Editor’s Note: To showcase the LGBTQ+ community and its diversity, Vacationer Magazine showcases underrepresented niches within our community, including queer women and how they travel. So, we reached out to Kirstie Pike and Christine Diaz (On Airplane Mode) for a list of their best trip-planning tips for queer women.
With summertime coming up just around the corner, LGBTQ+ travelers are planning their next big vacation if they haven’t done so already. We believe travel safety and awareness are essential, so we have put together 10 travel tips for queer women.
We hope that when practicing these tips, you will not only take the proper precautions to travel safely but also prepare for a stress-free trip that will allow you to fully enjoy your next trip.
1. Do Your Research
Traveling as a woman, and especially a queer woman, it is important to read up on your destination’s policies, laws, and customs before your trip. Go to trusted travel blogs and LGBTQ+ travel sites such as Vacationer Magazine, Gay Travel, and IGLTA, where you can get advice on how to travel safely, while also respecting the local culture of your desired travel destination. There are still many countries where equality for women and the LGBTQ+ community is not as progressive as other countries, so it is important to be aware of these laws prior to traveling there. (You can check out our website, On Airplane Mode, too.)
2. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Part of the thrill of traveling is spontaneity, which includes meeting new people. We try not to over plan our itineraries in case we happen to meet people along our trip to hang out with and experience new things. There is something so amazing about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying the foods you have never seen or tasted before, partaking in a thrilling adventure, or attempting a new hobby for the first time. These unique experiences will create memories for a lifetime, and who knows, maybe that new thing you try will become a new favorite for you.
3. Download Resourceful Apps
“There’s an app for that” is no understatement and the same goes for LGBTQ+ travelers. Download apps like Maps.Me to always have a map on your phone even when you are without Wi-Fi, Refuge Restrooms is amazing for finding gender-neutral bathrooms, and Arch will help you find LGBTQ+ bars and cafés. You can also download queer dating apps not to necessarily find the love of your life, but to meet a local travel buddy or someone you can get the ins and outs of queer things to do around your destination. However, be cautious about where and when you use dating apps while traveling, especially if you’re visiting a destination that may not be completely safe for LGBTQ+ travelers.
4. Stay Mindful
While the LGBTQ+ community is becoming more widely accepted, queer voices can still be silenced in many countries due to local laws and cultures. The same goes with PDA as most countries can find overt signs of affection as disrespectful. It is always good to practice caution especially being a queer traveler and be aware of your surroundings. This shouldn’t deter you from traveling through some countries, such as Indonesia, where it is still illegal to be LGBTQ+ but a large part of Indonesia’s economy is from international tourism. Therefore, you will find inclusive experiences and diverse travelers from all over the world there. From our experience, we’ve found most people are compassionate and open-minded.
5. Visit LGBTQ+ Centers
In many destinations, there are LGBTQ+ centers dedicated to helping the local community and visitors like you. You can google the destination name plus “LGBTQ+ center” or look at the destination’s tourism website under “LGBTQ+.” These in-person centers often have local professionals who will be there to provide information, guides, and resources to help you enjoy your vacation.
6. Secure Your Valuables
We know the life of traveling with cameras, Go-Pros, laptops, and our desire to pack some of the brand-new high-end fashion outfits that you bought specifically for your upcoming trip. However, one of the most important tips that we never skip out on is securing our valuables any time we leave our hotel room. We always place all of our valuables in a hidden suitcase and then lock that suitcase to either the bed or another piece of furniture in the room. It might sound extreme, but it is a necessary step. The unfortunate reality of travel is that theft happens, so take the proper precautions to keep your valuables safe at all times.
7. Keep Your Bags Close
As part two to securing your valuables, this does not only apply to securing your hotel room. When traveling, especially as a woman, you want to be overly attentive in public, especially with your valuables to avoid pickpocketing. Pickpocketing can happen in any country, so this is just great practice regardless of where you travel. Instead of keeping your wallet in your back pocket, get a waist wallet that sits on your front or a backpack that you can lock when you are carrying it. We prefer to be overly safe than sorry!
8. Check the Ratings
Traveling as a queer woman, you want to make sure you do your due diligence when it comes to choosing your accommodation. There might be some hotels or properties that are listed as 4- or 5-star hotels but might not be doing as much upkeep as they imply on their website, or they might have policies or practices that aren’t considerate to the LGBTQ+ community. We always read through multiple reviews when considering where we want to stay. You will also be able to check on LGBTQ+ travel websites, such as Misterb&b, to see if they are considered friendly and accepting to our community!
9. Get Local
We urge queer women travelers to immerse to get local! Meet locals, shop with the locals, and stay with the locals if you can. This is the way to ensure a memorable experience during your trip and to become fully immersed in the culture. This is also the absolute best way to educate yourself about the lifestyle, routines, and people who live in the destination you’re visiting.
10. Buy Travel Insurance
World Nomads is a user-friendly and easy way to get travel insurance to cover your trip. While we hope accidents don’t happen while traveling, sometimes they do, and we believe that finding the right coverage is a necessary means for travelers to stay safe and protect themselves. Especially traveling during a global pandemic, travel insurance can help protect you against losing your money if you have to cancel your trip at the last minute because of a positive test result, surging cases, or a closed border.
With travel insurance, it’s always important to make sure you read the fine print to make sure you’re covered in a variety of possible situations, including repatriation coverage, in case you need to be transported back to your home country due to an injury or illness.
Get more travel inspiration and check out our list of fabulous events where queer women can turn up!