I love to travel. I’ve had nothing but amazing, beautiful, life-changing experiences travelling solo through many different continents and countries – uncovering new cultures as I went.
The experience of international travel as a member of the LGBTIQ+ community is likely to be slightly (or even vastly) different to that of our hetero counterparts.
Not always! But often enough.
While my experiences have always been positive and I’ve not yet encountered any major incidents (touch wood), it hasn’t been without precaution.
So, here’s a few things I do to stay safe on the road.
Explore openly but travel safely.
Whenever I’m planning an overseas trip (regardless of who I’m travelling with), there’s always a few quick checks I make. A few examples include:
- Doing a Google search to see if the country I’m planning on visiting has decriminalised homosexuality (and if not, what the penalties are).
- If travelling with a partner, using LGBTIQ+ friendly platforms to book accommodation like Airbnb or Booking.com. These organisations have strict anti-discrimination policies which offer at least some level of protection for LGBTIQ+ travellers.
- Ensuring all LGBTIQ+ dating apps have been deleted off my phone while travelling in non-LGBTIQ+ friendly destinations (or when stopping over/passing through airports). Note: in some countries, Airport security can, and often will, search your phone.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list but it’s important to think about all the ways you can minimise risk and stay safe.
Don’t be disheartened!
It’s not all bad. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite.
Travel (especially as a gay man) has allowed me to really open up, reflect and discover what it means to be me, myself and I – cheesy I know, but stay with me.
I’ve had the amazing opportunity to meet so, so, SO many like-minded individuals from all backgrounds, who have touched my life and transformed how I view the world and its inhabitants.
And it’s always been for the better! Those who I’ve shared experiences with have been some of the most accepting, loving and downright gorgeous people I’ve met to date.
I’ve also had the chance to learn about the history and struggles of LGBTIQ+ communities in other cultures – resulting in an expanded sense of solidarity and pride towards our community.
A totally biased opinion: go on a group tour.
I know what you’re thinking. And yes, it can be daunting.
Especially when you’ve got no idea what type of people you’re shacking up with for the few weeks (or even months!). Trust me, I was hesitant at first too. But my hesitation was quashed on Day 1 of my first Topdeck trip. Here’s why:
At the end of the day, we all wanted the same thing.
Turns out, the majority of people you meet on group tours are all looking for the same thing as you. An amazing travel experience they can share with some even more amazing people.
There’s absolutely no judgement – just a space where you can be free to explore who you are and what you’re passionate about.
With no limitations, you quickly realise the type of person you prefer to be!
It also felt safer.
Having travelled solo, partnered, with friends and on a group tour full of randoms (well, at first anyway) – I’ve always felt safer with a group.
That’s not to say I’ve stopped travelling solo or with a partner, but there’s just no comparing the additional protection a group tour offers.
Legit group tour providers have already done the hard work to ensure their passengers can travel safely and have the best possible time whilst doing so. I knew they had my best interests at heart.
Plus, my Trip Leaders were SO knowledgeable about each country, city and town we visited.
Personally, I have always been interested in the history of European cities – specifically around WWII and its impact on citizens of the day. My Trip Leader was able to recommend the best museums in each city that I should visit to make the most of our free days. And the others in the group, who were more interested in sight-seeing or finding local food markets, had the freedom to visit them instead.
I can’t guarantee group touring is for you, but whether you decide to travel solo, with a partner or with a bunch of randoms – there’s a whole world out there waiting for you to explore and fall in love with. And one thing I can guarantee is that it will love you just as much in return.
Pssst! Look out for #Topdecker Takeovers on The Collective and get to know some of our awesome AF Crew