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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.