Safety issues are always a concern when traveling. Are you flying to a region in the midst of religious or political upheaval? What's your airlines safety record? Do you have all your paperwork and travel documents in order? And as with many other challenges, safety is an even bigger concern for those who belong to the LGBT community. With that in mind, here are some safety precautions to consider for LGBT travelers.
If you're traveling to a foreign country it's best to do a little research in advance. Offending the locals is easier than you might think. Looking at someone you shouldn't make eye contact with or sitting improperly in public can be cultural no-nos. Sure, you may be overlooked as just another foreigner, but your behavior could really offend or anger someone on just the wrong day and its not worth the risk. Read up on the local customs and do your best to fit in, or at least appear to be making an effort.
You might first consider traveling to places only where your orientation is not a big issue. LGBT individuals still face adversity in many places no matter how unfair or outdated. You may not like to hide your identity, but neither do you want to be harmed because of it from some random hate crime. When there are plenty of LGBT friendly and inclusive destinations all over the world, you might want to ask yourself if you really want to spend your hard earned cash in places that would rather not cater to you.
It's always a good idea to travel with a copy of your passport, credit card information and travel insurance policy. Travel insurance is particularly important if your local medial policy does not cover you outside of the country. In addition to just medical coverage, travel insurance will often reimburse you for lost luggage, cancelations or theft. Should the unthinkable happen, you want to make sure you have copies of all your important information just in case your original documents get lost or stolen.
As with any traveler, LGBT or not, common sense is a must. Be polite, plan ahead and don't put yourself at risk. Safety is always best in numbers so if you're in a group you are infinitely safer than strolling down the streets of a strange place alone. Try to carry only as much cash as you feel you'll need for each day and if confronted, don't argue with robbers or with local law enforcement as you may lose in both cases! Remember that you are the visitor to a foreign place, so be smart and act appropriately and accordingly within the customs of your destination.
What safety precautions do you take when traveling?
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Auston grew up in Phoenix before escaping to Chicago in 2008. After 4 years working as an engineer, he sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband where he now calls home. When he's not traveling or writing guides about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid. Read Auston's blog at Two Bad Tourists, or follow him on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
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