Popular German travel blogger Dani Heinrich, 35, from Globetrotter Girls has compiled a list of five amazing places for the LBGT community to visit. Her blog is aimed at everyone, but has become a great source of travel inspiration for the LGBT community, in particular. In it, Dani documents the hottest LGBT-friendly locations she comes across, and also offers great tips and advice for solo lesbian travellers and same-sex couples. She is also a big foodie and documents her food experiences through the blog.
This week Dani celebrates six years traversing the globe. She started globetrotting in 2010 with her former partner Jessica, and on her own since the relationship ended in early 2014.
Here’s Dani’s top five places to visit.
Mexico: Mexico as a country is incredibly diverse and beautiful, has a rich history, the food is amazing and most importantly: it is very LGBT-friendly.
New York: There is just no other place like New York City: the busy energy of Manhattan, the different vibe of each neighbourhood, the gay scene, of course, but also iconic New York experiences like Broadway plays, a stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge or through Central Park. And if you venture outside of Manhattan, you’ll find outdoor food markets, delightful flea markets, beaches and more ethnic food you could possibly try during your visit.
Thailand: Thailand is my favourite destination for island- and beach-hopping, with some culture thrown in, e.g. beautiful Buddhist temples and ancient cities. It is super cheap, easy to travel and is safe for LGBT travellers.
Israel: Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is accepting of homosexuality, and Tel Aviv even has the biggest Pride event in the entire region. The country itself is a fascinating mix of co-existing religions, and is home to many biblical, historical and religious monuments and places. It also has breathtakingly beautiful landscapes ranging from giant makhtesh (comparable craters) in the Negev Desert, the salty waters of the Dead Sea and the extraordinary underwater world of the Red Sea to the mountains of Galilee.
Berlin: Whether you’re gay or straight, Berlin has become THE place to go in Europe over the last decade or so. Prices are low, the unrivalled quirky bar scene makes for unforgettable nights out, and there are always so many cool things going on – from daytime dancing in Berghain, Berlin’s most famous techno club, to swimming in Badeschiff, a swimming pool in the river, to outdoor movie nights in the summer and sunset picnics on the runway of an airport-turned-public park.
“The most surprising thing I’ve learned from my travels was seeing where the LGBT community is visible and where it isn’t,” says Dani. “I spent a couple of weeks in San Francisco for example, which is known for its big LGBT community, but was surprised that the LGBT community was pretty much limited to the Castro, and even there, there wasn’t a lot of ‘visibility.’”
“A few weeks later, I spent a fortnight in Mexico City, where I was surprised to see LGBT couples all around town, making out in the park, holding hands in the street, and cuddling up on benches in public plazas. This is a city in not only a Latin American country, where gay culture is much more frowned upon than in Europe or the US, but it’s also a very Catholic and conservative country.”
“I was surprised to learn in India that same-sex love between women is almost always hidden, but it’s common to see two men walking down the street holding hands – but there is nothing sexual about that.”
“I learned that Thailand was very accepting of LGBT culture, which I didn’t know, and especially of their ladyboy culture (kathoey in Thai), which are transgender women, sometimes referred to as ‘third gender.’ They are much more accepted in Thai society than transgender women and men in Europe, North America and most other parts of the world.”
Dani says that it would be a tie for most beautiful sight between Chile’s Mars-like Atacama Desert, the white desert of White Sands in New Mexico and the Salt Flats in Bolivia. She was also surprised by her experience of Sri Lanka. “There’s tasty food, many gorgeous beaches, several UNESCO World Heritage sites, incredible wildlife, the stunningly beautiful tea region and very welcoming people,” she says. “I had no idea that it was so beautiful.”
Dani thinks everyone should take at least one solo trip in their lives, and her travels have made her a stronger and more confident person. “Knowing that you can navigate a country whose language you don’t speak, find your way around and enjoy a dinner for one gives your self-esteem an enormous boost,” she explains. “While I enjoy couple travel or travelling with friends just as much, I don’t think I grow as much as a person when I travel with someone.”
With the wealth of experience she has amassed, Dani has come up with a list of her five travel essentials, which may be useful to other aspirant travellers.
1. My iPhone for entertainment on long bus rides and travel planning (internet, booking hotels, maps, apps)
2. A camera as I am an avid photographer (see gallery here)
3. A pen and notebook to scribble down notes about the place I visit.
4. My running shoes, as that way I have an incentive to continue my workout routine while travelling and stay in shape, plus running is an awesome way to sightsee.
5. My Kindle, as I love reading but books are heavy and bulky.
Dani doesn’t think that she will ever tire of travelling, although she admits she becomes exhausted when she travels too fast. “I’ve learned to accept that travel is in my blood, because while I’ve tried several times to settle down, it’s impossible,” she says.
Follow her adventures at GlobeTrotter Girls