Why did you start out travelling?
There is a saying that Africa is in your bones, you can leave Africa, but Africa will never leave you' I think the same is for travel, once it gets in your blood it never leaves you. I have worked in travel for over twenty years in both the UK and SA curating customised private itineraries designed to make memories! With the onset of Covid, I spent a little time in health and fitness and also in digital marketing and e-commerce, however it wasn't long before I started dreaming of travel again. I found that nothing gave me the same sense of passion or drive, as planning travel and I guess the ultimate reward of sharing this big beautiful world we live in.
I realised the future of travel is changing, travel is becoming more intentional, there is a big move to responsible travel, eco-tourism and experiential travel. As a member of the LGBTQ community, it is shocking that to be LGBT is still criminalised in over 70 countries around the world. The world we live in is quite simply incredible, and the freedom to explore it, and be moved by it, should be shared by all. For LGBTQ this means the choice to not limit yourself, but it is important to know before you go. Understanding both the legal and the socially accepted norms within a destination you intend to visit will enable you to have a more fulfilling and rewarding stay.
We partner only with hotels and accommodations that pledge to make all guests feel welcomed and respected regardless of sexual or gender identity, the freedom to stay with comfort and authenticity, will always outrank a free breakfast, and allow for a smoother travel experience with less hurdles, awkwardness, or in more serious cases risk to personal safety. We work directly with the hotels and we operate with discretion allowing the traveller ultimate peace of mind and confidence.
We want to make sure that each and every traveller has the same opportunity to travel and we open the path to enable this.
It can be simple things such as requesting a double bed for a same-sex couple, – no more moving the beds together after checking in, and no more awkward questions at the front desk.
The choice of where to go and how to travel, depends on choice, as well as ease, comfort and knowledge. Example being trans may carry a whole heap of other considerations, as a trans woman transiting through the middle east, with a passport that indicates gender as male, what considerations do they need to adopt to avoid personal risk? How do they navigate safely, and with comfort the possible roadblocks to a stress free experience?
We aim to understand the individual, not all people are the same, and not all experiences are the same. We ask the right questions and with us you know you can be yourself and cover all concerns with openness.
How important is travelling intentionally to you and how does it work in the vision of Out Travelling?
Intentional travel is to immerse yourself within the destination and culture, in order to get the most out of your trip, for example if travelling to Thailand, make sure to eat the street food, it is amazing and the best tip is to check where the longest lines are...this way you know the food is fresh, cooked on demand and will not leave you with the wrong lasting memory a couple hours later.
Get to know the locals, learn a few words and explore the local hangouts. It means to make sure you understand and act within local respectful norms. This applies to all travellers, Example in Asia, one should never enter a temple without your shoulders and knees covered, in order to maintain respect. For LGBTQ+ we can take this a step further, if we are going to learn the local culture, we need to understand not only the legalities surrounding LGBTQ+ but also the socially accepted norms, surprisingly this can vary greatly with either progressive governments leading the way, or progressive social norms and slow governmental change. This can also not be generalised to a destination, for example to travel intentionally would be to get out of the big cities, into the rural towns and villages, to explore a different way of living and to bring home the gratitude of the experience. It is important to understand that social acceptance can be vastly different in metropolitan largely westernised cities, to the country where generations have lived without leaving. This guides your actions as LGBTQ+, put simply as an example, can you walk hand in hand down the street without fear of persecution or shaming?
Example, in Vietnam although same-sex activity has never been known to be criminalized in the countries history, the culture itself is very conservative and public displays of affection should be limited, regardless of sexuality. In Namibia, same sex activity is still a crime punishable by law and yet the socially accepted norms are vastly different and being LGBTQ is largely socially accepted.
What is your personal vision for the impact LGBTQ+ travel can make?
This is huge!!
it is important to us that we not only open a door to safe travel and safe spaces, but that we lead the way as a movement for change, acceptance and belonging. We have to understand that not everyone grows up in the same level of acceptance, and as LGBTQ+ we HAVE to keep travelling, we have to go to all countries, we have to be ourselves (with respect) and through continued conversation, as a global travelling community we each leave small impacts that continue to be breaking down paradigms and prior stereotyping or generalisations.
As a company it is also our duty to get involved, our vision is to work with a variety of NPO's across continents supporting specific LGBT needs. Example in SA there is one of the most progressive and free constitutions in the world and yet in certain communities, hate crimes can result in death and children are evicted from their homes for identifying as LGBTQ+. Across the continent of Africa, many LGBTQ face persecution and fear for their lives. We need to get involved, step up and speak up about enabling change.
We are creating community and have started on Facebook where we currently have over 7000 members in a private group (QueerAF) from across 122 different countries, who offer each other daily support, humour, and ongoing education...we would like to continue to expand this...to some degree to be LGBTQ+ means to have embraced yourself, to fought an inner battle and to have come out victorious to live life true to one self. A journey many never take. There is great power and vulnerability in this where as a community we can continue to be stronger together. Each and every person should be able to live as themselves and even if you are in a country where it is not safe to do so, we can at the very least create an environment through social media, that gives you this freedom. In future, we would like to expand on this vision of safe spaces, both virtual and physical.
Watch the full interview here: