Since I am in the business of creating luxury vacations for the LGBTQ community, you may find the next statement ironic: I highly recommend staycations.
Yep, don't board a plane. Don't get a passport stamp. But do pack a weekend duffle bag. The only way to properly do a staycation is to stay somewhere other than your home, whether it be a hotel, an Airbnb, or even watching your friend's pad while they're out of town. You've still got to make it a vacation, even though you're not leaving the city you live in — and that means leaving your home. It doesn't have to be long, either. Doing this for one or two nights during a weekend can give you a mini energy boost to tide you over between any big trips you have planned. If you can't afford trips right now, this is an inexpensive way to change up the weekly grind and enjoy a little vacation. If there is one thing I know with every fiber of my being, it’s that everyone needs a vacation. And we would all do better, if we took the time to unwind and relax the mind, body and soul more often than we do. A staycation is a good way to achieve that.
I recently tried this out in my home city of Chicago. My boyfriend and I got a great rate for two nights at the Waldorf Astoria. It was freezing cold in Chicago that weekend. Every room at the Waldorf had a fireplace, which neither of us have at home, so that alone was a treat. One night, we literally just sat in fluffy hotel bathrobes by the fireplace, eating a box of chocolates and watching TV — and we were perfectly content.
The next day we planned on doing things in Chicago we normally don’t do, such as check out a local museum, see a show, try a new restaurant, shop on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, etc. We had things we wanted to do, but the main goal was to not feel rushed to do anything. We wanted everything to feel easy. We didn’t set alarms to wake up in the mornings, we ordered room service, used the spa, and made use of the other hotel services. I felt so relaxed after just one day.
Something else interesting happened. I slept better in that hotel bed than I typically do at home. I initially thought it could be my mattress, but it felt like something more. I was only a few miles away from home, however it felt much further in my mind. It was like a mini escape, and I slept so peacefully.
This has got me thinking about vacationing in general, what it means, and the power it has over our emotions and well-being. Some vacations are about relaxing on a beach, others are focused on history, others on adventure, and some are all about family. But in my experience, the most rejuvenating vacations are those that take you out of your familiar surroundings, giving you a taste of the new and different.
When we get out of our norm, we literally start seeing things in a new light. The time away gives us the opportunity to reflect, to break out of the mundane, and to embrace a healthy bit of change. Of course when you travel internationally, all of this is heightened. The change is greater, and the newness and the opportunities for meeting new people, expanding your mind, and learning new things are endless.
Of course, what kind of a vacation is it if you can’t be yourself, or if you have to put on a persona. As LGBTQ travelers, it is essential that we research all aspects of our vacations for their gay-friendliness, or travel with trusted companies who do this for you. This is a big deal, because if you can’t travel and be yourself, then you have been robbed of a key component to a good vacation; doing what you want, where you want, and how you want. During our normal work days, we often have to be all kinds of things to all kinds of people. Vacations and staycations are times to reconnect with who you are and with what matters.
Tips for a carefree experience at your hotel:
1. Call the hotel and ask if the hotel is gay friendly.
2. Check to see if the hotel is a member of IGLTA, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.
3. Visit the hotel on Facebook or Instagram, to get a feel for its vibe. You will learn a lot about them by what they choose to post.
4. You can even contact the hotel concierge with questions about gay nightlife. Especially if they have this information readily at their fingertips, chances are they are gay-friendly.
5. Do a simple Google search, using the name of the hotel and “gay” or “gay-friendly” and see if they have had any involvement, positive or negative, that comes up.