Where have you felt the most comfortable as a gay traveler?

Where have you felt the most comfortable as a gay traveler?

This is the thirteenth installment of the blog series called “Insta Poll.” Included are follower’s ideas and comments in response to a weekly question! If you’d like to be involved, follow LEZ BACKPACK on Instagram!


We love traveling. That is a given fact. But as gay travelers, we want to know where we can express ourselves freely. We asked our followers where they felt most comfortable on their gay travel adventures. Here’s what they had to say: 

tclay35

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“Most definitely Lauderdale aka Lotdale!!!!! You must have stayed around Wilton Manors huh?! I lived in the Manors for years before traveling with my job…. Believe it or not, Albuquerque, NM has a huge gay community!!!”

ariaanachantal

“Portland, Oregon. When I originally moved there after high school from a really small conservative town. I finally felt completely comfortable being myself. People here seem to be unique in their own way and appreciate the diversity in other people. Its just an eclectic and accepting place. I mean the motto is “keep Portland weird!””

shiftingsun

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“Manhattan. Now there’s a city where one can be out and proud! NYC was very accepting of my lifestyle, sexuality, and fashion. Can’t wait to go back!”

kbgone

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“San Francisco! Not that my current city has stigmata against gays, but SF has always been the place to be out and proud.”

fleetfootedfox

“Portland gets my vote. Never seen so many queer folks in every walk of life.”

fernwehtravels

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“Melbourne, Australia.”

ninahjuberger

“I haven’t travel at all since I came out as a lesbian except inside Sweden, but I am comfortable in my day to day life. Maybe because I am openly gay. I hold hands, give a kiss on the mouth and so on. Yes you may get looks in the country side, far in the woods. But that could be also for that fact that you are a stranger. Period. Not because you’re gay.”

melapetal

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“Toronto, ON in Canada. I visited my province back in Canada earlier this year, and it was my first time after I came out as gay. I forgot how friendly, we Canadians are, aha. But my favourite part about waking around in Toronto is seeing so many lesbian and gay couples. Not to mention the diversity that we have back in Canada. It’s the most beautiful thing. So Toronto, ON. Even RuPaul’s Drag Con this year was pretty amazing. I never wanted it to end because of what an amazing environment that place gives for gay people.”

renegadepilgrim

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“Domestic: San Francisco. Portland’s LGBT community is too small and not very diverse. SF has more diversity and I always feel welcome. I can’t say the same for Portland, and I’ve lived there my whole life International: Sweden. Very welcoming and open.”

jennyd7104

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“Disney World. I got engaged there to my future wife, and we got the “just engaged” pin. Every employee we passed said congratulations, gave us high fives, and made us feel awesome. Lots of LGBT families running around as well.”

scooterchels

A post shared by Chelsea (@scooterchels) on

“Surprisingly enough, Dublin, Ireland, even before the marriage equality vote. No one has ever looked twice at us on the street when we’ve gone to visit my family. The old traditionalist Irish-Catholic values are evolving with the modern world and it’s a beautiful thing to experience.”

curious_jessie

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“When travelling through Australia I was in Sydney during Mardi Gras so felt completely open and comfy then. Overall I’d say Australia, but it could of been because I was there so long it started to feel like home. Currently in New Zealand and I’d like to hope here will top Australia for comfort.”

melondelights

“Man this is hard to really answer. I left Dallas bc I didn’t quite feel like I could be myself but I was looking for who I was exactly at that time also. LA has been more than accommodating for me. SF and Portland is cool too. Basically anywhere with some great diversity would be cool for gays.”


I can’t wait to be a gay traveler in all of these places! Where would you like to travel next? 

Follow LEZ BACKPACK on Instagram to be apart of the next Insta Poll! 

Traveling Together is the Absolute Worst

Traveling Together is the Absolute Worst

So I spent almost 5 months traveling with my significant other last year… and I’ve gotta say… it was so terrible. DO NOT do it, I repeat just don’t travel together with your partner! Just look at these pictures!

Let’s just start this off nice and easy. Your partner will document you on your road trips with a self stick… so dumb.

Next, when you take a bicycle cruise through Hoi An they’ll stop you in front of beautiful scenery to snap a picture. Lame.

They will capture you looking absolutely horrendous on a boat in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Or at a restaurant in Hue giggling over something – probably SO stupid – that they said. 

And before you know it, they’ll want to take a selfie with you in front of the Kuangxi Waterfalls in Laos… which was SO embarrassing. 

And you’ll get smooches in all these famous places around the world… blah, blah, blah.

See?

You basically share food everywhere you go… which if you ask me is, like, SO annoying.

Terrible.

Because you’re spending all your time together everything they do becomes disgusting.

SO disgusting… I mean look at this face, this is not a handsome haircut in Thailand AT ALL.

They will document you documenting which is so repetitive and what a waste of a picture.

Like, WHY??? EW, zero fun being had.

And then they’ll FORCE YOU to take a picture of the worst bus ride of your life just to blackmail you later.

DITTO to terrible, COMPLETELY uncomfortable and NOT AT ALL romantic hotels.

And why do they always snap pics when you’re looking totally disheveled and not at all dreamy?

See what I mean????

NOTHING FUN EVER HAPPENS

IT IS SO BORING ALL THE TIME

And no matter how hard you try, you both just end up looking ridiculous.


Therefore, based on physical evidence as expressed by these photos, spare yourself a world of hurt and NEVER travel together with your significant other. You have been warned.

Blanco Texas: Birthday, Beer, & BnB!

Blanco Texas: Birthday, Beer, & BnB!

I recently celebrated my 31st birthday. Constance had made a plan to go camping, but Texas rains are brutal. Rather than risking getting flooded out, we changed up our plans and headed to a little town we knew absolutely nothing about.

Blanco, Texas is about halfway between Austin and San Antonio. Hidden in the Texas Hill Country, this little town has been around since the mid-1800s.

How’d we decide to stay in this town with only 1,900 residents? Well… I just searched on Air BnB within a 50 mile radius around Austin and chose the cheapest option.

A photo posted by Melissa Langley (@lezbacskpack) on

And we really lucked out. We ended up renting out a one room, tin roofed bungalow. Inside had only the essentials; a comfy bed, a claw-foot bathtub, and a six-pack of Texas beer.

A photo posted by Melissa Langley (@mllangley) on

A video posted by Melissa Langley (@lezbackpack) on

Coincidentally, the same day we arrived, Real Ale was having their 20th anniversary only a few blocks up the street. For $20, we got a single wristband that allowed us 4 beers and a commemorative glass.  At the festival, we enjoyed beer, various food trucks, and we even brought our pup Scout to enjoy the open fields. 

A photo posted by Melissa Langley (@mllangley) on

When we returned to Austin a box was left at our door step. Inside were two Baubax jackets. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to wear them on our mini-vacay but the rain was still coming down and we took this as an opportunity to give these jackets a try. We bought a couple tickets to the movies and headed out!

A photo posted by Melissa Langley (@lezbackpack) on

This jacket is now my most favorite piece of travel apparel. It comes with 9 utility pockets! I comfortably stored my phone, wallet, and bulky car keys in the jacket. But there is space for an iPad, glasses, and even comes with a “drink holder” pocket – which I definitely will be using on my next camping trip. Talk about a great birthday present! If you’re interested, you can even score your own for 15% off for a limit time! GO GO GO! So freaking cool. 

A photo posted by Melissa Langley (@lezbackpack) on

Blanco Texas was such a great adventure. I totally recommend this small town to anyone living in Austin.

Local Nomad: Natash

Local Nomad: Natash

Welcome to the Local Nomad Project.

At LEZ BACKPACK we believe that our wanderlustin’ curiosity is not dependent on our location. We aim to explore our local communities the same way we would a foreign one.

We’ve enlisted the help of fellow travel bloggers to encourage you to explore your surroundings with tales of their own nomadic experiences at home. 


Meet: Natasha, the badass Toronto blogger at Effort-Lez.

Her Instagram: @effort.lez

Her Blog: Effort-Lez

Her Twitter: @effort_lez


What’s your definition of a local nomad?

My definition of a local nomad would be someone who has perfected the art of the “Stay-cation”

Tell us about yourself! Where are you a local?

My name is Natasha and I run a lesbian lifestyle blog (effort-lez.com) out of the Toronto area.

What’s a popular place for locals to…

…kick back and have a few drinks?

I would definitely say my favourite place to hangout and have a few drinks is at Crews & Tango’s. Located in the heart of the Church and Wellesley gay village, Crews brings the entertainment with drag on the main stage, 7 days a week. Whether you’re meeting a friend for a couple drinks or planning a big night out, Crews has you covered. With lots of different areas to dance, sit and hangout I always find the vibe I’m looking for. The atmosphere is also gay and lesbian friendly, so it’s always a no brainer go to for a diverse crew.

…have the best food from apps to desserts?Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 10.48.19 AM

I recently went to Sweet Jesus located in the heart of centertown on John Street. It was by far the raddest ice cream shop I’ve been too! The culture at SJ is one of total revolt and badassery. They do things to ice cream there have even the biggest skeptics ‘praising’. Their claim to fame is their loaded cones. They start with some soft serve then put it on a whole other level by rolling it things like hunks of birthday cake, sprinkles and top it off with strawberry syrup a lit candle. It’s an experience and dessert all in one.

…have a wild night?

If you are looking for a ‘big night’ in the Toronto I would def say to hit up Toastr. It’s a once a month lesbian party put on by DJ Sticky Cuts, that circulates the hottest bars in the city. This girl party packs house every-time with the most diverse melange of queer identified women I’ve ever seen.

…visit a nature detox spot?

I would have to say is centre island. Located just a short ferry ride off of downtown on Lake Ontario, it’s the perfect lil getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. In the summer months they are equipped with bike, canoe and kayak rentals making exploring the island from different view points super accessible. Wether you’re in the mood to decompress by laying on the beach, hitting a hike or a round of golf, you are sure to find your Zen on the island.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 10.47.22 AMWhat are some events that take place in your community that only locals know about?

Toronto is a really vibrant innovative place. There are always a ton of new things popping up. One of my favourite new festivals on the summer circuit last year was the Mac and Cheese festival. A very hipster take on the traditional food festival, the Mac and Cheese fest spreads the cheese across the city by way of creative local chefs serving up their goo-iest innovations. A low profile event that must be sought out by any KD kid at heart.

Is there a place you’re surprised more people don’t know about? A hidden gem? Or a place you’d like to explore?

I would have to say I’d love to explore more of the museum circuit. Toronto has more than 75 museums in the city. I just can’t seem to get enough of way the city is curating.Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 10.46.44 AM

What’s the queer culture like?

It’s vibrant. Toronto’s queer community is on full display not only in the village but all over the city. There is a delocalization of the queer community happening – sprawling across alternative, inclusive spaces all over the city. Toronto’s queer community is a few words is: young, artistic, political, trendy, expressive and I hate to say it again but diverse.

What’s the best part of being a local in your community?

What’s great about being a local in Toronto is the multicultural tapestry. I really feel like I can explore the world without leaving the city. It’s a special experience to have a global community at your finger tips.

10 Lesbian Travel Destinations I Want to Visit in 2016

10 Lesbian Travel Destinations I Want to Visit in 2016

Technically, it’s 9 lesbian travel destinations I want to visit and 1 that you all absolutely should!

2015 is about to be over. I’m already getting excited about all the places I want to explore in the New Year.

Lesbian travel destinations are popping up all over the world and I’m here to tell you that I want to see them all. The list you are about to read is a little personal because these are gay gal friendly places that have friendly faces for me – and they can be for you too! Just follow these lovely ladies on Instagram to make a new gal pal.

Here’s my list of top lesbian travel destinations I want to visit in the coming year. 

1. SPAIN

lesbian travel destinations Arguably one of the most gay friendly places in the world, Spain has always been on the top of my must-see places. Why should you go if you’re a lesbian? There are TONS of gay girl festivals taking place in Spain every year. I particularly am interested in the ELLA International Lesbian Festival taking place in Mallorca, Spain. Babes, beach and island vibing? Sign me up.  Need more motivation? Go follow these major cuties who live in Madrid:

2. ICELAND

lesbian travel destinations I’m absolutely obsessed with Iceland. Not only do they have amazing natural landscapes – they’re also trying to become a premiere lesbian travel destination. Pink Iceland is Iceland’s “first and foremost gay owned and operated travel expert.” And it’s lesbian owned, y’all. Not to mention that the party scene is happening in Reykjavik. Follow local cutie and DJ legend Fride Moksnes:

A photo posted by Fride Moksnes (@fridefrosk) on

3. WASHINGTON, DC

capitol-720677_1280 DC is the gayest place in America. Seriously… just google “Washington, DC number of gays.” Here’s what I got: “Has Highest Percentage of LGBT Population, According to Nationwide Count. It isn’t even close. Ten percent of adult residents in Washington,D.C. identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, according to a groundbreaking new Gallup study that for the first time has estimated LGBT population by state.” Oh, and it’s gaining a new citizen soon… babe blogger and my partner in crime, Meg Ten Eyck of Dopes on the Road.

4. SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 

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Do I really need an explanation for this destination? If I could move anywhere in the US (and be able to afford it) it would probably be SF. Oakland is just a hop, skip and jump across the bridge and I’ve heard whispers of gay girls galore. It will also be nice to visit these two adorable ladies who have been friends of mine on Instagram from the very beginning:

A photo posted by AMY + LANI (@placestwosee) on

5. SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

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Not only is Seattle home to one of my favorite movies (Fear, with a young Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon – no judging), it also  has its own lesbian newspaper: The Seattle Lesbian. This gives me hope, along with an all girl’s tackle football team, that the gay girls run as freely here as the rains fall down Mt. Rainier.  No? Okay well how about I just want to visit these two wonderful human beings – the ladies from We Are Waterproof.

6. DINAH SHORE

MASSIVE_REVISED

I am so, so stoked because I was invited to the infamous Dinah Shore in Palm Springs. If you haven’t already seen it immortalized in the Real L Word – it’s an epic girl party where the booze is flowing. I’m scared and excited. Also, a perfect place to be single? We shall see. I also cannot wait to be reunited with my buddy, Bly from the Button and Bly Travel Show.  She’s so dreamy!

A photo posted by Bly (@blyhasinstagram) on

7. CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

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Though the LGBT community continues to face challenges in South Africa, gay marriage has been legal since 2006. Next April, I’m hoping to attend the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association’s Convention in Cape Town next year. Be sure to follow their Instagram because they frequently post LGBT friendly travel agencies for your next adventure!

A photo posted by IGLTA (@iglta) on

8. NICARAGUA/COSTA RICA

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These two neighboring counties have totally different reputations in the LGBT tourism world. Costa Rica, which has been a traveler’s gem for much longer than Nicaragua, has solid gay destinations. Nicaragua does not. No public hand holding, no gay marriage – but the local’s opinions of gay people are rapidly changing – and that’s in part due to tourism. I’d love to explore this up and coming tourism locale and I’ve got a buddy in the Peace Corps who has already invited me! Char Stoever blogs for Wanderful Travel Network and has her own blog over at The Vulnerable Traveler.

9. PHILADELPHIA, PA

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Philly has a long history of gay nightlight and culture – and the city itself has been marketing to the gay community for over 10 years! Autostraddle has even created a City Girl Guide to help you and your queerpatriots get around the city. I am also excited to go because my lovely sister, Rebecca, will be attending UPENN for a master’s program! Woo! She’s also a babe:

Finding a wife tonight! #PinkysUp #Gayz4Dayz #Loveislove #NYC

A photo posted by Rebecca (@erbalj) on

10. (You should come to) AUSTIN, TX

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When I talk to people about coming to visit me in Austin they all say, “Yeah, but it’s in Texas.” Austin is Texan but it’s not like the rest of Texas. We have a uniquely open and accepting culture. You can find your pockets of cowboys and even engage with them. It’s fun! I like to go dancing at the Broken Spoke and then head to Violet Crown for a drink and some lesbo people watching. Also, please come visit me! I live here!

A photo posted by LEZ BACKPACK! (@lezbackpack) on

Where are you hoping to travel in 2016? Who are you excited to visit? Tell me in the comments below!

Why you really should GET OUT THERE!

Why you really should GET OUT THERE!

Local travel is probably more important than international exploring. Here’s why.

If you’re following LBP on social media, you’ve probably noticed a project underway with Autostraddle. The GET OUT THERE local travel challenge is a new miniseries that encourages you and all your gal pals to explore your surrounding communities. 

But I wanted to take a moment to explain why I think local travel is so important.

This isn’t the first time I’ve focused on the being a tourist in your own city. I’ve featured local travelers before in the Local Nomad blog series here on LBP. 

So, why this emphasis on exploring what’s around you? This is a backpacking blog, right?? Shouldn’t my focus be on international travel? NO! And let me tell you why…

Get out there, lezbackpack, travel

1. Local travel is way, way, way cheaper than going abroad. 

Duh, right? I’m NOT saying that you shouldn’t explore the world. Obviously, there is something really magical about being able to do that. HOWEVER, there are all these blogs and articles out there about quitting your job to jet-set around the globe. I’m glad this worked for these people, but I have to say, in general, that’s not going to give you the carefree travel experience you’re craving. There are very few (privileged) people who can drop their job and see the world. 

Save your pennies (for your bigger trip?) and still be an explorer by adventuring around you. 

local travel, get out there, lez backpack, hiking, adventure

2. Local travel can satiate your desire for adventure. 

You know that feeling when you’re tired of your hometown? When you romanticize late night romps in the woods or car rides through forests with a window down and wind in your hair? When you just want to be anywhere other than there?

Let me tell you: small town, big town, that feeling happens. Sometimes we experience ruts with the places in our lives, which is similar to the moments of doubt we experience with the people we love. And there are times, much like in relationships, when we should move on to perpetuate self growth. 

But leaving isn’t always an option and being down and resentful of the place that you’re from is only going to hurt you. While it might seem counterintuitive, sometimes the best option is to invest yourself more in a place (or a person). Supersede your ill-feelings for a moment and climb a mountain you never explored, camp at a site you’ve never been to, learn about the wildlife and nature around you. 

Think about it as an experiment in your happiness. Don’t put any pressure on the outcome. Just see if exploring what’s around you strengthens your connection to the place. You might find there are things you can love about your hometown that you never noticed before. 

travel, local travel, explore, adventure, get out there, lez backpack

3. Break the stereotypical image of a traveler. 

I honestly think that the travel industry right now is aiming to target millennial women. Have you heard the statistic that solo female travel boards have increased 350% on Pinterest since 2014? I think it’s amazing that women are inspiring themselves to explore more and to shed this idea that it’s unsafe for women to travel alone in the world. 

But here’s my problem: when women want to spend money to do something, marketers and advertisers also take up the cause. Women these days will be bombarded with images and content that display happy, spiritually fulfilled women who have taken ethnically diverse lovers on sandy remote beaches. And there’s nothing wrong with this fantasy!!

But because so many of us are just making Pinterest boards and undoubtably sighing away over the adventure we wish we were having, I’m going to take a moment to stop and say: BREAK THIS STEREOTYPE. You do not have to go abroad to have adventure. You can be the woman with an adventurous streak and laughter in her eyes. It just takes a little planning and action. 

get out there, campfire, local travel, lez backpack, explore, adventure

4. You control the local narrative. 

When you make it your mission to explore your hometown, you are crafting your own narrative about the place. This is so important when it comes to cultural memory, which is the way a collective group of people recollect a certain event or place. You tell the stories that you’ve made to your friends – this inspires them to GET OUT THERE and explore their town, too. Maybe you talk about your city on a trip abroad and a foreigner falls in love with the way you’ve crafted your tale. There are boundless reasons why investing in local travel will enrich your life. 

On top of this, purchasing local and supporting your hometown independent stores and shops is a great way to give back to your community. By doing these, you might even become friends with local shopkeepers or restauranteurs. Maybe you’ll meet another townie with a thirst for local adventure just like you! BOOM a new friend or love interest.

Either way, you efforts to explore you city become apart of the local narrative. Which is worth a lot when you think about it.  

Feeling inspired? Check out these resources below to get you out and about:

GET OUT THERE: Local Travel Challenge Miniseries (AND DIY Passport book with downloadable stamps once you’ve completed the challenge!)

Geocaching 

Letterboxing

Or make your own!

You can create your own photo scavenger hunt! Make a list of photos you’d like to take and then set yourself out on a challenge to take them all. For an added bonus, use a disposable camera to be surprised by the outcome when you’re done. You could even make a scrapbook to keep the memories. 

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