Top LGBTQ+ travel tips to help you plan safer vacations with pride

06.11.24 by Travelex Insurance
Image credit: Getty Images
Planning a trip as an LGBTQ+ traveler? You might have a few extra things to think about to help make sure your journey is not just fun but also safe. Let’s dive into some advice to help you travel confidently as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Everyone deserves the chance to see new destinations and enjoy their vacations to the fullest. But LGBTQ+ travelers may get different treatment from country to country — and sometimes even city to city.

"Traveling can be challenging for the LGBTQ+ community, so safety is important. But not all destinations are the same; attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals vary globally. Some countries protect the LGBTQ+ community, while others give them severe punishments.

"Cultural norms and prejudices can lead to harassment or discrimination, even if something is legal. So, it’s important to follow LGBTQ+ travel safety guidelines to understand your destination and explore confidently and safely.”

Frank Harrison, Regional Security Director for North America at Travelex Insurance’s assistance partner, World Travel Protection.

You want your vacation to be everything you dreamed of and more. So, let’s help you feel more comfortable and excited about visiting new places. In this guide, we’ll share essential tips to help you feel safer exploring the world as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Top 3 LGBTQ+ travel safety tips

  • Tip #1: Research your destination before booking any part of your vacation.
  • Tip #2: Respect local customs and laws in your chosen destination.
  • Tip #3: Travel with others or connect with local LGBTQ+ groups in your destination.

3 questions to ask yourself about LGBTQ+ travel in your destination

Wondering if your ideal destination is LGBTQ-friendly? Here’s what to learn about the area for a better idea of its LGBTQ+ acceptance level.

1. Is being LGBTQ+ against the law in my destination — and if so, how is the law enforced?

The world has quite a range of LGBTQ+ laws. Some countries are welcoming and have laws that protect LGBTQ+ rights and promote equality. For example, countries like Canada, Spain, and the Netherlands have strong laws protecting the LGBTQ+ community. Traveling to these places can be easier for LGBTQ+ people, as they can be themselves and feel more welcomed.

On the flip side, places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Nigeria, criminalize same-sex relationships. Showing your LGBTQ+ identity in public can give you serious consequences, like imprisonment or death. So, start your vacation planning with research on your destination’s LGBTQ+ laws.

Where to look up LGBTQ+ laws and rights in your destination

Remember, the rights and freedoms we have in the U.S. don’t always apply in other countries. If you break your destination’s LGBTQ+ laws, the U.S. government may provide some support, but they can’t get you out of jail.

So, do your research before you book your trip. If you’re not happy to abide by the country’s LGBTQ+ laws, it might be best to choose another destination.

Important: LBGTQ+ laws may not be your only safety concern in a different country. Read on to learn more about avoiding discrimination and harassment so you can focus on enjoying your trip.

2. Even if being LGBTQ+ is legal in my destination, are there other safety risks?

If you choose an LGBTQ-friendly destination for your vacation, you’ll likely have a great time. But even in countries that haven’t formally outlawed being LGBTQ+, you could still have safety risks.

For example, in Egypt, police often use a vague law condemning “debauchery” as grounds to punish LGBTQ+ people. The consequence could be up to three years of jail time — where you could face even more safety risks. 

Societal attitudes may also be less accepting — meaning you could face challenges like harassment or discrimination. Keep this in mind while deciding which country to visit — or even which area of a country to visit. Why? Countries that legalize gay marriage and gender confirmation treatment tend to be more accepting, but you could still face discrimination in certain areas of those countries.

“Discrimination exists even if you’re traveling domestically within the United States. Some states may still have laws outlawing ‘same-sex conduct’.”

Frank Harrison, Regional Security Director for North America at Travelex Insurance’s assistance partner, World Travel Protection.

3. Is it safe to go to LGBTQ+ events in my destination?

If your destination is hosting an LGBTQ+ event, this is a good sign that you’ll be welcomed. Even at LGBTQ+ events in conservative cities, it’s likely you’ll have more freedom to be yourself. Plus, it’s a great way to make new friends within the community.

So, if you’re not sure whether your LGBTQ+ travel destination is safe, consider visiting during major community events like Pride. That said, not all cities have Pride, and not every Pride is a party like in Berlin and São Paolo.

If it’s not Pride season, keep your eyes peeled on social media for queer events at your ideal vacation destination. You can also find global events through LGBTQ+ organizations, like on the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association’s website.

When is it not as safe to go to an LGBTQ+ event? If protesting is part of it. Yes, many members of the LQBTQ+ community like to make the most of their right to protest in the United States. But you may not have this same right in your chosen vacation destination — so the event could do you more harm than good.

“As an LGBTQ+ traveler, you should understand your destination's laws on protesting before attending an LGBTQ+ event. If you go to a community protest — or support it via social media — you could be at risk.”

Frank Harrison, Regional Security Director for North America at Travelex Insurance’s assistance partner, World Travel Protection.

5 LGBTQ+ travel safety tips for unfriendly destinations

Thinking your destination may not be LGBTQ-friendly? Don’t cross it off your list just yet!

With these five tips, you may be able to see the world without compromising who you are:

1. Stick to cities.

Cities and popular tourist destinations tend to be more welcoming to LGBTQ+ travelers than rural areas. For example, Budapest boasts a lively queer scene despite Hungary being a rather conservative country. 

2. Travel with a group.

Book your trip through an LGBTQ+ organization so you can travel with a community of like-minded adventurers. Having knowledgeable LGBTQ+ guides with you to give you the advice and support you need can also help you feel safer while traveling abroad.

3. Be careful with public displays of affection.

Some countries frown upon — and even outlaw — public displays of affection (PDA) for straight and LGBTQ+ couples alike. That’s right, PDA could be off-limits for anyone in certain destinations. So, to avoid attracting unwanted attention, save the handholding for when you’re in private.

4. Learn local customs.

Each country has its own rules about modesty, religious practices, and gender expression. Research what people wear and how they carry themselves so you can respect the culture you’re visiting. As a tourist, you may not have to follow local customs perfectly. But it’s always smart to be cautious and respect your destination’s traditions.

5. Check and edit your digital footprint.

Did you know certain destinations have laws about how you use the internet? They have severe restrictions on the types of websites and apps you can use, as well as rules around sensitive information. 

Before you leave home, consider making the following changes to your digital footprint:

  • Make your social media profiles private.
  • Hide your relationship status.
  • Remove and replace overtly queer public profile images.
  • Delete LGBTQ+ apps.
  • Remove sensitive images, emails, and messages.

7 LGBTQ+ travel safety tips for any destination

No matter where you go, if you’re an LGBTQ+ traveler, it’s smart to keep these seven travel safety tips in mind:

1. Register with STEP before you leave home.

Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) with the U.S. Department of State before you pack your bags. It only takes a few minutes, and, in case of an emergency, the embassy can easily contact you and vice versa.

2. Know your rights.

Whether airport security is patting you down or police are questioning you, know your legal rights. If you do, you can speak up for yourself — and others — when necessary. 

3. Carry a doctor’s note.

Is the gender marker on your passport different than the gender you identify with? A doctor’s note can help clear up confusion so you can safely cross borders. For more information on your passport gender marker, visit the U.S. Department of State’s LGBTQ+ travel page.

4. Keep all medication in its original packaging.

Store all your medications — whether over the counter or prescribed — in their original packaging. Otherwise, you could have issues at airport security and border checkpoints. 

Also, don’t forget to check your medications are legal in your destination before taking them with you. You can learn more about medication laws in other countries in our guide on refilling prescription medication abroad.

5. Learn about health care access for tourists.

Research your destination’s health care policy in advance. You’ll want to know whether you’ll be able to get medical care if needed while you’re in a different country.

For more vacation health care advice, check out some of our travel assistance guides:

Also, don’t forget to download our Travel On app if you’re a Travelex policyholder so you can easily contact our 24/7 assistance team if you need medical treatment on vacation.

6. Book an LGBTQ-friendly hotel.

Some hotels are more welcoming than others, so look for LGBTQ-friendly hotels or ones that other LGBTQ+ travelers recommend. You can find supportive places to stay on websites like the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association’s hotels page.

You should also consider reading reviews on general travel sites like TripAdvisor or, focusing on feedback from LGBTQ+ guests. Calling the hotel directly can also give you insight into their policies and attitudes towards LGBTQ+ travelers.

7. Consider buying travel insurance.

No matter how well you plan, every trip can have surprises — and travel insurance can be there to help if something goes wrong. From trip cancellations to emergency medical expenses, protecting your vacation with travel insurance can give you extra confidence abroad.

Plus, when you have a Travelex policy you get access to our Travel On app — which comes in handy with LGBTQ+ travel. Along with real-time safety alerts, you’ll have LGBTQ+ advice and risks for your destination in the palm of your hand.

Ready to travel with pride and confidence?

Your vacation should be as smooth and fun as possible — no matter your identity or destination.   

To help ensure your next vacation is memorable for all the right reasons, remember the tips in this LGBTQ+ travel safety guide. Plus, consider securing your trip with travel insurance for extra support away from home.

Want to explore with Travelex by your side?

Bring our 24/7 travel assistance, Travel On app, and reliable coverage with you on vacation. Get a travel insurance quote now.


The information and advice contained on this page is general advice only and is correct at the time of writing (June 1, 2024) and may change at any time.  

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