When travelling abroad, many of us may feel the need to be more cautious and aware of our surroundings. While visiting new communities can enrich our appreciation for the world around us, exploring areas we aren’t familiar with can introduce new risks and anxieties, as well as challenge our sense of security. With that being said, marginalized groups face a disproportionate amount of discrimination and danger when travelling. While we may know the safe spaces in our own communities, finding these spaces abroad can feel destabilizing. Especially for those that don’t always feel safe, to begin with. This is the case for many members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. With this in mind, we’ve outlined a list of resources and practices for how to feel safer as LGBTQ+ travellers.
Online Community Groups
A great way to generate a sense of community and safety before embarking on a trip is to join online forums and groups that are created for queer folk in a specific area! For example, on Facebook, if we type the words “queer” or “LGBTQ” followed by a region like Chicago or Vienna in the search engine, several groups will appear. Some of these pages are directed towards sharing LGBTQIA2S+ friendly events in town, but others can also be more specific, like helping travellers find housing or resources while on a student exchange program. Some pages are also dedicated to exposing homophobic and dangerous spaces and businesses in a given city. A quick search on this page can help locals and travellers know which areas to avoid.
Following other queer travel bloggers or local influencers can also help alert travellers to spaces that are welcoming, exciting and safe!
Apps, Websites and Resources
Apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all valuable resources for travellers! However, the use of specialized apps and resources can be really beneficial. For example, using the app and website Misterb&b is a great way to book accommodations that will be safe for queer tourists. All hosts are either queer themselves or are incredibly accepting towards members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. This can help travellers ensure a safe and comfortable stay. It’s also a wonderful way to get involved with the local queer community, as hosts can introduce their guests to new destinations, events and people.
The website and Instagram account “Everywhere is Queer” is another great example of an interactive resource to help queer travellers. While the Instagram account highlights specific queer-owned businesses, the interactive online map allows people to identify their own business or other ones they may know as being queer-owned and safe for all. This showcases businesses, restaurants and hotels around the world.
Another helpful resource is the Ilga.org website. Here, tourists can find the information they can use to empower themselves and learn about the laws and regulations of the place they’re visiting. This Sexual Orientation Laws map is a great example, as travellers can use it to spark further research and determine whether a place is safe for them.
Lastly, this guide from ManAboutWorld has a variety of resources to help travellers plan their trips according to a country’s laws and cultural customs. There are also several excerpts from other LGBTQIA2S+ travellers, showcasing their experiences and advice for future generations of tourists.
Queer-friendly Tours and Vacations
Another phenomenal way to meet like-minded and loving people as a queer traveller is to seek queer-led tours and organized vacations. Doing this, especially for an entire organized trip, can help maximize safety and foster a strong sense of community.
Know Local Laws, Customs, and Know Your Rights
While it is always encouraged to research a country’s reputation when it comes to the LGBTQIA2S+ community, researching local laws and customs ahead of time can help ease travellers’ minds before and during their trip.
Lastly, knowing your rights in airports can be especially relevant for transgender and nonbinary travellers, as they can face being misgendered from their passport, or have their hormones (oral pills and injections) taken away without a doctor’s note.
By: Briahna McTigue