We asked avid LGBTQ+ travelers about the destinations they’re dreaming of and their thoughts took us around the world.
It’s Pride Month, and we’re sure there are many out there who had to cancel travel plans to celebrate with our queer brothers and sisters as well as our allies in far-flung destinations. Some beach towns might be open to local sun worshippers, but for those of us dreaming of a long-haul journey, our exercise in patience continues. To keep the spirit of travel alive and proud, we asked avid LGBTQ+ travelers from all over the world where they’re dreaming of jetting off to once it’s safe to explore the globe again.
1. Jan Mayen, Norway
Isley Reust, photographer and filmmaker living in Ísafjörður, Iceland
Like so many people in the world, my plans and work trips for 2020 have been canceled or postponed. One of these trips was a job I have been dreaming about since I was a child: On June 1, I was supposed to set sail for Jan Mayen, a small volcanic island far up in the Arctic Circle. I have been to Jan Mayen once before but only for a day; this time, I would be spending weeks photographing and creating a documentary on the island. I planned to hike across the entire island, documenting the wildlife as well as its geological terrain and glaciers. Jan Mayen is known as an important bird area because of the abundance of seabirds that breed there. Jan Mayen also has no permanent residents, only a handful of scientists.
The Arctic holds a special place in my heart. It’s the last great frontier that we need to save and protect. It’s like another planet in so many ways.
2. Mérida, Mexico
Vince Uy, creative director in Makati, Philippines
As popular as Mexico is, Mérida feels a little more under the radar, which, to me, is perfect, especially since we could all use a quiet escape from all the chaos.
Its colorful colonial architecture and slow-paced life provide a reverie that takes you back in time. What I love most about the city is how everything feels so effortless and relaxed, from its Old World aesthetic to its nascent hipster vibe. Its culinary scene, hidden amongst quaint cobbled streets and pastel-hued mansions, is worth exploring. One of the most unique dishes I have ever sampled, for instance, is called black onions, giant onion petals stuffed with Xcatik chili mayo and covered in a crispy batter of recado negro.
3. Azores, Portugal
Alejandro Serratos, architect in Guadalajara, Mexico
For what seems like all of my life, my greatest desire was to visit the Azores, an archipelago of nine Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
After two previously canceled trips, I was finally able to go in January 2020. I was on the island of São Miguel for five days, and that was hardly enough. To me, it seemed like the most magical and poetic place—unimaginably beautiful and pure. The locals were extremely friendly and welcoming, especially when I attempted to communicate in Portuguese. I’ve always found nature bewildering and stunning; when I saw the Azores’ lagoons, bubbling thermal springs, and colorful botanical gardens, I knew it was without a doubt the best travel experience of my life. Now, I’ve promised myself that I will return and get to know the other eight islands.
4. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Amber Drew & Sara Elise, founders of Apogeo Collective
Once quarantine is over, we can’t wait to catch the first flight back to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. As the site of our first pop-up experience for Apogeo Collective, we fell head-over-heels with this endearing surf town along the Pacific Ocean. With over ten beaches within a 20-minute drive and a strong culture and community, San Juan del Sur is such a great place to just be. (The amazing sunset views over the ocean and starry nights don’t hurt either!)
During this period of uncertainty, we are dreaming of returning to Playa Hermosa for perfectly prepared fried fish and fresh passion fruit juice, and plotting our arrival at Playa Majagual for the best micheladas ever. We can already smell the fresh rain and see the vibrant flowers bloom.
5. Provincetown, Massachusetts
Steve Viksjo, co-founder and creative director of Brooklyn-based queer food magazine Jarry
It’s August 2019, and I’m sipping a negroni at the Red Inn on Commercial Street overlooking a low tide that has beached a massive inflatable rainbow unicorn. That water toy looks so sad, but I am loving life.
Fast-forward to May 2020, and it seems crass to desire such a treat. If I could hope for anything, wouldn’t I ask for a vaccine? A treatment? A day hugging my friends who I have not embraced in two months? When this is all over, I want to tell my chosen family to skip tea at the Boat Slip and join me for a group moment at The Red Inn happy hour outside the main drag of Provincetown, where we can occupy the rockers on the back deck, enjoy the summer’s best oysters, watch the tide and the sun recede, and embrace again. Tell stories that make each other laugh. Take down our masks and kiss on the lips. I can’t wait for a summer in P-Town. It will come again. Just you wait.
6. Vejbystrand, Sweden
Melinda Martino, Visit Sweden
For the first time in over 10 years, I had plans for an extended visit to Sweden together with my kid and partner to see my family. The trip was going to be a homecoming of sorts. I’m so privileged to have grown up in a small, beautiful little beach town called Vejbystrand (“strand” translates to beach) in Skåne, Sweden’s southernmost province. The pre-pandemic plan included long days at the beach with packed lunches made of mostly locally grown produce. We’d chill the leftover drip coffee from breakfast and enjoy it with cardamom buns in the afternoon. We all know that everything tastes better seaside.
The weather could very well be perfect: 80 degrees, blue skies, no humidity. But good conditions can’t be counted on. But in Sweden, summer can also mean 65 degrees and windy. Either way, weather never stops my family from going to the beach. We’ll just sit further up in the dunes, where there’s some protection from the chill and where the warmth of the sun will only feel more amazing.
7. Porto Ercole, Italy
Andrea Franchini, head of culture and entertainment at EDITION Hotels in New York City
I was putting together a special plan to sail the Mediterranean with friends this summer before the pandemic hit. This trip post-pandemic will start in Porto Ercole because I grew up spending my summers there. Boarding a sailboat, we’ll check out Giglio and Giannutri, two natural reserve islands.
Then, it’s Positano just to spend a night at Le Sirenuse, a legendary family-owned hotel with amazing views of the Costiera Amalfitana and overlooking Li Galli, a private tiny island once owned by Rudolf Nureyev. We’ll keep sailing the Tyrrhenian before harboring in Puglia to enjoy some nightlife. Puglia is the most LGBTQ-friendly destination in Italy and remains one of its best-kept secrets.
Italy is just now coming out of the COVID-19 crisis and tourism is at the foundation of its economy. I feel this is the perfect time for all those in love with my country to show their support.
8. Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Candy Krajangsri, Los Angeles-based photographer
Since this pandemic started, I am never without sanitizer or a mask. I now value distance when I was once eager to give hugs. I can’t wait to travel again and be with people, but I also want a secluded, simplified experience. Far from Bangkok‘s traffic and the grand temples of Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son is the best getaway for anyone looking to have a quiet adventure. A local there once told me that Mae Hong Son is the poorest province in Thailand, but it’s home to the happiest people.
I want to lie in a hammock over a rice paddy field, walk across a bamboo bridge built piece-by-piece by the local community, and count every glimmer in a star-filled sky. I would stay at Herntai Resort in the Mae La Noi district. Its owner—a modest guy in his 30s—built it shortly after the sudden passing of his father. He wanted to share a part of his home with visitors, and that’s exactly what it feels like. Every meal felt like we were breaking bread together.