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Exclusive | Ask the Travel Expert, March 2008

Exclusive | Ask the Travel Expert, March 2008

Costa Rica; China; Puerto Rico, Belize; family travel

Ed Salvato is Corporate Director of Travel Media at PlanetOut Inc.--responsible for,, and the editor-in-chief of the award-winning Out Traveler magazine.

Ed speaks often as a gay-travel expert and is frequently quoted in the press. He writes a monthly syndicated travel column and appears regularly on radio and TV.

Ed knows gay travel, and he proves it by answering your questions.

Looking for the perfect romantic gay honeymoon? How about budget recommendations, gay-friendly guesthouses or the best gay nude beaches on earth? Worried about an unfriendly reception in an anti-American country, or wondering about incidents of gay-bashing or the gay- or lesbian-friendliness of a Caribbean island? Ask Ed! (Note: Depending on the volume, he may not be able to respond to every question.)

De-stressing in Costa Rica
Where should I take my very stressed-out partner of 10 years for his birthday in Costa Rica? Would love to hear your ideas on places to stay and eat.

Costa Rica is one of the world's most attractive destinations for adventurous travelers, whether gay or straight, and for good reason. The mountains teem with rare and exotic birds, flowers, butterflies and wildlife. Some of the world's most beautiful remaining rain forests are protected here; their misty waterfalls and pristine lagoons beckon visitors from around the globe. The isolated tropical beaches and warm aquamarine seas here are unsurpassed.

If all that isn't enough, the gay visitor will find a warm welcome from the friendly local Ticos. Costa Rica is an unusually progressive Latin American nation -- the citizens decided years ago that they would prefer not to have an army, the country has been a politically stable democracy for years, and homosexuality is protected by law under Costa Rica's constitution. There are popular gay establishments in larger towns and cities all over the country, especially in the capital city of San Jose and in the adjacent communities of Manuel Antonio and Quepos on the Pacific coast. To a lesser degree, you'll find gay-popular establishments in Playas Samara and Carrillo in the Guanacaste region (also on the Pacific Coast), on the Caribbean coast at Puerto Veijo and in a handful of mountain locales, notably the Arenal Volcano area. Overall, Ticos are a remarkably tolerant and friendly people.

A positive trip to China
I want to travel to China, but am concerned about the ban on HIV-positive travelers. What if a person is traveling with prescription medication . . . do they search your luggage? Unless authorities find medication in your bag, is there any reason for a generally healthy person to "declare" that he's HIV-positive? How would you advise an HIV-positive traveler?

Thanks for your mail. Reuters recently reported that China is to scrap immigration laws that restrict people with HIV/AIDS traveling to the country. In November, the vice minister of health said that the new law was due to pass "in the coming months." It's worth (anonymously) calling the Chinese Embassy and checking current regulations.

The AIDS map (buy from is a really useful resource for travelers concerned about HIV-related travel regulations. It lists HIV-related entry regulations for countries from Albania to Zimbabwe and has a section on traveling with medication.

Out of court and into the sun
My two friends and I are looking for a week's getaway. We would like to take only one week to regroup somewhere warm and exotic. Belize? Caribbean? Jamaica? We don't know. Do you have any ideas for three super-fun 30ish lawyers in need of relaxation combined with some nightlife? One requirement: Beach.

You'll find what you're looking for in Puerto Rico or Curacao.

Curacao markets to the gay community ( and has a great reputation as a gay-friendly destination. There are plenty of nightlife suggestions for you in our Curacao guide. Willemstad has one gay bar in town, Lyrics. Mambo Beach at Seaquarium beach is gay-friendly and busy on weekends. Curacao is definitely a great gay-friendly option. Only San Juan in Puerto Rico has more of a gay scene.

As for Puerto Rico, to quote a recently updated article on,

"Puerto Rico is one of the gayest spots in the Caribbean. With much to offer gay sun worshipers, its sandy shores are American, so there are no customs formalities for travelers from the mainland. And the large number of flights from numerous gateways in the United States means convenient, inexpensive access."

Family-friendly finds for 4-year-old
Do you know of any B&Bs or motels that cater and/or market to gay and lesbian families? As dads to Joel, age 4, we've looked around but really can't find anything that meets our needs. (And, I would think, the needs of others in this expanding market. . . . )

There are a few that do cater to gay and lesbian families. One of the better-known ones is Fort Lauderdale's Sandra Lee Inn, "the family alternative for alternative families." Birch Creek Inn in Manitowoc, Wisconsin is another gay-friendly, family-friendly option.

I would also suggest choosing a destination and putting "families" into the search tool of You'll find options from the Russian River to Anchorage, Alaska, and Colorado to New Hampshire.

There's also the option of R Family Vacations' fabulous cruises and family week celebrations in Provincetown.

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