Happy & Healthy Queer Vacations

With the arrival of the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S., the American vacation season begins. While some of us of a certain age will recall that “gay vacation” or “gay resort” usually meant something that was not “family friendly” in Key West, Rehoboth, Fire Island, Provincetown, Palm Springs, Russian River, Western Michigan, or coastal Maine, today our lives and our families are much more complicated than in the past.

While all of the usual healthy travel advice applies to queer vacations, we also have some additional considerations.

All travelers should recall that the most common health problems on vacation are the result of injury. These can include transportation accidents, including automotive, sports injuries (from skiing, sailing, or hiking), sunburn or other exposure injuries, dehydration, insect, jelly fish or other animal bites, or simply being in an unfamiliar physical space. Many of these are avoidable by exercising prudent precautions.

Other familiar health problems are the result of food or water-borne infection. Keep in mind that you, your partner, and your dependents are not Anthony Bourdain. Avoid questionable meal sources (like street vendors). Learn in advance what the water and food conditions are in your travel location. Have on hand over-the-counter medication for diarrhea, and, if traveling to a location with inconsistent water quality, secure an antibiotic in advance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide guidance for all travelers: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel . Its advice includes guidance for adults traveling with children and people who are immune compromised.

A nursing specialty, travel health nursing, reminds us of the value of this cadre of health professionals, supported by the American Travel Health Nurses Association: http://www.athna.org/ . Consulting with a travel health nurse in advance of your travel will provide you with greater security while traveling.

Sexual minority travelers may have additional considerations to take into account. Legal recognition of same-sex relationships and of custody of children varies by location. Within the U.S., for example, state laws vary widely. A prudent precaution is to have photocopies of relevant legal documents to ensure that you can provide medical care to a spouse or dependents in case of health emergency. The same, of course, applies to travel outside the U.S., for which the State Department provides informative resources: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/go/lgbt.html

Advanced planning, careful vacationing, and informed risk calculation will increase the probability of your happy and healthy vacation.

About Thomas Lawrence Long

Associate professor-in-residence, School of Nursing, University of Connecticut; editor and writing coach
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