Questions to Consider When Planning Your LGBT Honeymoon
Okay, this one may seem obvious but honeymoon planning can seem seriously overwhelming with so many options out there. Here’s a guide to get you started in your trip planning!
What type of travel is most enjoyable for you?
Are you a big-city person? Do you enjoy the beach? Are you looking for a domestic travel location in your country or thinking international is more for you? Are you looking for a popular tourist destination like New York City or Barcelona? Or would you rather do something a bit off the beaten path like Banos, Ecuador, or Columbus, Ohio? Some folks need higher-end amenities and resorts to feel comfortable others will prefer locally owned hotels or will prioritize the length of the trip over the luxury amenities. There is no right or wrong answers here, it’s about what you value in a trip.
Are you an experienced traveler?
There are a million tiny things that I do while I’m traveling that I don’t even think about anymore. This comes from years of experience traveling the world. I automatically know that I should pack backup photocopies of my documents and an emergency credit card in the lining of my bag. I know how to use travel apps like Uber or TripIt. I also know that I’d never carry a purse that’s open at the top or wear flashy jewelry in a developing country. I’m not saying this to scare you out of traveling, I’m saying this because there are a million tiny life skills you develop as an experienced traveler that you may not want to give a first go at while you’re on your honeymoon. Is your honeymoon the time to try all of this stuff for the first time? Maybe – you could be an adventurous couple who’s down to roll with the punches like Lindsay and I. Or maybe you’d prefer to go to a place that has a booming tourism industry like Thailand to ease your nerves.
What activities do you most enjoy as a couple?
When Lindsay and I travel we tend to mix styles. We usually do a portion of our trip at a higher-end or luxury hotel and then another portion of our trip in a hostel with a private room. When we got married in Ecuador, we decided to do our honeymoon before our actual wedding ceremony. We settled on a ten-day trip and divided our time amongst three different locations in Ecuador. Five of those days were spent in a small town called Banos that’s known for adventure sports because Lindsay and I are both really into nature based adventure travel. Now, admittedly, hiking the rainforest and rappelling waterfalls isn’t for everyone. Maybe the classic beach vacation is more your speed? No judgement here, we visited Miami last year and spent a full week vegging around on the sand. People travel for different reasons, there is no right or wrong reason for setting a destination. It’s purely about what you prefer.
What’s your budget?
Obviously, money plays a role in this conversation, but I’d like to caution you on a couple things. First, greater distance doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive. One of the best parts about international travel is how much further your money can go in some places. Let’s use the US as an example. An American couple could plan their honeymoon in Orlando. Let’s say the flights are around $300 each. The hotel room will be around $200 a night for a midrange hotel and meals on a budget will average around $60 per person per day ish. Obviously, you can make choices to cut your costs and travel on a budget but you’re looking at a minimum of $2400 for a five day trip and that’s before ground transportation costs and activities. A flight to Peru is in the $500 range which, yes is $200 more expensive, but the costs of traveling in Peru are DRAMATICALLY cheaper than traveling in the US. An average hotel would be around $40 USD per night and and food runs about $11 per person per day. It’s pretty easy for a couple to travel for a month in Peru for $2500 and that’s including activities, ground transit, and even alcohol. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to Orlando. Maybe Orlando is your dream destination and there’s tons of cool stuff going on in Orlando to see and do. What I am saying is that if you’re on a tight budget going to a developing country can be dramatically cheaper.
Are you comfortable traveling to a country with anti-LGBT policies?
There are still 83 countries and territories where it’s illegal to be LGBT and 13 where it’s punishable by death. There are also lots of countries where LGBT propaganda is illegal and even more where it’s technically legal but frowned upon. The reality is that traveling as an LGBT person is a risk no matter where you’re traveling. Even in hyper LGBT-friendly destinations like New York and London, there are still instances of anti-LGBT violence and slurs. It happens everywhere. Now, there’s obviously a huge difference between some old lady giving you a dirty look in Pennsylvania and being imprisoned in UAE. But let’s not pretend like we don’t have areas in the US, Australia, and the UK that aren’t friendly.
There are many people who believe that traveling to an anti-LGBT country is morally objectionable because they don’t want to give their money to a country that doesn’t support our community. I get that, I really do, but where do you draw the line and why? Only countries where being gay is legal? Only countries that have marriage equality? By imposing this kind of restrictions you’d be missing out on some of the countries that are most rich in culture and history. Countries like Indonesia and Jamaica but also countries like Germany if you use Marriage Equality as a barometer.
Would you consider a tour group or cruise?
Let’s say for argument’s sake that you wanted to go to a country that doesn’t have the best track record for LGBT issues. A country like Egypt for example. You and bae are all set to get your pyramid selfie on but there’s that whole – no homo thing that puts a damper on your honeymoon experience. What can you do? Well – a group tour or a cruise is a solid option because there’s a lot of safety in numbers. Local governments are less likely to mess with people who are guests of a major international travel company that brings lots of tourism dollars into their country.
Do you pass?
It’s shitty that I have to go here – but it’s better to be aware than unaware. If you can pass as straight/cis – particularly if you’re white and can pass as straight/cis – you’ll have very few issues traveling the world. Unfortunately, those who cannot pass as straight/cis may run into issues. I’d never tell someone to change or alter who they are to conform to heteronormative standards. However, it may be necessary to avoid unwanted attention and stay safe in some regions of the world. Now, I’m not saying you have to spend years growing your hair out or wear a ball gown to be able to travel, but we all know there are things we can do to blend. Lindsay has short hair and is very tall. Sometimes when we travel to a destination that’s not as affirming she chooses to wear more form fitting pants and mascara or really butch it up to tip the androgynous scale in one direction or the other depending on how she’s being perceived. In some places, where they are not as familiar with white faces, she’s perceived as a man – in others, it’s safer for her to femme it up a bit. She never goes as far as wearing all women’s clothes or doing any gender display she’d be uncomfortable with in the US but these are some of the things you’ll need to consider when making your choice.
Is there an LGBT-owned hotel in the area?
We decided to get married at My Sacha Ji Wellness Hotel because we loved the location and knew it was a safe and affirming hotel because it was owned by a lesbian. We found Sacha Ji through IGLTA which is a great starting point for LGBT-owned travel business. If you can’t find accommodations that are LGBT-owned you can also consider going with a hotel company that is known for being LGBT affirming. Kimpton, Marriott, and Belmond are a few solid hotels to start with.
How much does PDA play a role in your relationship?
In some cultures, PDA is just not accepted. Not necessarily PDA for LGBT couples, but PDA, in general, isn’t accepted. Lindsay and I aren’t a super PDA-heavy couple. Sure, sometimes we hold hands or hug or whatever but when we’re traveling we try to respect cultural customs by following the lead of locals. Sometimes that means waiting until we’re back in our room to be affectionate. Other times that means covering our shoulders or taking off our shoes at a religious or cultural shrine. If strong PDA is a norm for you and bae, maybe consider a destination where same-sex affection is the norm.
Are toys or contraception critical for your honeymoon fun?
It’s illegal to possess sex toys and pornography in India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, oh, and in Alabama. Randomly, there is even a town in Georgia called Sandy Springs that has a law banning “any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.” Some countries have bans on various kinds of contraception. Intrauterine devices are illegal in several countries but, most surprisingly in Spain, Switzerland, and Nepal. The Morning-After Pill is also banned around the world. Depending on your length of stay, you may consider using an alternative form of protection. Carry a doctor’s note for any medications and contraceptive devices if you are concerned.