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An LGBT+ guide to travelling abroad
Attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) individuals can vary greatly across the world. For that reason, a little extra planning needs to go into your holiday if you identify as LGBT+. You can have a safe and enjoyable trip by following our quick tips. Research your chosen destination For all travellers, it goes without saying that it is vital to research a potential destination before visiting. Understanding the local culture, transport network, currency, laws, health issues and, of course, best places to visit should be done before setting foot on a plane, train or ferry. However, for members of the LGBT+ community, developing a clear understanding of attitudes towards matters such as same-sex relationships isn’t always easy. In some parts of the world, same-sex relationships are still illegal and prejudices remain. There are also a number of rules and regulations in relation to etiquette for men and women, such as clothing and accessibility to some places. Invest in a guide book Guide books are an excellent way to find out information on a destination, regardless of your sexuality. For LGBT+ travellers, guide books can be particularly useful as they often provide tailored advice with regard to attitudes and events of particular interest to LGBT+ people. Visit your local bookshop and have a flip through the guides in their travel section to see if you can glean any helpful information. Look to LGBT+ press for advice LGBT+ news outlets are also an excellent place to look for advice. LGBT+ press and charitable organisations will often have the most up-to-date and comprehensive information regarding attitudes towards LGBT+ people abroad, as well as any news stories that may not have come to prominence in mainstream media. Hotels that do not accept bookings from same-sex couples may be reported here, for example. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office recommends the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s online maps which highlight the countries where LGBT+ identities are criminalised, protected and recognised. The FCO also suggests the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, which provides travel advice for gay and lesbian people, and the Gay European Tourism Association, which provides advice for LGBT+ people travelling in Europe. Keep embassy phone numbers on hand No matter how much research you do beforehand, it is still possible that you could experience homophobic or transphobic abuse whilst traveling. As with anywhere in the world, tolerance and liberalism can vary greatly from person to person. If you come into trouble, contact the nearest British embassy. Understandably, you may not feel comfortable contacting the local police when you are abroad. Embassy staff are aware of this, and make it clear that they will not pass judgements about you or your lifestyle. There is a British embassy in almost every country in the world, so it is strongly recommended that you make a note of their contact details before you leave. Don’t take unnecessary risks It is important that you take precautions whilst abroad and avoid trouble. While the LGBT+ community has every right to be proud and stand up for their beliefs, a holiday can very quickly descend into a nightmare if you find yourself on the wrong side of the laws of the land. If you use cruising apps or chatrooms it is important to stay vigilant, as some state police have been known to entrap LGBT+ people through these sites. LGBT+ people are also at a higher risk of being exploited by criminals, as the LGBT+ community is often considered to be very friendly and trusting. Additionally, it is advised that you avoid excessive displays of affection when in public. This rule applies for same-sex and heterosexual couples alike, as customs relating to modesty can be strict in parts of the world. Receiving abusive comments or unwanted attention can be frustrating, but it is best to ignore this rather than responding verbally or physically. The situation may escalate and this could put you in danger – if you feel threatened, contact the local authority or the British embassy. Your LGBT+ identity should not preclude you from traveling abroad – do your research, and you can still have a fun, safe and enjoyable trip.
Gastroenteritis in New South Wales: Travel Advice
An outbreak of gastroenteritis in New South Wales, Australia, has seen almost 800 people hospitalised. The disease is easily spread from person to person, so if you’re visiting the area this summer take a look at our travel advice before you go. What is gastroenteritis? Gastroenteritis is a stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea and may be either bacterial or viral. More common in young children, it affects adults through food poisoning or a bug called norovirus. Norovirus often hits the headlines as the winter vomiting bug, as it is highly contagious and outbreaks spread quickly. Common symptoms of gastroenteritis include sudden diarrhoea, nausea and projectile vomiting as well as other common flu symptoms such as aching limbs and a headache. How is it spread? Gastroenteritis can be passed on through contact or close proximity with a person suffering from the illness. The infection is typically passed on through the particles of vomit or faecal matter. This may include contaminated food, objects or surfaces, and even airborne vomit particles exhaled by someone suffering from the disease. Gastroenteritis through food poisoning can spread even if no one else is already suffering from the illness – food that has not been stored correctly or has been prepared using unclean utensils can often be at fault. How can I protect myself and my family? While it is a debilitating and incredibly unpleasant illness for sufferers, gastroenteritis is rarely life-threatening. As such it is not considered to be a serious disease, which is why the Foreign Office has not advised against travelling to New South Wales this summer. There is no vaccine currently available for viral gastroenteritis, but it is still possible to have a safe and enjoyable holiday to Australia. The most important advice against gastroenteritis given by the NHS is to keep on top of personal hygiene. As always, hands should be washed when using the toilet as well as before and after preparing and eating food. If you are preparing your own food whilst in Australia, ensure that everyone who touches it washes their hands. If you are eating at restaurants or at a hotel, do some research into the food hygiene rating of the establishment before you go. “Scores on the Doors Australia” is a similar scheme to the one in the UK, which shows a rating for food hygiene on the doors of any eatery. There is both a website and a smartphone app for this service, making it easier than ever to minimise the risk of gastroenteritis. If you are worried that hand washing facilities will be limited whilst you are travelling, be sure to carry a small bottle of hand sanitising gel or anti-bacterial hand wipes with you. Don’t forget that any liquids you are carrying on a plane in hand luggage need to be under 100ml in capacity, so make sure your hand sanitiser is travel-sized or decanted into a small enough container. Hand gels are not as effective as washing hands with soap and water, so only use these if you have no other option. What do I do if I catch gastroenteritis? If you think that you or someone in your family has gastroenteritis, it is important that they rest. Cancel any activities to avoid spreading the bug, and do not attend any engagements until at least 48 hours after all the symptoms have passed. Even if you feel better, make sure that you wait a full two days as there is still the possibility that you can spread the illness. Whilst you still have the illness, be sure to regularly disinfect surfaces that could potentially be contaminated such as kitchen counters, toilets and bathrooms. Be sure to use separate towels, cutlery and utensils and wash these separately. The same goes for bedding and clothing, which should also be washed separately and on a hot wash. Also be sure to drink plenty of fluids, as frequent vomiting and diarrhoea can potentially lead to dehydration. If you take any daily medication, be sure to read the leaflet which will have advice regarding the way vomiting or diarrhoea can restrict their effectiveness. Gastroenteritis often clears up in around a week. If symptoms are particularly severe and you feel that you or someone in your family needs urgent medical care, call the Australian emergency services on 000.