destination for your next vacation and ensure you have a safe and memorable trip.
1. Explore Alternative Destinations
If you’re sick of San Francisco and Mykonos, why not try looking for an alternative destination for your next vacation? Thailand, Israel and Sweden all have thriving gay communities. Even destinations such as India have become more accepting of same-sex couples.
2. Seek Advice on Accommodation
A good hotel is essential for an enjoyable holiday. Make sure you thoroughly research all your options before making your decision. Bear in mind that some hotels do not accept bookings from same-sex couples, so check before you book. If you know someone who has travelled to your chosen destination, ask them for the name of the hotel they stayed at or any nice ones they may have come across. Remember, just because a particular town is gay-friendly doesn’t mean each and every business owner will be.
3. Research the Area
If you will be visiting churches, temples or mosques, you will need to bring along clothing that covers your legs and arms. Women are also required to cover their head in certain cultures. Always remember that rural areas are usually less tolerant of the LGBT community. If you are staying in a resort, check with the staff if it is safe to venture outside before leaving.
4. Be Wary of Cruising Areas
Some countries still operate stings in well-known cruising spots. The penalties may also be much stricter than what you are used to back home. This also applies to internet chat rooms that are related to a specific area as they may be monitored by local police. Stick to gay nightspots and bars in order to avoid getting into trouble.
5. Avoid Elaborate Public Displays of Affection
Some cultures frown upon couples becoming overly amorous when out in public. This applies to both same-sex couples and heterosexual couples. Simple acts such as kissing or holding hands is also forbidden in certain parts of the world. Engaging in sex before marriage could even result in you getting arrested, so avoid getting carried away in open spaces such as beaches or forest.
6. Be Wary of Overly Friendly Strangers
Unsavoury characters will occasionally try to take advantage of the generally free and open nature of the gay community. Never accept drinks from strangers and keep your drink with you at all times. Never accompany a stranger back to their home or hotel, and stick to crowded, well lit areas. If you do, bring a guest back to your hotel room, stay alert and store all your valuables in the hotel safe.
7. Never Use Illegal Substances When Abroad
Drug use may be commonplace within the gay scene, but some countries impose heavy penalties on those caught with illegal substances. Many countries in Southeast Asia still impose the death penalty on foreigners caught with a sizable amount of narcotics. Even a small amount of marijuana could get you several years in an Asian prison, so stay well away from any kind of drugs.
8. Visit the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s Website
The ILGA website features an interactive map that shows any countries that have laws prohibiting same-sex relationships. You can search specifically for male or female relationships and even view what penalties the different countries impose. It is definitely worth consulting this website before you travel as a few countries enforce the death penalty for same-sex couples.
9. Ensure You Have the Address of Your Embassy with You at All Times
Write down the address of your country’s embassy and keep it with your passport or ID card. If you get into trouble of any kind, whether as a victim or a perpetrator, they will be your first port of call. Your embassy can also offer you travel advice and local information. It is advisable to check their website or contact them by email for non-urgent enquires rather than visiting the embassy itself.
10. Purchase a Good Guide Book
The wealth of information available on the internet can sometimes be overwhelming. A guide book will list just the essential information you require about your chosen destination. A good guide book will even provide simple phrases in the local language to help you in countries that do not speak English. Damron.com has a wide selection of guide books especially for the LGBT community including specialised ones for those travelling with pets.
Travelling the world is a life-changing experience that introduces you to different cultures, religions, traditions and cuisine. Being able to share that experience with a loved one is the perfect opportunity to create some wonderful memories together. As long as you respect the local customs and avoid any risky situations, you are sure to have an unforgettable vacation. Do you have any other tips to share with us?