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

A post shared by Mela (@melapetal) on

“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.

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 do lesbian women travel?

Why do lesbian women travel?

This is the ninth 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!


Why do lesbian women travel? Is it really such a simple question? I wanted to get a better idea of why my followers felt wanderlust… here’s what they had to say:

 

greatdestroyerofcupcakes

 

“To get a glimpse of what life is like for others, to get away from my office drone job, to adventure, to spend time closer to nature, to try SNACKS I’ve never tried before, to learn, to see the world more clearly.”

hannahrhoslyn


“To learn (especially because I usually wwoof when I travel and I also work on a farm at home), to connect with people, to push myself out of my comfort zone, to have time and space away from my regular life, and to see beautiful things.  

 

beaudevisser
lesbian women

“To get to know myself!”

 

hazel_knol

A photo posted by Sarah Joy (@hazel_knoll) on

“I travel to discover more about myself. I’m closest to my true self when I am on the road.”

hellaharpstead

lesbian women

“To make the world a little smaller while experiencing mind blowing new adventures and learning about other people and places, and about myself! It’s something my parents instilled in me and I’m so thankful for that.”

totesnessa

“For the adventure and to get closer with my lady.”  

 

getlostwithlesbians

“To teach and be taught culture and to recenter ourselves and find new purpose”

ougenia

A photo posted by Eugenia Orekhova (@ougenia) on

 “to find more about life, places, me, us, other people”


Reading these responses gave me quite a bit of peace. Everyone’s got the same desires and wants: to discover more about ourselves and others. Is there another reason that wasn’t mentioned that encourages you to travel? 

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

4 Ways Travel Has Helped Me

4 Ways Travel Has Helped Me

Last week, I wrote about a post about the ways in which travel has hurt me. I think that sometimes when writing about negative experiences, readers might assume that those are our only thoughts and feelings about the topic. When I share my hardships it’s for connection: I want to expose all sides of travel. So, to bring balance to my pervious post, here are 4 ways travel has helped me. 


 

Travel made me realize what a fierce boss bitch I actually am.

After my first two years in Korea with little control over my working life, I took the reigns of my career and built a freelance teaching business. Being a boss lady in a country where I didn’t fluently know the language or culture would have made my young 20-something-self quiver with fear and self doubt. Traveling abroad exposed my inner strength and then challenged it. Oh, so you started your own business abroad? Ha, you did that, now what’s next? I thank my time internationally for pulling the savvy self-starter out of me… she’s never going away.

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I’ve become wayyyyyy more aware of current events, world geography, history and economics.

Because I was living in Korea, I wasn’t getting the news back home as frequently. So, I started listening to podcasts to catch myself up. I feel like received a much better version of what was going on in the US overseas than I would if I had been home. On top of that, I also regularly had news from Korea itself and the countries they focus on like Japan and China. I felt like they presented things I wouldn’t have heard about back home.

And maybe this is so sad, but my world geography and history really improved. I can pretty much map out Asia which is something I’m darned proud about! I’ve also learned a great deal about the past 100 years of history and how much it affects the world economy today.

I can set boundaries & not give two fucks about my likability.

When I was traveling alone in Malaysia, a man approached me in a shopping mall and proceeded to help me search for a souvenir for a friend. I didn’t need or want his help – so when he asked me to dinner I said no. He was obviously annoyed that he had spent a great deal of time “helping me” and felt I owed him a date. NOPE. No cares given to your hurt pride, buddy.

Another time, I invited a hostel mate to dinner and we chatted about Texas and California, our respective states. I brought up immigration as it was a hot topic at the time. Being from Texas, he prejudged me, assumed I was on the conservative side of the issue and called me a racist. I left money for my meal on the table and promptly left. Yup, I can do that. I have that kind of control over my social situations. If he felt embarrassed SO WHAT? It’s not my responsibility to make other people comfortable. Thanks for teaching me that, travel.

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Through travel, I made self discoveries that will, I hope, truly promote self-love.

If you’ve been following us for awhile you may know that I also write a column for the Wanderful Network about mental health and travel. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart because when I was living in Korea I realized that I had been struggling with depression for probably my whole adult life. While it’s not happy news, it did put me on a path to get help and be healthy.

I really don’t know if I would have come to this realization if I had still be living in the United States. Apart of my illness is that I look for any reason to explain my dark feelings. In Korea, I had no excuse to be unhappy… I just was. I knew then that it was me – and that most of my previous laments in life could have just been a way to distract myself from feeling depressed.

A lot of anxiety disappeared when I discovered this truth. What was left was an emptiness which continues to be present in my life. But in the spirit of this positive post, I’m going to characterize it as an open space to fill with coping mechanisms that bring joy and gratitude.


Has traveled helped you in unexpected ways? I think it’s so much more than about seeing beautiful places and marking countries off a bucket list. Of course, that’s a large part of it and the one that’s easiest to share. But I can’t help but feel there are stories behind travel that aren’t being talked about. I’d love to hear yours! 

 

4 Ways Travel Has Hurt Me

4 Ways Travel Has Hurt Me

There are many inspiring posts out there about the ways in which travel has liberated the wanderer. This post isn’t one of them. I’m very lucky and privileged to have been able to see the world, live abroad and start a career in travel – but it hasn’t always freed my mind or soul. Here are the ways in which travel has actually hurt me.

travel has hurt me

I’ve created a habit of running from my problems.

When I think about travel in my mind, I see a girl on a boat, scantily clad, eternally beautiful, hair blowing in the wind. She has no problems, no fucked up love life, no issues with money. It’s just an endless adventure with the promise of late night kisses and skies filled with stars.

I’ve run from my fears into the arms of travel, hoping that diverse landscapes will propel me to be a new, better self. Sometimes it has soothed me – but it can’t save me from myself. Ultimately, after the new place has lost its sparkle or I’ve returned home, my issues come back more pressing than ever. And then I start to plan my next trip.

I don’t have security, a substantial savings or a great retirement plan (and there’s no accumulation of those in sight.)

I worry about my future. I have minimal savings and nothing really to speak of in terms of retirement. I’ve lived by the adage that you only live once. But as I’m getting older, I really wish that I were financial able to support myself. In Korea I made good money and was even able to pay off my student loans and save for travel. But no matter what, when I got home, all that savings would just slowly trickle out of my account. Without being replenished by a full time job, I’m back where I started… and then I think that employment in Korea is only a flight away.

travel has hurt me

I’ve aligned my identity with travel so I don’t know who I am without it. 

You might have just read the above paragraph and suggested to yourself that I just get a full time job. You’re right, there’s always the option that I enroll myself back into the workforce. Yet… the taste for travel hasn’t left me. I know that 2 weeks paid vacation every year isn’t going to satisfy the craving to roam. It’s a Catch 22 – once I’m making money, I can’t spend it on travel, but I can’t travel without money. And if I am not traveling, who am I? As a former expat and world roamer, two identities that I held near to my heart, not having those titles makes me feel lackluster.

Traveling made me put off getting mental health help.

Society and the travel community paints a perfect image of a wanderer, so when I pursued travel, I believed that it would help ease my worried mind. But now I know, I used travel as a distraction, a way to escape my reality without having to fully recognize the extent of my mental health issues.

I write a column for the travel network Wanderful where I discuss mental health and travel. We often believe that we’ll be healed by international waters and copious amounts of sun.

But for me, I just became really confused. How could I be so unhappy when I was living a dream? When I discovered the answer to that question, I was living in Korea and couldn’t obtain the resources I needed to help myself get better. I had to wait almost a year, suffering with depression, until I finally returned home. I wish that I had focused on these issues when I was younger – maybe I would have enjoyed my travel experiences more, maybe I would not have put such a high expectation on my relationships, maybe I could have faced my fears.


Do you have a story to share about the darker side of travel? I’d love to connect with you about these experiences and change the script on what it means to be a wanderer. 

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