Travel journalists Asher and Lyric Fergusson have created the 2021 LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index, a ranked list of 150 countries. This list does a great job of boiling down the varying factors that contribute to the safety and security of LGBTQ+ travelers into a simple-to-follow guide. They measure everything from transgender legal protections, to same-sex marriage laws, to how people there answered the survey question "Is this a good place to live for gay or lesbian people?"
As tour operators and travel agents, this is something important to us, not just for our LGBTQ+ clients, but for our company as a whole. It's important to us that the tours we lead, the countries we visit, and the businesses we patronize, are all safe for all our clients, and do not compromise on the values we hold.
Thinking of planning your own trip abroad? Take a look at the Fergussons' index--it might just spark some new ideas! (Anyone up for a trip to Malta, perhaps?)
Do any of these sound good to you? Do you have your own cool ideas? Let's chat! You can fill out our travel interest form, or just shoot us an email any time. (We'll get back to you with almost alarming speed. :-) )
Do you need a new or renewed passport? (Remember: your passport must be valid for at least six months AFTER your return from abroad.) Get one now! You can start at the State Department's passport application website. You can also look up the passport office nearest you.
Need your passport in a hurry? You can read through the State Department's list of services available based on need. You can also consider using a private service that specializing in expedited passports, though this could set you back an additional $60-$400 on top of the passport application fees. Services like Fedex "Rush My Passport" and Allstate Passports handle the work for you, to get you your passport sooner. (Though we should note we have not personally used these services and cannot personally vouch for them.)
When we got our passports renewed, we went to our local post office and it was a one-stop shop: we got our photos taken, filled out our applications, paid the fee, and paid to have them expedited. We also paid for rush shipping to and from the State Department. And, good news: USPS tracking says they arrive today!
Don't leave it to chance or luck, or hoping that the State Department's speed improves--get yours renewed now!
On the basis that sometimes it's more useful to see something highly specific and real than it is to see a document designed to cover all scenarios, I thought I'd share my personal packing list from my 2019 three-week trip to Europe. I was leading a group tour through Italy and Switzerland, then going to France and the Netherlands on a family trip.
carry-on (big purse):
Small accordion file [note-I use the two accordion files to keep group tour info organized]
Big accordion file
European SIM cards
1 pair of leggings
1 black oversized cardigan
2 pairs jammie pants
2 jammie shirts
shorts for under dresses
small folding hairbrush
converter/adapter for outlets
Archer 2 [you can see more about Archer 2 here]
That's it! That's my list! Let me know if you have any questions about it, or what your personal travel packing lists are.
I (Liz) just finished reading The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found by Mary Beard, and it was utterly fascinating. Beard is an English historian who has written numerous books described by the New Yorker as "learned but accessible." The Fires of Vesuvius details what we really know about life in ancient Pompeii in the decades before the 79 C.E. eruption.
Having been to Pompeii, I loved that I was able to picture the places she was describing, though at the same time it made me ache to go back and see it again with fresh eyes. I know I'll be re-reading it before our next trip to Italy.
Interested? I highly recommend it.
Dying to see some ancient ruins in person? Come with us to Italy in January, 2022 for our 10-day trip, Pasta and Science! Through the end of April, anyone who registers will receive $200 off the cost of their program!
[FYI, if you buy the book using the link above, Leaping Hound Travel makes a small commission.]
2. Comfortable weather Italy's heat can be brutal in the summer. In January, the average high temperature in Florence and Rome is in the mid-50s: comfortable enough that you won't need more than a light jacket, cool enough to make you really relish a steaming cup of Italian coffee each morning.
3. Affordability Traveling in the off-season means some of the priciest parts of travel, like flights and hotels, are significantly less expensive than they are during the high season.
4. Availability Want to schedule a visit to St. Peter's Basilica or the Colosseum? With fewer visitors, places that require advance booking will have more times available for you to choose, and require less advance notice.
5. Shopping January is THE month to visit Italy if you're a shopaholic. The big semi-annual sales begin early in the month. You'll be able to score unbeatable deals on everything from shoes to clothes to luggage--even furniture, if you don't mind shipping it home.
Convinced? Come with us to Florence and Rome in January 2022.
Questions? Send an email our way--we'll get right back to you!
There are lots of great travel blogs out there. How do you choose what to read? We'd like to recommend some excellent Black travel bloggers, focusing on different themes each time. Today, check out three of our faves and their features on the Netherlands.
Black Lives Matter.
We recognize the reality, and centrality, of institutionalized racism and white supremacy in the United States (and other parts of the world). We support those protesting to demand that political leaders, and indeed every member of our society: acknowledge the systemic racism and injustice faced every day by people of color; and, take action to dismantle the levers of institutionalized white supremacy. Among others, we recommend statements on the nature of systemic racism such as this one from Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and the philosophy and goals of Black Lives Matter.
As a travel business, we also recognize the historical connections between tourism and institutionalized racism. Likewise, we acknowledge the ways in which tourism, particularly among those who come from nations with a history of imperialism (imperialist endeavors themselves both reflecting, and further contributing to, institutionalized racism and white supremacy) has perpetuated the objectification and othering of people of color. We are committed to fighting against the discourse and practices of what has been termed colonial tourism.
In addition, Leaping Hound Travel is committed to taking additional steps in support of Black lives, including:
-Liz & Adam,
Leaping Hound Travel Co-founders