by NomadicBoys

Many of us are considering a return to more adventurous travel after two years of staying close to home. But aside from health safety when we travel, what other things do we need to bear in mind?

We believe travel is one of the most rewarding things you can experience in life, whether you are gay or straight. However, the reality is that traveling while gay is not always as straightforward or even as safe as it is for straight travelers. There are things gay travelers need to be aware of that wouldn’t even cross the mind of someone who’s never been treated differently because of their sexuality.

For over 10 years we have traveled all over the world as a gay couple, even to countries where being gay is frowned upon or downright illegal. In some places, being gay could even get you killed! But we don’t think these facts should scare you off traveling altogether. It just means that there is an extra layer of research and things to consider when planning your fabulous gay holiday.

Luckily we excel at that part! We’ve put together this guide with all our tried and tested safety tips for gay travelers, to ensure you can safely explore the world no matter what your sexuality. Follow this checklist before every holiday and you too will be able to enjoy a safe, fun and fabulous gaycation! Be sure to also check out our detailed page to gay travel safety.

1. Check the local laws and official government advice

Before we go anywhere the first thing we do is read up on local laws regarding homosexuality and check what our government’s official advice is regarding travel to the area. Wikipedia is actually a pretty good starting point to see what a country’s laws are relating to homosexuality. Sometimes it may technically be legal to be gay, but the local attitudes aren’t actually going to be that welcoming. We also like to read up on other gay bloggers’ experiences and our posts about gay destinations are written to specifically answer these sorts of questions (hint, hint)!

The second place we look before booking any travel is our (well the UK’s) official government advice. You can simply google the name of the country you want to visit and ‘travel advice’ or your country of origin and ‘foreign travel advice’ to get to the official government page. These are always kept very up to date and will tell you what your home country’s official stance is regarding safety while traveling in other countries.

Usually there is also a specific section for LGBTQ travel advice along with any other recent updates about things to be aware of in the area. It’s also very important to pay attention to government advice since if something happens and you need to claim insurance, but you ignored official advice, then you may not be compensated!

2. Is it safe to use gay dating apps?

When traveling we like to connect with locals using gay dating apps - they’re not just for scoring dates people! Well, maybe back home they are, but we’ve found that in certain countries where the gay scene is more underground, apps like Grindr become THE way to find out about local gay events.

But you should also follow a few simple safety tips when using these, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar destination. Number one, be careful of fake accounts and cat-fishing! We’ve even seen our own photos used for fake accounts so if you are going to be meeting someone, make sure to do it in a public place.

The next thing we check is what sort of internet censorship or surveillance is being used in a country, as obviously this can affect how (or if) you can use the gay dating apps. In places like Dubai, gay dating apps are blocked and illegal, but you can get around this by using a good VPN. A VPN keeps your online use anonymous so you know you can safely access the gay apps without having to worry about local police busting down your hotel room door!

While Grindr is the number one gay dating app the world over, in certain countries others are more widely used. We found that Hornet is popular in countries like Russia, Turkey, Brazil, France and Mexico, while Blued is most used in Asia, particularly China.

3. Look for gay friendly accommodations

The last thing we want while traveling is to not be able to relax even in the comfort of our accommodation. How do we get around it? By looking for gay friendly accommodation of course! Whenever we arrive somewhere, we can immediately tell how homphobic a place is by the reactions we get when trying to book a double bed. We’ve actually been turned away from places, even where homosexuality is legal, so now we make sure to do our homework beforehand.

Luckily there are ways to find a place to stay that is accepting and even welcoming to LGBTQ guests. You can look online at some of the gay travel organisations like IGLTA, TAG, World Rainbow Hotels, Spartacus, Gay Welcome and Purple Roofs to see which hotels or guesthouses get the seal of approval. There are also gay specific alternatives to Airbnb like Misterbnb, Gay Homestays, FabStayz and Gaystay. Rest assured that all listings on these websites are either gay-owned, openly marketed for the gay travel community or have been vetted as being gay friendly.

We often choose to stay at hotels that fall under the W, Marriott or Hyatt brand, as they are known the world-over for always being gay friendly. If you’re looking on TripAdvisor you can even search for listings with the term gay in them to find ones either listed as gay/gay friendly or where previous guests have mentioned it in their reviews. These reviews are also a great way to find out exactly how gay friendly a place is before you visit.

If all else fails and you want to find out if you will be welcomed at a certain accommodation then you could call or email them ahead of time and ask. Sometimes the response we get by doing this is the fastest way to find out what it would be like to stay there - one way or another...

4. Use a reputable gay tour operator

Joining a tour is a fun way to travel and meet other people while letting someone else handle all the logistics of planning. Plenty of excellent gay tour operators have cropped up in recent years too, so you can have the best of both seeing fabulous locations while having fun with other gay travel-lovers. We’ve made some lifelong friendships with the guys we’ve met on gay tours.

Traveling with a group can also be much safer than trying to go it alone. For one thing, there’s safety in numbers. Now we’re not saying that a gay tour is like a herd of gazelles or anything (well, maybe some fabulous zebras right?!), but, of course, you’re much less likely to be harassed when you’re with a group.

If you want to join a gay tour make sure you use one of the reputable and well-known operators that have been around for a while so you can be sure that everything will go smoothly. Some of the gay tour companies we have personally traveled with and have no hesitation recommending to other gay travelers include Out Adventures, He Travel, Brand G, Coda Tours, Detours and Atlantis Events.

Just be wary of going for companies that say they are gay friendly but are only doing it for publicity. You can take our word for the companies above but make sure you also do your own due diligence when looking to book a tour. Read reviews to see how other gay travelers found it, check to see if they hire gay local guides and how they say they will keep you safe if you’re in a country where the laws don’t protect gay people.

5. Make sure you have adequate travel insurance!

We tell everyone this anyway, but for gay travelers especially, never leave home without organising travel insurance first. It can be easy to think that nothing bad has ever happened when traveling before or to just get the cheapest travel insurance you can but, trust us, this is one place where you shouldn’t skimp.

Travel is super fun but it doesn’t always go according to plan. Missed flights, lost luggage, illness or injury are all things that can happen and cause unexpected costs. Nothing is a bigger bummer than your tropical holiday being spoiled, except maybe a big hospital bill slapped on top of that. But if you make sure you are protected before you go then you won’t need to worry when something unexpected occurs.

We have had to deal with unexpected medical bills, stolen items and other annoyances during our many trips abroad. We always organise travel insurance though, and have never had an issue making a claim to get our money back. Our safety tips should be enough to ensure you have a fun and hassle-free holiday, while travel insurance is the icing on the fabulous cake - it just wouldn’t be complete without that topping!

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LGBTQ+ Healthcare Issues

The Dobbs decision, otherwise known as the court case that overturned Roe v. Wade, has resulted in confusing medical situations for many patients. On top of affecting access to abortions for straight, cisgender women, it presents heightened risks for LGBTQ+ healthcare as a whole. Flipping the switch on reproductive rights and privacy rights is a far-reaching act that makes quality care harder to find for an already underserved community.

As the fight against the Dobbs decision continues, it’s important to shed light on the full breadth of its impact. We’ll discuss specific ways that the decision can affect LGBTQ+ healthcare and offer strategies for overcoming these challenges.

How the Right to Bodily Privacy Affects LGBTQ+ Healthcare

When the original Roe v. Wade decision was made, the bodily privacy of people across the United States was protected. Now that bodily autonomy is no longer guaranteed, the LGBTQ+ community must brace itself for a potential loss of healthcare rights beyond abortions. This includes services like feminizing and masculinizing hormone therapy (particularly for transgender youth) that conservative lawmakers have been fighting against this year, as well as transition-related procedures. Without privacy, gender-affirming care may be difficult to access without documentation of sex as “proof” of gender.

As essential services for the LGBTQ+ community become more difficult to access, perhaps the most immediate effect we’ll see is eroding trust between healthcare providers and LGBTQ+ patients. When providers aren’t working in the best interest of patients — just like in cases of children and rape victims denied abortions — patients may further avoid preventative care in a community that already faces discrimination in doctor’s offices.

The Dobbs Decision Isn’t Just a Women’s Issue

While the Dobbs decision is often framed as a women's issue — specifically, one that affects cisgender women — it impacts the transgender and non-binary community just as much. All people who are capable of carrying a pregnancy to term have lost at least some ability to choose whether or not to give birth in the U.S.

For transgender and non-binary individuals, this decision comes with the added complexity of body dysmorphia. Without abortion rights, pregnant trans men and some non-binary people may be forced to see their bodies change, and be treated as women by healthcare providers and society as a result.

The Dobbs decision also opens up the possibility for government bodies to determine when life begins — and perhaps even to add legal protections for zygotes and embryos. This puts contraceptives at risk, which could make it more difficult to access gender-affirming care while getting the right contraceptives based on sex for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Overturning Reproductive Rights Puts IVF at Risk

Queer couples that dream of having their own children often have limited options beyond adoption. One such option is in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which involves implanting a fertilized egg into a uterus.

While IVF isn’t directly affected by the Dobbs decision, it could fall into a legal gray area depending on when states determine that life begins. Texas, for example, is already barring abortions as early as six weeks. To reduce embryo destruction, which often occurs when patients no longer want more children, limits could be placed on the number of eggs that can be frozen at once.

Any restrictions on IVF will also affect the availability of surrogacy as an option for building a family.

How Can LGBTQ+ Individuals Overcome Healthcare Barriers?

While the Dobbs decision may primarily impact abortion rights today, its potential to worsen LGBTQ+ healthcare as a whole is jarring. So how can the community be prepared?

If you’re struggling to find LGBTQ+-friendly providers near you, using telemedicine now can be an incredibly effective way to start developing strong relationships with far-away healthcare professionals. Telemedicine eliminates the barrier of geography and can be especially helpful for accessing inclusive primary care and therapy. Be sure to check if your insurance provider covers telemedicine.

If you’re seriously concerned about healthcare access in your area — especially if the Dobbs decision affects your whole state or you need regular in-person services that may be at risk — it may be time to consider moving now. While not everyone has the privilege to do so, relocating gives you the ability to settle in areas where lawmakers better serve your needs. However, this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, so preparing and making progress on a moving checklist now can help you avoid issues later.

The Dobbs Decision Isn’t LGBTQ+-Friendly

The Supreme Court of the United States has proven the power of its conservative majority with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, the effects of the Dobbs decision don’t stop at affecting cisgender women’s abortion rights. In states with bans, it also leads to forced birth for trans men and non-binary individuals. Plus, the Dobbs decision increases the risk of other rights, like hormone therapy and IVF, being taken away.

Taking steps now, whether it’s choosing a virtual provider or considering a move, can help you improve your healthcare situation in the future.