Monday, July 15, 2024
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Brand g Vacations: 5-Star Luxury Travel Beyond the Usual Gay Destinations

Vacationer Magazine talks to owners Jeff Gundvaldson and Brian Van Wey who explain why Brand g Vacations is the ideal choice for LGBTQ+ luxury travelers who want to feel safe when visiting countries such as Egypt, Peru, India, and Africa. 

Looking for new destinations and adventures as an LGBT+ traveler? Europe and the Caribbean have long been popular destinations for gay cruises and land tours – with good reason – but eventually, travelers yearn for new and more exotic experiences.

For more than 11 years, Brand g Vacations – with Jeff Gundvaldson and Brian Van Wey leading the charge – has offered travelers all-inclusive (usually without airfare), 5-star travel experiences beyond the typical LGBTQ+-friendly destinations. Some of these countries are not traditionally known as “welcoming” to LGBTQ+ folx, which causes some guests to wonder why anyone should travel there.

Jeff Gundvaldson and Brian Van Wey, the owners of Brand g Vacations, in London (Photo Credit: Brand g Vacations)
Jeff Gundvaldson and Brian Van Wey, the owners of Brand g Vacations, in London (Photo Credit: Brand g Vacations)

“We certainly understand travelers’ feelings about supporting a country that has laws or cultural norms that don’t embrace the LGBT community, explained Jeff Gundvaldson, the CEO of Brand g Vacations, who identifies as gay. “But we have found that a large segment of the citizens often don’t agree with those laws or norms and that by traveling there and interacting with the locals, we can have a profound impact on their understanding and acceptance.”

Brang g Vacations prides itself on its “extremely high level of service” and on taking care of every detail from the time guests make their reservation until they return home. The team works with a network of land operators in each country to ensure that queer guests are embraced similarly to their straight counterparts. All personnel – tour leaders, hotel, and cruise staff, etc. – are briefed or trained so guests travel with a level of comfort, safety, and non-judgment. 

Jeff Gundvaldson and Brian Van Wey in India (Photo Credit: Brand g Vacations)
Jeff Gundvaldson and Brian Van Wey in India (Photo Credit: Brand g Vacations)

Brian Van Wey, the company’s co-founder and a straight-ally, understands the need to provide LGBTQ+ guests with a safe space to explore a country without constantly looking over their shoulders. He explained, “We create an LGBT+ bubble, where guests don’t really have to think about the religious strictures or whatever. That doesn’t mean encourage, say, men to wear Daisy Dukes on a tour of a mosque – we always ask that our guest respect the culture of the country in which we’re traveling – but we create an atmosphere of acceptance and ease.”

In case you didn’t know, Brand g offers a diverse roster of itineraries that resonate with its primarily gay cisgender guests ranging in age from 40 to 60 years young. The annual Danube River cruise, African safaris, river cruise/land tour trips to Peru (which include an Amazon River cruise and Machu Picchu), Vietnam and Cambodia are some of the most popular destinations every year.  

“We also began offering luxury yacht ocean cruises in 2023. We started with just one to Spain, Morocco, and the Canary Islands, and it sold out in 30 minutes. So, we added even more for 2024 and 2025, traveling all over Europe, Northern Africa, and the Article Circle,” said Van Wey.

On the Amazon River in Peru (Photo Credit: Brand g Vacations)
On the Amazon River in Peru (Photo Credit: Brand g Vacations)

Every year, Brand g polls guests to find out where they want to go next, and the team is always trying to find ways to keep its guests happy and engaged. Next year, Gundvaldson and Van Wey are excited to offer guests new trips such as an Orient Express journey through Malaysia, an Australia and Tasmania tour that includes the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and new destinations, including the Galapagos Islands, Kenya, and gorilla trekking in Rwanda.

“We have 25 trips for 2025 with the most new destinations we’ve ever had. Our guests are very well-traveled and are constantly looking to up their bucket list game with unique new destinations,” said Gundvaldson. “It’s a challenge we love.”  



Brand g Vacations provided helpful travel advice for travelers concerned about how to navigate tourist destinations known to have strict laws against the LGBTQ+ community. See below!

Egypt (and Jordan)


Egypt puts the ruins of places like Greece and Turkey to shame. Well-preserved, beautifully presented temples, tombs, and more offer some of the most jaw-dropping ancient sites on the planet.

Brand g offers an add-on to Jordan which is a must. The stunning sites of Jerash and particularly, Petra (along with the red sand desert of Wadi Rum) make a spectacular finish to your journey through these Middle Eastern gems.

Keep in mind that Egypt and Jordan are Muslim countries, so it’s best to travel with a group to avoid the obstacles and ‘uncomfortable’ logistics that come when traveling on your own. For example, a gay couple who recently went to Egypt on their own was refused a room – at a large, international chain hotel – because they were two men traveling together who wanted a king-size bed.

With a 5-star tour group, like Brand g, they believe guests will likely never feel “even a whiff of threat or intimidation.” They have pros that focus on advance planning and there’s also security detail that travels with Brand g groups everywhere they go. When guests are in a safe bubble, they focus on the amazing sites in each of these destinations.



Peru

Machu Picchu in Peru (Photo Credit: Brand g Vacations)
Machu Picchu in Peru (Photo Credit: Brand g Vacations)

Peru is a land of extraordinary contrasts, from the jungles of the Amazon to the mysticism of Machu Picchu to the sophistication of Lima, which has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-star restaurants in the world.

This country does not suffer from religious barriers or restrictions similar to the way Egypt does. It’s Catholic but tolerant, and the Pope’s recent blessing of same-sex marriages will hopefully strengthen that. That being said, LGBTQ+ travelers may want to see different parts of Peru which can provide logistical challenges, making travel here taxing if done on your own. Luxury tour operators like Brand g have created well-paced vacation packages that add in the transportation to, from, and in the desired destination, allowing guests to cruise the Amazon, spend time seeing Lima and Cusco and the Sacred Valley, and tour Machu Picchu. 



India

India (Photo Credit: Brand g Vacations)
India (Photo Credit: Brand g Vacations)

A trip to India can be the trip of a lifetime, but it can be overwhelming too.  Traveling as a group is a must. Brand g can provide LGBTQ+ travelers with a 5-star vacation that includes necessary hand-holding to make you feel comfortable in overcrowded cities where guests see extremes of wealth and poverty in addition to profound cultural and religious sites.

Brand g will also provide luxurious respites that will restore its guests after a long-immersive day of sightseeing. Luckily, India is inexpensive by American standards. This LGBTQ+-friendly company has hosted several trips to India, which have included a tour of the Golden Triangle sites with a peaceful and culturally enlightening river cruise on the Ganges, using 5-star river cruise ships, hotels, and restaurants.

Want to extend your trip? Guests can tour neighboring Nepal & Bhutan, which border India on the north. Bhutan in particular offers some of the most hospitable people, along with spectacular sites like the Tiger’s Nest monastery, which clings to the side of a mountaintop.



Africa


Although Eygpt is in Africa, several tourists have a safari somewhere else on the continent as a priority on their bucket list. So, perhaps nothing is more life-changing than sitting in an open-air jeep 20 feet from a pride of lions. Taking a safari is not the place to be cheap. For starters, low-end tours merely offer drives on paved roads through Kruger National Park’s open areas, making the experience less of a “game drive” and more of a Disney version of a safari, according to Brand g.

On a luxury safari, escorts drive guests down dirt paths and through the brush with experienced rangers. Guests get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, and other species, all from the comfort of a first-class vehicle.  The experience is breathtaking, and you feel safe too! 

One guide who works on a private reserve game drive explained, “Here in the reserve, the wildlife look at a jeep and its occupants as one entity, and a non-threatening one at that since no one in these jeeps has ever tried to hurt them.” So they generally ignore the jeep and just go about their activities, which makes for incredible viewing.

And if you’re making the trip to Africa, you should at least consider visiting some of the continent’s prized treasures like Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe or sophisticated Cape Town, South Africa, one of the world’s greatest cities. Brand g Vacations touts its ability to provide comprehensive, inclusive packages to all of these popular destinations, creating a ‘beyond-imagination’ luxury trip.

LGBT+ tourists are some of the most well-traveled and adventurous tourists on earth. If you’re ready to sample the world’s more exotic destinations, there are companies ready to help you satisfy your wanderlust safely.

For more information about Brand g Vacations and to book your next bucket list trip, visit https://www.brandgvacations.com/. You can also follow them on Facebook, and Instagram.

Vacationer Staff

Vacationer Magazine's writing staff works hard to bring you all the latest LGBTQ travel articles to help inspire and inform.

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