Smart Living | Smart Living

Smart Living | 18 Aug 2023

The best LGBTQ+ holiday destinations: How to find the best resources for travel planning online

Whether you’re trying to plan the perfect holiday with or without the kids, there’s a rainbow of digital resources to help.

Holidays should be a time to kick back, put your worries to one side and relax. But as the International LGBTQ Travel Association (IGLTA) explains, “it can be a difficult task to decide where to travel next. The LGBTQ+ community faces an even bigger challenge as LGBTQ+ acceptance, laws and protections vary widely around the globe.”

Recent news from Florida, where Republican governor Ron DeSantis has signed a series of anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law, has only heightened such worries. Happily, there are lots of tools to help, if you take it step-by-step.

Picking your perfect destination

ILGA WORLD (or, ‘The International, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’) is a worldwide collective of more than 1,700 organisations from over 160 countries and territories campaigning for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex human rights.

If you are mulling over a potential holiday destination, and wondering just how LGBTQ+ friendly it really is, the organisation’s maps are a wonderful resource, tracking and illustrating the laws and policies around the world that affect LGBTQ+ citizens and visitors. From the legal recognition of same-sex couples to the regulation of ‘conversion therapies’ and the criminalisation of consensual sex, you’ll know exactly where you stand, and whether you want to spend your cash there.

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The Spartacus Gay Travel Index is another helpful guide. Published annually since 2012, it measures countries across 17 categories, “from marriage for all, to the death penalty for homosexuals”. Countries are then colour-coded, reflecting the most liberal and queer-friendly countries, as well as the most dangerous countries for people of sexual and/or gender minorities to visit.

This year’s index puts Malta, Canada, Switzerland, Australia and Denmark in the lead as inclusive travel destinations, with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, Egypt and Morocco languishing at the bottom.

Booking your trip

Sashay Away Travel is a long-established, UK-based LGBTQ+ travel consultancy that specialises in building luxury getaways. The firm only sells and promotes LGBTQ+ friendly destinations, and has a Preferred Hotel Program, listing hand-picked resorts and hotels where they know you will be well-cared for and respected.

Out of Office is an expert in LGBTQ+ travel (the company’s motto is: ‘where exclusivity meets inclusivity’). Out of Office tailor-makes holidays, “for anyone wanting to travel around the world safely, freely and without prejudice”. If you want to meet new people, the company also offers the world’s largest selection of gay group vacations, including island-hopping in Greece and a 12-day tour of Peru.

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If, instead, you’re travelling with the kids, Out of Office also has a special portfolio of gay family destinations, from Bora Bora (“thanks to the island’s diverse population and laws which offer full protection to same-sex couples and families”) to Barcelona (“one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the world”).

Planning your trip

Once you’ve picked your destination, visit The International LGBTQ Travel Association (IGLTA) website. The organisation’s regularly updated travel guides to countries across the globe explain the upsides and downsides of visiting as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the best seasons, cities, attractions and more. All of this information is available for free.

If you’re thinking of planning a holiday around Pride, IGLTA’s Pride Calendar is the ultimate guide to the most important gay pride events and parades around the world, which you can filter by region and date.

Booking accommodation

Misterb&b is like Airbnb, where all the hosts are LGBTQI+ or LGBTQI+ friendly. Like its more famous counterpart, you can find and book anything on Misterb&b from a single room in a shared apartment to an entire luxury home. The idea was born when the company’s co-founder & CEO, Matthieu Jost, rented an apartment in Barcelona with his partner and was asked by the owner: “Are you going to sleep in the same bed?”

Today, the company has expanded to 310,000 hosts in over 135 countries, aiming to “help create a more welcoming world”.

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