After getting married in 2017, my wife and I started to travel. And in our travels, we’ve come across a few challenges unique to us as an interracial, same-sex couple. Will we be safe? Do we need to be more conscious of our PDA? Can we present ourselves as married? While we haven’t let those challenges stop us from exploring, I’ve gathered a few tips that hopefully will help you along your own journeys!

My wife and I (aren’t we adorable?!) love to travel.

Actually, I take that back. We hate traveling – long flights, airport food, packing, budgeting – but we love exploring new places. From dipping our feet in the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica Pier to cracking open a lobster in Boston, our travels in the U.S. have taken us from coast to coast.

After getting married in 2017, we decided to venture farther out of the country – and our comfort zone – to travel internationally. And in our travels, we’ve come across a few challenges unique to us as an interracial, same-sex couple.

Will we be safe? Do we need to be more conscious of our PDA? Can we present ourselves as married? Will we have to handle catcalls and racist remarks?

These questions add another layer of complication to sometimes already complicated adventures.

Luckily for us, we’re stubborn (aka my wife is a Taurus) and we like to get what we want (aka I’m a Leo), so we haven’t let those challenges stop us from exploring.

I’ve gathered these tips from all of our experiences – and hope they help and guide you on your own travels!

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Know the laws

Unfortunately, this is the reality of our world these days – any LGBTQ traveler needs to be aware of the existing laws of their destination country. There are plenty of lists and resources out there for you to do your own research and to stay up-to-date.

Check out the U.S. State Department website for travel tips as well as a database of every country, including reports of anti-LGBTQ violence – whether or not you are a U.S. resident, this information is super helpful and comprehensive.

Many countries still have legislation criminalizing homosexuality, and some have even instituted the death penalty for this “crime.” Although most of these laws only target men, female travelers in these countries should still exercise caution.

Even countries that are much more welcoming to LGBT travelers – like Costa Rica, where we had our honeymoon! – sometimes don’t recognize same-sex marriages. Be prepared to go through customs separately, in these cases.

For us, ultimately, we know that we will be held to the laws of the country we are visiting – whether we agree with their extreme nature or not.

Photo courtesy of Robin Lanehurst.

Assess your needs and comfort level

Obviously, safety is key – but that said, this doesn’t mean that any country needs to be off-limits to LGBT travelers. What it does mean is that you need to determine with your partner how comfortable you are with taking different levels of risk.

For my wife and I, the line for us was legal consequences for homosexuality, ranging from jail time to the death penalty. Beyond that, we kept our minds and options open.

For example, we were willing to visit a small town in India, despite it not having a particularly LGBT-friendly reputation, because the town itself has many Western tourists.

For us, this also meant a higher likelihood that we wouldn’t be looked at too strangely for being an interracial couple either.

It also depends on what kind of a trip you’re taking.

Read next: Travel to Russia as a same-sex couple

For our honeymoon, we knew we wanted to be free to kiss and cuddle on the beach (we’re cheesy like that), and so the destination needed to be more than just politely tolerant to same-sex couples.

At the same time, we didn’t want to go to a resort town with a huge divide between patrons who are majority white and workers who are majority people of color.

As an interracial couple, we feel most comfortable when we are surrounded by more true diversity; and on our honeymoon, that felt even more important.

Considering what kind of trip you want to take – whether that is a romantic getaway or an off-the-grid adventure – will help you make these kinds of decisions.

Photo courtesy of Robin Lanehurst.

Communicate and be prepared

Whether that means you carry important documents, or devise a plan about how you will handle any mishaps, being prepared is key. And one big piece of that is important not just for traveling couples but for any marriage: communication!

Talk to each other about how you might handle difficult situations ahead of time. How will you react if you get cat-called? If someone asks a probing question about where you’re from? Which one of you is going to do most of the talking?

And, this may seem silly, but get your stories straight!

When we flew through Dubai, notoriously unfriendly to same-sex couples, we decided we would say we were friends traveling together, and that we would hold our own boarding passes (usually I have both of ours on my phone to be scanned in).

But then, we got thrown off when the gate agent asked us about our bags – we had checked them under my wife’s name, so it looked pretty suspicious that I was flying internationally with nothing but a camera bag!

You might also want to consider situations like asking for one check at restaurants, one bed in a hotel room, seats together on a flight, etc. You may take things like this for granted in your home city, but considering different cultural expectations could save you a big headache.

Being prepared also looks like some of these little things that can quickly turn into big things:

  • Carry a copy of your marriage license, will, and any other documentation that gives you recognition as a couple in case of medical or other emergency.
  • Let a friend or family member know your itinerary.
  • Know key phrases in the language of the country.
  • Keep contact information handy for LGBTQ advocacy or legal organizations in the area.

Find your people

One of the greatest resources for unique couples like us is… other couples!

Organizations like the IGLTA provide certifications for hotels and tour companies that provide exceptional services to LGBT travelers.

We’ve also used Purple Roofs, a websites that curates gay- and lesbian-owned and -friendly hotels and tours, along with discounts if you mention their site.

We found our honeymoon hotel through Purple Roofs (shout out to the amazing staff at Hotel Banana Azul), and couldn’t have been happier!

Blogs like Hand Luggage Only, a gay interracial couple, and Lez Wander the World, a lesbian couple, also offered lots of great tips to us for our travels.

Many cities, regardless of the friendliness of the country they’re in, also have gay bars, special nights at coffee shops or cafes, and resources for the LGBT traveler.

Travel blogs + good ol’ Google = lots of hidden gems on your travels.

No matter your identity, your comfort level, or your desired type of destination, you can put together an amazing trip for yourself and your partner. Anything is possible with enough planning and a little bit of self-awareness – and courage!

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