This week, I talk with @travelagentandy who is a lgbtq+ travel agent and SO many great practical tips and tricks on how to see the world as a queer person. ESPECIALLY when it comes to traveling with your partner, he has you covered so that you can travel safely and not worry about anything as you travel or go on your honeymoon as a lgbtq+ person. Enjoy!
Follow Andy on tiktok!
The intro and all instrumentals were written, sung and recorded by @JaynaDavisMusicHomebody Candles MN
Greatly beloved, welcome back to this week's episode. My name is Anna. I use she her pronouns, and I have someone super exciting with me here today. We have been chatting over Instagram for a long time. Um, I actually discovered this person via TikTok, which I don't know, I feel like it's just. A cool way to connect people. And so I'm really excited to finally have Andy with us here today. So Andy, would you please introduce yourself, your pronouns, and any other identities you wanna share? Of course, Anna. I am very excited to be here. Um, my name is Andy. My pronouns are he, him, and I am a very proud member of the gay community, um, and a very proud gay travel agent. Heck yes. Oh my gosh. I didn't know you were married. That's so exciting. Yep. Um, well, actually no, I'm not married. Um, wait. Married? I thought, I thought I heard you say married. Maybe. I totally made that up already. Messed this up. No, I'm not married. Oh, okay. Did I say, did I say married? I, it's already a rough start. No, you're good. You're good. Maybe I, maybe I heard it wrong. Okay. You, you're in a relationship. I'm in a relationship. Perfect. Amazing. That's great. How long have you been with your person? Um, we've been together for about two and a half years now. Oh, congrats. That's super exciting. Made the, uh, the move out to, uh, a separate coast together. So it was, uh, it was, uh, he's, he's the, the real one. Yeah. Oh, that makes me really happy for you. Wow. Yeah. Well, I love to hear like a little bit more about you, what you do, and kind of how you got started in all of it. Yeah, definitely. So, um, I live in North Carolina, um, with my boyfriend Grayson and my dog Jumbo. And I am a travel agent who works primarily with couples, um, some small families, but I really enjoy working with, with couples, um, on just creating a customized vacation experience for them, um, that is really unique to them. So, um, whether it's just hotel bookings or like building out full itineraries for an entire trip, um, That is just kind of my, my job. And I have loved, uh, loved connecting with now a hundred plus, uh, different clients on their variety of trips. Yeah. That's so fun. Is there like a particular like area or type of experience that is your favorite or you really enjoy? I really enjoy, I really enjoy it all. Um, I think I. I, I personally know, like Mexico is the location the best. And so I really love talking about like different regions of Mexico and like what are exciting to plan, what you know. What is exciting about each region to plan trips for, but um, I also just got back from traveling around Europe. I would say the majority of my clients are booking European travels, and so just kind of working with them one-on-one on figuring out like what the best itinerary is and what the best trip is. Um, I, yeah, really can't pick like a favorite experience or destination, but I just really enjoy that initial conversation when someone's looking for something and then, Getting to talk to them after the trip and hearing how it went. Yeah. Aw, that must be a really good feeling. Like, yeah, look at you two had so much fun and Yeah, I gotta have a part in that. Yeah. And it's like, it's such a big, um, you know, it's such a big thing, whether it's just like a, you know, a long weekend vacation or just, um, you know, a destination wedding or a honeymoon or whatever it is. It's like that a vacation is still a really special moment for a lot of people. And so I love having. You know, whatever hand I can have to help in it. Yeah. And I'd love to know too, how much of your time you also spend traveling and kinda getting new information and seeing new places. Yeah, I, um, a lot, a lot of time. So, um, yeah, I mean really like the first half of this year we were going on like, Um, maybe a trip a month. Um, and it was, I am always grateful to experience new places and see new destinations and new hotels and get to build a relationship with those different hotels. But, um, I also am a homebody as well, surprisingly. So we, as I said, we just got back from a trip to Europe and, um, we don't really have anything major planned for. The foreseeable future over the next few months, and we're very excited to just be, be staying put. But it usually does, uh, come with a lot of perks to be able to actually get to experience the places that I'm, that I'm selling to clients. Yeah. I mean, hey, like, that's business in my mind. You're like, yeah, I'll, I'll take it. Yeah. Oh my gosh. That is amazing. Wow. Well, yeah, I, I really wanted to have you on today because, I mean, truth be told, I've never seen anybody else doing what you're doing. And you know, obviously there's other travel agents, but I've never seen someone who's specifically dedicated to serving like couples and also couples within the L G B LGBTQ community. Like that's so awesome and so needed. Yeah. I. I especially love, I mean, being a member of the L G B LGBTQ community, love working with, um, you know, with clients in, in that space. And it's just really important for me, I think even after just traveling on my own to either places in the US where places internationally to like find the spots that are really open and accepting to us and other places that I experience that I'm like, You know, maybe another destination would've been better to pick. And so as the years have gone by, I feel like I've gained more and more experience in that realm. And, um, I just love, you know, working with, with other folks in the LGBTQ community who like maybe don't travel all that often, or like really want a perfect honeymoon planned out, that, you know, you want to go as smoothly as possible. And so it's been really special to be able to, uh, to work with, with others in the community. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And on that note, um, yeah, big reason that I thought it'd be super cool to have you on is because I think there's kind of been this growing conversation slash debate within the community of, obviously with things like TikTok now, people will rate places in terms of how friendly they are towards the community and things like that, and that's kind of sparked some conversation, even in my own, like with my partner and in my own friend groups as far as like, okay, there's this really amazing place. Like it'd be so fun to go there and also, It's not very LGBTQ friendly at the same time. Mm-hmm. And so I'm just kind of curious like what you think about that. Like is it worth it to try to risk it? Is it like, what do you think? Yeah, that is a great question and honestly, the same question that comes up with almost every L G B Q couple that I work with. So, um, I, first and foremost, it, it sucks that we, you know, live in a world that we even have to think about what destinations we go to. And, you know, it would be great if we could just travel anywhere without thinking twice about it. But at the same time, we are also very fortunate to be living in a time when we can. Freely travel to so many locations in the world without any problems. Um, so whenever I, you know, whenever I'm talking about like a specific destination with clients and what they're looking for, I always like to, I mean, first like separate, um, Separating the difference of, you know, what is considered to be like gay friendly versus gay accepting versus just like purely not really safe or accepting, you know? And so, you know, the gay friendly places that you can think of, like, just off the top of my head, like Reiki, vk Iceland, or um, San Francisco or Mexico City or places, or Port of Ida. Places that you go to and you see gay flags everywhere and you just like kind of feel like you're being hugged and opened up into that community. Um, whereas there are other places that are I, you know, more accepting like, you know, honestly, most cities that I've been to in Europe, like I feel comfortable holding my partner's hand. There might might not be side flags hanging everywhere, but like you can get the general sense that like, we are welcome and. Accepted into that, that community. Um, and then there's the areas that like, you know, whether culturally or, you know, with government restrictions, like they are very discriminatory towards L g, BT Q people. Um, and if there's ever a client that comes to me and says, I really want to go to Barbados, um, and Barbados being like one of the Caribbean islands, it is like, The least gay friendly destinations. Um, I'll always, you know, first inform them of just like the laws that are in place and just like culturally what, you know, what is, is and isn't tolerated there. Um, if they didn't already know that way it can, you know, just educate them more on their ultimate decision. Um, but then I'll also just dive into more of like, As you said on TikTok, people are always seeing Overwater bungalows or like this very specific beach, or if it's that type of experience that they're looking for, then I'll always kind of dig into that a little bit more. And then usually I'll recommend an alternative to go to, you know, or like an alternative country or destination or whatever it may be. Um, but that being said, there's sometimes like a specific area that. That an LGBTQ couple really wants to go to and like, you know, maybe they're tracing their family roots back to Barbados and they, you know, it's on their bucket list to go visit it. Um, in those types of situations where it's like known to not be, you know, very safe for us, um, I'll always recommend, like, I love boutique hotels myself, but I always kind of err on the side of safety with like a larger hotel brand, just because they usually have. Like global kind of requirements for all their employees to follow when it comes to discrimination against L G B T Q people. Um, so like that would be an angle that I would point them to is like, don't stay in an Airbnb, don't stay in some mom and pop shop hotel, but like, let's get somewhere that will, you know, at least for a place to stay, make you feel as safe as possible. Um, and then from there, I always just like recommend if you're. Going out and adventuring or going out and exploring, um, if it's truly a place that's not super safe, like find a guide. Um, and that's something that I help folks with, like finding someone that can take you around, take you to the spots that are good. Um, and yeah, that's just kind of, kind of my general thoughts about it. I think it totally just depends on the experience. If you're just looking for specifically a resort to sit on the beach, even if a country is relatively, you know, Not accepting of us. That resort will usually generally be okay to be at, you know? Um, but I always like to err on the side of finding a better alternative cuz you don't wanna be thinking about that on a vacation. Yeah, absolutely. That's super helpful. And I mean, yeah, definitely something that, again, I've talked about with people like. I think there's this idea too, of when it has come up with people who aren't in the community, their response is usually something like, well, can't you just like be friends for a week? Mm-hmm. You know, like, can't you just like not hold hands or whatever? And it's kinda like, okay, but first of all, like, do, do you hear yourself like, yes, that, that to me wouldn't necessarily feel like I. A vacation if I can't, you know, be fully myself and hold my partner's hand and. Whatever, like, I'm gonna be on edge the whole time. Mm-hmm. Like, what happens if I do accidentally hold her hand? Like what? Like that's not a vacation, you know? Yeah. Nobody wants to be thinking about that. And I mean, I think you make a very, very valid point too, especially just like on, you know, some of my tos that, you know, the haters had made comments on of like, oh, I don't realize, I didn't realize that you needed to mention that you were gay before saying that you were a travel agent or something like that. And I'm like, yeah, because you don't understand. The, I guess the value that comes out of like having a partner in planning this type of experience. But there are so many things that we need to consider when going into a vacation like this that many are fortunate to not have to think about. Right? Yeah. Like if you're, As a straight white couple, like chances are you can go pretty much anywhere and like figure it out and be fine. Mm-hmm. Versus like, yeah. So again, thank you for doing what you do. It's super cool. Yeah, of course. I, I, I love doing it and I love, I, as I said, I love working with, with couples that are actively thinking about it as well and, and wanting to find the perfect fit for them. Yeah, absolutely. And I love the idea too that there's, there's alternatives usually like yeah, there are always, there are always alternatives. And that's the thing that I like, try to push the most. As I said, if someone is like dead set on a specific destination, they understand the risks. Like I will still. Work with them as much as possible. But, um, I also think the important thing to note too is that whenever, whenever anyone reaches out to me and says like, I just want a safe L G B T Q destination, um, I always let. All of my clients know that, like I can never personally guarantee anyone's safety anywhere. Like unfortunately, anything can happen in any location, even if it's like the most gay friendly city in the world. Like there still can be things that happen. And so, um, it's just the educational piece of just like, you know, I can't guarantee safety. But here are some locations that like historically have been very welcoming and very accepting. Um, And yeah, the alternatives are the biggest piece because while there's not, you know, certain landmarks or uh, you know, geographic regions in every country, like you can find something similar to, you know, find that experience that you're looking for, that you don't have to be thinking twice about showing affection to your partner on the trip. Right, right. And it's so interesting too, to hear you say that. It sounds like it really is like a spectrum. And you said it went from friendly to accepting to pretty much like unsafe, right? Yeah. Or like not accepting. Yeah. And you can like feel that too. I mean I um, me personally and what I will like tell friends and clients too is that like even when you're researching. Um, when you're researching vacation destinations or cities, like even if you're not a big drinker, like I always look up just like even what gay bars are in the area, you know, and that kind of is like a good pulse to just kind of see what the community is like and what the community accepts. And I usually use that as like kind of a good pulse of just like seeing, I don't know, knowing what to expect going there. Um, and so that's kind of how, that's kind of how I break down the like, You know, the friendly, the accepting. I mean, that's not the only reason, but you can usually get a pretty good pulse if there's like no present gay community and you're walking around and you're like, what's, what's the vibe here? You know, that's, that's when it can get a little bit of a gray area. Well, that you so smart. It's like, this is your job or something you would think. Uh, yeah. So kind of on that note, um, Kind of setting aside, obviously there are maybe some unsafe places, but in general, setting aside that piece, what are your biggest tips for LGBTQ couples traveling? Um, Yeah. Um, good question. So I think kind of tying in together, you know, everything that I've just said is just like, first and foremost just doing your research. You know, like looking up, you know, aside from just seeing if there's gay bars in the area, like looking up what the, like local and just government rules and restrictions are overall. Um, you can, most, more times than not just type in is X, Y, Z country gay friendly, and like you can find. A bunch of articles about it. And so I think having that as a starting point, but then also researching like, you know, the area specifically just to make sure that it's somewhere that you would actually feel comfortable visiting. Um, I think the important thing too, especially when traveling like internationally or just an area that you don't know at all, um, you know, there's always kind of. Some, some questions around like whether or not to book like an Airbnb or A V R B O or something. And I do think that when you're traveling with your significant other, there is a lot of value for many reasons. But you know this specifically coming from, you know, being at a established hotel that you can look up all of the reviews that you know exactly kind of, you can see their website, you can see everything. Whereas like in Airbnb, you don't always know. The exact location in the exact neighborhood. You don't know if your host is accepting, you know? So like just doing the research beforehand and making sure that at a very baseline you feel comfortable about where you're going. Um, and I think with that too, what I always like to highlight is just like being conscious of where you're spending your money. You know, even if there are some, you know, If you're presented with the risks involved or the rules or restrictions that a government might have against you, but you're still willing to, you know, put that risk aside or you're okay with that risk and still visit the destination, um, I think it's really important to, you know, put your money where your mouth is and like question as well. Like you, I might be staying at the resort the whole time. I feel like I'll be pretty safe there, but like, do I really want some of this? Money to be going to a government that is, you know, actively seeking to discriminate against us. Um, so I think that's like another really important piece as well. Um, and honestly just lastly, like, like if, if you are a self planner, then that's great. Like I absolutely love doing the planning for my own trips and obviously other people's too. But, um, Finding a, finding a travel agent. This is gonna be a quick plug for myself, but like finding a travel agent that specializes in a specific area, or specific L G BT Q travel or whatever it is, just to have as a partner to kind of talk through your own ideas. Um, a lot of the times my clients are coming to me with like already kind of a. A sample itinerary or like a few hotel ideas or a few locations and just, you know, I work with them to just kind of consult on what the best options are. Um, so it's not like you're completely just giving up your trip to someone else to print you out a sheet that says this is what you're doing, but just finding someone else to talk through options and just kind of consult with you, um, I think is is really important. And there's so many travel agents out there that can find. You know, that you can partner with that. You know, some specialize in traveling with your dog. Some specialize in traveling with, uh, you know, if you're traveling with a disability. You know, just finding the perfect person to make sure that you feel like you have a partner when planning out that trip. Yeah, that's great. And you had mentioned something earlier too, about guides. Is that something too, that couple should be thinking about as far as like, um, If they're cool or, yeah, it, it depends on, it depends on the location and it depends on the experience that they're looking for. You know, if they're, um, I always like recommending guides, especially for, for big international trips. If you were wanting to do like a tour in wine country or something one day, like having someone to take you around to all the known spots. So like, safety aside, it's always just nice to have an on the ground. Professional that knows the area, like the back of their hands. Um, but as I said, in terms of just like experiencing a new city that you might, you know, might have some just discomfort with or like, it's a new experience in general. Um, even starting off with just like a day tour or like. You know, one of those kind of group trips just to get the lay of the land of the city. Um, I know the first time that I went to Mexico City, for example, like when I went with my boyfriend, um, we, you know, got there at night. We were walking around our neighborhood and we were just like, is this safe? Or are we, you know, are we good here? And then during the day, and after spending a few days there, we were like, oh, this is like, Vibrant and bright and like, you know, we felt very safe there. But um, it's always nice to find someone that like knows that area very well to just kind of introduce you to a new place. Right. Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. Um, yeah, and I'm kind of wondering too, obviously, I know you had mentioned like you can never guarantee safety. Obviously that's not on you. I mean, I. Sometimes we're not even safe in like our own neighborhoods in terms of what people say or the looks we get or things like that. But, um, would you ever say anything to a couple, like in the event that they are traveling and do run into someone from the community that's like, Like the local community that is giving them a hard time or something, um, you know, do you advise them, like sharing their location or like just anything that you would say in the event that something does happen? Yeah. Funny that you, well, not funny that you say that, but like, sharing your location, it's unfortunately like something that we have to think about, but like, we just did that even when we were, you know, traveling around Europe just as like a safety measure. Just worst case scenario. I mean, even if someone stole your phone, like it'd be good to have the location on. Um, so things like sharing location, but I mean also just having, having the conversation before the trip of just like what your boundaries are as a couple, I think is really important. Um, and just kind of like, yeah, setting, I don't know, even like setting the expectations around like scenarios. If like, if someone asks you if you're. Siblings or dating or you know, like questions like that that I think just making sure that you're aligned on like, or. You know, are we gonna hold hands on like the public streets or do we want to keep that just to the resort or whatever it is. So I always think that's important beforehand. A, just to make sure that you have clarity on like safety overall, but also like in a spur of the moment thing. You don't want to, you know, upset your partner by calling them your brother if like, you know, they, they didn't want that, but, um, but we like unfortunately, have been in situations where, We together have had the conversation beforehand. We live in the south and have gone to some, you know, deep parts of the south where we're like, all right, we are, we are brothers on this trip. You know, if anyone asks. So it's like, I think just, yeah, just talking with each other and making sure that you are aligned and, you know, having some kind of understanding of, of what to expect and what you're gonna do together. Yeah. Yeah. That's great. And I, I love that you mentioned that too, of just talking about it and have time. Then there's no room for like, yeah. Being like, oh, so we're brothers now. Did you just break up with me? Oh, gosh. Okay. Yeah. Wow. Everything you say is so helpful. Thank you. Of course. Yeah. Yeah, I was super, I was, I was very excited to, uh, to talk with you about this. I think, um, a lot of the clients that I work with are, are straight couples, but a lot of them that I'm working with are, are gay couples that are planning their honeymoon. And it's like, these are all questions that come up all of the time. And so, uh, it was really excited to just share them more with you and, and your audience as a whole, because I think they are all very important questions that. A lot of people in the world don't even need to think twice about when they're traveling. So it's like a, it's a very, it's a very niche thing to find the perfect, safe, comfortable experience for, you know, for us, uh, for us specifically. Yeah, yeah. No, for sure. I, I mean, it's something that's kind of the goal of this whole podcast and everything I do is like wanting to. You know, help people in the community be connected to other people who are like, yeah, you for sure, like, don't have to think twice about working with this person. Or, um, and also, you know, hopefully you're teaching other people other things too along the way. Like maybe there's other travel agents who are like, oh yeah, maybe I should. You know, start thinking about that in my own business and stuff too. So, yeah, and I mean, the education piece is just so important for people outside of our community too. It's like, you know, I'm going on a family vacation with my mom and siblings. It's like, it was, it was an educational moment to like tell them just about our experience. And like there are things that when we're going places we have to think about or we have to respond to, or when we show up to a hotel, You know, I was traveling with my partner and my brother and sister and every time that we got to the hotel and said, you know, who was staying in which rooms, they were like, wait, so the two of you are staying in one room with a king bed and then the two of you? And we're like, yes. That's, that's, so it's like, you know, there's just always those scenarios that I think are just like little moments of education that can get everyone else like a little bit more understanding of just the little things or the big things that we have to go through. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I do have kind of one last little fun question. Um, there's a lot of. Couples who listen to this podcast. And so I'm curious if they're in the midst of like planning their honeymoon and stuff like that. Um, I know even just sometimes when I'm out doing like portraits with couples or things like that, sometimes you know, someone will offer to like give them some champagne or something like that. So I'm just curious if, for those who are going on their honeymoon, if you have any like fun tips for them to kinda maximize their. They're fun experience. Oh, absolutely. Um, another travel agent plug, but I mean, in general, like aside from just having the whole trip planned out for you, um, a lot of folks don't know that, like a lot of travel agents are partnered with like thousands of hotels that can get extra guaranteed perks or benefits. So, um, a lot of the times folks are either getting like discounted rates or, you know, I. Daily breakfast or like a spa credit, um, you know, free massages, uh, room upgrades. And they're all like, very common as long as we're partnered with the HO Hotels. So, um, it's, it, it's a free perk and a lot of the times, like for me, if a client is like just booking a hotel through me, I don't charge for it. Um, and so if they just wanted to book a hotel through me and get the perks, then it would be at no cost to them. Um, and it's always just like a cool way to. You know, experience, experience something unique out of, you know, probably a, a really big investment on either a honeymoon or a vacation. And so you might as well tap into as many benefits as you can out of it. Yeah. Yeah. So everybody, I don't know if you've gotten this by now, but. You need to go check out Andy at Travel Agent Andy on Instagram, right? Yes. Is that correct? Yes. Travel agent andy.com. Yes. Go check him out. This has been amazing. Seriously, like I have learned so much, um, and I just feel like so much more aware of things to think through. Um, even in, I'm starting to do some more destination weddings and stuff like that. So, Thank you for sharing your, your wisdom with everybody and, um, yeah, of course. I'm, uh, very thankful to be here and to, to you and just the listeners too. Um, you know, never be afraid to even just reach out with a question. Even if you're thinking about a trip, that's who years down the road and you're nowhere close to booking. Um, I think it's, you know, the power of power of community to just kind of talk things through. And I'm always happy to just respond to an email if anyone has. Questions about an experience or a destination or just anything like that, so that is amazing. Wow, you're so kind. Thank you so much. Thank you. Yeah. Clearly Beloved, thank you for joining us this week. I hope you all have a great day, and we'll see you here next week.