By Debra Loew · July 2022
Although Pride Month may be over, we remain committed to supporting diversity and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community throughout the year. Moving ahead, we aim to continue highlighting the ongoing struggles that many LGBTQ+ individuals still face while traveling our world, while providing the latest information, tools and resources to help this community book their dream vacation.
To guarantee safe and welcoming situations while at home or abroad, many LGBTQ+ travelers prefer the informed guidance of a specialized advisor to help book their trips. This month, we partnered with two North American LGBTQ+ travel specialists who shared important insights and recommendations to help guide your next planning approach.
“On the surface, LGBTQ+ travelers may appear to be an easy demographic to work with given how similar we are to the overall population,” stated Scott Wismont. “The differences are very subtle, but they can lead to making or breaking a vacation.”
Wismont noted there are certain brands that have established long standing relationships with the LGBTQ+ community and work throughout the year to ensure inclusivity is a part of their daily operations. As cruising is a popular travel option for the LGBTQ+ community, Wismont specifically cited Celebrity as a favorite cruise line as they have supported the community for years in Miami and continue to work to make sure inclusivity is a part of their daily operations. On the hotel side of things, he recommends Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt as reliable brands that have put a lot of effort into their corporate training programs to ensure all travelers are treated the same and welcomed. “Disney destinations are always high on the list of LGBTQ+ travelers as well because of the reputation the company has built over the years to welcome members of our community,” he added.
Echoing those sentiments is Dean Nelson who shared some of his top picks for LGBTQ+ friendly destinations including Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Whistler in Canada and New York, Fort Lauderdale, Hawaii, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Las Vegas in the U.S. For those looking to travel beyond North America, Nelson recommends Mexico, Costa Rica, and Colombia in the Americas; Italy, Greece, Malta, Germany, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom in Europe; and Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Tahiti for those looking to the Southern Hemisphere.
As for any destinations to avoid, Nelson stated that it’s more about understanding the local customs and protocols. “It’s important to be aware of which countries are not as friendly towards the LGBTQ+ community and to have the information needed to make an informed decision on whether to travel there. For example, there are very strict codes of conduct for travel to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and other Muslim-oriented countries. Being aware of the rules is very important as is the need to have a conversation with your travel advisor to understand any risks associated with a particular destination.”
“Just because a destination does not rank well for LGBTQ+ rights, does not mean it should be avoided,” added Wismont. “Visibility matters and travelers help raise awareness for those who can’t otherwise be visible themselves. I strongly believe that traveling opens up the world for everyone. That goes beyond just the traveler experiencing something new; it means showing your own culture to your destination. In many parts of the world, it’s still a crime to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and when we travel to those destinations, we bring visibility to those who can’t be visible themselves.”
That said, when LGBTQ+ travelers head to these destinations they need to be fully prepared for what they may encounter. It’s a matter of knowing where to look and working with a travel advisor who can guide you through every step of your journey and ensure your dream vacation is everything it should be.
Image Credit: Celebrity Cruises