4 new LGBTQ travel companies want to take you on vacation

The summer travel season promises to be hot and crowded. The ongoing global pandemic, war in Ukraine, soaring inflation and high gas prices are no match for Americans’ pent-up wanderlust. Like everyone else, gay travelers don’t stay home sipping margaritas on the couch.

Most Americans (85%) plan to hit the road for a long summer vacation, the Out of Home Advertising Association of America found. Nearly half of Americans (48%) are taking at least two weeks or more of vacation than in 2021, up 41% from last year.

The OAAA figure is nearly 10 percentage points higher than the 73% of LGBTQ travelers — 85% of whom have passports — who were plan an important vacation before the end of last year, according to the International Association of Gay and Lesbian Travelersthe leading global association for the LGBTQ travel market.

According to the OAAA, 69% of Americans feel safe and comfortable flying again, up 10 percentage points from April 2021 (59%).

Another survey by vacation rental management company Vacasa found that about 3 in 4 travelers (74%) plan to keep their summer trips to the United States. Only 26% of travelers are planning international trips this year, with Canada and Mexico tied. destinations as well as other countries further abroad on travelers’ lists, according to the survey.

This drive to return to the world after a long hiatus due to the global pandemic and travelers facing new challenges in its wake shows just how resilient travelers are and how desperately people need vacations.

A day at the beach, exploring nature in national parks, wellness, and even distant lands are the best vacations travelers book, according to travel experts.

These five new LGBTQ travel companies want to take gay travelers on vacation. They want you to feel like you’re on vacation before you even pack your bags. They take the stress of planning every detail of the trip into their expert hands.

Exit in Colombia

In Colombia, travelers explore Comuna 13, locally known as C13, the infamous hilltop neighborhood once controlled by Colombian cartels turned into a vibrant artist community in Medellin, Colombia.

Heather Cassel

Award-winning sustainable LGBTQ travel company, Out in Colombia, offers a wide variety of luxury multi-day tours and packages exploring Colombia, “the gateway to South America.

Founded by American expat Sam Castaneda Holdren, who resides in Medellin, in 2016, the Out in Colombia team offers unique experiences tailored for LGBTQ travelers. The travel agency highlights the best cities in Colombia. The Colombian capital, Bogota, has a lesbian mayor Claudia Lopez Hernandez and boasts of a gay dance club that takes up an entire city block with 16 different dance floors and a live music venue. Cartagena, “the walled city”, is home to the country’s famous beauty pageant queens. On the shores of the Caribbean Sea, the city has pristine beaches. Medellin has grown from cartel control to a vibrant arts city. Salento is where travelers come closer to the famous Colombian coffee grown in the Andes.

Explore all of Colombia’s highlights on a 15-day trip to Bogota, Salento, Medellin, and Cartagena or a 10-day trip to Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena.

Learn more about Out in Colombia

VACAYA

group of holidaymakers taking a group photo on Celebrity's ship Millennium.

Nearly 2,000 Vacayas, what Vacaya calls its vacationers, aboard Celebrity’s ship Millennium for Vacaya’s 2022 Caribbean cruise in January.

Courtesy of Vacaya

Award-winning cruise and resort travel company, Vacaya, offers unique destinations and gaycations that bring everyone together under the rainbow for a truly LGBTQ vacation.

Founded by Randle Roper, Patrick Gunn and John Finen in 2018, the cruise and resort travel company launched its inaugural cruise in 2019.

Vacaya is the marriage of a word from the secret gay language, Polari, used within gay communities to communicate with each other for centuries. Award-winning gay entertainment, hospitality and travel executives who love to travel and the LGBTQ community wanted a travel experience different from that offered by gay cruises and other LGBTQ travel companies. They wanted to travel with the whole LGBTQ community.

Trip they have. The company has taken thousands of LGBTQ travelers to Seychelles, Iceland, South Africa, the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica, Provincetown and other beloved and amazing places. Unique destinations, such as the upcoming Antarctica cruise or the Polynesia cruise next year, become Vacaya’s signature, consistent with its goal of being a different travel agency for the LGBTQ traveler.

Learn more about Vacaya

pink coconuts

women on vacation with pink coconuts where queer travel meets community.

Pink Coconuts, where queer travel meets community.

photo courtesy of Pink Coconuts

Launched by Donnya “Zi” Piggott and colleagues during the global pandemic, Pink Coconuts aims to take travelers to less traveled destinations in the Caribbean and Africa that are often avoided by LGBTQ travelers due to anti-gay records in the region.

Pink Coconuts began as a tourism and hospitality project for diversity and inclusion of gays, lesbians and all sexual people in Barbados against discrimination, known as B-Glad. The goal of the project was to educate travel and hospitality brands on how to be inclusive and the negative economic effects of not being inclusive. The business grew from a project to a travel agency when Piggott realized that only a few people in the Caribbean were bringing LGBTQ travelers to the islands. Piggott decided to be the person to bring more gay travelers to discover other wonderful islands in the Caribbean that are not on many gay travelers’ radars. At the same time, they also set their sights on Africa.

The startup travel company lets gay travelers create their own itineraries by booking with their approved and trained LGBTQ partners or Pink Coconuts can create custom vacation itineraries from girlfriend getaways, gaycations, engagements, honeymoons and other romantic getaways; volunteering with a local organization, or just unplugging and sitting on a beach.

Learn more about Pink Coconuts

Journey to African Queens

Carla Smith, founder of African Queens Travel, and her fiancée Ramona Gatto on the Zambezi River in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

African Queens Travel founder Carla Smith, right, and her fiancé Ramona Gatto, left, enjoy local food and drink on the sunset cruise on the Zambezi River in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Courtesy of African Queens Travel / Carla Smith

Founded by South African Carla Smith and her family who have been rooted in the country’s travel and hospitality industry for generations, African Queens Travel was launched just as the global pandemic shutdown was traveling through the world in April 2020.

The company has not completely suspended its plans. Instead, the company has crafted its itineraries by offering eight 6- to 15-day trips from South African highlights to romantic getaways to rainbow family safaris at Cape Town Pride 2023 for the return from the trip.
The lesbian-owned travel agency’s 2023 itineraries include round-trip airfare from select US airports, luxury resort stays, tours, and nearly all meals and other amenities.

Learn more about African Queens Travel

Lesmon Experience

Lesmon Experience, a new lesbian travel agency.

International business partners and couple Montse Serrano, right, who is Spanish, and Aimee Bucher, left, who is American, kayaking in a lake with Arenal Volcano in the background in Costa Rica. The business partners and the couple started Lesmon Experience to travel the world with other lesbians.

Courtesy of Lesmon Experience

International business partners and couple Montse Serrano and Aimee Bucher launched Lesmon Experience in 2020 just before the global pandemic hit. The name blends “lesbian” and the Catalan word “món”, which translates to world, together to create Lesmon, the lesbian world. Society has been on hiatus waiting for the pandemic to pass, two years later Bucher, who is American, and Serrano, who is Spanish, are eager to bring queer women to Costa Rica’s private gay resort in Manuel Antonio, the LGBTQ beach Tico destination, as their first adventure. The company is offering three different all-inclusive trips scheduled for July, including one during the Manuel Antonio beach festivities on July 16. All you have to do is get your plane ticket and pack your bags, Lesmon Experience will do the rest.

Learn more about the Lesmon experience

The OAAA, the national trade association for the outdoor advertising industry, partnered with The Harris Poll to conduct the survey released in March. The Harris Poll conducted the survey online February 9-14, 2022 among a representative sample of 1,000 American adults over the age of 18. Data is weighted to reflect the general American public based on age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, income, household size, and occupation.

Vacasa partnered with Allison+Partners to survey 1,001 people over the age of 18 in the United States in March 2022. The survey was conducted using Qualtrics Insight Platform and the panel was sourced from Lucid.