Travel Safety Tips for the LGBT Community

May 30th, 2018 Comments off


The travel market for the LGBT community is growing exponentially.  With ample disposable income, this niche market is a dream for the global tourism industry.  With the click of a button, you can find LGBT-themed cruises and resorts. Nearly every major travel company and destination now has an LGBT marketing strategy.  According to a 2014 community marketing and insights survey that included over 3,500 self-identifying LGBT participants, 82% recorded taking a vacation in the previous 12 months, and 29% said they take five or more trips per year.

However, things are not always easy for those within this community when traveling.  The LGBT community faces more hurdles than any other demographics when going to certain locations outside of North America. Many destinations are unfriendly or even oppressive to homosexuality. Seven countries still consider homosexuality punishable with the death penalty, and 70 imprison citizens because of their sexual orientation. Knowing this information is important, as several steps can be taken to make travel safer.  As we are an organization that proudly supports and protects LGBT travelers, I thought I would focus this month’s blog on some tips for the gay and trans communities.

Know Before You Go

When it comes to avoiding hostile environments abroad, the key is conducting plenty of research before leaving.  Identifying as LGBT is illegal in 37 of Africa’s 54 countries, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries, and parts of Asia, including Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia. In Jamaica, homosexuality is illegal, and they have had horrific instances of violence towards members of the gay and trans community.

LGBT travelers should also consult resources such as the US State Department website, or CAP membership portal to fully understand the political and security risks of the country before booking a trip.

Here is an example of the LGBT-specific information that can be found in the CAP portal.

Stay Aware of Your Surroundings

While this may seem like common sense, it is important that LGBT travelers understand their surroundings.  Stay away from areas and situations which may put you at risk.  Avoid overindulging in alcohol.  Be mindful of local customs and dress expectations.  It is often advisable to blend in with the locals as much as possible.  Any traveler that is easily identified as a tourist can put himself or herself at risk.

Avoid discount hotels in international destinations.  Some hotels will not accept LGBT travelers.  To avoid facing discrimination, check whether each hotel welcomes LGBT travelers before making your reservations.  Many international hotel chains and airlines have policies stating their position on the LGBT rights and adhere to these policies globally. Booking one of these hotels can be more expensive, but it gives you piece of mind that you are supporting companies that support you.  Some examples of LGBT-friendly chains include Starwood, Marriot, and Hilton.

By planning ahead, LGBT travelers can keep out of potentially dangerous situations.  Aside from choosing the right hotel, knowing which neighborhoods, restaurants, and hot spots welcome LGBT visitors is essential.

There Is an App for That    

Like most things in life, software developers have built several apps and programs that can make LGBT travel easier.  With the click of a button, travelers can find LGBT-specific country information, events, and support organizations.  Some notable apps include:

  • Vespa – Provides information on LGBT events and parties in over 300 cities in 70 countries
  • Misterb&b – LGBT friendly version of Air BNB, all hosts are gay or gay-friendly
  • Hornet – Global social networking site for the gay community

The IGLA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) has an interactive map on their website which shows the status of LGBT rights globally.  This can help you to plan your travel and make decisions about your choice of destination.

Should you decide to go somewhere that explicitly bans homosexuality, several online dating sites offer advisories for users when they enter a country where homosexual acts are illegal.  However, these apps can also be used as evidence in countries where homosexuality is considered illegal.

Pay Attention to Local Customs and Perspectives

Knowing the laws and policies of the area you are visiting is essential. It helps you make informed decisions regarding where you want to travel.  This will also provide you with the information to protect yourself from persecution should you go to an area that is not gay-friendly.

There are many questions you will want to ask before traveling to a destination.  Should you book hotel rooms with two beds?  What is considered acceptable or unacceptable for public displays of affection?  In some countries, holding hands between people of the same sex is a regular occurrence, but kissing or other displays of affection between anyone is considered inappropriate and may result in persecution.  Does the country have marriage equality?  Are there anti-discrimination laws to protect you?

Ultimately our goal is to help make travel safer. We are always available should have any questions about the security of your next planned destination.

Business Trips Cost On Average

May 16th, 2018 Comments off


For more information on travel risk management and CAP™, watch the video below:


Women Account For Nearly 50% Of All Business Travelers

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Leave No One Behind – End Violence Against Women And Girls

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Travel Security for Female Travelers

November 1st, 2017 Comments off


To learn more about travel safety specific to female travelers please watch the webinars below and visit

Being Insta-Safe in an Insta-Famous World – Best Social Media Practices for Female Travelers

July 31st, 2017 Comments off

Earlier this month, while attending the GBTA 2017 Convention in Boston, MA, I posted an Instagram story and tagged my location. Minutes after posting the story I received messages from some of my followers asking, “How’s Boston?” and “What are you in Boston for?”. It took me a minute to figure out they knew I was in Boston. It was because of my Instagram story tag. I looked a little deeper into who had watched my story and noticed that since it was tagged in Boston, the story had been automatically added to a larger story of all people who tagged Boston as their location. Anyone who searched Boston, MA had access to knowing exactly where I was and who I was. This was a reminder that although social media is a wonderful tool to spread our message and engage with our online communities, when you are a female traveler your social media practices should be met with caution.

Here are some tips to keep yourself safe when sharing your travels on social media:

Facebook – As much as you want to immediately ‘Check In’ your latest location and let all your friends and family know exactly where you are, be wary of posting real-time location updates, especially if you have an open Facebook account.

Instagram – Take a picture or else it did not happen, right? Take the picture, but hold off on posting the photo immediately. It is safer to post that awesome photo when you are traveling to the next destination, especially if you plan to geotag your location.

  • Instagram Stories- As tempting, as it is to take your Instagram community on the trip with you through real time story posts, sharing your exact location at the moment is not ideal. If you must, turn your settings to ensure only your selected followers or certain people can see your story.

Twitter – Live tweeting reviews of your hotel or that restaurant you just dined at? It is best to rave (or rant) about your accommodations after you have checked out, or once you have left the restaurant. Be vague in your tweeting timeline, as opposed to giving exact times when you were at your accommodation or location.

Free Wi-Fi – We all love a restaurant, hotel, conference center with free Wi-Fi, but be vigilant with what websites and social media apps you are using on free Wi-Fi. These connections can make you more vulnerable to hacking.

For more information on staying safe as a female traveler, watch FocusPoint International‘s webinar series on female travel safety. Female-Traveler-InfographicFP jpg

4 Safety and Security Tips for Festival Season

June 26th, 2017 Comments off


The notorious rowdy Glastonbury music festival took place last week. Some of the world’s biggest artists performed in this 5-day music and contemporary arts festival in the UK. Over 200,000 festivalgoers were expected to attend.

Due to recent terror-related attacks in Europe, talks of elevated security and terrorist threats dominated the news surrounding this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Representatives from Glastonbury Festival as well as the Glastonbury police released statements and videos notifying attendees traveling to the festival to expect major traffic delays entering the festival grounds, large lines to ensure thorough security checks and a much higher presence of armed police officers, security, and emergency aid tents.

With heightened security presences, terror threats and emergency aid tents becoming the new normal for many high profile open space events, if you`re traveling to a festival this summer here are some tips to help you stay safe and enjoy the music!

  • Know Before You Go – Be sure to check out the official festival websites to know exactly what is allowed into the festival grounds. Save copies of the grounds map to your phone and print a copy in case your phone dies, gets lost, etc. It is also a good idea to have a list of emergency phone numbers in case an incident occurs (remember, 911 is not the emergency response number in every country).
  • Practice Sun Safety – Festivals are often in the middle of wide-open fields with little shelter from the sun’s harmful UV rays. To avoid a medical emergency such as heat or sunstroke, be sure to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and a hat. If you develop symptoms of heat exhaustion or sunstroke, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Be Aware of Your Surroundings – Always be alert and fully aware of who and what is going on around you. Festivals often have various stages stretching across a large area, and it is not possible to know the goings on throughout the whole festival, pay special attention to the things happening around you. If you see something that you deem as suspicious behavior, notify authorities and if necessary practice the “Run, Hide, Tell” procedure.
  • Have a Plan– It is important to have a response plan in case a crisis does occur. Although organizers will have evacuation plans to get attendees off the grounds, there likely will be no specific plan past getting you away from the affected area. Attendees should take their safety into their own hands and look into proper coverage for all events.


Cough, Cough… the Other Travel Risk

May 15th, 2017 Comments off


We all understand there are risks when we travel.

  • Stolen passport
  • Lost luggage
  • Violent crimes
  • Acts of terrorism

But there is also another large risk we can often overlook when traveling – getting sick. More often than not we are hearing about outbreaks, epidemics, or global pandemics. But what do each of those really mean? What is the difference? And how does this affect my travel?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) definition, an outbreak is defined as:

“The occurrence of cases of disease in excess of what would normally be expected in a defined community, geographical area or season. An outbreak may occur in a restricted geographical area, or may extend over several countries. It may last for a few days or weeks, or for several years”

WHO defines an epidemic as:

“Contagious, infection or viral illnesses threatening public health security. These include diseases such as cholera, meningitis, avian influenza, and viral haemorrhagic fevers for which the region reports considerably high incidence and mortality rates. They can be responsible for high levels of morbidity and mortality and have a devastating impact on the economies of the region. These diseases can occur across borders and affect the world as a whole.”

The term pandemic is defined by WHO as:

“A pandemic differs greatly from an epidemic. Like an epidemic, a pandemic refers to a contagious, infectious or viral illness that spreads. However, unlike an epidemic, a pandemic is not limited to one specific geographic region. Instead, a pandemic has the potential to include millions of people in many areas and countries across the globe.”

To summarize, the escalation is: Outbreak to Epidemic to Pandemic. Before traveling to a region with an outbreak, epidemic, or pandemic be sure to check with your government to ensure it is safe for you to travel and always travel with comprehensive medical coverage.


I Saw the Sign…and Went Anyway

April 10th, 2017 Comments off


My brother recently went on a trip to Whistler for Spring Break with some of his classmates. He, like I, is afraid of heights and going up a mountain peak with a 7160-foot elevation was not an easy feat. In an attempt to avoid looking down, he directed his attention to various signs on the ski lift. One sign notified skiers of bombs buried under the snow that are detonated in the event of an avalanche. It warned skiers to avoid the area if they see one poking through the snow. My brother got to the top of the mountain and skied down the Peak to Creek run anyway.

bombI asked my brother why on earth he would ski down the hill knowing the risks of explosives and avalanches. He said, “Meh, the signs told us everything we needed to know about the bombs and what to do if we see one, so we just went.” He knew the risks and had a plan in case he came across a one, and then went.

Similarly, a friend of mine recently traveled to the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. The tour guide she was with advised the group of all the dangerous scenarios that could happen (i.e. falling, waves crash and create instability, people die). The group was told to stay on the path, and that staff would be placed along the route in case something happens. I received a photo from her atop the Cliffs with a message that said, “They told us the rocks get slippery and to be very, very careful. The girl walking in front of me fell and was taken to the hospital”.  The group knew the risks, there was an effective plan in case of an emergency, and the group went ahead.

My brother and friend’s comments instantly made me think about traveling and all the risks attached to it. You need to be informed about the risks involved and have a plan in case of emergency situations such as natural disasters, pandemics, violent crimes, or even terrorist attacks. If we equip ourselves with the tools, the knowledge and the coverage that addresses all the risks, we develop an effective travel risk management plan. When we travel with a comprehensive plan, we alleviate fear and travel with confidence.

Anything can go wrong anywhere. Learn the risks, ensure you have an effective travel plan, and then go.


International Women’s Day Webinar Series: Know the Ropes & Travel with Confidence

March 3rd, 2017 Comments off

International Women’s Day is March 8th!

FocusPoint International and AFIMAC Global are celebrating by hosting a educational 2-part webinar series discussing travel risk management specific to female travelers! Click here to register!


Webinar Part One

Speaker: Lisa Arredondo,
Director Strategic Development,
FocusPoint International
Date: March 8, 2017 1PM EST


The webinar will highlight how some legal systems and cultural ideologies present challenges for female travelers. We will also discuss Duty of Care within corporate travel policies specific to female travelers in 2017.



Webinar Part Two

Speaker: Maria Teresa Septien,
Director Business Development
Latin America, AFIMAC Global
Date: March 15, 2017 1PM EST


During this webinar, we will identify common mistakes and behaviors that drive criminal activity overseas, and examine scenarios where female travelers were targeted and attacked. This webinar will also examine the role of technology as it relates to communication capabilities and mitigating risk during travel.

Key Highlights

  • Unique challenges female travelers experience internationally; the impact of gender based cultural ideologies on the rights and freedoms of women traveling in certain regions
  • How to determine if and when gender specific travel policies are necessary
  • How to create an effective traveler tool kit to better prepare for international travel
Key Highlights

  • What women can expect when traveling abroad and best practices for handling emergencies overseas
  • Use of technology in travel risk mitigation
  • Safety strategies for women traveling to unfamiliar regions
  • First response in an emergency or crisis when traveling– what to do

Click here for more details and to register today!

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