I’m bisexual and have a same sex partner. Although we often travel separately due to different vacation schedules, we have done quite a bit of international travel together too.
I thought I’d write a few examples of issues that lesbian couples and other female same-sex couples might expect. I find it easier to cope with situations if I have some warning, so I hope others might find this helpful.
Here are 5 situations we’ve personally experienced.
Situation 1. Booking a king bed and being told on check-in that there are only rooms with twin beds left at the hotel.
For a start we thought the hotel was really out of king beds. We accepted what we were told and pushed the beds together. Later we realized so much of the hotel was empty it was highly unlikely they were totally out of king rooms.
Where: Most recently, Malaysia.
Situation 2. Being hit on when your partner is present.
Guys do not typically hit on women when their boyfriend is present, but especially when traveling in macho cultures, men don’t seem to consider that my partner and I might be in a relationship. It doesn’t seem to register as a possibility.
Where: It was worst in the Caribbean.
Situation 3: People asking if my partner is my Mom or assuming this.
- At home in New Zealand. We stay in a cabin at a campground every year and the proprietors seem determined to refer to us as mother and daughter!
- Little kids ask us when we are swimming together in hotel pools. We’re not hot and heavy with the PDA but I guess we are playful enough with each other to confuse them.
Situation 4: When traveling alone, being asked if I’m married or have a boyfriend.
Where it happens: In cabs.
Cab drivers often seem surprised by a woman traveling alone and inquire about my relationship status. The inquiry never includes the option of having a “partner.” (Usually happens with cab drivers who have religious paraphernalia on their dashboard!) If I say no, I often get a well intended mini lecture about how my life would be enriched if I got married and had a baby.
If I just say yes to the question, I get asked about whether my partner worries about me traveling alone or doesn’t my dude know it’s not safe for women out there. Being stuck in a cab doesn’t seem like the safest situation to out myself in.
Situation 5: Losing out on an international job when I told them about my partner.
In my last year of grad school, I got flown over to Singapore for a job interview. They were super keen to hire me but the second I told them I had a same sex partner, the negotiations just stopped cold.
Where it happened: Singapore.
The vast majority of the time we have no problems, but wish we could feel free-er to be affectionate with each other e.g., cuddle while swimming.
If you’re a lesbian couple looking for travel inspiration look no further than Dani and Jess, the awesome Globetrotter Girls!
I'm Kate, a vegan digital nomad from New Zealand who has been traveling full-time since May 2013. I'm an expert on saving money on trips without sacrificing comfort. My spouse and I travel on a budget of around $3000 a month. We travel in places that are traditionally considered expensive like New York and Hawaii.
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