It’s no secret that traveling overseas as part of the LGBTQ+ community has the potential to be incredibly dangerous. Even if you are in an area that is traditionally pro-LGBTQ, there are risks that you will be facing that others won’t. This is why it is so important that you take the time to research tips for safe travels.
On this page, we want to share some tips to help improve your safety while traveling, whether it is overseas or within your country. These tips are specific to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Of course, there are other tips that everybody should bear in mind e.g. not walking in dodgy areas late at night, not flashing your cash, etc. We won’t cover those ones here.
Always Research Local Laws
Unfortunately, many countries still have laws in place that are anti-gay and anti-trans. For example, some countries ban same-sex public displays of affection, or homosexuality altogether. Now, obviously, you should try to avoid these countries as much as possible. You’d have to hide who you are too much, and they aren’t all that safe for LGTBQ travelers. However, this shouldn’t stop you from researching local laws elsewhere.
While we do not advise you to travel somewhere that has anti-gay legislation in place, we know that some of you may still want to do so. Therefore, it is important that you do your research to know what you can and can’t do there. Thankfully, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find tons of information about various country’s laws online.
Remember, many of the countries that do have strong anti-gay legislation will also have incredibly harsh punishments in place as well. If you fall foul of the law, then you could end up with a prison sentence. Your home country isn’t going to be able to help you with that either. They may offer some legal support, but they won’t be able to get the punishment removed, etc.
Avoid Entrapment Campaigns
Unfortunately, some countries are so anti-gay that they try and track gay people…even the tourists. Although, this is, thankfully, a practice that has started to die out somewhat.
In some countries, police will keep tabs on various websites, dating sites, and known gay meeting locations. If they even remotely suspect you of being LGBTQ, then they could arrest you.
This is one of the main reasons why we suggest that you try to avoid the notoriously anti-gay countries. Even if you try to hide who you are a lot, there are so many ways for you to slip up, and this can really put a dampener on your trip.
Just because a country has started to accept gay rights at a legislative level, it doesn’t mean that the people’s attitudes will have changed. It is always important that you look into the culture of a country before you decide whether to travel there. Remember, a country’s culture can change from region to region. You are far, far more likely to find people accepting of LGBTQ in the major towns and cities than in the rural area.
A good example of this is the United States. Obviously, the country could do more for gay rights, but it is getting there. There are major cities in the US where it is decently safe to live as a gay or trans person. However, if you started getting into the rural deep south of the country, things could get incredibly difficult for you.
Once again, while we do advise you to avoid the areas where cultures are a bit behind the times, we know that we can’t tell you to avoid them completely. There may be a few major things that you want to see in those areas. So, unfortunately, you’ll just have to keep your true self hidden a little bit. We know it can be hard, but it is the only way to stay safe in some areas.
Do bear in mind that while there are some places with pro-LGBTQ areas, they can be very segregated. For example, there are some places where you could have a major gay resort bringing in a lot of money to the economy. But, the second you step outside of the resort gates, you could find yourself in a world of trouble. This is why it is so important to research everything about a location. Don’t just assume that because you are staying in a gay-friendly resort that you are going to be safe at all times.
Don’t Disclose Your Sexuality To Those You Don’t Know
We know this sounds so wrong of us to say but, unfortunately, it is what it is. We have heard some horror stories of people disclosing their sexuality to others, only to end up being the victim of violence, either physical or verbal. We don’t want you to be in that position.
Unless you are 100% confident that the person that you are talking to is going to be accepting of who you are, we seriously suggest that you keep your sexuality to yourself. It is the only way to stay safe. As we said, we know that this does sound completely wrong to say. We know that you want to be yourself as much as possible. However, your safety is on the line here.
This is part of the reason why people will often spend their time in proper gay resorts, clubs, etc. It means that you can be yourself and, most of the time, you just know that the person that you are chatting to is 100% fine with who you are.
Let Somebody Know Where You Are Traveling
We suppose that this is a tip that applies to everybody, not just LGBTQ+ travelers. Although, it is certainly worthy of inclusion here.
Wherever you go traveling, it is always important that you let people back home know exactly where you are. You may want to check in with them on occasion too. This means that if there are any issues while you are traveling, they are much easier to deal with.
Before you head out on your travels, we suggest that you prepare your itinerary and a list of relevant phone numbers. Give it to a few people that you trust. Let at least one of them know that you will check in regularly, and let them know what they can do if there are any issues.
Research Your Destination
We know that we mentioned that you should do some research into local laws and culture. However, your research should extend beyond this too.
Before we travel to a new destination, we always like to research any locations that have been labeled as queer-friendly. These may be tourist attractions, bars, restaurants, shops, or just general queer-friendly neighborhoods.
When you research your destination like this, you’ll be creating a list of known safe locations for you to be. Locations where you are going to run into far fewer issues. Although, of course, you will still want to make sure that you follow the standard rules for safety. You should never let your guard down when you are traveling in an unfamiliar location.
Look For Queer-Friendly Resorts and Hotels
We know that this sort of links into ‘research your destination’, but we do want to make searching for queer-friendly resorts and hotels as its own individual tip. This is because we find it ever so important.
Chances are, you are going to be spending a lot of time around your hotel. You may be chilling in the restaurant, bar, or having a swim. You want to feel safe in those areas, and going to a resort known for being queer-friendly is really going to help you on that front.
You’ll also find that queer-friendly resorts and hotels will be packed with like-minded people. This could help you to make a friend or two and, as you know, there is always safety in numbers!
Meet With Other LGBTQ+ People
If possible, we suggest that you try and meet up with other LGBTQ+ people. There are plenty of websites online that should make this a little bit easier for you. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Firstly, it is always nice to make some friends, especially if you are traveling alone. Sometimes, it is best to create shared experiences. Even if you don’t make a lifelong friend here, at least you’ll have some amazing memories of your travels.
Secondly, it is just safer to be around people that you know and trust. As we said in the previous section, there is safety in numbers. If you meet people that are familiar with the destination that you are traveling to (we try to meet up with trusted locals), then you may also find it easier to get to the gay hotspots. The ones that the tourist guides rarely talk about.
Of course, don’t just meet up with anybody. You’ll still want to do a bit of due diligence here. We want you to be safe while you are traveling, after all.
Don’t Go Home With Anybody You Don’t Know
Again, this is a tip that could apply to non-LGTBQ+ people too, but we find that it is much more important that LGBTQ+ people pay a lot more attention to this rule. We have heard a lot of horror stories of non-accepting people preying on gay bars/clubs, picking somebody up, and then being violent toward them.
Now, we are not saying that you can’t have a bit of fun while you are traveling. A lot of people do. You’ll just have to do your due diligence before. If you do meet somebody that you really like, then always let somebody else know where you are going. We also suggest that you don’t go home with a person right away, especially if you have been drinking. Try and communicate for a couple of days to make sure that they are still interested.
If you do go home with them and you engage in sexual activity, then make sure that you use protection.
Use a Queer-Friendly Travel Company
If you want the safest possible trip when you are traveling, then always use a queer-friendly travel company. There are a few reasons for this.
Firstly, it is always good to support queer-friendly businesses. It helps to change attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community for the better. It also means that the companies that are very anti-gay or anti-trans don’t get your hard-earned cash. Thankfully, most top travel companies are very queer-friendly nowadays, so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
The main reason why you will want to use a queer-friendly travel company is so that they can plan your trip for you. They will know exactly where the best locations for you to travel are. They’ll make sure that you steer clear of any clear anti-gay areas. A lot of the time, they’ll put you right in the heart of the LGBTQ+ community, making it a whole lot easier for you to find like-minded people.
Of course, working with a queer-friendly travel company is also going to save you a lot of time and effort. Staying safe as an LGBTQ+ person while traveling is notoriously difficult. You have to do a lot of planning, and you may still get things a little bit wrong. At least when you put things in the hands of somebody that you can trust, you’ll be a little bit safer.
Unfortunately, if you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, staying safe while traveling is going to be incredibly difficult. You have to put a lot of effort into researching locations and, even then, seemingly safe locations can be dangerous for you. This shouldn’t put you off of traveling. It is still a fantastic experience. Just be a bit more aware of where you are traveling and, where possible, we suggest that you try to use queer-friendly travel companies. They will help you to plan a trip where you have a much bigger chance of being safe.