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The Ultimate Travel Guide for LGBTQ+ Families

Updated: Nov 16, 2023


A map with a finger pointing to a location.

After traveling for almost two decades for work and leisure and exploring numerous States and Countries, nothing prepared me for the overwhelming project of traveling with a kid. We had the added layer of traveling during the beginning years of Corona's effect on travel. The highly tuned planner I am was heightened to another level! Not only were there the usual qualifications and inquiries (like LGBTQ friendliness, transportation options while visiting, worthwhile destinations, general customs, and language preferences), but now safety, accommodation cleanliness, travel advisories, and age-appropriate children activities have risen. The plethora of information from the internet and friends was highly informative but still not comprehensive enough for our family's uniqueness. There is a different type of safety you have to screen for when traveling without an overtly masculine presenting person. There is a different type of security you try to ensure when your complexion is darker brown. More precautions are taken when your child's parentage can be questioned and forcefully rejected. Again, having to plan all your travel plans with this lens can be daunting, but luckily, the Q Family Way has your back! Here is the Ultimate Guide to LGBTQ+ Family Travel. Let's dive in...


 

Why this guide can save you peace of mind


Traveling with the kiddos can be such a fun and rewarding adventure. Seeing the world through their experiences is magical, but getting the ball rolling and getting to the location is a bit tedious. With the challenges, travel in the US has risen between 2020 and 2023 to almost pre-COVID numbers, with LGBTQ+ travel increasing along with it. Let's dive into some of the best locations for LGBTQ+ families, excellent gear to make traveling with youngsters easy-peasy, the best hotel brands, and some must-have items for your every time travel pack list. With these helpful tips, your journey should be a bit less stressful and more fulfilling, which is what leisure travel is all about, right?! Even when you find your travel has a purpose other than pleasure, this guide will have tips to make the travel smoother.


First things first, if it's your first time traveling with a kiddo, you will want to prepare mentally. Perhaps you are used to choosing a place to stay based on closeness to nightlife or itineraries filled with all-day excursions. Not anymore, my friends. Okay, sure, you can still do that, but to save everyone lots of frustration and tears, I'd recommend against it. You will have time to travel just you, or you and your boo, in the future, but right now, it's family time, and the kids' rest, fuel, and relief time are most important. Ensuring their nourishment is balanced (more protein and complex carbs, less refined sugar*), timely (aka before they wilt), and not rushed are game changers. Sticking with usual nap/rest times or adding time to the day just for quiet play (like books or coloring) will help with everyone's moods. And finally, make sure to insert your relaxation technique into the day. I am much more patient when a morning stretch and nightly meditation are practiced, and Danielle still finds time for a run. It is already work enough to accommodate another human, so trying to set you up mentally for success goes a long way, no matter your family style.


Great Locations, Kid-friendly Gear, and Checklists

Without further ado, here is our best of and travel checklist.


Picturesque city buildings on a hill with a rainbow.

Best LGBTQ+ Family Travel Locations in the U.S. and Abroad


Each of the cities below has been vetted for their friendliness to visitors, LGBTQ+ acceptance and population status (including the Country's LGBTQ+ protections), transportation options, diversity of cultures, and options for exploration at any age. There are always rotten eggs, no matter the location's acceptance level, so having your wits about you is ideal, but remember to have fun and adventure proudly. For a more thorough synopsis of our top locations to visit and/or relocate, see our Top 5 Best Countries for LGBTQ+ Families post.

  • Washington D.C.

  • Paris, France

  • Lisbon, Portugal

  • Seattle, WA

  • Barcelona, Spain

  • New York, NY

  • Manchester, England

  • Atlanta, GA

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Montreal, Canada


A black father and two black children splashing their feet in a pool while vacationing.

Best Hotel Brands for LGBTQ+ Family Travelers


Now that you have chosen a fabulous location to venture as a family, where to stay is probably next on your to-dos. There are plenty of accommodation options depending on your location and preferences, such as camping, hostels, house-sharing/sitting, vacation rentals, and hotels. There is still much debate over the negative impact large-scale Airbnb and other short-term rentals have on local housing within a community - that's for another post. And I love camping as much as the next lesbian, but we have found hotels to be our family's most prevalent and safe option. These brands not only market as "gay-friendly" but have been trendsetters in the tourism industry for employee benefits, support of LGBTQ+-focused non-profits, and diversity & inclusion training, as noted by Skyscanner and EveryQueer.com, making them worth our hard-earned money. In the past few years, services like Booking.com or Orbitz.com have launched identifiers that help queer travelers by having partners complete inclusivity training for a Travel Proud badge or sign an Inclusivity Pledge.


  • Hilton

  • Marriott

  • MGM International

  • Hyatt

  • Belmond

  • Accor

  • Red Carnation

Suitcases for family travel.

Top Gear to Pack For Any Journey With Kids


Of all the preparation topics, this was the longest to compile through our years of travel with AJ. The great thing is most of these items you can receive second-hand (sometimes at no cost) or borrow from friends, colleagues, family, or online marketplaces. Once they became part of our arsenal, we had many years of use, some as an everyday carry - saving us time and money. Reminder: this is not an exhaustive list by any means.


  • Travel-Friendly Car Seat or Booster (it's checked for free!)

  • Car seat cover for airplane travel

  • Easily portable folding stroller

  • Child carrier made for infant to toddler

  • Reuseable handkerchief for each person

  • Sanitizer wipes

  • Wet wipes

  • Chewable or easily applied medicines (for motion sickness, fevers, sore gums, insect bites/stings, etc.)

  • Thermometer

  • Travel blanket (towel and scarf interchangeability)

  • Reusable water bottles (small and large)


International travel has a few important extras:

  • Consider changing last names so everyone in the family has the same on identification documents (helpful for domestic travel as well)

  • Obtain passports for everyone traveling (even babies)

  • A written itinerary of your travels given to a close friend or family member before you leave and provide updates on any changes

  • At least one phone that has cellular service in the country visiting (relying on wifi only as a backup)

  • Any identification or medical cards with a proscriber's letter, if able (especially if traveling with prescription drugs or needles)

  • Carry your (and kids) documentation with you at ALL times

  • Discuss certain situations that could occur as a family (age appropriate) and devise a plan (i.e., If a family member is detained at a border, even for Covid, documents, or other customs-related issues)

  • Know the local Embassies

  • Think about purchasing medical travel insurance


Ready to Travel Yet? Let's do this!


Now it's time for you to choose that next adventure. The world is too wonderous for our families to watch as it changes around us. Either by car, train, bus, or airplane - to major cities, small islands, or mountain ranges. Exploration awaits. Want a deeper dive into traveling with kids? Check out our other informational posts under the Travel category. Are there other locations or tips you'd recommend for fellow queer or BIPOC? Please add them to the comments section. Thank you for reading, and together we can make anything possible!




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