Lesbian Travel: Best Resources for Planning the Perfect Vacation
In 1965, the Damron Company published the first gay travel guide for men. Today its guidebooks are more LGBT inclusive, but travel resources for lesbians are still paltry compared to what’s offered to the gay male community. Here’s your guide to planning the ultimate lesbian holiday, whether you’re coupling up or flying solo.
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What to read for travel inspiration
Need some trip planning guidance? Lesbian travel blogs are a great way to get up-to-date info from current travelers.
“I love Dopes on the Road,” says LoAnn Halden, Vice President of Communications at the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA). “I’m a big fan of Meg Cale who runs that blog with her wife, Lindsay. She’s been really active in the travel space and is on the road all the time. They’re based in Mexico now. I also really like Globetrotter Girls.”
Instagram influencers Roxanne Weijer and Maartje Hensen blog about what it’s like traveling the world full time as a lesbian couple on Once Upon a Journey.
Where to stay
“When we book hotels, or when we try to collaborate with hotels, we’re always looking for LGBT-friendly hotels,” Maartje says. “And so, for example, in Berlin you have this pink pillow Collection. For us, it’s really important to stay in places who are welcoming of LGBT travelers.”
The IGLTA has a ‘plan your trip’ feature on its website that lets you select destinations and businesses there that are LGBT-welcoming, which is a good way to find lesbian-owned businesses.
Looking to save money? You could try house sitting.
Best lesbian tour operators
Sometimes you just want someone else to plan everything. You’ve probably heard of Olivia, the world’s most popular lesbian tour operator (fun fact: Olivia started out as a record label in 1973). Since 1990, Olivia has been bringing women together to vacation on cruises and now offers land-based tours, as well.
“It’s a great sense of community,” LoAnn says. “A lot of women like to travel in a women-only space and there are many fans of Olivia cruises who go back year after year because it’s a reunion with friends as much as a travel experience.”
On IGLTA’s website, and you’ll find links to other great lesbian tour operators working around the world.
“New Zealand Awaits is a good company, and New Zealand would be a great destination for any traveler,” LoAnn says.
“We have Brazil Ecojourneys, which is based in Florianópolis, Brazil and they do LGBT surf camps. We also have done a lot of work with Pink Iceland, which is a lesbian-run company in Reykjavik. Iceland is another great destination for lesbians. It's safe and really gorgeous. And then for African safaris, Wild Rainbow African Safaris — Jody Cole is an amazing tour guide.”
How to stay safe as a lesbian traveler
It’s important to do your homework and be aware of the laws and the cultures of the countries that you want to visit before you arrive.
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) maps sexual orientation laws around the world, which signals how safe a country is for LGBT people.
“Another resource was actually developed more recently by Pflag in Canada and it’s called Destination Pride,” LoAnn says. “And then for the U.S., the State Department actually has LGBT resources for citizens online.”
“I did grow my hair out because of the trip,” Maartje says of their 15-month trip that started in Russia. “I wanted to look more feminine and fit in this whole image of what a girl looks like or something because of safety. And now I've decided to cut my hair short again. This is just how I feel most myself. I’m really curious to see if that’s going to make a difference.”
How to meet other Lesbian travelers
Looking for friends on the road? Connect with new people in a Facebook Group like Lesbian Travel Club. On Instagram, follow hashtags like #lesbiantravel and the destination you’re in.
“There are also groups on Couchsurfing,” Maartje says. “So you can join those groups and then you can ask if someone wants to meet up.”
“Recently, we found out about an app. It’s called Her,” Roxanne says. “It's for dating but it’s also for socializing. It’s a little bit like Tinder; they see who’s in your area and then you can meet up or date.”
If you found this article useful, please share it, and subscribe to the Postcard Academy podcast. Each week, expats and adventurers share their insider travel tips on the best food, nightlife, and cultural experiences in the most interesting places around the globe. I’m your host, Sarah Mikutel, an American who's spent the last 7 years living in, and traveling around, Europe.