Gone are the days when travel meant suffering fools in overcrowded tour buses with a hangover and no clue where you left your passport. For more than a decade, travel has been trending towards a sophisticated mix of unique and inspiring experiences curated for you – the traveller – by professional travel advisors and ground operators that genuinely care about the people and the places they introduce you to. And that’s where I come in…

LGBTQI travel is something I’ve been passionate about since I started in the travel industry. It’s a bit of a hard category to define or explain to outsiders: mainly because there are no outsiders in LGBTQI travel. I’ve been on everything from high-end river cruises and sweaty mountain hikes with my friends; boyfriends; lovers; on my own and with my mum.

Travel to me doesn’t mean flying 20 hours from Melbourne to experience exactly the same things I do at home. In fact, my own travel interests and values mean I tend to spend my holidays about as far out of my comfort zone as I possibly can. (I’ve just moved back from a year in Chile learning Spanish) I want to meet locals in every country I visit: in cafes, local stores, in rice paddies and when I’m broken down on the side of the road in my hire car.

The people I travel alongside, though, is something I’m happy to be picky about. At the end of the day, I want to travel with people who share similar values and attitudes to me; and who I know will respect the people we meet and the places we visit as much as I do. Let’s face it, there are plenty of places left in the world where we’ve got a long, long way to go in terms of honouring and accepting members of the LGBTIQ community: I don’t want to be stuck on a cruise with 100 people who have a long way to go, too.

Instead, it’s my job to help travellers navigate the sensitive and often frustrating (and unspoken!) rules of different countries, cities and spaces around the world; and to seek out the people and places where they can enjoy the carefree and authentic experiences we all deserve. From Sitges in Spain; Recoleta in Argentina; Tel Aviv; Chelsea; Soho and San Fran: wherever your interests take you; there’s an LGBTQI travel option for you.

My latest project, for example, is a fly/cruise package we’ve put together through Vietnam and Cambodia with Brand G cruises: an all-gay, all-inclusive river cruise operator with a penchant for the finer things in life. (Yep, I’ll take a killer cocktail list and a fine fusion meal any day of the week.) Our tour escort, Anthony Broomhead, is a frequent and loyal traveller with Brand G, and has introduced countless like-minded travellers (including us!) to their relaxed and approachable brand of travel.

In fact, it’s been as big a pleasure getting to know Anthony and the Brand G staff as it has been organising clients’ travel on and around the tour. As far as I’m concerned, the LGBTQI community extends to anyone who supports diversity, acceptance, tolerance and a damn good time. Booking and travelling with companies that stand for all those things, too, is another way of spreading the love: at least that’s why I work for one.

Our brand-new office is now open on High Street in Armadale, just down from Glenferrie Rd. I do a mean Nespresso and an even meaner Tim Tam Slam: come in and chat all things LGBTQI travel with me any day of the week.

Logan Heath
Manager
Alpha Travel Armadale
1200 High Street, Armadale
www.alphatravel.com.au

Article originally published as Intrepid Gay Traveller in the March Edition of MCV. For more information, visit: www.gaynewsnetwork.com.au for details.
Image: Logan Heath