Traveling as a LGBTQ family isn’t always easy. Visiting new locations as a same-sex family involves being more careful with choices and being on guard to help protect our children in awkward situations. Even with having to be more cautious, we shouldn’t let that stop our families from getting out and enjoying travel. Here are some LGBTQ family travel safety tips that we always use with our family when planning a vacation.
Top LGBTQ Family Travel Safety Tips
1. Research The Destination
One of the first things our family does when deciding to travel together is to find out how friendly the destination is to gay couples and LGBTQ families. While this is always important, it’s even more important if we’re traveling to certain countries outside of the United States. According to the U.S. State Department, over 70 countries consider same-sex relations a crime, some with extreme punishment. So researching this is the first and most important in our list of LGBTQ family travel safety tips. Making sure we’re visiting countries that are receptive is critical. (Don’t worry – most are!)
Even while traveling within the U.S. we want to be sure that our families will be respected and kept outside of possibly dangerous situations. LGBTQ friendly cities in the United States include our hometown of San Diego, CA, St. Petersburg, FL, New York City, NY and Austin, TX. While at first glance some of the places on that list might not seem very friendly to gay and lesbian couples, each of these cities have excellent track records. They have established gay communities and plenty of activities for diverse families.
2. Seek Out LGBTQ-Friendly Accommodations
After selecting a place to visit, next search out LGBTQ friendly hotels. There are a lot of chain hotels and small bed & breakfast type of locations that are friendly to gay couples and families. It just takes a little research to find them. In larger cities, we can generally stick with larger hotel chains like Hilton or Marriott. We can also use sites such as misterb&b which vets hotel and room rentals to ensure that owners are friendly to the gay community. However, some of these establishments are more geared to couples so check that first.
How can we tell if a hotel will be friendly to LGBTQ families?
- Check to see if the hotel markets to the gay community in gay publications and advertising.
- Email the hotel’s concierge and ask about the local gay community or gay bars. Their response will help determine what the vibe of the hotel is towards the LGBTQ community.
- During PRIDE week, gay friendly hotels are definitely advertising it. Observe who those hotels are, and keep track in case you visit when it’s not PRIDE.
- See what their score is on the Human Right Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. Some major chains including Choice Hotels, Hyatt, Intercontinental and Wyndham have ratings of 100 on the index. The higher the score (out of 100), the more committed the company is to LGBTQ equality.
3. Reach Out To Local Centers For Advice
Once we’ve selected a place to go, we sometimes see if the city has a center that supports the LGBTQ community. These centers will be able to answer any questions or concerns we have, provide information about activities and help put our minds at ease before visiting. Asking them questions about anything we need from safety tips to fun family activities will save time to spend on planning other things for this vacation.
Another in our LGBTQ family travel safety tips is to look for gay friendly publications online for the area we’re visiting. We’re likely to get some great stories, recommendations and local flavor before you even begin our vacation.
4. Have Your Paperwork Ready
LGBTQ families have a variety of concerns to think about when traveling. Important in our LGBTQ family travel safety tips but one that isn’t often considered, is having all our legal parental documentation on hand while traveling internationally. While anyone who is traveling with adopted children needs to be cautious, LGBTQ parents need to especially be vigilant since we could be targeted due to misunderstanding or worse, discrimination.
There are many situations that could arise with a same-sex couple traveling with children. We once had to prove that we were the legal parents of our daughters to several flight attendants and airline employees. It’s an experience that isn’t pleasant but if we’re prepared in advance it will help the situation move quicker, especially if we’re with young children who can’t speak for themselves.
Documents To Have On Hand While Traveling Internationally
- Child’s birth certificate
- Adoption papers
- Custody documents for minor children (this is especially important if your child’s last name is different than yours and/or your partner’s)
- Copy of insurance cards with your children’s names
- Emergency contact information – be sure to print this out and carry it with you so you can access it immediately. Include all medical professionals and your family’s contact numbers.
5. Find Activities That Will Welcome Our Families
Another way to help stay safe is to visit locations and attractions that you know will welcome our LGBTQ family.
The Disney businesses are well known for being accepting of their gay employees which means our family will be welcomed at any of their parks. There’s even a yearly celebration called Gay Days, an unofficial event at Disney World in Orlando which has also expanded to Universal Studios and SeaWorld in Orlando.
If we’re traveling with small children, seek out science museums, planetariums and zoos in the area that are educational and will get the kids excited. With older children ask them what they’d like to do and research it online together to find things that will make everyone feel included.
Also we look for events during the PRIDE celebration of the city we’re visiting if that’s the time of year we’ll be traveling. Cities will have parades, festivals, food events and concerts for our families to enjoy. (We do investigate the events in advance. Some are family oriented and others will be adult oriented only.)
Tips for LGBTQ Family Travel Safety
We believe that being cautious and proactive while traveling as LGBTQ families doesn’t mean that we’re fearful. We definitely don’t believe in not traveling just to avoid delicate situations. Taking our two daughters all over the world has been worth it for a variety of reasons, especially to open them to a wider world and getting lots of family memories we’ll never forget.
If you’re interested in how we believe travel has affected our kids positively, read this story about our family travel to Cambodia.
Hope you find these LGBTQ family travel safety tips helpful!