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The summer travel season is looking hot and crowded. The ongoing global pandemic, the war in Ukraine, skyrocketing inflation, and high gas prices are not a match for Americans’ pent-up wanderlust. Like everyone else, queer travelers are not staying at home sipping margaritas on the couch.
Most Americans (85%) plan to hit the road for long summer vacations, discovered Out of Home Advertising Association of America. Nearly half of Americans (48%) are taking at least two weeks if not more time off than in 2021, that’s 41% more than last year.
OAAA’s figure is nearly 10 percentage points higher than the 73% of LGBTQ travelers –85% of whom have passports – who were planning a major vacation before the end of last year, according to the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, the leading global LGBTQ travel market association.
According to the OAAA, 69% of Americans feel safe and comfortable flying again, 10 percentage points higher from April 2021 (59%).
Another survey conducted by vacation rental management company, Vacasa, found that approximately 3 in 4 travelers (74%) are planning to keep their summer trips within the U.S. Only 26% of travelers are planning international trips this year with Canada and Mexico tying as preferred destinations along with other countries further abroad on travelers’ lists, according to the survey.
This willingness to get back out into the world after a long pause due to the global pandemic and travelers facing new challenges in its wake demonstrates how resilient travelers are and just how desperately people need a vacation.
A day at the beach, exploring nature in national parks, wellness, and even distant lands are the top vacations travelers are booking, according to travel experts.
These five new LGBTQ travel companies want to take queer travelers on vacation. They want you to feel like you are on vacation before you even pack. They take the stress of planning every detail of the journey into their expert hands.
Out in Colombia
Out in Colombia travelers exploring Comuna 13, locally known as C13, the infamous hilltop neighborhood once controlled by Colombia’s cartels transformed into a vibrant artist community in Medellin, Colombia.
The award-winning sustainable LGBTQ travel company, Out in Colombia, offers a wide variety of luxury multi-day tours and packages exploring Colombia, “the gateway to South America.
Founded by American expatriate Sam Castaneda Holdren, who resides in Medellin, in 2016, Out in Colombia’s team offers one-of-a-kind bespoke experiences for LGBTQ travelers. The travel company highlights Colombia’s best cities. Colombia’s capital, Bogota, has an out lesbian mayor Claudia Lopez Hernandez and boasts of a destination gay dance club that takes up an entire city block with 16 different dance floors and a concert theater. Cartagena, “The Walled City,” is home to the country’s famous beauty pageant queens on the shores of the Caribbean Sea the city features pristine beaches. Medellin transformed from cartel control into a vibrant artistic city. Salento is where travelers get up close to Colombia’s famous coffee grown high in the Andes.
Explore all of Colombia’s highlights on a 15-day trip to Bogota, Salento, Medellin, and Cartagena or a 10-day trip to Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena.
Nearly 2,000 Vacayans, what Vacaya calls its vacationers, aboard Celebrity’s Millennium ship for Vacaya’s 2022 Caribbean Cruise in January.
Courtesy of Vacaya
The award-winning cruise and resort travel company, Vacaya, offers unique destinations and gaycations that bring everyone under the rainbow together for a truly LGBTQ vacation.
Founded by Randle Roper, Patrick Gunn, and John Finen in 2018, the cruise and resort travel company launched its inaugural cruise in 2019.
Vacaya is the marriage of a word from the secret gay language, Polari, used within gay communities to communicate with each other for centuries. The award-winning entertainment, hospitality, and travel gay executives who love traveling and the LGBTQ community wanted a different travel experience than what gay cruises and other LGBTQ travel companies offer. They wanted to travel with the entire L-G-B-T-Q community.
Travel they have. The company has taken thousands of LGBTQ travelers to Seychelles, Iceland, South Africa, the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica, Provincetown, and other beloved and amazing places. Unique destinations, such as the forthcoming cruise to Antarctica or the Polynesia Cruise next year, are becoming Vacaya’s signature in line with its goal to be a different travel company for the LGBTQ traveler.
Pink Coconuts, Where Queer Travel Meets Community.
photo courtesy of Pink Coconuts
Launched by Donnya “Zi” Piggott and colleagues during the global pandemic, Pink Coconuts aims to take travelers to less-traveled destinations in the Caribbean and Africa that are often shunned by the LGBTQ travelers due to the regions’ anti-gay records.
Pink Coconuts started as a tourism and hospitality diversity and inclusion project of Barbados Gays, Lesbians, and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination, known as B-Glad. The project’s goal was to train travel and hospitality brands on how to be inclusive and the negative economic effects of not being inclusive. The company graduated from a project to a travel company when Piggott realized only a few people in the Caribbean were bringing LGBTQ travelers to the islands. Piggott decided to be the person to bring more queer travelers to experience other wonderful islands in the Caribbean that are not on many queer travelers’ radars. At the same time, they also set their sight on Africa.
The startup travel company allows queer travelers to build their own itineraries booking with their vetted and trained LGBTQ-friendly partners or Pink Coconuts can create custom vacation itineraries from girlfriend getaways, gaycations, engagements, honeymoons, and other romantic getaways; volunteering at a local organization, or simply to unplug and sit on a beach.
African Queens Travel
African Queens Travel founder Carla Smith, right, and her fiance Ramona Gatto, left, enjoying the local food and drinks on the Sunset Dinner Cruise on the Zambezi River in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Courtesy of African Queens Travel / Carla Smith
Founded by South African Carla Smith and her family who are rooted in the country’s travel and hospitality industry for generations, African Queens Travel launched just as the global pandemic shutdown travel globally in April 2020.
The company didn’t fully put plans on hold. Instead, the company built out its itineraries offering eight 6- to -15-day trips from the highlights of South Africa to romantic getaways to rainbow family safaris to Cape Town Pride 2023 for when travel returned.
The lesbian-owned travel company’s 2023 itineraries include roundtrip airfare from select U.S. airports, stays at luxury resorts, tours, and nearly all meals and other amenities.
International business partners and couple Montse Serrano, right, who is Spanish, and Aimee Bucher, left, who is American, kayaking in a lake with the Arenal Volcano in the background in Costa Rica. The business partners and couple launched Lesmon Experience to travel the world with other lesbians.
Courtesy of Lesmon Experience
International business partners and couple Montse Serrano and Aimee Bucher launched Lesmon Experience in 2020 right before the global pandemic hit. The name mashes “lesbian” and the Catalan word “món,” which translates to world, together to create Lesmon, lesbian world. The company paused waiting out the pandemic, two years later, Bucher, who is American, and Serrano, who is Spanish, can’t wait to bring queer women to the private gay-owned Costa Rican resort in Manuel Antonio, the LGBTQ Tico beach destination, as their first adventure. The company is offering three different all-inclusive trips set for July, including one during Manuel Antonio’s beach Pride festivities, July 16. All you have to do is get your plane ticket and pack your bags, Lesmon Experience will do the rest.
OAAA, the national trade association for the out-of-home advertising industry, partnered with The Harris Poll to conduct the survey published in March. The Harris Poll conducted the online survey from February 9 – 14, 2022, with a representative sample of 1,000 United States adults older than 18 years of age. Data is weighted to reflect the U.S. general public across age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, income, household size, and employment.
Vacasa partnered with Allison+Partners surveying 1,001 individuals over the age of 18 in the United States in March 2022. The survey was fielded using Qualtrics Insight Platform and the panel was sourced from Lucid.
Healthcare is a hot topic for many Americans. No matter your stance on it, most of us can agree that it’s not easy for everyone to access affordable medical care. If you’re in the LGBTQ+ community, you might face another obstacle – discrimination.
It can be hard to believe you would be discriminated against or even turned away based on your sexual identity, but it does happen like so many other injustices in this world. If you already have a healthcare provider you like and trust, you might be worried about coming out to them.
Will they treat you differently? Will your care be compromised?
Let’s cover some of the common barriers people within the community can face in the healthcare industry, why your doctor should know if you’re LGBTQ+, and what to look for in a provider that won’t discriminate.
What Challenges Do LGBTQ+ People Face in Healthcare?
There are a variety of underserved populations in healthcare, including minorities and those in traditionally underserved or poverty-stricken communities. Those in the LGBTQ+ population are often underserved because of discrimination. Think it doesn’t exist? Consider some of these staggering statistics from a 2017 national survey:
- 8% of respondents said a healthcare provider refused to see them because of their sexual orientation.
- 6% said a doctor refused to provide them with care.
- 9% said a healthcare provider used abusive or harsh language while treating them.
- 7% said they received unwanted physical contact from their healthcare provider.
It should come as no surprise, then, that fewer LGBTQ+ are getting the healthcare they deserve. These statistics are more than numbers. They are people. They are stories. If someone you know had a negative experience with their doctor and told you about it, you’d be less likely to go. Maybe you even had a bad experience yourself, and have never trusted the medical industry again.
Several things need to be done to serve the LGBTQ+ community better, including:
- Federal initiatives
- Smart devices that make it easier to access public health care
- Education on inclusivity within the medical field
Unfortunately, it will take time for this kind of reform and restructuring to happen within the healthcare industry. In the meantime, what can you do to get the care you deserve, whether it's from your current doctor or someone new?
Why You Should Talk to Your Doctor
Building up a trusting relationship with a healthcare provider can take some time. Maybe you’ve been working with your doctor for years, and you trust their medical knowledge and like their personality.
However, maybe they don’t know your gender identity or sexual orientation. Maybe you’ve thought about telling them in the past but have been worried about discrimination.
While it’s always a risk, it’s important to come out to your doctor for medical purposes, if nothing else. Certain health issues affect higher proportions of the LGBTQ+ community, including:
- Mental health issues
- Sexual assault
HIV is still a problem among members of the community, too. According to a 2010 study by the CDC, 63% of new HIV infections impacted men who had sex with other men.From a mental health standpoint, telling your doctor can be both freeing and can get you the help you need. It’s not uncommon for those in the community to experience extra stress, anxiety, and depression due to discrimination and constant worry. Because LGBTQ+ people are also at a greater risk of sexual violence, finding the right mental health treatment for the aftermath is crucial. Medical attention is needed to document evidence and identify any injuries or long-term risks, as well as to set up a mental health treatment plan that will help you process what happened.
Finding the Right Healthcare Provider
Whether you’ve experienced discrimination from your doctor or you want a clean slate in a place that will give you the care you deserve, there are a few things to look for in an LGBTQ+-friendly healthcare environment.
- First, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Shop around, and set up consultations with providers you’re interested in. Ask them about their experience with the LGBTQ+ community. You’ll get a lot of information from that answer, and can probably trust your “gut” with whether they’re comfortable or not.
- You should also do your research. Seek both online and offline resources for LGBTQ+-friendly physicians in your area. Read reviews, look for doctors who offer a safe and inclusive practice for everyone, and consider asking your friends about their personal experiences and where they go. Thankfully, despite the obstacles you might face in finding a doctor, it’s not impossible. Even if you live in a rural area or far away from a doctor who is willing to give you proper care, nowadays, it’s easier than ever to connect with the right provider.
- If you can’t find someone nearby, consider choosing telehealth services for your general well-being and for regular checkups. While they can’t cover everything, it can help to have a physician in your corner who you trust, even if they’re hundreds of miles away. Don’t let discrimination in the healthcare industry get you down. With a little bit of time, research, and doctor-shopping, you can find a provider who will give you care without judgment.
The weather is warming up, and that means it’s grilling time. It's time to invite friends over and fire up the grill. If you are new to grilling, it's best to start with the basics, and a charcoal grill is a perfect place to start.
What You’ll Need
Before you get started, it's important to learn about the type of charcoal grill you have. Ensure everything is in working order and familiarize yourself with the air vents on the grill because these help you control the heat. If you are looking to buy one, you will need to consider which size is best for your needs. We recommend buying one with an ash container for easy cleanup. Charcoal grills come in different shapes and sizes, and the price range starts at around $100 and can go up from there.
Once you have your grill set up, you will need a couple of things.
- Chimney starter (optional)
- Grilling tongs
- Pumice stone for cleaning the grill grate
- Heat resistant gloves
Choose Your Charcoal
Charcoal briquettes are the classic choicePhoto by Amin Hasani on Unsplash
Charcoal grills, of course, use charcoal as fuel, and there are two types of charcoal you can use. Charcoal briquettes are the most affordable option. You can find them in any supermarket in a big bag. They create consistent heat and burn for an extended time. While they are inexpensive, they don't add much smoky flavor and the slow burn creates a lot of ash.
Hardwood charcoal is the more expensive option, but worth it if you love the smoky taste of grilled food. This type of charcoal burns quickly and leaves little ash for easy clean-up. If you want the best of both worlds, you can use both charcoals together.
Before you get started, you will want to make sure you have enough charcoal. The amount of charcoal needed depends on how much you are planning to cook and for how long. A rough estimate is if you are cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken for a group, 4.5 to 5 pounds of charcoal is best. If you are cooking for 2-3 people, then 2.5 pounds of charcoal should be enough. And, if you are grilling a long-cooking cut of meat or using your grill as a smoker with lower heat but for an extended time then 2 pounds of charcoal is fine.
Light the Grill
Waiting for the grill to heat up is hard when you are hungry.Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash
There are a few ways to get your grill fired up. The most traditional way is to arrange the charcoal in a small pile on the grill and spray some lighter fluid on the charcoal. Always read the instructions on the bottle for the exact amount of fluid to use. Using too much lighter fluid can affect the flavor of your food. Give the charcoal a minute to absorb the fluid, then light the charcoal with a utility lighter. Once the charcoal is lit, resist the temptation to add more lighter fluid, it's dangerous, and it will be difficult to control the flame.
If you prefer not to use lighter fluid, you can use a chimney starter. Chimney starters are available at any hardware store, and if you grill frequently, they are a great investment. Using a chimney starter is the fastest way to get your charcoal piping hot. Some starters have a place to add either newspaper or fire starter cubes. Follow the instructions, add the charcoal to the starter, and light from there. Once hot, pour onto the grill. Use heat-resistant gloves for safety.
For tech lovers, there is also an electric charcoal starter. Just place the charcoal on the grill and touch the electric starter to the charcoal until it lights.
Another option to light the charcoal is a strike-able fire starter. They are like a large match that you can place in the middle of the charcoal to get the coals going.
However, you get your charcoal started, you will need to wait for your grill to heat up before you start cooking. It can take around 15- 20 minutes to get hot enough to cook your food. Most charcoal grills have a built-in thermometer to help you know when it reaches grilling temperature which is anywhere between 350 to 450 F. While your grill is heating up, you can prepare the grill grate.
Prepare the Grill Grate
Oil up the grill grate to keep juices meats from sticking.Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash
You should always start with a clean grill. While you don't need to deep clean the entire grill after each use, you should clean the grill grate before and after each use. Use a pumice stone made for grills to clean your grill grates. There are wire brushes on the market for this, too, but there have been cases of metal bristles breaking off and getting stuck on the grill and then sticking to food, so stick with a pumice cleaner.
Once the grate is clean, brush some oil on the grate to keep food from sticking. Save your olive oil for your salad. Instead, use a high heat oil like vegetable or canola.
Arrange Coals for Effective Cooking
Sear some steaks for the perfect grill marks.Photo by Paul Hermann on Unsplash
Once the charcoal has heated up, you can use your grilling tongs to arrange the coals. Charcoal placement is key to coking with charcoal. As a general rule, you will want to have two cooking areas on your grill—one for direct heat to sear and one for indirect heat for foods that require longer cooking time. Searing is good for steaks, while indirect heat is better for meat on the bone and roasts.
Another option is to use grilling planks on the charcoal grill. Grilling planks are pieces of wood like cedar or alder that you can cook food on rather than placing the food straight on the grill. Soaking the planks in water for an hour prior to grilling ensures they won't burn. Then, place meats, fish, or vegetables on the plank for a smoky dish.
Cleaning Up the Grill After Use
Properly caring for a charcoal grill extends its life.Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash
When your last burger has been flipped, and it's time to turn off the grill, just close the vents and put the lid on the grill. Without air to fuel the fire, it will gradually burn out. This can take up to 48 hours for it to completely cool and be safe enough to remove the coal and ashes.
If you are in a hurry you can use your tongs and pull out each charcoal brisket and place it in a metal bucket filled with water. Scoop the hot ash into a metal container to let it cool. Never pour water onto a charcoal grill as it can damage the grill and leave a sludge that you will have to clean later. Plus, water directly on hot coals creates dangerous steam that can burn anyone near the grill.
When your charcoal grill is cooled and cleaned, it's ready to be stored for next time. While charcoal grills are sturdy and can be left outside, if you live in a colder climate you will want to ensure it is protected from the elements to extend the life of the grill.
Tips and Tricks for Charcoal Grills
- Resist the temptation to flip your food too much
- Control the heat by using the vents and lid
- Keep the heat around 350° F for most foods or 450° F for searing
- Add a handful of wood chips like hickory or mesquite to the coals for more flavor
Traveling and camping in an RV has many advantages and essentially allows you to have a home away from home, from county campgrounds to the remotest of locations. But those with RVs know that preparing for a trip can be quite stressful. There are countless items to remember to pack. That is why we have put together the perfect list of RVing essentials. Check out this list before your next adventure to make sure nothing gets left behind.
RV Specific Items
What you need for the RVPhoto by Kojiro Inui on Unsplash
- Roadside emergency kit
- Sewer kit
- Extra motor oil and transmission fluids
- Surge protector
- Electrical adapters
- Water pressure regulator
- Drinking water hose
- Leveling blocks
- Tire pressure gauge
- Extension cords
- Wheel chocks
- Duct tape
- Battery jumper cables
- Fire extinguisher
- RV documents (registration, insurance, etc.)
Kitchen and Food
What to cook while RVingPhoto by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash
- Potable water
- Water bottles
- Food storage containers
- Food and beverages
- Cooler and extra ice
- Plates, cups, bowls
- Cooking utensils
- Eating utensils
- Paper Towels
- Dish soap
- Sponge or scrubber
- Grill for outdoor cooking (optional)
- Can and bottle opener
- Pots and pans
- Coffee pot and/or tea kettle
What blankets to bring while RVingPhoto by Jordan Bigelow on Unsplash
- Sheets, blankets, and comforters
- Pillows and pillow cases
- Extra cots or air mattresses as needed
- Air pump if needed
Toiletries for the RV
Toiletry essentials for RVingPhoto by Tyler Nix on Unsplash
- Soap (face and body)
- Hand soap
- Hand sanitizer
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Toilet paper
- First aid kit
- Tampons/sanitary products
- Bath towels
- Shoes to shower in (if using campground facilities)
- Solar shower (If RV doesn't have a shower/bath)
- Bug spray
Personal Items Needed While RVing
Taking your personal items on your RV adventurePhoto by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash
- Phone and phone charger
- Laptop or tablet and charger
- Wallet with ID and credit/debit cards
- Campsite reservation information
- Eyeglasses and sunglasses
Clothing and Footwear Needed for RVing
What clothes do you need when you go RVing?Photo by Ali Kazal on Unsplash
- Moisture-wicking shirts
- Moisture-wicking pants
- Long sleeve shirt
- Down or fleece jacket
- Rain jacket
- Rain pants
- Hiking boots or sneakers
- Sandals or flip flops
- Winter/snow gear depending on the season
What else will we need for Rving?Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash
- Extra batteries
- Cleaning supplies
- Portable charging bank or solar charger
- Firewood and fire starter (If fires are permitted at your campsite)
- Books and/or games
- Dog gear if bringing your four-legged pals
- Dry bags or plastic bins to store items
- Backpack or hiking pack
- Hiking, fishing, kayaking, or other gear for activities
- Outdoor rug
- Patio furniture (chairs, tables, etc.)
- Pop-up tent (if RV doesn't have an awning)
Enjoy Your Trip
You've gone through your checklist and have inspected your RV to make sure everything is up to standard and in working order. Now it's time to decide where you are going to set up camp and hit the road! There are many more logistics to deal with when RV camping compared to car camping, but with the right preliminary preparation, you can relax knowing everything is in place for the perfect RVing experience.