Is Gay the Only Way?…To Travel?
I’ve been a travel agent for close to forty years having owned my own agencies in Philadelphia. When I decided to move to Florida knowing virtually no one, and had no client base I reinvented myself to become a gay travel specialist. Fortunately I have a successful track record.
One of the most interesting things I immediately learned is that many gay travelers will only travel on something that is 100% gay. The RSVP’s, Atlantis’ and gay land based tour operators love you for that. But I am sure that you have noticed how pricey some of these trips can be compared to a similar sailing or tour.
I run many gay groups cruises that will sail on a “regular” sailing as do many other successful agents across the county. I’m my mind this is the best of both worlds. You travel with many other gay men (strength in numbers) and at much more affordable prices. To my surprise the response I often get is “if is not gay I’m not interested”. Are some of us so concerned that we will be made fun of or intimidated? My experience is no!
Some gay groups can be as large as 300 – 600 men. Can’t we feel at home in this environment? The straight passengers on the sailings have been quite respectful of our gay groups. It is true that on mixed sailings you cannot nude sun bathe or get overtly sexual in public areas. Maybe it’s all about boundaries. If we are respectful of the other passengers they in turn will be respectful of us. On these groups there are many private parties and functions where we can be a bit more “fun loving”.
But this is only part of the story. I find it so intriguing that many gay travelers limit themselves as to where to go because they only want to travel “the gay way”. There are so many gay destinations for us to see worldwide yet many won’t go with a friend or two or by themselves. Hell a person traveling alone get have an amazing time in the great European cities of London, Paris, Rome, Prague, Berlin and so many more. Thy gay nightlife here is open and plentiful. Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Costa Rica will also fit the bill for a person traveling solo or with a friend or two.
Traveling is such an enriching and dynamic experience and it is unfortunate that there are only a handful of gay tour operators that run exotic trips to destinations like Peru, Turkey, China, Vietnam or an Africa Safari. And my apologies to those tour operators who do but the rates are just so high. Sometimes $1000.00 more than a similar tour offered by “main stream” tour companies.
I happen to be offering a trip to Budapest, Vienna and Prague this summer that is priced quite reasonably when compared to gay tour operators or even companies catering to predominantly to the straight market.
We live in a culture where now more than ever gay is accepted more and more worldwide. It is here in the good old U.S. of A. that gays are looked down upon. Do you know how many European and Latin American countries have legalized marriage or domestic partnership rights and legalized adoption for gay couples? And seeing a gay couple walking the street holding hands is commonplace.
The world is a vast and amazing place for us to see. And if you can afford it, you are you are doing a great disservice to yourself by not seeing what is out there. Why wait for some overpriced gay exclusive tour when you can go to these wonderful places on tours operated by companies such as Brendan Tours, Trafalgar, Globus and so many more. Maybe that first day you might feel a bit of discomfort (which I assure you is more your own perception) as the rest of the group will embrace you as part of their own. They are on vacation too. Do you think that during their trip they are really focused on our sexuality?
So we may choose to see the world and enjoy some of the most exciting experiences of your lives. Or you may choose to limit where you and miss out on a more enriching life.
I vote for seeing the world!
Paul Stalbaum is affiliated with Boca Raton Travel and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954 – 566 – 3377