At OutThere, we believe in boundless travel, which means that we feel everyone should have the choice and opportunity to travel wherever, with whomever they want, and be able to express themselves in the way they’re oriented.
We are also proactive advocates of greater diversity in tourism and maintain that our world at large, destinations and their governments, as well as the travel industry, should be more embracing, empathetic and accepting of all types of travellers.
There are still a majority of countries in the world where there are laws and customs that prevent LGBTQ+ people (and those from some other minority groups) from visiting freely, and where life for LGBTQ+ citizens is challenging, or perhaps even dangerous.
Because we are proponents of boundless travel, you won’t find us advocating boycotts; although we will research our stories on destinations with due diligence and care ahead of making any recommendations. We ask our readers to remember that OutThere is primarily a source of inspiration, not information. Always check and be aware of socio-political situations that may affect you, or any person of your nationality in your choice of destination, before you travel. Always remember that regulations and social situations can change quickly, too.
Editorially, we prioritise destinations and travel brands that are welcoming of OutThere travellers. Much of the world is proactively and positively open to us. However, we do not shy away from more conservative nations, but will always urge caution, advise that travellers do their research and consider going on vacation with a trusted travel provider.
If you are undecided about travelling to conservative destinations, do take into account the power of your visibility. If all OutThere travellers choose not to travel somewhere because it is deemed conservative, people in this destination will never see that there’s a different attitude, perspective or alternative outlook. To understand and support the LGBTQ+ community in any country, we should also consider seeing it for ourselves. LGBTQ+ people exist everywhere, so our visibility and support may help them in demanding equality, justice and inclusion; and/or compel you to help them further when you return. Travel is powerful in this way, as it can broaden horizons for all.
It is also important to recognise the difference between governments or regimes and their citizens; between what is law and what is point of view. Many times, we’ve travelled to a destination with caution, only to be surprised – bowled-over even – by the warm welcomes we have received.
While you must always prioritise your safety when you travel, our advice is to make your decisions with your eyes wide open.
Here are our ten tips to becoming a boundless traveller and travelling safely
Information is powerful. Research a destination thoroughly and use first-hand accounts and experiences ahead of hearsay.
Look into what your government says about travel to a destination and what protections it offers. Understand where to go for help, should you need it.
Work with a good travel-advisor, consultant or concierge. They will do a lot of the thinking and vetting for you and ensure that your whole journey is enjoyable and, moreover, safe. It’s worth the small premium.
Don’t take your travel-advisor at face value. Ensure that they have strong diversity and inclusion practices and policies in place and anti-discrimination clauses in their contracts with their supplier. Make sure they have trawled their supply chain to ensure that their suppliers understand your personal needs.
Put your money where your values lie. Vote with your wallet, divesting from those who aren’t inclusive in their operations.
Consider using an LGBTQ+ or minority-owned travel provider. Many entrepreneurs start their travel businesses inspired by the richness of our culture and community and can access services specific to your needs. You’ll also be empowering community-based businesses to grow and create even greater equity, leading the industry by example.
Ensure your travel insurance offers legal protection for discrimination. If not, ask why not. Always ensure you make a next of kin aware of your travel plans and what to do in event of an emergency.
Research community groups or NGOs on the ground in a destination. Find out how you can develop your knowledge of their situation and how you may be able to interact with them in a way that is thoughtful and safe for all.
Be mindful and check your privilege. Don’t let unconscious bias cloud your judgments of people. But be safe, keep your eyes and ears open, and your wits about you at all times. Never assume that you can apply the values of the place you’re from to those in the country you are a guest in – particularly when it comes to public displays of affection. Moreover, be aware of the law and stay on the right side of it.
Enjoy yourself and immerse yourself in another culture. However and wherever you choose to travel, make it experiential and transformative.