Know Before You Go
Travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Some years ago, we were proud to be invited by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to assist them in formulating travel advice aimed at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers. This formed part of the FCO's extremely successful 'Know Before You Go' campaign, in which Respect is an active partner. Sometimes we even get invited to swanky receptions at the Foreign Office in London to rub shoulders with ministers and stuff, which makes us feel far more important than we actually are.
As part of the deal, Respect has to publish this travel advice in this brochure. You may feel that, because this brochure deals only with established western European destinations, that much of this advice is irrelevant to you. This may well be the case, but some of it is still very important and, as for the rest, it could still be highly relevant should you decide to travel further afield, possibly using the services of our sister company R2 travel.
Please note that the following is a resumé of the FCO's advice. For a more detailed version, please visit the Know Before You Go pages at fco.gov.uk.
Check out all relevant travel advice (fco.gov.uk) and makie sure you take out adequate travel insurance, checking that the cover provided is appropriate to you and your circumstances. Be sure to read the small print and declare any preexisting medical conditions to your insurer so that you're fully covered for all eventualities.
Get a good guidebook and get to know your destination. Find out about the local culture, laws and customs of the countries you will be visiting. The internet and the gay press can be a great resource.
Check entry requirements, eg visas, with the Embassy or High Commission of the country you intend to visit. If you have a communicable medical condition, such as HIV, you may find it more difficult to obtain a visa for entry into certain countries.
Leave copies of your itinerary, passport, travel insurance documents and credit cards with someone at home. Take copies with you and keep them separate from the originals.
Think about your sexual health before you go. If you are concerned, consult your GP before you travel, and if you are taking prescribed medication, check it is legal in the country you are visiting. If you do take medication, pack it in your hand luggage and make sure you take a prescription and a GP's letter with you. Be aware that many sexual health products are not as readily available abroad as they are in the UK and quality can differ depending on where you are.
Be aware that many sexual health products are not as readily available abroad as they are in the UK and quality can differ depending on where you are.
Take with you a list of British Consular Offices in the countries you plan to visit. If you do encounter difficulties, then get in touch with the Consul. We take our commitment to helping all British Nationals seriously, and offer a discreet, non-judgemental and professional service to anyone who needs it.
For specific information concerning local laws and attitudes to open same-sex relationships, you might want to seek advice from local gay, lesbian and transgender groups.
The Police in many areas of the world have been known to carry out entrapment campaigns on those involved in what they consider to be lewd or indecent behaviour. Find out about the local situation; we recommend discretion where you are unsure.
Be wary of new found 'friends' and be aware that criminals, especially thieves, have been known to exploit the generally open and relaxed nature of gay neighbourhoods and beaches. Never leave your belongings unattended and try to avoid carrying large amounts of money with you.
Save the phone number relevant to your destination in your mobile phone. We hope you won't need it but, if you do, you'll be very pleased with yourself for taking a few seconds to store it.