This week, one of my favorite travel apps, Trip.com, released an updated list of popular LGBT destinations. Using data from their users and a survey, they found a surprising variety in the number of destinations that LGBT travelers are visiting. Places like Poland, Puerto Rico, Bali, Singapore and Nashville make the list—probably ones surprising and a little out-of-the-ordinary compared to the more stereotypical LGBT destinations we often hear about.
While LGBT travelers need to keep culture and safety in mind when visiting foreign places, as our world opens up, so do our opportunities for travel. In many respects, the world is a place that really is open to everyone. There are real considerations for LGBTQ travelers to keep in mind, of course, but with the right information, there’s no reason to close the door to adventure.
Trip.com’s new LGBTQ-specific resources are a great starting place to do your research – and this year’s Rising Stars list has some great destinations to try. They used their extensive database of over 60,000 destinations to come up with the list based on the number of reviews from distinct travelers visiting the destination and the number of real travelers recommending these spots to the LGBTQ Tribe on Trip.com. Through the website and app, you’ll also find destination-specific safety ratings and guides for the tribe as well as tips by LGBTQ travelers, for LGBTQ travelers. (See my profile here!)
There are still plenty of places around the world where being gay isn’t safe, nor is it comfortable — for locals or for tourists. But that doesn’t mean traveling as an LGBT individual is always dangerous. It’s frequently just a matter of having to know where and when one can disclose one’s sexuality through words or actions, and also the dangers or consequences (if any) for doing so. This is something straight people or opposite-sex couples almost never have to think about.
With gay travel, it’s about safety, it’s about comfort, it’s about politics. But it’s also about welcoming events, friendly accommodation, and having fun with similar travelers. There can be, in fact, value in visiting less-welcoming destinations—not just to support LGBT-owned businesses, but to potentially make changes. A new UNWTO report (produced in collaboration with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association) further emphasizes this point:
“Many argue that the transformative power of travel is why lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning travelers should see the world and create change.”
As someone who believes in creating fewer borders, should my sexuality also control my travel plans For me, it’s a gray area. There’s no clear-cut answer for how or where I travel. There are some anti-gay destinations that I have zero interest in visiting to begin with, and their anti-gay laws just make the destination that much less attractive — for example: Dubai. But countless friends (gay and straight) have been there and go often. And I don’t judge them for it. My travel preferences are my own.
But then there are also some anti-gay destinations which I do have an interest in visiting. I may not make plans to travel there now, but I won’t cross them off my list either. That’s why I’m excited to see such a diverse range of LGBT travel options on the Trip.com list of Rising Star Destinations.
Top 3 LGBT Rising Star Destinations
Best LGBT places from Trip.com‘s users
The list of 2017 Rising Star Destinations that have seen the largest growth in the past year include familiar places like Montreal, Bangkok and Buenos Aires—but less familiar ones such as Nashville and Singapore. Check out the top three destinations below (some of my favorites!) or the full list available on Trip.com here.
1. Puerto Rico
The Caribbean’s most gay-friendly island features several hotspots that cater to the LGBTQ community, including San Juan’s Condado and Santurce districts that are home to many gay owned/friendly hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs and beaches.
2. Mexico City
Top of my list for where to visit (and the top of The New York Times 52 Places To Go in 2016), Mexico City has a thriving LGBTQ community. The city’s hip and vibrant neighborhood Zona Rosa is at the center of Mexico’s LGBT life.
Although gay marriage is still not recognized in Vienna, the city continually advertises its many LGBT events, festivals and offers for tourists. The Naschmarkt area is home to many of Vienna’s most popular gay bars (and Vienna’s famous LGBT-friendly crossing lights). The city’s longstanding culture for art, design and culture (from opera to coffee) make it a fantastic LGBT-friendly destination.
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For a full list of Trip.com’s top LGBT Rising Star Destinations, including top restaurants, bars/nightlife, visit trip.com