Safety should be a top priority for every traveler. Overall, traveling as a LGBTQ traveler isn’t much different than traveling for others, but sometimes special considerations should be made. It is important to keep in mind that as a LGBTQ traveler, a destination’s attitude toward the LGBTQ community is an important factor to consider. Experiences for LGBTQ travelers can vary globally, so it is important to have an understanding of where you are traveling, so you can have an enjoyable and safe vacation or business trip.
According to research from the Business Travel Show Europe, a majority of majority of business travel programs fail to take LGBTQ+ travelers into account and that 95% of business travelers conceal their sexual orientation when traveling to protect their safety.1
We recognize the need for greater understanding and awareness regarding safety for LGBTQ travelers, and developed the following resources and support to assist LGBTQ travelers with information that will help them feel more comfortable as they plan their travel.
82% of LGBTQ+ travelers say they have had less-than-welcoming - or uncomfortable - experiences when traveling, with 65% reporting they have to consider their safety and wellbeing.2
LGBTQ+ travelers from India (100%), Denmark (97%) and Mexico (93%) have negative public experiences more frequently.2
55% of LGBTQ+ travelers say they have experienced discrimination while traveling, citing stereotyping (28%) and being stared at, laughed at or verbally abused by other travelers (18%) or locals (17%) as top offenders.2
The most important step that LGBTQ travelers can take during the planning stages to ensure their safety and comfort on a trip is conducting thorough research on their destination. It is important to understand the cultural, legal and security issues that affect the LGBTQ community in the locations you are visiting. You should also consider your own profile and if that destination is right for you, as well as the sort of experience you want to have in your travels. You do not necessarily have to avoid a location, but you will have to be aware of how you conduct yourself based on the laws and cultural climate of the place you plan to visit.
What are some of the cultural considerations to make when researching your destination? In some countries, identifying as LGBTQ may simply be culturally frowned upon. In more conservative societies, shows of affection considered innocent by Western standards, like touching or holding hands, even between heterosexual couples, may be against cultural and religious practices.
You should research not only the social norms of the place you are visiting, but also the local laws. In some countries, identifying as LGBTQ is illegal. In these locations, LGBTQ individuals can be barred from entering the country entirely or can be subject to detention or legal action if suspected of engaging in or promoting homosexual activity.
Consider purchasing travel insurance to help provide coverage if something unexpected happens like a medical emergency or a missed flight. To learn more about Travel Guard’s product offerings visit our LGBTQ Travelers and Travel Insurance Needs page.
When applying for a visa, there are some instances in which a married LGBTQ couple should apply for visas as single individuals rather than as a couple.
The cultural and legal climate should be carefully considered throughout your trip planning, including when booking a hotel or resort. Some circumstances may require a LGBTQ couple to reserve a room with two beds, instead of one, in order to remain discreet or even to avoid legal action, and to bring separate luggage instead of packing belongings in one bag or suitcase.
During your travels, let a trusted contact back home know your general itinerary, including anyone you have planned in advance to meet while on your trip.
Transgender travelers may face additional scrutiny when departing from and arriving at airports and when navigating the cultural and legal landscape of a different country. When considering a destination, know that some countries may refuse entry to individuals whose documented gender does not reflect their presentation. Understand that cultural attitudes toward and laws regarding transgender people in conservative societies may present an unwelcoming and unsafe environment.
Transgender people must make additional considerations when conducting air travel. Security procedures at airports, such as pat-downs, increased scrutiny from security personnel and body scanners, can be distressing to transgender people, and there are steps that can be taken to be prepared for airport security protocols. Researching the procedures and necessary documentation for airport security in your home country and in your intended destination is important. As of April 2022, U.S. citizens have the option to select X as their gender marker on their passport application.3
If you are traveling with medication, ensure that your medications are kept together in a separate bag in your carry-on. Keep all medications in their original containers and carry an official note of medical authorization from your doctor.
In general, staying aware of your surroundings, being mindful of the culture, trying not to stand out as a tourist and disclosing as little personal information as possible is the best course of action for anyone traveling in a new place. It is usually better to stay discreet at all times, even in more accepting areas, to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Additionally, in some places homosexuality is perfectly legal and acceptable, but people may still maintain a low profile even in gay-friendly venues due to cultural stigmas. Those societies may require LGBTQ travelers to use discretion and avoid discussing or displaying their orientation.
If you are harassed, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible and do not escalate by confronting your harasser. If you are being followed, find a busy establishment to enter.
This infographic contains recommendations from the AIG Travel security team on how to reduce risks for LGBTQ individuals during travel.
In 2022, AIG earned the distinction of being one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality” from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, as the company continues expanding its network of LGBT & Allies Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) worldwide and supporting efforts to increase awareness and inclusion.
The distinction comes with a top score of 100 percent on the group’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmark of corporate policies and practices that benefit lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) employees. This is the tenth consecutive year that AIG has received this honor from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.