One day, hopefully soon (yes, I can still manage to be somewhat of an optimist), we’ll have more Schitt’s Creek-like places in the world and less shit’s creek-like places, where LGBTQIA+ people can just live and be and have partners and families without having to go through extraordinary struggles and conflicts–hoops and challenges that cisgender or heterosexual couples and families largely don’t experience.
In Covidlandia, there are no days anymore, amirite? It’s almost like we’re living Groundhog Day except as parents stuck in the house with kids, it feels like Groundhog Year sometimes.
Now don’t get me wrong, we love our kids. But that doesn’t provide us immunity from being driven up the wall when they go stir-crazy from boredom or lack of activity.
So it’s only natural that some families are exploring vacations to take (hopefully) in the foreseeable future. For our Queer families, here are the most important travel tips to consider before you go on vacation.
Find LGBTQIA+-friendly destinations
You’ve figured out a list of possible destinations, now what? Apart from the usual things to find out about like where to stay, what to do, and where to eat, it’s important to also find out if the place you want to visit is in fact LGTBTQIA+-friendly.
Wikipedia has a frequently updated ranking of countries that are open and welcoming to the Queer community. The page even has a Gay Travel Index that breaks down where a country stands on LGBT issues like anti-discrimination, anti-gay laws, and marriage and civil partnerships.
There are also a growing number of resources online to find resorts, hotels, and destinations that welcome LGBTQIA+ families:
Travel+Leisure lists their top LGBT-friendly Hotel Brands in the US. The piece not only highlights the chains’ features and amenities but also talks about moves these chains have made toward allyship.
This list is also essential right now when most families are choosing destinations closer to home so they can drive instead of fly.
EllgeeBe has a list of LGBT-friendly Resorts for Families that greatly details what makes each resort a great destination for your family, from activities for you and the kids to facilities and amenities you can enjoy during your stay. The site also has an events calendar you can check out in case you want to participate in local happenings.
Family Vacation Critic also has a list of their Best LGBT-Friendly Resorts for Families, but the list is centered around resorts in the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean. While the resorts aren’t ranked in this e-list, the article does extensively review what makes each vacation spot so welcoming to LGBTQIA+ families.
GayTravel.com is an entire website fully dedicated to LGBTQIA travel, and their hotel list features properties all over the world. They also have resources for cruises, tours, and weddings on their site. One feature we really like about this site is that they have tips from locals so while you’re learning about hotels and resorts, you also get insider information!
IGLTA (the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association), is the leading network of LGBTQ+-welcoming hospitality and tourism establishments. All the resources on their website are free and they not only list accommodations, but also transport services, tour operators, events and travel media, as well as travel advisors.
AARP (yep, that AARP) even has a list of digital travel magazines, travel agencies, even camping resources for LGBTQ+ families.
Familiarize yourself with customs and laws
You’ve done your legwork on the fun stuff, now it’s time to work on the less glamorous side of your vacation. Not the budget, even though that’s no fun, either, but more about learning customs, laws, and traditions at your destination so you and your family can be informed and prepared.
This is especially key for LGBTQIA+ families in order to avoid potentially precarious circumstances surrounding local or state laws on discrimination.
Equaldex is a collaborative LGBT rights knowledge base, but we want to focus on the drill-down feature they have lower on the home page. Categorized by continent, you can click on a country you’re planning to visit and review where it stands on key issues as well as get a gauge on public opinion on these matters.
IGLTA also has an LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Guide that walks you through acceptance, laws, and protections in various tourist destinations.
The US Department of State also has a travel information sheet for LGBTI Travelers, which has a wealth of information about what you can do to be better prepared before and during travel.
Pack your documents with you
Some transgender travelers have challenges entering a country if their passport’s name and photo no longer matches their gender identity, so before your trip, it’s important to make the necessary changes to avoid problems when traveling:
- If you need to change your name, read the US Department of State’s page on Changing or Correcting a passport
- If you need to update the sex marker, read the requirements and steps to do so here.
Legal and Health Documents
If you have a health care directive or a living will, you will want to take a copy of these documents with you, especially if you’re traveling to a country where legal rights are different from those in the US.
Parentage and/or Custody Documents
Even for families with cis parents, birth certificates or paperwork identifying your custody or parentage of your children are important documents to take while traveling, especially if you don’t have the same last names. Bring several copies for each child accompanying you on your trip.
Treat your family vacation as an extension of your children’s education
– Tip is applicable even for families with cis parents/children, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you of this wonderful opportunity. not just reading about the culture or its people, visiting new destinations offers a chance to truly experience and immerse themselves and learn from these experiences. When attached to memories, these lessons are more impactful, more lasting, and more effective in shaipng your children’s outlook and growth.
Consider getting Trip Insurance
Especially when travel plans can be upended not just by the usual suspects but also now by a pandemic that doesn’t choose where or who it hits, it’s a wise decision to insure your trip.
While airlines and accommodations have had more lenient cancellation and rebooking policies due to COVID-19, those allowances can only take you so far. For any other mishap, unexpected causes for delaying or canceling your trip, or even medical expenses you may incur during your trip, it’s best to be covered so you can recoup your costs.
Money.com has an updated list of the best travel insurance providers, but the due diligence ultimately falls on you to read the fine print, especially for COVID-related coverages.
Check-in with other LGBTQIA+ families
If you belong to a local parent group, ask them about their experiences going to a certain place. Nothing beats an account from someone who’s literally been there and done that.
While most parent groups in social media are predominantly cis or hetero families, you can always post there to see if there is an LGBTQ+ family group in your city that the members are aware of. Most of these pages are not publicly accessible and require a direct link to protect the group members.
So while we’re living our best COVID lives at home and are probably limiting ourselves to road trips, we hope these tips serve as a blueprint for your travel plans in the future.
Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, beats the experience of truly immersing and living in the culture of another city or country, and this experience is even more so transformative on our children. Each memory you make with them on these trips make a lasting impression that they’ll carry and will inform them as they grow up, so I do hope that one day, you’ll take that journey with your kids. Will it suck? Sometimes. Will it be worth it? Always.
Billy Gozum is the Founder and CEO of Urban Tykes, a community of parents helping other parents stress less and smile more, starting with family travel and budgeting. Billy encourages practicing conscious parenting not just at home, but more so when traveling. Billy has flown over 100,000 miles with her kids and shares her tips and advice to parents who have travel anxiety in her Ultimate Guide to Flying with Kids.