Those of you who know me are aware that I travel...a lot. In many cases, once per month. Sometimes for work. Sometimes for pleasure. I think traveling is a great way to reset your body and mind by experiencing new sites, people and cultures. Many gay folk tend to flock to traditional gay-friendly meccas like Provincetown, San Francisco, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, etc. However, these cities are also quite expensive. I'm not saying don't visit these cities, but maybe one year, instead of taking your annual pilgrimage to Fort Lauderdale, try visiting a town like Grand Rapids, Oklahoma City, Spokane, Indianapolis or Phoenix. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the variety of activities these cities have to offer. And they are friendly on your wallet too.
When it comes to booking travel, the first thing you need to decide is transportation. I try my hardest to stick to using one or two airlines so I can accumulate points towards future travel. I always joke that I fly Southwest so often, it feels like my own private jet.
Next, you need to decide where to stay. Here is where the biggest expense can occur. I never, ever spend a fortune on a hotel room. Why in the world would you spend hundreds of dollars on a room you spend the least amount of time in while on vacation. Plus, fancier hotels usually offer the least amount of free amenities, most notably WiFi and breakfast.
Nothing drives me crazier than when hotels make me pay for WiFi. Before I book any hotel, I always look to see what I get for free. A complimentary continental breakfast, as good or bad as it may be, can save between $10-$15 per day. Multiply that by the number of mornings you spend in a city, and watch your money add up.
I know you are on vacation and looking to treat yourself, so I always try to go to fancier restaurants for lunch rather than dinner. You will get the same quality of food for significantly cheaper. The portion size may be smaller, but it's not like you're going to take home leftovers. Another one of my pet peeves is going to a chain restaurant. You'll never find me at a chain when there are so many wonderful local dining options to choose from. You're on vacation...try something new for a change!
Before visiting, call the convention and visitors bureau of the city you are traveling to and see if they offer a bulk attraction pass. Many cities will sell guests these special books which offer admission to a variety of attractions at a fraction of the cost of individual entry.
I always like to visit one or two gay nightlife venues in each city so I can meet the locals. I love getting a local perspective on a city and getting suggestions of things to do which may not included in a TripAdvisor Top 10 list. When I do go to a gay bar, I limit myself to 1 drink per bar. I do this for two reasons. One, it doesn't hurt my wallet and two, when I am visiting a destination, I like to get up refreshed each morning and explore the city. I don't want a hangover hindering my exploration.
For suggestions on LGBT-friendly cities to visit, check out my travel website www.PrideJourneys.com.