Tag Archives: LGBT Travel

LGBT Travel Trends Resources and Safety

LGBT Travel: Trends, Resources and Safety

As a lesbian with wanderlust, there are special considerations I must make when choosing destinations and accommodations. In some cities/countries LGBT folks might be okay while walking with a partner hand-in-hand; in other locales, you might get stares or funny looks; in other destinations you might face blatant discrimination when, as a same-sex couple, you book one bed in a hotel room. These embarrassing – and potentially dangerous – situations can make or break a vacation.

Holidays are for relaxing and we all want to travel as easily and safely as possible. But, for LGBT travelers, the world is often a dangerous place.

Urban Desitinations

Ultimate Urban Destination Guides

According to UCityGuides, the 10 gayest cities in the world are New York City, San Francisco, Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, London, Paris, Los Angeles and Miami. These cities are welcoming to LGBT people and locations LGBT travelers can find things to do and go not only in gay-exclusive bars and lodgings, but everywhere.

Travel Iceland

Are you ready for something new?

Many private travel businesses like Pink Iceland, New Zealand Awaits and Argentina’s BAGay offer LGBT-specific tourism assistance worldwide. Additionally, London’s official city tourism organization, Visit London has LGBT-specific offerings, as does Las Vegas and so many other cities’ tourism boards around the globe. Even Virginia, long considered a “battleground” state for LGBT rights, recently launched a state-wide LGBT tourism campaign. For those wanting LGBT-specific travel guidance, Damron Company publishes guides geared to LGBT travelers.

Purple Roofs Travel

We Are Gay Travel

Meanwhile, the independent Purple Roofs site provides information about small, ‘family owned’ and gay friendly accommodations. Many of these listings are places you’d have difficulty finding out about anywhere else.

International Gay Lesbian Travel

International Resource

Mainstream travel businesses such as American Airlines, Travelocity and Orbitz have longstanding services catering to LGBT travelers. And, dedicated to connecting and educating LGBT travelers and the businesses that welcome and support us, the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association acts as the world’s leading global travel network.

Community Markets & Insights’ 20th Annual LGBT Travel Survey results reveal some interesting statistics about LGBT travel:

According to the report, the U.S. Department of Commerce reports “the travel and tourism industry in the United States generated more than U.S. $1.5 trillion in economic output in 2014. Based on this data and CMI sample demographics, we estimate that the annual economic impact of LGBT travelers is over US $75 billion per year in the U.S. alone, not including the value of international inbound LGBT travel.”

Not surprisingly, New York is, once again, the most popular LGBT destination across all categories, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Chicago, which are tightly grouped in 2nd place. This year’s ranking saw increases for Los Angeles as well as increases in Florida travel, with Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando; all being top-10 destinations. For the first time Rehoboth Beach, DE and Nashville, TN entered the survey’s top-20 destinations, which reflects an overall trend for a greater number and diversity of destinations involved in LGBT outreach.

Including LGBT-specific activities while on vacation is not diminishing among LGBT Millennials. 60% of LGBT Millennials indicated having visited a gay bar while on vacation in the past year, and 56% visited an LGBT neighborhood while on vacation. These percentages were equal to or better than Generation X and Baby Boomer LGBTs. Attending an LGBT Pride event while on vacation was especially popular among Millennials, particularly when compared to Baby Boomers.

For the first time, the survey tested questions on shared economy accommodations. The report indicated that lesbians (21%) were more likely than gay men (17%) to have actually booked via a rental-by-owner or shared economy website in the past year such as Airbnb or HomeAway. LGBTs primarily book shared economy accommodations for cheaper rates (59%) and to be in a specific neighborhood (56%). 20% of LGBTs who booked shared economy rooms in the past year did it just because they were curious. Looking to the future, only 9% of lesbians and 4% of gay men said that rental-by-owner or shared economy websites were their preferred way of booking accommodations. Additionally, Millennials are far more likely to use public transportation and Uber than Baby Boomers while traveling. Baby Boomers are more likely to rent cars. Traditional taxi use was fairly even across all generations.

Something I didn’t find in the 2015 survey that was in CMI’s 2014 survey, were results about Destination Safety and LGBT Discrimination. The 2014 survey concluded that LGBT travelers strongly prefer to travel to destinations they consider safe and do not have laws that discriminate against LGBT residents and travelers. In 2014, merely 11% of respondent indicated a willingness to travel to a country that has laws against LGBT people.

Additionally, the 2014 survey had results for regional reputation: “Following general travel safety, respondents were asked about perceived safety in specific countries. Many of these countries have significant general population tourism initiatives, but are located in parts of the world that are not always perceived as LGBT-friendly. Russia scored the lowest among all counties tested. Other counties, while not explicitly anti-LGBT, suffer from negative perceptions about their regions.”

In 2015, OutTraveler published “The 10 Places LGBT Travelers Should Never Visit,” which included Nigeria, where same-sex couples can face many years in prison, Zimbabwe, where an LGBT individual can be beheaded for the offense of homosexuality, and Russia, where Pride parades are banned, LGBT “propaganda” is illegal, transgender individuals are not allowed to drive, and LGBT people are often physically assaulted in in the streets. This type of intelligence is invaluable, exactly the type of vacation planning information heterosexual folks never have to think about.

And this month, October 2016, a new report has revealed that more than one in three (37%) LGBT travelers have experienced some form of discrimination whilst on holiday, with 6% experiencing a threat of physical violence due to their sexuality.

PinkNews summed up the findings: “The report also highlighted that sexuality had a major influence on where LGBT Brits traveled, with two thirds (63%) refusing to travel somewhere that had an unwelcoming attitude towards the LGBT community. A quarter (23%) of LGBT travelers admitted changing the way they act and try to camouflage their sexuality when on holiday. Most alarmingly, an overwhelming 80% said that the travel industry don’t do enough to inform the LGBT community about local laws prior to departure. The research was carried out for Virgin Holidays, which has launched a campaign with Stonewall on the issue.”

As LGBT people we must consider that our very existence is illegal in some places and our love is punishable by death in others. This greatly influences our movement – and lack thereof – in and around the world.

LGBT travel needs to be safe, but please remember to have fun!

Talking About Coffee in Brooklyn

Talking about coffee in Brooklyn? That is one of our favorite things to do at Local Expeditions because we love our coffee as much as our best friend. Everyone’s life journey to the caffeine buzz is different. It started for me when I was a kid staring at my parents enjoying their after-dinner cup of coffee at my aunt’s house. They made the coffee look SO good. After years watching this post-dinner ritual, some adult asked me if I wanted a taste—with the warning I probably wouldn’t like it. They were right.

The next time I tried coffee was out of sheer and utter desperation. I was in Missoula, Montana, in graduate school and found the only way to keep up with the coursework was to literally stay up all night working, several nights a week, all semester long.

It never occurred to me to buy a coffee maker, but rather I thought my only option was to pour hot water over instant coffee, drink it quickly, and hold it down till the wave of nausea passed from the nasty taste.

This was in the late 1980’s and I thought, “That’s as good as it gets.” What I didn’t know was coffee/café culture had been underway for years and was currently alive and well in Seattle. Consequently, Italian made espresso machines had started making their way east, through the Pacific Northwest and into this Montana college town.

My very first latte was served to me in Missoula at Butterfly Herbs. My friend Kathleen who worked there suggested this beverage to me. This was radically different from the instant coffee—and though is still had a “coffee taste” it somehow tasted good! And the tentative sipping dragged out the consumption of the latte, which slowly revealed the mood-elevating effects of the caffeine. A coffee addict was born.

Its a drug

Fast forward to my move to New York City in the early-90’s. I didn’t think of myself as a coffee addict, but it was apparently quite obvious to all my friends who had already transplanted to NYC. I received repeated warnings from multiple people that NYC wasn’t like Missoula—you couldn’t just grab a latte anywhere, anytime. Unless you were in a fancy Italian restaurant, or deep in Brooklyn in an Italian neighborhood, I was going to be SOL. Except for ONE place in Manhattan, the Big Cup, located in Chelsea.

Big Cup Coffeehouse


By 1995 the mainstream “latte” had hit NYC. Independent cafes flourished, particularly in the East Village. Then Starbucks began opening stores in Manhattan. The Big Cup closed. Other independent cafes opened, and closed, and opened. A few of those have managed to survive even to this day.

Then shortly after the turn of the century the artisanal coffee movement was founded. A handful of young enthusiastic coffee entrepreneurs began to open small, independent coffee houses, predominantly in Brooklyn. Local roasting companies began popping up and now you can find a roasting plant right in the back room of many local cafes!

So whether you already live in one of the five boroughs, or are visiting NYC, I would love to share my top three favorite North Brooklyn cafes with you!

Supercrown Coffee


Supercrown has the strongest, richest, yet smoothest coffee I’ve ever tasted. And their roasting plant is in-house so you can enjoy the amped up aroma of coffee while you are having a coffee. The drink everyone has been talking about is their coffee milkshake made with Van Leeuwen Sweet Cream, espresso and espresso grinds. You can also have tea, lemonade, individual pour-overs, light snacks and pastries. A beautiful atmosphere to enjoy a beverage in, you can find Supercrown in Bushwick at 8 Wilson Avenue. (Closest train is the L to Morgan Avenue.)

Cafe Grumpy Roasters


Café Grumpy. First of all, their grumpy faced logo says it all—all about how I feel before my first cup of coffee. Though Café Grumpy has several locations throughout NYC, my favorite is the original location in Greenpoint at 193 Meserole Avenue. (Closest trains are the G to Nassau Avenue or the G to Greenpoint Avenue.) Their coffee is outstanding, their roasting plant is next door, and the best part for me is sitting in their cozy café slightly off-the-beaten Brooklyn neighborhood path.

Strangeways cafe


I must admit I like borderline freakishly small café spaces with a slightly punky/beatnik atmosphere. So if you like to sit elbow-to-elbow writing angry thoughts in your journal or reading a hard copy of “The New York Times” (it’s delivered daily) then Strangeways is your place. Located on the boarder of Bushwick and Ridgewood at 87 St. Nicholas Avenue, they serve up some lovely latte art and use Fourbarrel coffee from San Francisco and Lofted Coffee (roasted in Brooklyn). And the cheese scallion scones they sell are the perfect morning snack with your first cup of joe. (Closest trains to Strangeways is the L to Jefferson Street or the L to DeKalb Street.)

Tune in again for more tips about the best coffee experiences to be had in Brooklyn!

~By Local Expeditions team member Lisa Haas



Anatomy of a Citibike DUMBO Tour

This Mother’s Day, May 8, 2016, we had a small group of folks on our CitiBike DUMBO tour. The description of the tour on our website gives the basics, but I want to share what happens from the POV of someone who has done the tour from beginning till end! Here are some of the highlights from this recent expedition.

While I was headed to our meet-up spot, I was surprised to find Marge Simpson hanging out in Chinatown:

Maggie Simpson sitting on Marge's lap in Chinatown

Marge with Maggie Simpson on her lap in Chinatown

I joined the others at our meet-up spot, the Confucius Square CitiBike dock and kiosk where we were greeted by our guide and founder of Local Expeditions, Nancy Blaine.

Statue of Confucius

Statue of Confucius in Confucius Plaza, Chinatown, NYC

It’s $10 for a CitiBike Day Pass. This cost is not included in our tour price, but it is a real bargain especially because a day pass lasts 24-hours and you can ride around NYC long after the tour ends! All you need to get the pass is a VISA/Mastercard credit or debit card. (And if you love bike riding, I suggest you go ahead and get a 3-day pass for $24, which gets you unlimited 30-minute rides in a 72-hour period. It’s a great alternative to taking the subway.)

Citibike Dock and Kiosk

Fleet of Citibikes in Confucius Square

Nancy walked us through the process securing our day pass at the Kiosk and we un-docked our bikes and headed over to the Manhattan Bridge. If you’re from out of town, you may be asking yourself “What about the cars?” Both the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges have bike and pedestrian paths separated from the traffic. And, Nancy escorted us the entire way onto and over the bridge.

Resting spot on Manhattan Bridge

Resting spot on Manhattan Bridge

Riding over the bridge, we saw some infamous NYC graffiti!

Graffiti on Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan Bridge Graffiti

When we arrived in DUMBO, we docked our bikes at the Citibike kiosk (they are everywhere) and went on a walking tour, which led us by the most Instagrammed spot in NYC on Washington Street; many cool stores; and the Brooklyn Flea, an outdoor market offering unique food, clothes, art, furniture and more!

Flea Market in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Flea in DUMBO

We sat down for coffee and pastries at the excellent Almondine Bakery to have a rest, regroup and trade tourism stories. We all agreed Almondine serves, without a question, the best croissants in NYC.

Croissants at Almondine Bakery

There they are!

Later, Nancy told us about the major engineering feats of the amazing Brooklyn Bridge along with other history about DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and how it has become one of the hottest neighborhoods in all of NYC.

History of DUMBO BK

Urban history of DUMBO

We toured more of the neighborhood and went to St. Ann’s Warehouse. St. Ann’s Warehouse is one of the most unique live performance theatre spaces, on the East Coast. (They are currently showing the BIANCO no-fit state circus and “A Streetcar Named Desire” starring Gillian Anderson.)

Tennessee Williams

“…After all, a woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion…”

Here’s our intrepid guide in front of the NY Ferry landing:

NY Ferry landing

Nancy Blaine

To end the tour, we picked up another CitiBike and rode back to Manhattan via the glorious Brooklyn Bridge.

NYC Bridges

See the Manhattan Bridge behind us from the Brooklyn Bridge!

I had such a great day on this exciting tour. And, getting to meet the other tour participants was fun, especially with our instant camaraderie!

By Local Expeditions team member Lisa Haas