Traveling as a member of the LGBTQ+ community isn’t always easy, but queer travel is on the rise nevertheless. Perhaps with access to more travel resources than ever before, queer travelers are feeling more inspired, informed, and emboldened to follow their wanderlust.
Travel is fundamentally an experience with the unknown, but for LGBTQ+ travelers, pre-departure research is of particular importance. 73 countries worldwide still have laws criminalizing homosexuality, and even in countries where it’s not illegal to be queer, cultural norms vary wildly, even from region to region. While this shouldn’t necessarily keep LGBTQ+ travelers from venturing to wherever they yearn to explore, knowing exactly what to expect can make all the difference. In the name of fearless travel, here are some of the best resources for LGBTQ+ travelers that will help you craft your dream experience:
My article “8 ways LGBTQ+I travelers adapt their behavior” sparked a lot of conversation online, and sadly the overwhelming impression I got from scrolling through the comments was that the risks and challenges of being a queer traveler weigh heavily on the shoulders of many, and are enough to put some people off completely. While I encourage being informed and cautious (admittedly there are some destinations I would personally avoid entirely), it would be misguided to believe that traveling as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is a complete write-off.
There’s no better way to feel alive to the possibilities available to us as queer travelers than by seeing someone relatable live the dream. These queer bloggers, Instagrammers, and Youtubers are a great testament to where we can go and what we can do there. Tune into their blogs, feeds, and videos for great tips, destination ideas, and daydream material.
LGBTQ+ travel blogs and vlogs
Steph and Tay are a Black-Hispanic couple originally from Texas. They’ve been on the road for four years and their feed is the antidote to travel blog déjà vu. How often do we get to see queer women of color who travel?
Nam and Nico are a married couple based in Paris, France. Their bilingual blog (French and English) documents their adventures “one gay-friendly place at a time”.
3. B Camminga
B Camminga is a South African trans traveler documenting their journey through transitioning and academia — which just so happens to take them all over the world! Cue heartfelt captions, servings of #selfie realness, and cool socks.
4. Bani Amor
Bani is a self-described queer crip writer decolonizing travel culture. Their feed is full of snippets of writing, travel photos, and updates from the POC Travel Book Club.
4. Button & Bly
This queer American travel duo has got a Youtube channel packed full of four years’ worth of videos, and they run their own channels, too — Life of Bly and This Colorful Life.
Mel and Con are an Insta-dorable lesbian couple and lifestyle bloggers who backpack together and take jealousy-inducing mountaintop pictures like this one. #visibilityforthewin
Mary Ann Thomas is a brown queer travel writer who has cycled across India, the United States, and Canada, and loves to read on the road.
Karl and Daan are a German-Dutch couple who run a jaw-droppingly beautiful blog full of stories, photographs, and videos of their travels as an openly gay couple (including gay-friendly hotel and holiday reviews).
Now that you’re hooked on some super inspiring queer travel accounts, it’s time to turn your travel envy into travel stoke by plotting an adventure of your own. The key to a great trip is just enough planning to make sure you come home in one piece, but not so much that you don’t have any fun. These resources for LGBTQ+ travelers are full of the kind of information you need to keep yourself safe and exhilarated.
This guide has been produced annually for the last 46 years and is specifically geared towards gay and bisexual men. It “offers on 970 pages around 21,000 useful listings: from bars and hotels as well as saunas to trendy shops in over 135 countries.” The guide has also been turned into an interactive app for Apple and Android.
Spartacus also puts together an annual Gay Travel Index, which ranks countries all over the world according to how gay-friendly they are.
The Damron Travel Guides have been around since 1964 and cover a wide range of focuses from gay men’s travel to lesbian travel to city-specific guides. They even have special editions to help you travel with your furbabies!
LGBTQ+ travelers are well-established enough for mainstream guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, and Fodor’s Travel to take our needs and interests into consideration. At the very least, their guidebooks include basic information about local laws and attitudes towards people from the LGBTQ+ community, but be sure to also check out their websites, which have lots of LGBTQ+ specific content.
While queer pop culture and indie magazines might not be specifically geared towards answering your burning travel-related questions, they are an excellent means of taking the local temperature of your destination, giving you the inside scoop on local LGBTQ+ issues, icons, businesses, and events. Want to know what queers are reading in Uganda? Wikipedia just made it a whole lot easier to tap into local print media by creating an international list of LGBTQ+ periodicals.
LGBTQ+ travel websites
You can’t go wrong with queer travel titans like The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, Out Traveler, and Damron, whose sites cover everything from destination guides, to travel tips, travel partners, and package tours.
LGBTQ+ news sites
If you’re looking for travel content you can sink your teeth into, then LGBTQ+ news sites are the place to go. You can find queer travel writing, photo essays, and trendy hotel reviews on INTO and Gayletter, while Pink News is full of listicles, tips, and the latest queer travel news.
Government and other official advisories
- Understanding that queer travelers have special considerations, the United States government provides LGBTI Travel Information as a useful “Before You Go” resource.
- The United Kingdom government’s Foreign Travel Advice is broken down by country and is regularly updated to reflect the latest political and environmental events. The ‘Local laws and customs’ section of each country provides critical information about laws and attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people.
- The Human Rights Campaign puts together an annual Corporate Equality Index rating workplaces in the United States on LGBTQ+ equality. Adam Groffman points out that “while it’s largely used to monitor and rate corporations, many of the brands and businesses featured in the index are in the travel/tourism sector so it can be helpful to see which travel brands are the most LGBT-inclusive.”
- Equaldex is a collaborative LGBTQ+ knowledge base built and verified by users all over the world. “The site aims to crowdsource every law related to LGBT rights to provide a comprehensive and global view of the LGBT rights movement,” which it does with slick and communicative infographics.
- Nomad List “is a crowdsourced database of cities in the world analyzing 189,266+ data points every second to help you choose where to go next”. Every city is given a score on a wide range of criteria including how LGBTQ+ friendly it is. The rating is from 1 to 5, which doesn’t make it very precise, but it gives an overall sense of the atmosphere there.
- Queering the Map is a pink equivalent to Google Maps that helps share queer moments, memories, and histories in relation to physical space. Spending a little time exploring it is a great way to get a sense of the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals on the other side of the world. It also serves as a reminder that we are everywhere, and our lives are unfolding in all sorts of circumstances.
The people we meet on our travels are often our fondest memories. Connecting with local queers can bring a new city to life and give you a sense of community even though you’re far from home. Here are some ways to connect with other LGBTQ+ people while traveling.
- misterbnb is basically the gay equivalent to Airbnb, offering the chance to “stay like a gay local”.
- Dating and hookup apps like HER and Grindr are an obvious choice if you’re looking for a little sex and romance, but they’re also a great way to make friends or join an event.
- Meetup.com have a whole Meetups section to cruise through.
- Rooting out local LGBTQ+ Facebook groups will put your finger on the pulse of low-key events that you might not find in guidebooks or on LGBTQ+ news sites.