Ideas and Inspiration for LGBTQ Travelers

  • Grace Lower
Dec 05, 2018

In 2015, the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage on a national level. For the first time in the nation’s history, same-sex couples were granted the right to travel domestically without concern that their marital status would change across state lines.

The United States is just one of many countries that has experienced a recent shift in attitudes about gender and sexuality. Thanks to these changes, members of the LGBTQ communities have gained greater mobility and more visibility — making international travel both safer and more enjoyable.

Before going on your next vacation, try using these resources to make your trip perfect.

Finding the right destination

Traveling freely is an essential human right, but every visitor should be mindful of their destination’s cultural nuances. While many destinations worldwide champion inclusivity, some regions aren’t safe for people who are gay and/or gender nonconforming. For travelers  are interested in LGBTQ-friendly destinations, there are a wealth of tools, reviews, and advice available online. Here are a few especially helpful resources that are worth checking out:


Since 1983, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) has  supported LGBTQ travelers with finding accommodations, tour groups, destinations, events, transport, and travel service providers. Not sure where to begin? No worries. IGLTA’s “Plan Your Trip” tool allows users to search for LGBTQ-friendly options by destination, by vacation-type, or by provider. With resources for more than 75 countries, IGLTA is a terrific starting point for LGBTQ travelers-to-be.

2. Queer in the World

Part blog, part planning tool, Queer in the World is a quirky resource for LGBTQ travel-junkies. In particular, Queer in the World’s Gay City Guides provide detailed overviews of must-see attractions in the world’s major cities. These guides include a mix of general travel recommendations along with a deep-dive into each city’s LGBTQ scene.

3. US Department of State

In addition to its standard travel advice and alerts, the US State Department has a resource compilation specifically geared toward LGBTQ travelers and their families. From passport information, to safety tips, to detailed breakdowns of different countries’ stances on same-sex marriage, the State Department’s guidance can help international travelers of any identity stay safe.


Not to be confused with the IGLTA mentioned above, the IGLA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association) supports and advocates for LGBTQ rights worldwide. What differentiates the IGLA’s website from other resources is its collection of charts, maps, and data-sets. These infographics offer an at-a-glance overview of how different countries criminalize, recognize, or protect same-sex relationships.

Choosing your own adventure

For LGBTQ travelers, finding activities that offer the right mix of safety, convenience, and fun can be daunting. There are a few different approaches that can help visitors-to-be decide how best to plan their trip:

1. LGBTQ tours and travel packages

From luxury getaways to outdoor adventures, LGBTQ-friendly tour operators take the hassle out of travel-planning. Some organizations manage a trip from start to finish, while others allow guests to develop a customized travel itinerary. Travelers can choose from docent-led or self-guided trips. No matter the preference, there are dozens of results for highly-rated, LGBTQ-friendly tour operators that can help curate the perfect travel experience.

Cruises are another popular option for gay and gender-nonconforming travelers. With endless options for leisure and recreation, LGBTQ travelers can choose to what extent they mingle with other passengers, relax in the sun, or explore what’s ashore. While many cruise lines champion diversity and inclusion, Cruise Critic has a helpful compilation of the best cruise lines for gay and lesbian passengers.

2. LGBTQ events

Attending a festival or event can be a great way meet new people and establish a connection with a destination’s LGBTQ communities. Destinations around the world host pride parades, typically during the summer, and visitors are often encouraged to join the festivities. Outside of pride season, LGBTQ events centering on music, performance, food, art, or sports are held in major cities worldwide. Check out resources like IGLTA, LGBTQ blogs and websites, and social media communities for lists of upcoming events and advice for attendees.

3. LGBTQ attractions

Even if a trip doesn’t center on a specific event, there are still opportunities to connect with a destination’s LGBTQ communities. Many cities worldwide are home to gay-friendly restaurants, shops, cafes, and nightclubs. These spaces offer a scaled-down alternative to a festival or a parade, and they can create a welcoming environment for guests of all identities. Virtual tours, social media pages, and reviews from Google and Trip Advisor can give prospective visitors an idea of what to expect.

Staying safe and having fun

After researching a destination and narrowing down activities, it might be tempting to kick back and celebrate a job well-done. Take the planning process one step further by researching cultural nuances, airport security, and LGBTQ-friendly accommodations. Planning ahead is the best way to avoid uncomfortable — and sometimes dangerous — situations. Travelers should think carefully about their risk tolerance, and develop strategies for worst-case scenarios. Purchasing a travel medical insurance plan and enrolling in federal safety initiatives like the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) are two easy ways to prioritize health and safety abroad.

One of the many benefits of international travel is the way that it brings together people from different backgrounds and identities. Digital tools and changing social norms have helped to make travel safer and more accessible — especially for LGBTQ travelers. By creating and sharing online resources, and fostering a global sense of community, LGBTQ travelers are out and about like never before.

About the Author

Grace Lower

Grace Lower has a love for all things writing and travel. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.

Read more of Grace’s blogs

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