This Christmas, go gay.
In a big way.
Travel has always been a great gift, because unlike that cat calendar or set of Ginsu knives, it can’t be used against you later. And travel is a gift with lasting impact, since you’ll always have the memories. (That Beer Belly fanny pack? No one remembers where it went, and no one asks.)
But even better is a gift of GAY travel. While we’d all like to believe that the world is a Marlo Thomas Free to Be You and Me moment, it’s not. And being gay at a straight resort or on a straight cruise, while better than it was 20 years ago, can still mean that you find yourself being WAY less than authentic. On a trip for which you paid thousands of dollars.
That’s why, every Christmas, my husband and I give each other the gift of an all-gay trip. (Sure, we also take straight cruises with his parents, where we get to hear captivating details about hip replacements and how hard it is to drive at night. But it’s the all-gay trip that we know we’ll enjoy most.)
We’ve done Rhine (Germany) and Danube (Germany/Austria) and Rhone (France) river cruises, Mexico, Caribbean and Mediterranean ocean cruises, and a land tour of South Africa. And we’ve loved every big gay trip, for different reasons.
The all-gay ocean cruises are essentially 3,000-person boy (or girl) buffets, and are super fun if you’re 30 and looking to party all night in costumes that rely more on sluttiness than imagination.
Less destination-focused, ocean cruises are mostly about excess. (A favorite story from friends of mine: one half of the couple left a top deck dance party and went down to his cabin to go to bed. Several hours later, there was a knock on the door. Two guys stood there, holding up his partner, whose pants were on backwards, and they said, “Does this belong to you?”)
The all-gay river cruises and land tours, on the other hand, tend to skew a bit older, and are all about exotic itineraries and making friends. Since your ship or tour group will only be anywhere from 40-200 people, you have a chance to really get to know both your fellow travelers and the destinations.
Sure, there are still theme parties, but it’s less about having enough cocktails to make you go blind and more about having experiences that will make everyone back home blind with envy. For example, on our recent Rhine river cruise, one included tour was a tasting in a fabulous wine cellar under a castle in Austria. Which was a double bonus—booze and glamour. (I should clarify that some gay river cruise and land tour operators, like the much-beloved Brand g Vacations, include unlimited adult beverages on most of their trips, so you can still go for that gold medal in partying.)
Now, when it comes to giving a trip like this as a gift, unless you’re footing the whole bill and springing it on your unsuspecting partner, your Christmas tree ain’t gonna have a lot of surprises under it (since the two of you decided in advance on the trip). What I suggest, then, is to jazz things up with little destination-related gifts, like a travel guide, safari pants (for a safari trip), a gift certificate for rehab (if it’s an ocean cruise), etc.
If you’re anything like my husband and I, you probably work a LOT—which makes the gift of a trip that much more meaningful. Because these gay vacations become an opportunity to have quality time together, to bond, and to remember that even though he leaves shit lying everywhere in the house, the two of you share a lasting love not only for travel, but for each other.
Eric Poole is Director of Marketing for Brand g Vacations, the leading operator of all-GLBT, all-inclusive river cruises and land tours.