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Article written by Maya Vukovska

Just recently, I got acquainted with the abbreviation TWG, or “Travel While Gay” - a term that some may find superfluous, but most of the members of the LGBTQ community know it’s quite legitimate. And they’ve probably learned that the hard way. The fact is that the big wide world is still pretty much heteronormative, and if you want to TWG, there are some certain things you should know and be prepared for before you head out into it.

Be Aware of the Big Bad Wolf

Let’s say you’ve had enough of the package tours, cruises, gay-friendly hostels, and the B&Bs the tourist industry offers to gay people. So, you decide to experience some “real fun stuff” by getting out of your gay comfort zone. Where do you go? You think, I can go anywhere - sky is the limit (although Elon Musk has plans for the avid Mars travelers, too!). Well, yes and no. You should keep in mind that just because many countries have legalized same-sex marriages and annually organize grandiose pride parades, it’s not safe for the gay people to travel all over the world. There are still many countries in Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Russia, where the social customs and the laws do not provide friendly and secure environment for LGBTQ travelers. So, do your homework and check what the local laws say before you book tickets for a certain destination. You definitely do not want to be sentenced to death by stoning just because someone saw you wink at the busboy. Or because the taxi-driver was not satisfied with your answer to his question of how come you didn’t have a girlfriend.

Actions That Can Put You in Trouble

While we’re still on the keep-it-safe agenda, let me remind you that in some locations, and not necessarily in countries with rigid anti-gay laws, some actions that seem trivial in Manhattan or Boston, like holding hands and even requesting a double bed at a hotel, can put you in a lot of trouble. It’s not always the laws, but the locals that can punish you for being “allegedly gay” or, God forbid, “openly gay”.

Dating Apps Can Save Your Life

Well, not literally, for not everybody who’s on Grindr knows how to give the Heimlich, or perform CPR. But! If you’ve been thinking dating apps are just for dating, you need to readjust your mindset. If you travel alone, a dating app can do a great job of not only finding you a decent lay for the night, but also of finding some cool local gay people to show you around. Free of charge, hopefully.

Travel With Allies

A trip to another country doesn’t have to feel like going to war, but keeping some allies close is a must. Travelling as a loner has its many advantages, but so does travelling with a group of gay and / or non-gay friends. This way, you will always feel at ease, and be confident that for whatever reason your gay ass might have been busted, they’d come to your rescue. Plus, it’s more fun. Your gay affiliates won’t complain about going to the next drag show or gay bar, because they are here for the same reasons as you. And while old museums are fun, there's much more that travel has to offer.

Tequila is not your friend!

It’s very important that you at all times stay aware of your alcohol consumption. Especially if you travel solo. Alcohol can cloud your judgement. Although you already know that, it’s quite needless to say that getting extremely drunk in an unfamiliar environment, say, in a tavern somewhere in Centro Havana, can lead to much worse consequences than doing it in your favorite pub where you’re a regular and none of the bar tenders will let you drive after 10 shots of tequila. Or rum. Or whatever. What’s more, people you don’t find attractive or desirable can take advantage of your disadvantageous situation...

When in Rome…

…do as Romans do. And the saying does not apply only to when you visit Italy’s capital! The Americans have a strong tradition of behaving like themselves wherever they go, but the truth is that no matter what country you are in, the locals will appreciate if you are the person THEY want you to be. Even if you find yourself in Amsterdam, a liberal city, where, of all places in the world, you think you can be as gay as it gets, someone may still approach you on the dance floor in a night club and whisper in you ear not to act “so gay” in front of everyone.

All that being said, we really are not trying to scare you out of taking the road less traveled. No matter your sexuality or taste in shoes, when you hit the road, you are just an explorer. Do not let the big world scare you with all its hidden threats and dangers, just seize every opportunity to see every corner of our beautiful planet.

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