How To Travel Safe As A Lesbian

Person Holding a Poster and Flag for the LGBTQ Community

Women all over the world started traveling by themselves or with their girlfriends a lot more. Statistics show that in the past two years, women embarked on solo trips five times more than in the past. Overall, they don’t seem to be overly concerned with safety issues, but lesbian couples tend to attract more attention, despite many countries’ attempts at creating safer environments for the LGBTQ+ community.

Lesbians traveling alone are at a lower risk of becoming a target than couples, but that doesn’t mean dangers don’t exist. This article will teach you how to travel safe as a lesbian, no matter if you’re traveling alone, or with your significant other. 

Learn all you can about the culture and laws

Different countries have a different collective mentality. Some are very tolerant towards same-sex couples, while unfortunately others consider discrimination and microaggression a normal part of their society. Aside from mentally preparing to encounter some form of discrimination from not conforming to the stereotypical type of woman, you will have to research as much as you can about the culture you’re about to visit. 

Homosexuality is legal and tolerated in many parts of the world, however, there are many that still criminalize homosexuality, and if you really want to visit them, it’s better to lie low and avoid public display of affection. 

Also, keep in mind that in some countries, sex toys are illegal. If they are found in your suitcase, you might get arrested.

Don’t pack anything to spice up your evening if you’re planning to travel to Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, India, The United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Thailand, or the Maldives.

For your convenience, here is a list with all the countries where homosexuality is illegal. 

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Antigua & Barbuda
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Chad
  • Comoros
  • Cook Islands
  • Dominica
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Eswatini
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Grenada
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • Iran
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Morocco
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • Occupied Palestinian Territory (Gaza Strip)
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Qatar
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and The Grenadines
  • Samoa
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Sierra LeoneSingapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Tonga
  • Tunisia
  • Turkmenistan
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Make sure your partner is on the same page

Pulling away when you feel like you’re being stared at doesn’t feel great. Before embarking on your foreign adventure, make sure you sit down with your partner and discuss various scenarios to ensure both of your safety. It’s the best way to avoid hurt feelings and understand each other. 

For example, Jamaica doesn’t see homosexuality as a crime, but society as a whole tends to be quite homophobic and not afraid to show it. You and your partner should sit down and research the safest locations where you can enjoy yourselves, note them down, and travel with a set plan.

Choose your accommodations carefully

In recent years, many hotels and resorts started presenting their views on homosexuality and LGBTQ+ publicly on their websites. Before booking your room, make sure you carefully study the websites and see if they’re lesbian-friendly or not. However, make sure to also read reviews from gay tourists, because despite some hotels advertising themselves as gay-friendly, they don’t do anything to stop microaggression and discrimination from other people staying there or from homophobic staff. 

Before traveling to a specific location, you can read travel articles written by gay bloggers to find out their experiences and recommendations of accommodations. However, your best bet is choosing a hotel or a resort with gay owners. The smaller, the better. Those tend to have specific clientele where lesbians will feel safer than anywhere else. That way, you can make sure to meet other members of the community as well.

Hang out in lesbian-friendly places

Before starting your trip, research and save every bar, club, beach, restaurant, store you find to be lesbian-friendly or gay-owned. Those are the safest places where you can be yourself and where you can make new friends. One of the best apps to keep track of where you want to go and where you made reservations is Trip It. Give it a try, but also make sure to give your itinerary to your family or to a friend, just in case. 

Be mindful of your documents

Safety is not just about avoiding violence and discrimination. Your documents are a very important part of your travel plans, and you must always carry them with you, especially if you know you’re travelling to a country where homosexuality is not tolerated.

Aggression and discrimination from authorities is rare, but it does happen, so don’t give them a reason to take their frustration out on you even more. 

Aside from your original documents, make sure you make copies of everything, including your travel insurance papers and medical documents. Keep these copies in your hotel room, and also keep photos of them on your phone, in a password-protected folder.

Give copies of your documents to your partner, and keep their copies, that way if something happens to one of you, the other can come to the rescue. 

Carrying your ID/Passport at all times is essential, especially if you don’t conform to the stereotypical type of woman. It’s proof of your gender, and it might take you out of uncomfortable situations, especially in countries in which men and women tend to be separated for certain activities. 

Keep level-headed

Despite avoiding uncomfortable situations, you might still find yourself in one. Discrimination and homophobia exist, and sometimes you can’t avoid them. If you find yourself in a situation where you have been disrespected, refused service, or treated with superiority by a business, avoid bringing more attention to yourself. Raising your voice and making everyone aware of your situation, especially in a country where the society is homophobic, might make it worse for you. Keep as calm as possible (i know it’s hard), leave, request a manager, or simply refuse to pay for service. 

If you were the victim of a violent crime, call the authorities. Don’t try to make your own justice. If you’re in a foreign country, make sure to also report the incident to the embassy as soon as possible, as they tend to care more about their citizens.

Extra tips for ensuring your safety as a lesbian 

  • Consider traveling as part of a tour operated by LGBTQ+ agencies, especially if you’re wanting to visit a homophobic country.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. Getting tipsy with your partner might make you more affectionate. If you know you’re in a location where you might not be safe, don’t drink at all, or stay under your limit.
  • Don’t disclose your sexual orientation to anyone if you’re traveling to a country where homosexuality is illegal.
  • Trust your instinct. If you feel you might be in danger, even if things seem okay on the surface, always walk away or call a friend.
  • Don’t show others how you feel. If you appear skittish, they might think something is up. Show confidence everywhere you go. 
  • Don’t carry more cash than you need.
  • Take a taxi or rent a car rather than taking public transportation.
  • If you travel alone in an area where homosexuality is illegal, don’t use dating apps, as they’re often used by police to make arrests.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance with medical benefits included if you travel overseas.