Rhode Island PrideFest

Last week, ManAboutWorld hosted a dynamic #PrideTravel safety Twitter chat and a lot of great information was shared. According to Ed Salvato, MAW’s co-founder, this event started through his working with the U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs (including Passport division) for years as their go-to LGBTQ travel expert.

“Five years ago, I asked if they’d like to partner with me on these semi-annual twitter chats. They said yes. I also partner with others including IGLTA, Human Rights Watch, OutRight International, CDC and TSA,” Salvato said.

“I am passionate about LGBTQ travel safety. It’s the lens through which I see everything I do in the industry—whether it’s public speaking, moderating panels or working with clients on their engagement with the LGBTQ travel segment.”

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The following are four of the key takeaways for queer travelers from the Twitter chat:

Travelers need to be smart when traveling overseas for Pride celebrations or queer cruises/events.

@IGLTA noted that you should always read up on local laws and culture, but don’t be afraid to experience Prides around the world. And @outadventures mentioned that in areas of the world where Pride events tend to be more politically charged—such as in less welcoming destinations—caution should be taken and research should be conducted beforehand. One resource to use is the U.S. State Department’s LGBTI travel guide at travel.state.gov/lgbti.

Additionally, travelers should always remain aware of their surroundings. @edsalvato mentioned that it’s easy to become distracted or awestruck at celebratory events like Pride, but you should always be cognizant of your safety.

Roughly 70 countries criminalize same-sex relations, but there are many resources available on how to safely travel to these places.

@TravelGov recommended that queer tourists visit travel.state.gov/destination and expand the “Local Laws & Special Circumstances” section. This site lists LGBTQ-specific travel information on various countries. And Kyle Knight (@knightktm) noted that @HRW keeps an up-to-date interactive map of the laws that criminalize LGBTQ people at bit.ly/2TPVqV0. This website also lists data by country, including the names of anti-queer laws, the category of the offense, legal provisions and sentences that can be imposed.

@TravelGuard also offered up an informative page on the ILGA website, which features a nice general overview of queer traveler safety, such as precautions and health issues at spr.ly/6015EUkcl.

Meanwhile, @KennyPorpora offered another take. “I would use my social channels and ask friends who live in these places. The laws on the books are important but they don’t tell the full story. Sometimes places that criminalize LGBTQ people have thriving queer communities worth exploring. Just be safe,” he said.

Find a tour operator or travel agent who knows queer travel.

@edsalvato recommended several that he’s worked with, including @outadventures, @outingsadventures, @rfamilyvacations, @aceworldtravel, @outstandingtravel and @atlantisevents. Also, he said that travelers can more find many via @IGLTA.

@KennyPorpora said that he tries to find local influencers like @coupleofmen or @megcale, who give unique queer insights into destinations through their social channels.

Rhode Island PrideFest band

Also worth checking out is @HEtravel and dopesontheroad.com, which is run by queer women and is “chock full of great information and analysis for all queer travelers.”

Queer women and transgender people often face even greater hardships.

@CDCtravel mentioned that for all travelers who may be thinking about starting a family, including lesbian travelers, there are some infectious diseases that can impact pregnancy, including malaria and Zika. And @IHeartLesbian said that even some welcoming destinations are “more focused on gay male travelers, and the lesbian traveler can sometimes feel left out.”

According to @GeoSureGlobal, “LGBTQ+ and women travelers can experience higher risk due to prejudice and discrimination. Being equipped with safety awareness and patronizing lesbian-friendly destinations, like via @OliviaTravel, is a good place to start.”

Meanwhile, @edsalvato mentioned that while there does seem to be a dearth of reliable travel information for queer women, travelers should try @TheRealCurve and check #lesbiantravel on @instagram.

An issue for trans travelers interested in off-the-beaten-path vacations is often the lack of education in the destination, explained @outadventures. While some countries have made great strides in being trans-inclusive (such as Thailand), others aren’t even talking about trans rights.

A mismatch between official travel identification and appearance can be another obstacle to frictionless travel for trans travelers, but @TravelGov explained that if you need to update the sex marker on your passport, you can do so by following the steps outlined here: travel.state.gov/content/travel.

Additionally, transgender and nonbinary travelers face issues when it comes to TSA checks and documentation, said @HEtravel. The best thing they can do is to have all travel documentation current—and ensure they have medical documentation for all medications.

Salvato, who said that these Twitter chats are organized semiannually, noted that the amount of trolling (negative, homophobic, transphobic tweets, comments) was negligible—a positive sign, as this has happened much more in the past. The next Twitter chat is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, December 12.