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To travel is to live, learn, and grow… to experience being human.  Maybe this is why travel is often so core the gay experience.  There is a lot to consider when embarking on a new trip, so here is a reference to help gay travellers have fun and stay safe.

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GET A REAL GUIDE: The Lonely Planet Shoestring guidebook series is a gold standard, with many sections including LGBT travel tips – just be sure to check your book’s date of publication so the information is current.  Wikitravel.org is one of the best online resources, and they have a specific overview for gay and lesbian travel.

There are also gay-specific travel guides such as Sparitacus, GayCities, and OutTraveler; however commercial they may be, such resources can give you valuable information (just learn to read between the lines).
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PLAN FOR AN EVENT: A great way to plan a ‘gay’ trip is by looking up different LGBT events around the world.   Wikipedia has an extensivelist of gay events by country and NightTours has a more concise list of upcoming gay events by date (just be warned that some events can be remarkably x-rated and extreme).  If you enjoy playing sports – even at a beginner level – check out the World OutGames and Gay Games, or other local gay sports groups.

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BE A VOLUNTEER: Want to meet new people, help out, and get closer to the action on your next trip?  Imagine being a volunteer at Brazilian Carnival or the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade.  The perks can be pretty good too.  Also check out the local LGBT rights organization to give/receive assistance.

GET MARRIED: It’s this simple.

EAT locally.  Also simple.

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STAY AFLOAT: Money is a valuable commodity on any trip.  Forget the suitcases and five-star resorts – real travel happens away from your gated hotel.  Hostels are a good start, but CouchSurfing has long become a way to find reputable hosts who relish the traveling spirit.  Be sure to join some of the gay sub-groups such as Queer CouchSurfers – you might be able to get a local guided tour.  Note that CourchSurfing is NOT a hookup website and NOT for those just looking for free accommodation.  For work, consider working holiday visas and check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms to get your hands dirty.  Finally, consider a round-the-world flight package to get the most bang for your buck for a truly epic global trip.

LIVE.

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STAY SAFE: Risk is an innate part of travel, so staying informed is a vital necessity.  Gay acceptance and anti-gay violence varies widely around the world.  Wikitravel has a good general guide on staying safe, with more location-specific information under most guides.  Read these.  You can get a rough idea of how gay-friendly a country is by facts listed on the ILGA website and the Wikipedia page on LGBT rights by country.  Local laws and customs will apply to you, so ask locals about things to watch out for – heed these tips and be respectful.  Keep up with the local news and always use your common sense.  Health wise, have a look at what vaccines and malaria prophylaxis you might need and, as always, don’t forget the condoms and lube.  Note that HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) must be accessed within 72 hours and is not available everywhere.  Also, do not underestimate the health and legal consequences of taking drugs or drinking alcohol.

THRIVE and be thankful.

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SEEK ASYLUM: If being gay makes you unsafe in your home country then consider seeking asylum elsewhere.  The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights and the US group Immigration Equality have some good information and videos.

GO!

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With love,
Robbie O’Bara
Mr Gay Europe 2013

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