LBGTQ+ families face unique challenges as travelers, but these seasoned traveling parents offer advice on how to prepare.
Traveling with kids is a challenge no matter what. They get cranky, they need tailored activities right for their ages, and they require packing extra equipment (hello strollers, diaper bags, car seats, and a mountain of snacks)—to name just a few of the hurdles parents face while on a family vacation.
But for LGBTQ+ parents, the stress and challenges increase significantly. Christina Bailey, a 30-year-old mom who travels frequently with her wife, Katie, and two toddler-aged daughters while posting to the popular Instagram account @babybaileymamadrama, puts it bluntly: “Traveling and being gay can be very scary. Traveling with children is scary, but being gay and traveling with kids is taking it to the next level.”
“We won’t be traveling to Russia anytime soon.”
While most families need only consider their personal interests, budget, and time frame when planning a trip, LGBTQ+ families have to consider serious safety concerns. And while all parents have apprehensions about potentially dangerous cities or kids being too young to participate in intrepid activities, these pale in comparison to having to weigh the anti-LGBTQ laws and extreme homophobia that still span the globe.
“We won’t be traveling to Russia anytime soon,” says Christina.
But even in more LGBTQ-friendly countries and cities, there can still be homophobic individuals or sentiments. Christina recalls a time in Barcelona when she and her wife were kissing in public and someone screamed, “Get out of here, dykes!” Immediately making them feel both unsafe and ashamed (“Even though we shouldn’t be!” she is quick to add).
At the end of the day, however, what’s most important to LGBTQ+ families about travel is the same as for all parents:
“We love showing our children other cultures and people. Every day you learn something new about the place you are visiting, and those lessons enrich your soul and widen your vision of the world,” says Christian Ruiz Gomez, an Australian father who shares his experience traveling with his husband, Juan Luis Fernandez Masip, and two boys on @2_papas_in_oz.
“Our hope is that there will come a time when we won’t distinguish between traditional and non-traditional families. We’ll all just be families.”
“We want our kids to see what is outside of where they live,” agrees Bailey. We know the world can sometimes be unkind to us because we are gay, but it is important to us to show our kids the beautiful parts of the world.”
As for the future of travel for LGBTQ+ families in general, Chris and Juan poignantly summarize their vision: “Our hope is that there will come a time when we won’t distinguish between traditional and non-traditional families. We’ll all just be families.”
Below, veteran LGBTQ+ family travelers share their tips and philosophies for future traveling LBGTQ+ parents.
Do Your Research
Chris and Juan advocate careful planning when going abroad as an LGBTQ+ family. While they say they’ve mainly had positive experiences and have not faced much homophobia during their trips, they also point out that this is because “we do our research very carefully before we pick a destination.”
The couple spends hours on Google looking at various forums (which differ depending on the locale) and what other LGBTQ+ travelers have to say before choosing a spot with their kids. While resources specific to LGBTQ+ travel can be limited, new ones are starting to pop up. Just this month, the new platform Gayther launched, featuring LGBTQ-friendly info on businesses, services, and events, as well as country information, guides, and community resources.
Peter Williams, the founder of Gayther, said he wanted “to create a space where people of all genders and sexual orientations could go to discover quality services, explore community content, support inclusive businesses, services, and events, and even make some friends.”
Devon Gibby, who posts on the Instagram account @dadndaddies, wishes more destinations and hotels felt it was important to cater to LGBTQ+ families as a way for them to meet and build community, but found a unique opportunity this past summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts,
“which held a Family Week. There, my boys got to meet other kids with gay dads, as well as other families all over the LGBTQ+ spectrum. It was such an incredible experience.”
Family Equality was the host of the Provincetown event, and is another great resource for LGBTQ+ families looking for community building events and support.
Unfortunately, underrepresentation continues to plague the LGBTQ+ travel space. “We feel underrepresented in both the travel and the travel media space, and this affects our kids,” say Chris and Juan. “LQBTQ families should be as present in any travel media space as the ‘traditional’ families. Plus, we’d love to mingle with more LGBTQ families while we travel.”
“LQBTQ families should be as present in any travel media space as the ‘traditional’ families.”
The Bailey’s find it hard to connect with other fellow LGBTQ family travelers especially. “I do see the rise of traveling gay couples, but not gay families. We follow a lot of gay couples on Instagram, but none of them have kids, and gay families we follow on Instagram do not travel as much as we do.”
Chris and Juan share similar feelings about their account. “It’s very important to increase visibility of the LGBTQ+ travel community. We can do that by posting photos of our trips on social media,” explains Chris.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Devon also expressed the importance of sharing where he’s been traveling with his sons. “LGBTQ people need to feel that there is an entire world of options for them to explore,” he explains. “I also show that we don’t need to just flock to the urban areas. The national parks, forests, public lands, and rural areas are just as available to us as they are to everyone else. By showing myself in these spaces I hope that my community will be inspired to do their own exploring as well.”
Connect on Social Media
All three families agree that social media has allowed them to connect with more like-minded communities and become a place where they can inspire more LGBTQ+ families to get into travel.
“Social media has allowed us to feel connected to more gay couples and families than we will ever have in our real, non-social media life,” says Christina, of her and Katie’spopular Instagram account and Youtube channel, using both of these channels to encourage others families.
“We talk about safe locations to go as well as what to do with kids when you are there,” Christina says. “I know we have struggled with where to travel and what to do there, so it is nice that we can share this and hopefully inspire LGBTQ+ families, or anyone, to travel with kids.”
Hannah Freedman is the Senior Editor for Family Traveller, a publication dedicated to offering advice and inspiration for incredible family trips. She has also written for Vanity Fair, Travel + Leisure, Thrillist and Roads & Kingdoms, among others.