Travel
2 min

Booking and planning LGBT travel online

The best websites and search engines

Whether you are searching for a lesbian-owned eco-tour operator in Brazil or to explore LGBT-friendly medical tourism options in Rajasthan, assess your options on the IGLTA’s trip planner

Credit: iglta.org

Whether you’re booking the trip of a lifetime, your annual summer family vacation or a romantic weekend away, you want to be sure that when you click, you’re choosing a hotel that welcomes the LGBT community, an airline that doesn’t discriminate against its employees and a perfect spot to have a gay old time. So where to turn?

To put together an entire trip, the first place to look should be the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association’s (IGLTA) mega trip planner database. Want to choose a lesbian-owned eco-tour operator in Brazil or explore LGBT-friendly medical tourism options in Rajasthan? Simply turn to the IGLTA’s trip planner and check out the choices. For those of us with less specific sojourns in our sights, the planner lets you choose by destination, trip type (eg beach vacations, city breaks, wellness) and provider type (eg accommodations, LGBT-owned, meeting planners, transportation). There’s also a detailed event guide, upcoming LGBT tours worldwide and listings of LGBT-supportive travel partners, such as airlines and hotel companies.

For accommodation only, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to LGBT-specific booking sites, with World Rainbow Hotels and TAG Approved providing two excellent choices.

TAG Approved is an LGBT hotel search engine that curates hotels worldwide based “not only on their desire for gay travel revenues, but on their employment policies, services, and support returned to the LGBT community.”

World Rainbow Hotels has compiled its list with assistance from IGLTA and offers a carefully curated selection of hotels in popular gay destinations around the world. For instance, there are 20 options to choose from in Amsterdam, 14 in Toronto and one in Moscow, although that is possibly one more hotel choice than you need with current Russian LGBT conditions. Filters allow potential guests to whittle down the list with terms such as “boutique,” “romantic” and “luxury” and by price and amenity. Each hotel offers its LGBT guests an “Out and About” guide to the destination city.

Purple Roofs is another fantastic choice when you’re looking for a smaller hotel, inn, bed-and-breakfast or campground, with accommodation options detailing whether the property is LGBT-friendly, gay-owned or lesbian-owned and offering discounts to those booking through the site.

The big mainstream search engines have jumped on board the gay bandwagon, too, which is good news for frequent travellers. Expedia added a “gay-welcoming” filter in 2010. You’ll find it listed under “amenities” alongside other crucial components of a good stay, such as “air-conditioning.” For city guides and hotel recommendations, they also have a dedicated LGBT portal. Again, the IGLTA assisted with the selection, and hotels are added regularly. Travelocity and Orbitz both have LGBT-specific portals, as do many airlines, including American.

For itinerary ideas, restaurants, bars and hotels, Daily Xtra Travel has guides to more than 200 destinations, from Adelaide to Zurich. The crowd-sourced GayCities app lets you review places you’ve been, make travel buddies and check updated travel guides.

NileGuide’s What’s Next app offers tools that let you build your own itinerary based on your GPS location, using crowd-sourcing techniques and picking the best of TripAdvisor, Citysearch and dozens of others, plus the wisdom of its own local experts. Simply key in “gay” or “lesbian” and see where it sends you.

And for some company while you’re away from home, there’s apps like Grindr and Scruff, and many of the obvious online dating platforms can be easily harnessed to find friends or more on your travels. In addition to world-wide personal ads, the cruising directory on Squirt.org (the naughtier brother site operated by the owners of dailyxtra.com) can help you plan your travels, providing access to thousands of listings for bars, bathh0uses, gay cruising spots and more.