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Important LGBTQ Travel Safety Tips

lgbtq travel safety tips
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Why is LGBTQ Travel Safety a Concern?

The ability to travel safely and independently as a member of the LGBTQ community without being required to conceal who you are is not always possible.

As many LGBTQ travelers know, not all destinations are gay-friendly, and many criminalize any behavior that strays from heterosexuality. 

lgbtq traveler safety concerns

Even in places known to be LGBTQ-welcoming, there isn’t any guarantee that every hotel, restaurant, or tour guide will properly respect everyone equally regardless of their sexual orientation or gender expression.

LGBTQ tourists worry about all sorts of safety issues. Same-sex can encounter harassment when traveling with their children. Transgender travelers frequently experience issues with border control in airports if their passport-listed gender doesn’t match their appearance.

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Without proper preparation, chances are higher that gay travelers will face negative consequences that non-LGBTQ people don’t experience. To make sure you have the safest trip possible, here are some of the most important LGBTQ travel safety tips.

Carry Updated Identification

Identification cards are extremely important when it comes to the safety of trans, gender-queer, and gender-nonconforming travelers.

Before embarking on your trip, ensure that your passport, driver’s license, and any other documents reflect your gender expression to the best extent possible. This is also important if you need to obtain visas later on, in that there isn’t any legal question regarding gender.

updating personal travel documentation

As of April 2022, the United States allows the option of the X gender marker on passports, joining a handful of other nations.

And of course, always keep your identification handy. You never know when you’ll need it the most.

Choose a Gay-Friendly Destination

Choosing a destination that’s truly LGBTQ-welcoming can make all the difference in terms of safety and comfortability. We all love gay-favorite destinations like Puerto Vallarta, New York City, and Tel Aviv.

But keep in mind—even though certain countries or states are said to be gay-friendly, there will be gray areas in many instances.

safe LGBTQ travel destination

For example, while Croatian destinations like Dubrovnik and Split are often marketed as gay-friendly, many locals are still socially conservative. In the United States, many gay-friendly destinations like Miami and Denver are within conservative-leaning states.

If you’re curious about how gay-friendly a certain city or country is, wolfyy’s gay travel guides will explain what the local gay experience is like, along with any applicable safety tips!

Ask Locals for LGBTQ Safety Information

Making connections with the local gay community while traveling is a useful way to learn about a place’s LGBTQ safety situation. Since they’ve already experienced being LGBT in the destination, they should be able to tell you about any situations to look out for.

Locals also all the hidden gems a destination has to offer, especially spots that most travel websites don’t mention. If you didn’t know, this is wolfyy’s main objective!

LGBTQ travel safety tips from local

You can meet locals through mutual friends or even via mobile applications like Grindr or Tinder. Remember that chatting with LGBTQ+ locals is also an option—you don’t have to wait until you get there.

If you’ll be using gay applications, just make sure you’re clear about wanting “friends-only!”

Use a VPN while traveling to keep your online data private or if you plan to use any gay applications in countries where they’re banned. One of the best services is NordVPN.

Staying Safe with Anti-LGBT Laws

Many world nations still criminalize homosexuality or have outdated anti-LGBT laws. Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Dubai in the UAE are two examples. When visiting places like these, it’s important to follow local customs and keep a low profile as necessary.

Oppressive anti-LGBT laws are not always enforced against foreigners in many destinations. While this bodes well for travelers, you can’t discount the remaining negative impact on locals. Gay travelers safely visit nations with anti-gay legislation all the time, but they do so carefully.

safely visiting Anti LGBT destination

Avoiding public displays of affection is most important. In strict Muslim countries, this even applies to heterosexual unmarried individuals!

A few other essential LGBTQ travel safety tips are to dress conservatively in accordance with the local customs, refrain from LGBT-related conversation or publicly mentioning the word “gay,” and don’t use any gay identifiers on social media.

Know Your Rights & Resources

Do your research ahead of time to understand all the rights and resources you have in the locations you’ll be traveling, whether they are LGBTQ+ rights or simply basic human rights!

Especially for trans individuals, knowing your rights while navigating US airport security is important. For rights and resources in all different countries, you can utilize Equaldex or information provided by IGLTA.

lgbtq traveler airport safety rights

Alert your country’s government of travel plans, providing as many details as possible about your destination, flights, and other crucial info that could be used to help you in an emergency. Utilize safety programs like the U.S. Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

Stay in a Gay Hotel

Staying in a gay hotel or at least a gay-friendly accommodation is an easy way to make your trip safe, comfortable, and fun! Many destinations with large populations of gay locals or LGBTQ visitors will have plenty of options.

gay friendly destinations

Places like Key West and Barcelona offer gay-friendly hotels and hostels that are simple to identify since they’re widely promoted as “gay hotels.” There are also a few world-renowned gay hotel chains like Axel Hotels.

Accommodations in more mainstream destinations might indicate they’re LGBTQ-friendly on Google Map listings or have an inclusivity section on their website.

If you’re visiting a city with a known gay neighborhood, hotels in the local gay area are much more likely to be LGBTQ-welcoming and cater to LGBTQ travelers.

safe LGBT travel

When visiting places without any specifically gay hotels or a gayborhood, it’s best to choose an internationally-known hotel chain that has a defined commitment to LGBTQ inclusivity, like Hilton, Radisson, or Accor Hotels.

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Written in collaboration with Asif from TheLondon.Info

For more general safety information, see wolfyy’s ultimate list of travel safety tips.

Find inspiration for your next getaway with wolfyy’s gay travel guides to destinations around the world.

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