I’ve added an LGBT column for the web site to help make the site more inclusive and discuss conditions that affect some members of our community. In this column, we will hear from voices in the LGBT community about their experiences on the highway, safety tips, events, and overall advice for other LGBT travelers to find the most out of their own time on the road! Again this month is our column leader Adam from travelsofadam.com who’s talking about the very best websites, apps, and blogs for LGBT travelers.
Today, modern lesbian, gay, bi, and trans travelers no more need a print guidebook to find underground, gay-friendly places. We don’t need to walk around with colored bandanas to send secret signals when cruising. Why? Because now – generally – we’re out on view.
The essential LGBT trip now starts like any other planned holiday. Where do we go? What do you want to do and see? Just how do we save money? Because of increased acceptance through the years, we’re a lot more out on view and, with that comes much more options – both online and off – to plan your trip and discover LGBT friendly attractions, businesses, tours, and methods to meet people. While we don’t need to let our sexuality define our travels, if you’re looking for activities and folks who share an identical lifestyle, these are the very best tools on the net:
How to locate LGBT Travel Inspiration & Things you can do
Travel blogs & vlogs – In this new era for the travel media industry, independent bloggers and YouTubers have already been at the forefront. Increasingly, we base our travel decisions (where you can go, how to proceed) on not only our friends’ Instagrams but those who’ve recently been there, done that. The most famous lgbt travel bloggers (myself included) generally publish destination guides – it’s only a matter of locating the one that fits your own private travel style. Below are a few of my favorites (you start with my very own):
- Travels of Adam
- Globetrotter Girls
- Dopes on the highway
- Leave Your Daily Hell
- The Queer Life
(For more blogs, have a look at my list here: http://travelsofadam.com/gay-travel/)
Websites – There are always a couple of dedicated LGBT travel websites that publish detailed or more to date guides. The best are:
- Out Traveler – once a print magazine, still publishes and maintains up-to-date LGBT city guides on its website.
- AfterEllen – Regularly publishes lesbian travel guides.
- TravelGayEurope and TravelGayAsia – These websites provide comprehensive city guides.
Travel guidebooks – The Damron series began in 1964 for men but in addition has published another guidebook for lesbians for pretty much twenty years. And Spartacus Publishing (out of Germany) has printed a thorough guidebook to all or any gay-oriented hospitality businesses since 1970. Moreover, nowadays, even the most mainstream publications will probably include some LGBT-specific recommendations within their listings. For days gone by several summers, many major travel brands (such as for example Trip.com, Lonely Planet, Expedia, and even Hostelworld) have gone as far as to print LGBT Pride travel guides.
Local magazines, newspapers, and guides – There are countless independent, LGBT-oriented city magazines and newspapers all over the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Adelaide, Australia, or London, England – you’re likely to look for a local LGBT print publication or guide. Some includes weekly listings of clubs, parties, and events; others might feature personal ads.
Unfortunately many of these indie publications have poor websites, which means that your best LGBT travel research will have to happen on the floor. One of the better ways to see them in a fresh city is to simply go directly to the queer neighborhood and search for them in a bookstore or bar – anyone who’s ever been in the gay bar or club is most likely acquainted with the stack of magazines, brochures, or flyers in the doorway or by the bathrooms. (And be sure to support those businesses that carry these publications!) Also browse the pamphlets, flyers, and advertisements on the corkboard in the neighborhood LGBT center.
A few examples:
- Siegessäule, Berlin’s free gay magazine, loves to claim among the highest readerships and circulations of any print media in Germany.
- HISKIND, a free of charge lifestyle magazine in London with thought-provoking essays and local artist and drag queen interviews.
- Windy City Times still prints an LGBT newspaper for Chicago.
- Washington Blade operates in DC.
- Seattle Gay News covers Seattle.
Company blogs – Even the largest gay apps have began to push out content through their channels. Grindr launched an electronic magazine, Into, with a travel section earlier this season, and Hornet acquired the one-time popular gossip blog Unicorn Booty in the past and today publishes gay men’s travel guides for assorted cities (even if they’re slightly basic). Each one of the other hookup apps, like the more niche ones, like Surge and Planet Romeo, maintain regularly published blogs, sometimes featuring travel tips and local insider guides. Scruff probably has truly gone the furthest in incorporating travel tips into its app with the feature Scruff Venture, that allows users to find a destination for other visitors, local ambassadors, and events.
IGLTA – The International Lgbt Travel Association may be the leader in terms of LGBT tourism. Its members include a huge selection of airlines, hotels, destination tourism offices, and independent tour operators, both LGBT-owned and mainstream. On its website, you’ll look for a useful “Plan Your Trip” feature that searches through its members (you need to be mindful these are members who’ve payed for their placement). It’s an excellent spot to find LGBT-specific things you can do on your own trip.
Related: An In-Depth Guide to Planning for a Lesbian-Friendly Trip
LGBT-friendly accommodation – Usually the most challenging part of gay travel could be finding an LGBT-friendly hotel or accommodation. A number of the biggest hotel chains and brands have actively supported the LGBT community by taking part in Pride events all over the world, by training almost all their staff (from leading desk to the reservations center) in diversity and inclusiveness issues, and by running LGBT-inclusive campaigns. Even Airbnb launched a #HostWithPride campaign this past year after updating its terms of service to safeguard and safeguard LGBT travelers and hosts.
There are gay-specific accommodation websites such as for example Rainbow World Hotels, Purple Roofs, and MisterBNB, but you’ll more often than not find the same listings on mainstream sites for far cheaper prices. You’re paying reduced when trying to book through a gay-specific website, and more often than not, the mainstream sites and listings are increasingly safe and comfortable for LGBT travelers.
How exactly to Meet Other LGBT Travelers
Gay travelers today are much luckier to have apps like Grindr within their pockets. I never would’ve discovered a gay bar in Amman without the Grindr app and a local’s helpful directions, nor would I’ve met that handsome tourist from Austria during Prague Gay Pride. Meeting strangers is among the joys of traveling, and there’s nothing much better than having an LGBT local showing you around. It’ll certainly make a vacation more interesting, a lot more memorable. Here’s how to locate them:
The hookup apps – If there’s a very important factor that’s revolutionized our little gay world, it’s Grindr, the location-based hookup app for gay men. For better or worse (you either think it’s great or hate it), Grindr has changed just how we find sex, love, as well as friends and it’s also simply enabled much more connections. Grindr helps it be simpler to meet locals when you’re abroad, whether it’s for a romp in the bushes behind Berghain or an innocent coffee date. While sex does happen often enough through these apps, it doesn’t need to be the finish goal or even your primary objective to still find value in them. Listed below are the primary useful apps:
Networking groups – For some time, Couchsurfing was among the best places to meet up other LGBT travelers and locals. With a solid community, the bed-sharing and hosting network managed to get easy for connecting with other travelers – and the “Queer Couchsurfers” group was among the site’s most active and welcoming. There have been a lot of times I used Couchsurfing not only for a location to sleep but also to wait local get-togethers.
On Meetup.com you’ll find most major destinations have LGBT/queer-themed groups and meetups, and they are ordinarily a great and safe way to meet up other LGBT travelers in nonsexual encounters. Sometimes you’ll see them for very specific interests, whether it’s several gay science fiction fans in Berlin or LGBT professional networking in London.
StartOut, a nonprofit for professional business and entrepreneurship networking events in a variety of American cities, can be worth looking into. Facebook, with its a large number of public groups, may also give a great meeting point online – and offline – through local city or regional networking groups. It’s only a matter to do some research beforehand to obtain the right networking group for your trip.
AN EMAIL on Safety
As I’ve written before in this LGBT travel column, safety and comfort can be an important part of any gaycation. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources online that will help you decide what or where may be safer to visit. For a far more independent consider the LGBT rights and safety situation, Equaldex is the best. Unlike media and blogs, that is a crowd-sourced platform where users can post and share country-specific news articles linked to LGBT rights. This is often especially ideal for those less-familiar places also to get yourself a general comparison of LGBT inclusiveness all over the world.
Through the years and because of new technologies and new formats for our media, just how we travel now has changed for the better. And for LGBT travelers specifically, these advancements have managed to get not only easier but also safer and friendlier. Using these tools and resources, a lot more of the world is available to us.
Adam Groffman is a former graphic designer who left a publishing job in Boston to visit all over the world before settling in Berlin, Germany. He’s a gay travel expert, writer, and blogger and publishes a number of LGBT-friendly Hipster City Guides from all over the world on his gay travel blog, Travels of Adam. When he’s not out exploring the coolest bars and clubs, he’s usually enjoying the neighborhood arts and culture scene. Find more of his tra