Category Archives: Gay Travel Tips

Gay Travel Safari…Gone Wrong

I used to think I wanted to go on a safari and see the wild, up close!
Now,  I am not so sure……
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Don’t Get Scammed By a Vacation Rental Pre-Pay

Don’t be scammed!  

It’s always very scary to pre-pay for something. A major hotel offering a pre-pay deal, or your airlines tickets are of course, usually safe. 

But when booking through a service for a vacation rental, you  should always be very wary when they say to you, “I will give you  a special price if  you prepay now.”

But even if you think you do your homework, it can still happen. 

 Read this scam  that happened to a reader…..

I am a PR professional and I have been scammed!

So, I am taking a little time to do some PR to help warn others about this
terrible scam that is ruining people’s vacations!

While it has had some press coverage in the past, nothing
has been done to stop it. And travel sites like VRBO/Homeaway and Flipkey have
denied responsibility and done little more than add a page under their FAQs to
tell you how to avoid being a victim. The advice they provide is not foolproof
(I actually did almost everything they tell you to do) – and the real
problem
is that their online contact form is subject to pfishing. 

At minimum a warning should be posted on their
contact form so that potential renters like me will take extra care when
booking our reservations. And banks need to do more to stop known scammers from
using their institutions to handle these transactions that are defrauding
people.

Here’s what happened to me:

I
made several inquiries on Paris rentals via the online form on VRBO. This was
the only site I used and no one (including my family) knew the details (dates)
of our trip. We are flying into London, so it could not be determined based on
our plane tickets.

Several responses
were sent to me including an e-mail noting that the sender had a property
available for the dates I had listed with a link to a Flipkey rental listing.
He said he would give me a special price if I prepaid now and signed the e-mail
by the legitimate owner (Pascal Zytomirski) of the property. When I
Googled the property and the owner’s name (one of the fraud prevention steps
recommended), I saw he owned the property and it had great reviews so I thought
I did my homework.

Whoever the scammer is (Grand Travel Rentals AC) sent me
several e-mails and even asked when we would be arriving so he could send a
driver to pick us up at the train station. It all seemed very legitimate
including a professional contract with Pascal’s name. I signed the contract and
wired funds to his bank account (one of the recommended forms of payment per
VRBO). I did not call the property owner – since we are dealing with time
differences I thought e-mail made sense – if I had and was observant, I would
have seen that the phone number on the listing did not match the one of the
contract (though you can have more than one phone number – I know I do).

 However, had I called the one on the contract I woud have reached the scammer
which would not have helped. On Saturday (April 6), I happened to looked at the
link to the property that was sent to me (doing some travel planning) and saw a
posted notice that the property had been the target of a scammer. I contacted
the owner via the Flipkey link and he confirmed I had been scammed. I have
contracts with the owner’s name (Pascal Zytomirski), but apparently Grand
Travel Rentals and the account that we sent the money to are not his. Pascal
informed me that at least two (so far) renters have come forward that were
scammed with the exact same contract/sent money to the same bank.

Apparently,
this has been going on since 2010. Almost all cases involve accounts at
Barclays. There have been slight variations in the scam, but most have followed
the exact same pattern as mine. There is Facebook Group that has been formed to
assemble the victims to take action.

It
is
being headed up by the following individuals who can give you more
background on the scam. They are property owners in Bali who have seen
many of
their potential renters get scammed and decided to do something about
it. They believe this is a multi-million dollar operation. They
have given me permission to share their contact information with you:

Elizabeth Love +6285936128899;
balipoodledoodle@yahoo.com or
Nick Hyam +6285857220155
; nick_hyam@yahoo.com

You
can also find more dialog and heartbreaking stories if you search on HomeAway’s
community forum under “scam”. Here is a link to one of the many discussionstrings.

Please
encourage your followers to file a report if they have been scammed. I sent one
to ActionFraud in the UK and also IC3 in the US – both handle Internet Fraud. I
have also submitted complaints to VRBO and Barclays. VRBO has denied any
responsibility and Barclays is still reviewing it (but based on what other have
experienced, I have no hope they will do anything). My bank put a tracer on the
wire transfer and Barclays said the money was transferred immediately out of
the account as soon as it was sent. So, there is no recourse for me to recover
funds. Also, my bank made me close my account and open a new one. Apparently a
scammer can reverse engineer a wire transfer and attempt to auto debit funds
from your account. Scary! No one seems to know this. In addition, victims should
join the Facebook Group.

With the
increasing popularity of sites like VRBO, it has become a real hunting grounds
for scammers. If you can help stop just one person from being scammed…wouldn’t
that be rewarding? I know it would give my loss some meaning.

Thank
you for your consideration,
CG Communications
www.cgcommunications.com


sponsored by


Use CODE BGC When Booking!


CITY SUITES HOTEL

THE WILLOWS

MAJESTIC HOTEL

 

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State Department Meets with Gay Travel Representatives

TRAVELING ABROAD can be a little scary – walking into a strange country, not quite sure knowing what to expect. And gay travelers need to be informed. Some countries do not take a liking to us!

The State Department on Wednesday hosted a roundtable to discuss its
efforts to provide LGBT-specific information to Americans who plan to
travel overseas.

“We want all of our citizens to be informed about their destinations
abroad and any particular challenges that they may face,” Janice Jacobs,
assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, said.
“We want them to know about the services that are available to them at
our embassies and consulates if problems should happen, despite their
precautions.”

Jacobs’ comments come five days after the Bureau of Consular Affairs added LGBT-specific information to its website
that includes travel warnings, alerts and other country-specific
advisories. These include references to “widespread” anti-gay
discrimination in Ukraine, efforts to curb “the promotion of
homosexuality” in Russian cities and an advisory that urges LGBT
travelers to “consider exercising caution when visiting Estonia” because
of harassment and violence those who have publicly shown affection have
experienced.

The country-specific profiles also include information about HIV/AIDS travel restrictions.

READ MORE  at  Washington Blade

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Gay Barcelona Tours and Guides

Barcelona
!

Not only is Barcelona beautiful, charming, sunny, delicious and fun, it
also has the unquestionable distinction of being one of the premier Gay
capitals in Europe.

The gay scene is here vibrant and integrated. Barcelona is
a modern city, with a modern outlook. It is open-minded and welcoming to all –
so head on down for a good time! From the beaches to the clubs, from the shops
to the beautiful architecture, you’ll have plenty to do, by day and by night.

Most of the gay scene is centred around an area called Eixample
pronounced Ay-Sham-Play and, for reasons that will become apparent, nicknamed
gayxample. Just north of the centre, Eixample is a modern and trendy district.
It is the heart of the gay scene, even though it’s not exclusively gay. It is
here that you’ll find all the bars, clubs and accommodation that you need for a
great night out.

When daylight comes again, and you’re looking for something a little
more peaceful, head out of the city into the beautiful surroundings which are
replete with nothing less than vineyards. Why not try a wine tour in Barcelona? The local
wine is delicious, and will put you in the right mood to head back to the city
to do exploring.

There are lots of great sightseeing tours in Barcelona if you want to catch all the best bits. Don’t
miss the Sagrada Familia, the Park Guell or the endlessly eccentric La Ramblas
pedestrian shopping street – it’s a must-see.

Barcelona is open and welcoming like almost no other city in the world,
which simply adds to its many charms. And if you still need an excuse to go,
the fabulous annual Gay and
Lesbian Film Festival is on from
the 18th of October to the 28th.

Now that you’re out of excuses, go and enjoy yourself!

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Police Refuse to Allow Budapest Pride to Happen This Year

The gays in Budapest have struggled for years, for their freedom and acceptance. It’s a gorgeous city and a great value for travelers.

 We were there last year for their gay pride, which had been on again, off again during the planning months. Police were unsure they wanted to provide the protection needed. In the end, the pride parade and march did happen – but over 1400 police were on hand to make sure no skinheads or fascists bothered or harmed the marchers.

The Budapest Pride is Hungary’s largest annual LGBT event. It has historically been known under several names, including Budapest Gay Dignity Procession (Hungarian Meleg Méltóság Menet) or simply “happy parade” (Hungarian Meleg Méltóság Menet). The parade has taken place each year since 1997, usually on the first Saturday of July, proceeding along Budapest’s most expansive thoroughfare, Andrássy Avenue, between the City Park (Városliget) and Elizabeth Square (Erzsébet tér). Though much smaller in scale than similar gay pride parades in Western Europe and the Americas,  between a thousand and two thousand marchers typically participate in the Budapest procession. Radical right-wing demonstrators and hooligans have severely disrupted the Budapest gay parades held in 2007 and 2008, casting concerns with the Police in Budapest.

In
the past, sometimes anti-gay groups threw eggs, smoke bombs and bottles
into the crowds. Several years ago, Gábor Demszky, Budapest’s mayor
from the Alliance of Free Democrats party, condemned the violence
against the event for which he had expressed unambiguous support.
However, three non-governmental organizations accused the
government-supported police of doing little to stop the fascists.

Last year’s parade went off just fine,  other than some anti-gay people yelling at us. But I am guessing the city feels the cost to have 1400 police on high alert was too much?

We received this   press release today –

The Budapest Police Department has refused to grant permission for this year’s Budapest Pride march. The march had been announced for July 7, 2012, with a route from City Park to Alkotmány Street along Andrássy Avenue, by the festival’s organizers, the Rainbow Mission Foundation. This is not the first time the police have tried to prevent the march, and this year they again justified their decision to restrict our freedom of assembly with the claim that it is impossible to redirect traffic to another route. With the help of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), we are filing a petition for review of the ban. We look forward to the Budapest Metropolitan Court repealing the police’s decision, which is expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

Banning the march is one of the means used to silence the LGBTQ community. The last two years have seen democracy, human rights, and the rule of law threatened in Hungary, and through its actions, the government has infringed upon the rights of many groups. The Basic Law, passed in April 2011 and in effect since the beginning of this year, the “family protection” law voted on last December, and the Hungarian Society for the Science of the Family founded in February all severely violate the rights of LGBTQ people. Banning the Pride march would only exacerbate the social marginalization of this community.

One of the themes we are highlighting in this year’s festival is the diversity of the LGBTQ community in Hungary. Given that the community is often invisible, our diversity of identities and experiences often goes unrecognized even within the community. For example, bisexual, queer, and trans people frequently find themselves marginalized and their voices unheard. LGBTQ people who are members of other marginalized groups as well (disabled people, national, ethnic, and religious minorities, etc.) are hardly ever allowed the opportunity to express their full identities. Mainstream society’s view of the LGBTQ community is restricted to a very narrow segment of the group, primarily gay men and lesbian women, and this picture is often based on explicitly homophobic and transphobic stereotypes.

Kudos to the gay community! They are not backing down and plan to march with or without a permit!

The campaign video against the ban

2012 Budapest Pride for news and updates

If you love architecture,  Hungary is STUNNING! It is a gorgeous city. And there a dozen or so gay bars and clubs. They have a couple saunas. There is lots to see and do and  it is so inexpensive to  eat and drink and sleep there.  HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!

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Use Droam for International Data Roaming and SAVE!


WOW – I just read about new service thats sounds awesome! 

Has anyone tried it??


Droam is the new data roaming service providing data roaming for smartphones and laptops all over Europe and most anywhere, internationally, for a low daily flat rate. Droam works in nearly 50 countries. Not all countries have the same Droam solution.


Cheap data roaming in Europe is available in the following countries:

Albania, Andorra, Belgium, Bulgary, Cyprus, Denemark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Croatië, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland.


Droam works seamless in Europe, with exception of Croatia, you will need 1 Droam to stay onine in all these countries.




Unlike the popular Xcom Global service which requires multiple devices to be rented in each country visited, the Droam global roaming service uses only one portable device which works in numerous countries.


Droam works with all mobile phones that can connect to the internet with a Wi-Fi connection. Laptops, tablets, iPads and BlackBerry also work with Droam. Because these devices can connect to a Wi-Fi signal, there are no complicated settings that need to be configured. Droam works almost immediately after you turn on the device. If you do encounter any difficulties, please contact our service desk.


Droam is for all travellers who would like to connect to the internet whilst abroad. Droam is user friendly and after reading the instructions everybody can use Droam. Safe and affordable internet abroad, now possible with Droam.





Droam.net

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CHARO Talks Travel Tips and Hits the Road with SEXY SEXY

María del Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Gutiérrez de los Perales Santa Ana Romanguera y de la Hinojosa Rasten 

aka  CHARO

She was at SPLASH Bar in NYC last month performing SEXY SEXY her new hit song! (The song was written by her son  Shel Rasten –  for Britney Spears. Charo said FUCK Britney Spears! That song is Momma’s! ).

In the new issue of Passport Magazine, Charo gives travel tips!

DRINK LOTS OF WATER. Good water! This morning they were putting on my makeup and they asked, “What is your secret? What do you do?” – I drink lots of water and ALWAYS wear a moisturizer. If you take medication, always bring it on the plane with you. And vitamins. But water and moisturizer is a must. When you are flying you are having a lot of radiation. Twice the radiation of an x-ray.

And my advice to everybody who travels is when you pack, put your things inside a plastic cover. One time, coming from Europe to the USA, when we landed it was raining and they left the luggage outside for a while and when we opened it, it was soaked. It ruined 50k worth of costumes. So my advice is whatever is precious and you cannot wash, wrap it or pack it in a plastic container.

She also added, I am against discrimination and against oppression. The people in the White House should treat the country like it’s their own children. Same sexes should be respected and allowed to marry. You have to fight, fight, fight!

And she fights for animal rights. With the help of PETA, Charo’s working to end bullfighting in Spain. Blood cannot be exchanged for entertainment. In Spain, there is food, art, music, architecture, why do they need to keep holding onto an old tradition, and the cruelest way for an animal to die?” She’s convinced bullfighting will be outlawed in parts of Spain within the next six months.

Charo will perform her new hit SEXY SEXY April  10th at the White Party in Palm Springs! After that, watch for her in a city near you! You don’t want to miss this show!


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QueerTrip.com Gives Away Gay Las Vegas Package


Queertrip.com consists of dedicated LGBT travel specialists teamed up to bring you the best gay and lesbian travel worldwide. Queertrip.com is gay owned and operated.
 
Our goal is to make travel better and easier for the gay and lesbian traveler. At Queertrip.com, we believe in giving back to the LGBT community, so that’s why we are giving back a portion of the proceeds to LGBT charities.”

RIGHT NOW, you can enter to win a WEEKEND GETAWAY in Las Vegas! 


Grand Prize – The winner will receive 2 free round trip tickets (a value up to $200 per person, total $400) and a free 3 day (2 night) stay at the all male Blue Moon Resort in Las Vegas!  YOU MUST ENTER BEFORE MARCH 31st!  Prize Valid till Dec. 31, 2011.




What sets Queertrip.com apart from other gay and lesbian travel sites?  Technology, service, and user friendly web site allows users to search every airfare, hotel, car, and cruise company available.


Best of all, you’ll find all the gay and lesbian travel information on destinations including gay owned and operated hotels, bars and clubs, attractions, shopping, restaurants, and more all in one conveniently located site.


Queertrip.com searches for fares listed in the GDS’s (Global Distribution Systems), negotiated contracted rates, sale fares, as well as web fares on the internet. Our search engine finds them all in one easy to use system delivering you all the fares.

QUEERTRIP.com


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Italy All Gay Travel Event June 11-25th




  Wanted…………16 Men Who Love To Travel,  Savour Food, Experience Wine
& Want to do it all in Italy!  

The Italian Lakes & Umbria/Tuscany      June 11-25th, 2011
This 15 day holiday combines   The lakes and vineyards of Northern Italy
With the hill towns of Umbria & Tuscany!


Just half an hour from noisy, bustling Milan, Lake Como is a jewel-like oasis of tranquillity, a magical combination of lush Mediterranean foliage and snowy alpine peaks. One of the best vantage points for this breathtaking view is in Piazza Cavour, on the banks of the lake in the town of Como.



Most people speed through the Veneto on their way to our favorite Italian city, Venice. From the train, the landscape sometimes looks flat and unappealing, yet its small cities are fascinating treasure troves of art and beacons of fine living, and only a few miles to the north the Alps begin, their foothills dotted with charming towns and lined with picturesque world-class vineyards.


If Tuscany is a legend, Umbria is a little-known medieval fable, its green heart beating in the shadow of its more famous neighbor. Beautiful Tuscan hills, vineyards and Renaissance cities with a journey through the bucolic landscapes and enchanting lakes of Umbria.


Savor private tastings of Chianti and Sagrantino wine, olive oil and honey, explore the glories of Siena, Assisi and Orvieto, discover awe-inspiring frescoes and visit the hill-top treasures of Cortona and Montefalco.





 Holiday Includes….

–   Private Airconditioned Vehicle and Driver
–     Transfers

–      7 Nights Umbria – Double Room 
         
Apartment Accommodation Torale

–      4 Nights Lago di Como –
Double Hotel Room Villa Stupenda

–      3 Nights Veneto –
Double Room Corte dei Soave

–  Specialties of the region Umbrian Dinner
–         Veneto Dinner Villa Perez-Pompei-Sagramoso
–         Private Boat Tour Lago di Como
–         Dinner and tour Isola Comacina, Lago di Como
–         7 Breakfasts Lago di Como & Veneto
–         Private BBQ Lago di Como
–         2 Hands On Cooking – Dining Experiences
–         Wine Tasting in Montefelco (Brunello Wines), Chianti, Soave
           and Valpolicella (Amarone Wines)

–         Complimentary Italian Mobile Phone for your personal use
–          Tour hosted and escorted by Jack Clement,  Love To Travel With Pride 






EARLY BOOOKING  BONUS  RIGHT NOW!
Save $200.00 per person   
Pay Your Deposit By 31 March 2011



 Join us on this small intimate tour of Italy!Call today  for
 your  perfect holiday

1 800 565 2238    or email   jclement (at) lovetotravel.ca



 


 


 

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Benefits of Using a Travel Agent or Agency

Someone called me the other day asking for advice about traveling from the US to Poland. While I have been there once, I am certainly no expert. Right away, I told them to call my travel agent. The caller was shocked. He asked, “You don’t book your own trips online?” – “Absolutely not!  I said!  My agent knows how to find me deals and saves me money!” I replied.

Many people think booking their trips can save them money. Possibly. But probably not.

Many agencies have strong working relationships with travel suppliers and they have the  latest in computer reservations technology enabling travel agents to access the most up-to-date information on how to get you the best value.



Planning a trip today can be confusing and time consuming –  especially to a foreign land. A travel agent not only arranges the various modes of transportation, but a travel agent also may be able to save you money with early booking discounts, special fares, hotel deals and travel advisories. People who book their own trips online, may not have access too all of the current travel promotions and deals.




From advising you of all the options and sharing insider tips on destinations to understanding travels little complexities, we can provide you with the personal attention, expertise and exclusive advantages for all of your travel needs.

David Hodgkinson at Travel Leaders says “The more your agent knows about you, the better they will be able to pull together the best options and provide you with a perfect trip. Talk to an agent and be sure to share your:…

Interests – Share your interests, such as scuba diving, art or unique foods with your travel agent, and ask your agent to combine those interests into your trip.


Budget – It’s a travel agent’s job to keep within your budget. Provide them with a figure and they will work to stretch your travel dollars.


Travel preferences – If you favor a certain airline or hotel, or prefer nonstop flights, be sure to tell your agent so they can arrange your trip to meet your preferences.


Schedule – Let your agent know your preferred dates of travel. Also let them know how to contact you while traveling in the event they need to relay important information.


Travel companions’ needs – Inform your agent if your travel companion requires special accommodation, such as in-flight meal preferences or making arrangements for someone with a disability.


A good agent will go the extra mile!   Agents work for YOU and will do everything they can to meet your travel needs.”


Travel Leaders

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GAY HATE Crimes in Scotland on the Rise


HATE crimes against gays in Scotland have risen almost fivefold in the past five years, new statistics have revealed.

The statistics – gathered by a freedom of information request to Scotland’s eight police forces – show a disturbing rise in reports of violent attacks, indecent assaults, abuse and vandalism against people targeted just because of their sexual orientation.


Figures show there were 666 incidents of homophobic abuse in 2009-10, almost double the 364 incidents reported in 2007-8, and almost five times the 114 incidents reported in 2004-5.


In Strathclyde, reported incidents have risen from 50 in 2004-5 to 286 last year, while in the Lothian and Borders area there was a rise from 45 to 167 over the same period.


Rights organisation Stonewall Scotland  revealed that two thirds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people had been verbally abused in the past year, while a third had been physically attacked. The overall number of incidents is likely to be much higher as Stonewall said 61 per cent of victims did not report the crime to police.


The freedom of information statistics show that homosexuals have been abused or assaulted in their own homes, while eating in a restaurant, on public transport and while on a night out.


After a Stonewall Scotland campaign, police have been required to separately report incidents since March 2010. Carl Watt, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: Over a quarter of the people attacked told us they accept abuse and attacks as part of being LGBT in Scotland. WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

“Having said that we have a strong message from our police forces that crimes committed against people simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity will not be tolerated.”


Ian Latimer, chief constable of Northern Constabulary and spokesman on diversity for the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland, said: “Hate crime in any form is unacceptable.” And a Scottish Government spokesman added: “There is no room for complacency in this fight.”

Guess I am not going there any time soon!

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Uber Sexy Fitness Blogger Davey Wavey Travels to Sundance


Before there was
Scott Herman ,
there was Davey.

Unless you have been
under rock the last 5 years,
you should know
who DAVEY WAVEY is.
 

The gay  fitness hottie is more delicious than Mom’s Apple Pie! And his blog Break The Illusion  is uber popular.

The 27 year old says, “I assumed this physical form to embark on a journey of peace and love.

Though I’m a bit of a nomad, traveling the world from city to city and town to town, my current location is Rhode Island, USA. For a career, I’m a certified personal trainer  and  have a fitness blog, Davey Wavey Fitness .


My life’s mission is to 1.) share my love with the world 2.) teach others about the pervasive oneness of this perfect universe and 3.) learn, grow and develop from all my experiences and all my teachers.”


 It is his Videos which are getting international attention now.  And I predict, this attention could bring him much deserved fame.  You have  to love the whole Web 2.0 movement. When I grew up, and I am dating myself (gasp!) we didn’t have YouTube, Twitter or even the Internet! The world is an oyster now. Anyone can be their own PR agent and get seen by millions. Bloggers and Vloggers are becoming the stars of today.

YouTube invited  Davey  to Park City Utah for the week, for the Sundance Film Festival,  because one of his  video clips is being used in Kevin MacDonald and Ridley Scott’s documentary, Life in a Day .




Life in a Day is the result of director Kevin MacDonald’s plea to the YouTube community to record one day of their lives – July 24th, 2010 – with the ultimate aim of patching them all together. The call was heard, and 80,000 videos were submitted for selection, totalling 4,500 hours of raw footage.

Produced by Ridley Scott, the footage was eventually cut down to the 90 minute feature that is garnering raves from reviewers and audiences for it’s moving and poignant scenes harnessed from everyday life, by everyday people. Encompassing the most mundane daily activities to the most exhilarating and saddest experiences, the film operates with a kind of rhythm that can change mood on a dime, and can elicit a broad smile as quickly as it can have the viewer choking back the tears .

The movie premiered at Sundance this past week and streamed live on YouTube.  And you can watch  his  MEET THE FILM MAKER interview . The actual film will be released sometime in 2011.

Congratulations Davey!!


When traveling
, Davey says, “Staying healthy and fit while traveling is always a challenge. But here are my top 6 tips for making it happen: Calorie counting never takes a vacation; skipping the gym is not an option; use your feet; bring your own snacks; and be flexable.”  Read all the tips in detail on Daveys Fitness Blog .   
He also gives some pointers for hotel stays .

He says, “Being a frequent traveler doesn’t need to be a death sentence for your fitness program or a prescription for obesity. Keep your game face on—and I think you’ll be pleased with the results: more energy, better sleep and increased immune system performance, just to name a few.”

Davey on YouTube          Davey on Facebook



Best Gay News      and  New Gay Travel Guide

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Hotspots for Gay LGBT Travelers to Consider

WHERE TO GO IN  2011?

A recent survey by Community Marketing, Inc. — the gay travel research experts for nearly 20 years –shows that  lesbian and gay travelers are planning on doing a lot more traveling this year than they did during the last two. With all this pent-up demand, U.S. LGBT travelers will be heading near and far to spend those restless pink dollars. This year, put these five hot spots on your gay travel radar, and venture beyond the tried and true.

South America Rising

Rio de Janeiro has long been an important stop for in-the-know gay travelers who flock here during their summer (our winter). This South American New Year’s is one of the most exciting celebrations for LGBT locals and visitors alike. But this year, plan on going farther a field. Florianopolis, on the coast Brazil south of Rio, attracts droves of sun-seeking gay and lesbian Brazilians. It was a stop on a recent Atlantis cruise and it’ll be host to the IGLTA’s 2012 convention. This holiday hotspot is renowned for its long spans of beautiful beaches, quaint fishing villages and fresh, delicious seafood. The atmosphere is one that’s relaxed and languid with no rush for anything. Comprising a city scape and an island, both are often referred to as Ilha de Santa Catarina or Floripa for short.

Buenos Aires — long and justifiably a gay-popular stop — should be coupled with a visit to Mendoza (wine country) or a quick jaunt across the Rio de la Plata to Uruguay for a visit to the romantic colonial town of Colonia or a jaunt to the much-improved beach resort Punta del Este, the South American jetsetter’s version of St. Tropez..



The Venice of the North

The Scandinavian countries have long been light years ahead of the rest of the world in their treatment of gays and lesbians, offering civil unions and other rights before many Western nations. They’ve typically done so in a decidedly low-key manner, until now. 

Sweden  is (finally and justifiably) tooting its horn. The country offers same-sex marriage and recently ran a contest culminating in several same-sex couples tying the knot in the air during a flight by SAS, the national airline. This is one reason to reward Sweden with your pink travel dollars, but it’s certainly not the only reason. Once you visit Stockholm, you’ll instantly understand the appeal. It’s a gorgeous city, which like its Italian twin sister, is built on islands. Sailboats, ferries, and other vessels punctuate the vibrant harbor, which is ringed by gorgeous historical buildings, dotted by lush green islands, and bathed in endless light in the summer. In the winter, it’s dark and cold, so pair your visit with a trip to the
Ice Hotel , located in Lapland (120 miles north of the Arctic Circle) where you may actually get to see the Northern Lights.






Las Vegas

Las Vegas  has grown to be a very popular gay hot spot in recent years. Continuously reinventing itself, Vegas seems incapable of keeping itself from adding rooms, casinos, theaters, shopping, and attractions. This travel hot spot is up to nearly 150,000 rooms. That’s almost 55 million heads-in-beds annually. Their overcapacity is a bust for developers (the much ballyhooed Fountainbleau Hotel didn’t even get off the ground), but a total boon for travelers. Rooms can often be had for a steal. Even truly fabulous properties, like the brand spanking new
Cosmopolitan, built for the Champagne crowd, is eagerly welcoming the beer-can set. It is not just because Vegas offers very affordable luxury that it’s sizzling again. It’s also because it’s one of the most authentically gay welcoming destinations in the U.S., much to the surprise of many people.



The Wynn and Encore (which holds more five star awards than any other casino resort, thank you!) has not one, but five gay packages on their website:
EncoreLasVegas.com/Pride .- and they have a full time gay concierge . PLUS, they host the homoerotic LE REVE , which is a MUST SEE show!  Similarly welcoming hotels include the Mandalay Bay, the Paris, and MGM Grand.


Gay Middle East

Three words you probably never thought you’d read together. While it’s true that the vast majority of the Middle East probably won’t be actively marketing to the LGBT travel segment any time soon, there are a couple of very notable exceptions. Israel, which is the strongest democracy in the region, has a pretty decent track record with respect to rights for their same-sex citizens. Just one example: Legal same-sex marriages performed outside the country are recognized here, thanks to a case brought about, in fact, by the man included below who runs a terrific in-bound travel agency that can help you put together an amazing visit to the region. Tel Aviv, which celebrated its 60th anniversary this summer — it hardly looks a day over 25! — is actively courting the queer dollar. There’s much to love in this destination aside from the hot local women and men, including fine hotels, dining options, and warm stretches of beach lapped gently by the turquoise Mediterranean waves. Beirut — yes, in Lebanon — has also started to reach out to lesbian and gay travelers, with a recent symposium, and at least one out, proud, and highly competent tour operator (listed below).


Singapore

Singapore , nestled in the island-country of Malaysia, has a reputation for religiously strict adherence to rules that would put the Pope to shame. Problem is: That’s no longer true. It’s been slowly changing. Deputy PM Wong Kan Seng emphasized in 2009 that Singapore is a “stable society with traditional, heterosexual family values, but with space for homosexuals to live their private lives and contribute to the society.”


Singapore has a lingering PR problem from its years of threatening gay citizens with the rotten rattan of its buggery-obsessed former colonial masters. Let’s lay that nonsense to rest: these days you won’t be arrested for sharing a bed with your lover.   You don’t need to withhold your pink dollars in a vote against the dinosaur technocrats because pink dollars are fueling a renaissance of gay-owned and managed businesses across the island. The tourist area of Chinatown already has several dozen rainbow venues filling up heritage buildings and attracting a steady flow of local clientele and in-the-know regional visitors. Have a look, sir. 
 



Singapore is a sophisticated, educated, modern city with all the amenities you’d expect as a Westerner. There are charming old neighborhoods, friendly, helpful locals, and a shockingly big and developed (well for a socially conservative society) gay scene. Singapore actually  has Asia’s hottest gay scene going these days. Homo sex is technically illegal (a legacy of British colonialism), but there are plenty of gay nightlife venues in the historic Chinatown section. Throughout the city, you’ll find the best of the best cuisines from this part of the world, be it Thai, Chinese, or Indian. 

This destination also offers great shopping, inexpensive world-class hotels, and some of the friendliest service anywhere in the world. This great experience starts in the air  on
Singapore Airlines, which boasts one of the world’s safest and highest-rated service records of any airline. Spend four days here and a restful long weekend in nearby Bali, Indonesia, another gay-popular Asian/Muslim destination. Stay in the mystical, natural, yet luxurious highlands of Ubud and visit the nearby beaches.

So step outside the box this year and try something new!

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PLAN AHEAD for Travel and Save

PLAN AHEAD! 
BOOK  EARLY! 

How many times have you heard that?
Why do people wait to the last minute? 

The holidays are here and hopefully you have your reservations!

Just last week,  there was a chance I was leaving town on a business trip without much notice.  I called  3 weeks out, and the airfare  was  $260.  The company I was making plans to visit, did not confirm until 13 days out. When I checked the airfare again it had went up $340. Almost $100 increase, to be in that same plane, same flight, I had previously checked.

This is a screen shot  from CNBC that showed  the Airlines business  and gave an  example of what is called  REVENUE MANAGEMENT and BUCKETS (same system applies for many hotels). Depending on the time, season and how in advance you book or purchase your ticket, the price can vary greatly.

For the same AA flight 2412 passengers seating in the same cabin with exactly the same service paid from $50 up to over $700.  The same is true with hotels. The same room, on the same day can be from $50 – $500.

ALWAYS try to book  at least 14 days out, to get the best price.  It is rare, but it can happen, that airlines give deals in the those final 14 days. Some people say that in the final 7 days, you can find deals. Just don’t plan on it!

AIR TRAN has a sweet deal right now – special fares are available for purchase through November 9, 2010, and are good for travel from November 5, 2010, through February 9, 2011. Super off-peak sale fares are valid for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Off-peak sale fares are valid for travel on Mondays and Thursdays and peak sale fares are valid for travel daily. Like all AirTran Airways fares, prices included in this sale are available for one-way travel and do not require a roundtrip purchase or an overnight stay. These sale fares require a 10-day advance purchase.

It’s usually cheaper to fly in and out on a Saturday. The most expensive days for travel are, of course, the busiest, which are Friday and Sunday. Days in the middle of the week (Monday though Thursday) are also cheaper, although Saturday remains the best day to travel. Juggle different days, if possible. For example, see if you can leave one day before or one day after you planned.

Hundreds of thousands of airfare-price changes flow into the system each and every day — just once on weekends, but up to three times a day on weekdays — at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. After the new fares are loaded into the system, it takes about two to four hours to show up on the search engines.

More tips and tricks to saving at MSNBC

 

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Gay Travel and Gay Christmas Tips with John Waters

 

You wouldn’t expect
 the legendary creator
of such subversive films as
“Pink Flamingos” and “Female Trouble”
 to be a fan of Christmas!

(John Waters Collection #3:
 Pink Flamingos/ Female Trouble
)

Halloween, yes!
Christmas? Really?!

But of course, John Waters defies expectations.

“I really do love Christmas, without irony,” the 63-year-old filmmaker  says, “But I understand that a lot of people hate it, so I’m trying to give advice to every single person as to how to survive Christmas.”

Waters has performed his one man spoken-word lecture entitled “This Filthy World ” to sold-out audiences around the world; (DVD John Waters: This Filthy World is avavilable, if you missed it).

In 2004, his cynical and hilarious  CD “A John Waters Christmas was released, featuring an outlandish compilation of musical obscurities chosen by Waters himself, including songs by Tiny Tim, Fat Daddy and the Chipmunks!

With all of the traveling John does, who better to give some Travel Tips and Advice?!

He tells PASSPORT Magazine , The worst possible thing in the world is to be trapped on an airplane without a book, and mine will put you in a good mood even if you’re delayed, your luggage is lost, or flight is canceled,” he shares. “And if anyone’s nosy and reads it over your shoulder you can open the chapter about outsider pornographers and then they won’t talk to you, which is also nice on an airplane.”

He also says, “I always have toiletries with me, and a hanger bag with something to wear in case my suitcase is lost, because I’m usually going to be on stage so I carry one outfit with me. [Also] books, there’s nothing worse than being stuck on an airplane without a book. I always have way too many books with me.

AND ABOVE ALL – Be early! Get the first plane in the morning—the pilots are always there, the plane is there, and there aren’t many thunderstorms at 6 A.M. The later you wait in the day, the bigger the chance of you getting screwed up.”

READ MORE from John Waters and Traveling at Passport .

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LGBTQ2 Transgender Travel Information and Tips

 It was brought to my attention the other day that we never address the transgender community here on this Gay Travel site. So we wanted to include some resources and tips –

Transgender people have as much right to travel as anyone else and we have a right to express any gender we want, any way we want while traveling (with the exception of some head and face coverings). However, recent heightened airport security has meant increased scrutiny, harassment, and discrimination against trans people who fly. NCTE hopes this document will help make your air travel experience smoother. This document for transgendered travel is little dated, but provides some useful guidelines.

In 2009,  2009-The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rolled out a new phase of their Secure Flight program over the weekend. Passengers will now be required to provide their birth date and gender when they book an airline ticket as part of a move to help distinguish passengers from those on the government’s “watch list” (often called the “no-fly” list). NCTE issued  a SECURE FLIGHT document with details and tips .

You should always submit the name, date of birth, and gender as it appears on the form of identification you intend to use at the airport. If you have different names on different documents, you should ensure that the document you intend to use at the airport reflects the name you listed when booking your flight.

International Travelers: The Immigration Equality blog has this excellent post about international travel for GLBT people, including information on HIV positive travelers. Of note: The government has LOTS of authority to go through your belongings when you travel. Be prepared.

TRANSEXUAL (TS) ROAD MAP  is another good source for information. 

Trans Travel   is  another source.

As we find more useful resources and interesting information, we will be happy to share them!

 

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Gay Travel to Costa Rica

So, how do Costa Ricans view gay people?
Can I kiss in public?
Are there any nude gay beaches?
Gay friendly hotels?
Get your answers HERE!

Costa Rica decriminalized homosexuality between consenting adults in the 1970s. Since then, a series of legal rulings, on a judicial as well as administrative level, have turned things around for Costa Rican lesbians and gay men.

The Costa Rica constitution makes the Catholic Church the official state religion (church and state is not separated in Costa Rica), and about 80% or more of the country is Catholic. So, you can imagine where the gay lifestyle sits in their eyes. Gay Costa Rica citizens are still fighting their straight counterparts so they can have the same benefits that heterosexual couples receive such as inheritance rights, pensions, and tax rights to name a few.

Besides the Catholics in Costa Rica, the gay community here is battling against the Evangelicals in Costa Rica, who came out 20,000 strong from all over Costa Rica to protest the last Civil Union bill that was sent for approval. It looks like the gay community has a huge hurdle to climb before they are seen as equals.

I just have to say for a country that deems prostitution legal this seems like a fight that should have been overturned years ago.

That being said of all the Central American countries Costa Rica is said to be the most gay-tolerant/gay-friendly country, which makes it a highly desirable travel destination for the gay tourist. In the more recent years there has been a boom in the gay hotels being built in Costa Rica, as well as gay bars, gay travel agencies, gay tour operators, and restaurants. Places are popping up all over the country that caters to men only, as well as clothing optional places.

For more helpful travel information on Costa Rica make sure you check out our website and our blog .

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Gay Travel Couple! 2 British Guys, 2 Years, Around the World!

Thom and Sean
started traveling together on 23 June 2010 and they don’t plan on settling in any one country for another two years.  Originally from the UK but with no decision yet on whether they’ll return, Thom and Sean are having fun visiting countries that they’ve always wanted to visit.

As novice travelers they started off with the USA and have spent the last nine weeks traveling from New York on the East Coast to San Francisco on the West Coast with a good old dose of the Deep South in between! 

After America Thom and Sean will be kicking back to enjoy a calmer pace of life by hiring a camper van and driving around the North and South Islands of New Zealand for a month before heading down under.  Hiring one more camper they’ll be driving down the spectacular Great Ocean Road taking in Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney before taking a breather in Melbourne.  This breather’s going to last about 10 months as they get jobs and make friends to really experience Aussie life.

 

 

Once they leave Australia, the couple  will be taking the slow road back to Europe via Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and China.  In Beijing they’ll board the Trans-Siberian Express and spend a week on the train to Moscow, stopping off along the way and couchsurfing in a yurt!  After Red Square they will be visiting Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark.  The final destination of Berlin is being timed to match Sean’s 30th birthday in June 2012 where friends and family will join them for a massive party.  And I suppose at that point they’ll have to grow up!

The guys have been together for four years and always talked about travelling the world; this went from a pipe dream to something that they both really wanted and after three years of saving, planning and hard work they’re finally able to embark on their world trip together.

Read about their travels at Thom and Sean.com
Join them on Facebook

Photo top – Pacific HWY, California
Photo bottom – Stars at Grand Canyon

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Gay Friendly – What Does That Mean? Let the LGBT Buyer Beware

WE were just talking about this the other day; how so many companies are coming forward, some very sincere,  some not so sincere, in wanting to be “gay-friendly”. 

Karen Ocamb from the  Los Angeles  Frontiers Magazine , tells of recent not so “gay friendly” incident  that happened in Cancun.  A California gay couple had relied on a gay-friendly travel agency (Expedia) to select a gay-friendly hotel — which turned out not to be gay-friendly at all.

While in Cancun at their hotel, “At lunch Eric and I were holding hands. A waiter came over to our table and told us that public displays of affection were not allowed at the Gran Melia since it was “family hotel.” When we pointed out the straight couple holding hands across the room he reminded us that it was over the fact we are gay.  The waiter became very hostile towards us and I had to step in the way to cool down both Eric and the bigot waiter.

We then went to the front desk and told them the situation.  We were promised an upgrade to a suite over our whole ordeal.  The general manager of the hotel followed us to our room and told us that the Gran Melia is not a gay friendly hotel.  It is a “family hotel” and if we wanted a gay friendly hotel to go down the road.  He even gave us a list of other hotels.  I asked him to refund our money and we would be glad to make a reservation at one of the other hotels.  He said he was not willing to do it.”

“On our check out the last day the general manager tried so hard to get every dollar out of us that he could.  He tried to charge us for food and drinks that had been included in our all inclusive stay.  He made us wait to leave until the room was checked for any damages.  And he threatened to call the police if we left before that.  He and Eric got into a verbal altercation in the lobby, and he again threatened to call the police.  I have heard the stories of people being thrown in Mexican jails for no reason with no way out and I was scared for my freedom.  I paid whatever nonsense charges he threw at me so that I could ensure my safety and leave the hotel as soon as possible. This weekend was not a vacation for me.

 We have since spoken to Expedia who has removed the hotel,  Gran Melia Cancun off of their gay friendly hotel category.  They spoke to the hotel who stood strong on their homophobic stance, claiming that it is a “family” hotel. “

I am curious to know if there was any discussion or problems upon arrival and  check-in?

Read their whole story on Huffington Post .

The bottom line is how did this hotel get on their list?
Someone needs to be held accountable but also, do your homework.

Big players  like  “W” and Kimpton, we know are LGBT friendly places.  Smaller properties, I would beware. I would have checked the hotel out better, before booking it. HUGE companies like Expedia and Orbitz are trying to be everything, to everyone, I think.  You need to look  for  things like IGLTA and  TAG  APPROVED  logos   and  also  cross check with sites like Purple Roofs , and even Pink Choice.  Heck, you can even email us  and check out our Best Gay Cities  site. We are more than happy to point you in the right direction to the right sources.

It is my understanding, Expedia just started working with IGLTA ,  so maybe  Expedia has now realized they need some kind of criteria to follow so this doesn’t happen again.

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Gay Travel in Sao Paulo Brazil…Biggest Gay Pride in the World June 3 – 7 2010

 

It doesn’t matter what you like, São Paulo is big enough to welcome every kind of people  and she really does it with  a wide-ranging  of entertainment options. The largest city in Latin America and the fourth in the world, it is the cosmopolitan center of Brazil, from where all innovations and ideas are spread to the rest of the country. For that reason, the government and private institutions give some support to sexual, and also religious, ethnical and cultural diversity. Welcome to the heart of Brazil, welcome to the city that never sleeps, at least she does not do it alone, did you get it?

 

 

Through the blood vessels of this heart which carries all the Brazilian diversity with a social seasoning of foreigners from all over the world who come to the city for different reasons, and are able to realize the Brazilian receptive way and in addition, the importance of treating everybody well on a globalized world. The city has over 17 thousand kilometers of streets and avenues where there is a flow of 3.5 million people every day. The city looks like a worldwide metropolis and is part of a circuit which includes London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Berlin due to the fact of being a cultural melting pot.

 

Important museums are located in the city and there are ten of them in  Ibirapuera Park . Such museums are seen as significant spaces to divulgate arts and cultural production, e.g, Modern Arts Museum (MAM), Afro-Brazilian Museum, Contemporary Arts Museum and Astronomical Observation Planetarium. MASP, São Paulo Arts Museum, is one of the main museums of the city and the country, located on Paulista Avenue, it is a rendezvouz spot of musicians, poets, dancers, writers, actors and actresses and all kind of people as many as its free space can shelter.

Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo  is a prominent headquarters of arts, located in the surroundings of Luz Station and a venue of great exhibitions such as Tarsila do Amaral, Henri Matisse. Estação Pinacoteca, close to the main Pinacoteca building, hosts an Andy Warhol exhibiton until the end of May, his largest exhibition in Latin America. Across the street you have the Portuguese Language Museum, information center of Brazil’s mother tongue and a place of Brazilian writers and poets exhibitions who contributed to what is so called Brazilian Portuguese nowadays. The masterpieces are presented in a creative and intriguing way, making use of LED, screens, interactive models placing the audience into them in an updated dynamic.

Its cultural variety can be seen in its many theaters and drama spaces in the city. Being the cradle of the most renowned Brazilian theater groups, such as Centro de Pesquisa Teatral  (CPT), Teatro Oficina, Os Satyros, and Parlapatões. The convergence point is Roosevelt square, known as a place where the biggest concentration of theaters per square meter in the city is located. It is a microcosm with its characters, stories, dramas.

 GLBT network is in charge of much of the tourist business in the city, mainly during the Pride Parade, which takes place every June on a Sunday after Corpus Christi celebration. That is the second largest event of the city and over R$ 189million are circulated in less than a week, behind the Formula 1 race competition which income is more than R$ 200 million. That is the result of a partnership between government and militancy.

There are over 100  Gay Pride Parades and celebrations each year in Brazil – but the biggest in the WORLD takes place  in  Sao Paulo June  3rd – 7th, 2010 .  (3.1 million people  in 2009!) 

 

The whole city  supports  Gay Pride.  Through the Coordenation of Sexual Affairs (CADS), the city hall guarantees R$1 million funds in infrastructure. The state government through the Sexual Diversity Policy Coordenation aids on the structure and schedule carrying out. The Federal government backs up the initiative with a sponsorship of R$ 320 thousand.

 The private sector also makes investments due to the income provided by those who take part of the parade and it is not only on the parade week or day, but all over the year. Hotels located on Paulista avenue have an increase of 20% of occupation during the parade, increasing the general occupation to 90%, according to SPTuris. In order to organize all that flow, the city hosts Brazil GLBT Business Chamber, an organization founded to help entrepreneurs make their services and products to GLBT customers better and better, putting up bars, pubs, nightclubs, saunas, restaurants, NGOs and press together. Aiming to offer good service and products, being all set to receive tourists.

 

When a visitor goes for a tour in the city, he/she can count on a LGBT Tourist Information Center established since the beginning of 2010. The service network includes 17 tourist agencies, a change and exchange office and a gay hotel – the 155, located downtown.

 According to SPTuris (São Paulo Tourism Office), the official Tourist Office, during the Parade, around 350 thousand people visit the city – 70% of them come from the state of São Paulo, 25% from other states and 5% are foreigners. They guarantee an income of R$189 million in just a week.

 

The city watches new ideas in different areas popping up, such as a Brazilian LGBT Sports Committee, in charge of arranging gays, lesbians and transsex volleyball and soccer championships. The organization carried out the first Uniliga with volleyball and indoor soccer matches with the city hall’s support, promising to export the idea to other Brazilian states such as Minas Gerais, Santa Catarina and Rio de Janeiro.

 

Want to dance?

There are also two GLBT samba schools . One of them is the brand new Monalisa Paulistana that first appeared during 2010 Carnival and aims at a place on the special samba school group. The other one is Arco-Íris, part of the main group and has its show with a lot of transsex, gays and lesbians taking part of it, and also friendly people who love the festival.

 

 

Another group which makes the city more exciting is one organized by drag queens from a nightclub called Blue Space , known as the best nightclub for drags’ shows. Every year on São Paulo’s anniversary there is a soccer match on the street – drags X employees of the nightclub, a dispute which has the
objective of making people laugh and strengthen the relationship with the neighborhood.

 
When traveling to any big city that is strange to you, be cautious and use common sense.

Don’t take the risk of having fake beverage, known as “bebida batizada”. It is better to buy the ones you know with sealed bottles. Buy them at establishments and not from people who sell them on the streets.

Don’t take much money when you leave your hotel and don’t forget your ID. In case you are stolen, the damage will not be that big.

 Leave backpacks and purses at home. Only take them if they are really indispensable and keep on the front of your body in order to watch them.

Brazil has a hot weather, so use light clothing.

Prefer to be with a group of people. Bad intentioned actions may be avoided. The hint is also worthwhile if you want to take shots or record something. Be careful with your electronic devices.

If you have any unpleasant problem, call the Police. They are able to protect you and give you some advice on what to do.

The subway (Metrô)  is the safest means of transportation. Buy your tickets in advance in order not to handle money many times.

 If you drive somewhere, give preference to park in private parking lots. Car keepers on the street are not reliable.

Keep your wallet into a pocket or in a difficult place to be found.

Pay attention when using the cell phone. Most cases of robbery occur when a person is making use of a cell phone.

Be careful with beggars on the streets asking for help or talking about some of their diseases.

São Paulo has an excellent gay life. Over 40 bars, clubs and saunas.
Please note, that some saunas are frequented by rent boys so agree a price before you have fun.

Play Safe!  Wear  condoms!

Thanks  to  Alex Bernades  of  Revista Via G  Magazine  in Brazil,
our Guest Author and Travel Partner this month!

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