A former UK journalist and TV news producer, Darren Burn founded OutOfOffice.com, a LGBTQ+ luxury travel company in 2016. Two years later his company acquired TravelGay.com, which he says is the world's most visited LGBTQ+ travel platform. "With over 50 million visits a year, we are the most comprehensive and up-to-date guide for LGBTQ+ travelers globally," Burn tells Out Traveler. "You'll find gay-friendly hotels to book that we have vetted, gay bars, clubs, saunas as well as extensive city guides."
Travel Gay has indepth travel guides for Europe. How up-to-date are they?
Every major city on our site gets audited and updated at least every three months by the Travel Gay team and so we're confident in saying that our visitors will find what they're looking for.
What can American travelers expect when they arrive? How will things be different?
Travelers should certainly expect things to be slightly different from previous years. There will be social distancing measures in place at airports and it may take longer to get through airport immigration. Having said that, places like the UK (where Travel Gay is actually based!) are well ahead in their vaccination program and you should expect a relatively usual summer with lots of al fresco drinking and dining.
What are your recommendations for U.S. travelers?
Too many to mention, but undoubtedly Greece is a go to, especially the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. They are likely to still be busy this year, but perhaps not as overcrowded as usual so it could be the perfect time to visit. The UK and Malta also have great track records of welcoming US travelers too with Malta being voted one of the world's most LGBTQ+ friendly destinations. Our sister brand OutOfOffice.com, which focuses on luxury and tailor-made LGBTQ+ travel, arranges trips for hundreds of US travelers to Europe every year, but also to further afield places such as Bora Bora or South Africa.
Where do you think LGBTQ+ travelers will go now that they can return to Europe?
I think we'll see the usual destinations be popular this summer, so expect Spain, Greece, and the UK to top those charts. Croatia has also proved to be a standout destination for LGBTQ+ travelers in the last few years too. I think it's important though to remember that not everywhere in Europe will be as far down the vaccination route as the UK and the USA and so travelers should still practice social distancing where possible and be respectful of the fact that not everyone will yet be vaccinated.
Is there a destination that is most quintessentially European? Is there a city or country that reflects the best of what Europe has to offer LGBTQ+ travelers?
I'm not sure Europe can be summed up into one neat homogeneous package. It's a diverse and eclectic continent with over 24 official languages and many diverse cultures. The history of Europe is undoubtedly one if its strongest assets. Its long standing traditions are built upon centuries of rich cultural history and visiting any of Europe's capital cities will entertain a traveler for hours. From London's Buckingham Palace and Houses of Parliament, to Paris's Eiffel Tower, Athens's Parthenon and Barcelona's Sagrada Familia, all these iconic destinations will wow any first time European visitor. When it comes to LGBTQ+ nightlife most of Europe's major cities cater well to the LGBTQ+ traveler with diverse and varied scenes and venues.
Some European countries are certainly more LGBTQ+ friendly than others. Are there any that you recommend queer travelers avoid?
I don't like telling people not to travel to a particular country as I'm a firm believer that everyone should be able to travel anywhere under the right circumstances. Clearly that involves making sure that you are fully informed of a country's laws, customs and potential issues. [Editor's note, check out this 2021 index that factors in those factors in determining the relative danger or saftey of LGBTQ+ travelers.] We have seen in recent years a bad press given to countries like Poland for certain areas demonstrating LGBTQ+ discrimination, but the reality is that in its major cities, there are many LGBTQ+ people and venues.
Is there anything more you'd like our readers to know about Travel Gay?
We're soon launching a new feature on our site which will allow our visitors to ask questions and get recommendations in real time from locals. It'll revolutionize travel to these destinations and will make our site even more relevant and up-to-date. Sure, you can download Grindr and try to ask a local some questions, but let's be honest, that's not what most people use Grindr for so we're dedicated to making sure there is a safe and informative environment for the LGBTQ traveler. And we mean it when we say LGBTQ too. We're really focused on delivering and improving content for all the letters of the rainbow alphabet!