With global awareness and acceptance of the LGBTQ community on the rise, the niche for LGBTQ travel accommodations has expanded as well. Options for both group travel and private charter tours for LGBTQ members are available for a number of destinations – each with their own pros and cons.
Joining an LGBTQ travel group can offer both benefits and drawbacks: There’s safety in numbers and the chance for a trip full of fun times, but you might not have as much chance to customize your experience, and personality conflicts can cause difficulties.
Let’s take a closer look at the Pros and Cons of planning a trip with an LGBTQ travel group.
What Are The Pros of An LGBTQ Travel Group?
If you’re a member of the community, there are a number of reasons you may want to plan a trip with an LGBTQ travel group, as opposed to flying solo. Potential reasons include:
- You’re in a group that understands gender-identity/orientation issues
- There’s insulation and camaraderie, and support as needed
- Safety in numbers
- Can be sure to land in community friendly destinations
- Pay group rates
- Potential for less stress
- Itinerary, luggage and housing is usually managed
- Expert support and guidance in emergencies
- Easier to make contact with friendly local cultural and historical experts
An Understanding Group Dynamic:
One of the greatest benefits to planning your trip with an LGBTQ travel group is that you know you’ll be around people who understand something of your unique perspective on life. Even if an individual doesn’t share your specific orientation, they do have some understanding of your experiences in having a ‘non-mainstream’ identity and orientation.
For many people, being surrounded by people with similar life experiences can be relaxing. It can be helpful to know you’re among like-minded individuals.
Insulation, Camaraderie and Support:
One commonly reported positive of traveling with an LGBTQ group as opposed to alone, or in a more mainstream group, is that your group is likely to have your back in situations where others might not understand.
For example, if the tour group decides to visit a location like a bar or a well-known hot spot for nightlife, members of the group can act as buffers, or even ‘beards’, for each other, to protect against unwanted attention. This can be a great help, especially for people who are shyer, or less comfortable in mixed social settings.
Safety In Numbers:
This perk isn’t limited to LGBTQ tour groups, but it’s still a valid point for travel – there’s safety in numbers. Travelers generally feel like they’ll be safer when they make plans to travel with a group.
It’s also harder to get lost when you have more members of the party to follow, which is good if you have an issue with getting turned around in unfamiliar locations, or have trouble remembering destinations.
Guaranteed LGBTQ Friendly Destinations:
While many locations and countries have opened their arms, and their borders, to the LGBTQ community, not everyone is so welcoming. Unfortunately, more conservative locations and countries may even have a hostile response to the presence of LGBTQ members.
Making plans with a travel group means you have a guarantee that your destinations will have been evaluated beforehand for safety and hospitality. That means that, before you leave, you have assurances that you’ll wind up in a place that’s safe and welcoming.
It might not be proof against the occasional negative individual or interaction, but it does reduce the chances that you’ll have to deal with people who have negative feelings toward the LGBTQ community.
This is another benefit that’s not limited to LGBTQ travel groups – paying group rates.
Many locations offer discounted prices for groups at or over a certain size. The reduced rates can be very helpful to people who may want to travel on a budget. At the very least, it leaves more money available for souvenirs, or an occasional side trip.
Potential For Less Stress – Details Are Already Managed:
Travel groups, LGBTQ or otherwise, often offer travel packages with a preset itinerary. Luggage, transportation, housing, and activities are all managed, at least to a certain degree.
If you have trouble making decisions, or aren’t sure what you might want to see and do, or how to find a place to stay, then having a group to take care of these concerns can be a huge relief. Having a prearranged itinerary also makes it easier to pack for different activities, so you don’t feel unprepared for anything.
Expert Support and Guidance Available:
Another benefit of traveling with a group is that you’ve got expert support on hand to help you out in an emergency. Travel groups, LGBTQ or otherwise, often offer guides and chaperones for their groups, to help minimize the risk of getting lost.
Groups also provide contact information and contingencies in case of accidents or emergencies. With a proper, well-established group, you can be sure of having options if something goes wrong, whether it’s a wrong turn while exploring, or an injury or illness that strikes unexpectedly.
Easier To Contact Local Experts:
Travel groups often have contacts among the local community. They know experts in the history and culture of a given region, and can arrange some truly fascinating stories or experiences.
For LGBTQ groups, this means they’ll know any significant community history or hot spots. They can also plan your trips around LGBTQ community events that may be happening in a certain region, or direct you to unique locations.
What Are The Cons of An LGBTQ Travel Group?
Of course, traveling in a group, LGBTQ or otherwise, has the potential for some drawbacks. Some of the potential ‘cons’ include:
- There’s the potential for a slightly biased ‘one-note’ experience.
- Personality conflicts are harder to avoid
- The experience can be overwhelming
- Possibly more expensive
- Not as much chance to customize your experience
- Not as much chance to look for ‘hidden gems’
- The group can be very conspicuous
Potential For a ‘One-Note’ Experience:
Some people traveling with LGBTQ groups have said that it feels like they have a ‘biased’ or a ‘one-note’ experience. In other words, their LGBTQ travel group focused too much on one aspect of the whole travel experience – such as focusing too much on stereotypical LGBTQ activities and communities.
It can be nice to know you’re in the company of like-minded individuals, or people who have similar life experiences. However, for those who are looking for a broader range of activity and cultural exposure, this can be detrimental to their travel goals.
Personality Conflicts Can Be Problematic:
This is actually a potential difficulty in any travel group, LGBTQ or otherwise. Traveling in a group, personality conflicts can be exacerbated. Being in close proximity for a week or more, people can find that they’re getting on each other’s nerves.
A potential difficulty for LGBTQ groups is that the known similarities may highlight major differences, which can cause tension. It’s not always true, but it is something to be aware of – respect each other’s unique personality traits, and try not to let anyone bother you too much.
If you aren’t used to crowds or groups, the experience of traveling in a group can be overwhelming. In an LGBTQ group, the various community personalities can be a bit difficult for people who aren’t used to the community as a whole, or people who have recently come to terms with their identity.
Another facet of being overwhelmed is the sheer pace of most travel groups. These groups aim to make sure their customers get their money’s worth, which usually means a full itinerary with a lot of activities and a lot of travel time.
If you’re not used to a lot of activity, or to the LGBTQ community in general (for example, if you just recently came out) a travel group might be difficult to keep up with.
Possibly More Expensive:
There are rumors that LGBTQ only travel groups are more expensive than other travel groups. Whether that’s true or not, and why it might be true, this is an issue that’s best to explore on your own.
Prices may be based on outside factors, and this is something that needs to be carefully reviewed before you commit your resources to a tour group.
Not As Much Chance To Customize Experience:
Some travel groups schedule times and days that are labeled ‘free time’, which allow members to go exploring on their own. Others aim to have a full itinerary, with activities from breakfast to supper.
Either way, traveling with a group, LGBTQ or otherwise, may not allow you as much time to explore and customize the experience as you might want. If you’re a very spontaneous sort of traveler, then a travel group might not be the best experience for you.
Some people are out ‘loud and proud’. Others, while comfortable with their identity and orientation, tend to be quieter and less inclined to advertise their personal leanings. Others still may be coming to terms with their individual identity, and not quite comfortable in their own skins.
Travel groups are large, and naturally very conspicuous. Some LGBTQ travel groups are also very up-front about being LGBTQ oriented. While this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, it can make less certain or outgoing members of the community feel a little uncomfortable.
If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, there’s something to be said for making travel arrangements with a group that you know supports your identity. However, like any travel experience, there are pros and cons to travel groups that focus on the LGBTQ, and you’ll want to consider both sides before making your plans.