After globetrotting full-time for the past couple of years, I’ve come to terms with the fact that no hack or secret will fully prepare you for the unexpected nature of travel. But if queer people know anything, it’s how to assimilate to settings outside of their comfort zone and still remain their fabulous selves.
As I fell overboard a boat in Weggis, a small seaside town built on the edge of Lake Lucerne (a quick train ride from Zurich), or scavenged the streets of Grazia in Barcelona for my apartment keys, I did it in style. That’s because even novice travelers will reorient themselves — and their confidence — with the right accessories and fashion. This isn’t your backpacker’s wish list, hon! But for those of us committed to turnin’ necks wherever we go.
You might not be able to control every situation, but with these eight travel must-haves, you can be ready for the occasion…
1. A chic yet comfy airport outfit
God knows the number of airport outfits I’ve seen that must surely be driving the ghost of Joan Rivers bonkers. At what point did style become the antonym of comfort? I get that the airport is a grueling, intolerable place, but it’s also where you’ll be seen by hundreds of people or perhaps meet the love of your life.
I suggest pairing Hiro Clark’s HELLO Handsome sweatshirt and SIR joggers to achieve desired snugness without sacrificing fit — and discreetly let potential mates know you’re here and queer! Founder Andy Salzer says, “The airport is a great place to send a message. Our clothing keeps you cozy on the plane and gets the word out in the terminal.” Grindr not necessary.
Pair this fit with white sneakers and a blazer, and you’re first-class material. And you don’t even need to be traveling to show off your style. The TWA Hotel at New York City‘s John F. Kennedy Airport is a destination in itself.
2. A scent as versatile as your schedule
Layovers, delays, and red-eye flights can sometimes leave us less than fresh. You’re human – I get it. Trust me, I’ve caught enough whiffs of my fellow travelers. The BO stench will never be from me, though. I stock ARQUISTE parfumeur’s PEAU Lost Love in my carry-on at all times.
Founder Carlos Huber says, “This fragrance was created specifically around queer longing and remembering and idealizing something as simple as the scent of a lover.”
You’d be surprised how many folks appreciate the pleasure of smell. Home or abroad, it’s one of the most common compliments I hear. You might forget what I’ve said, but you’ll always remember the soft, musky smell on the skin of my neck; I made sure of it. But where to spritz your scent? Head to Italy, home of the ARQUISTE brand, or Grasse, France — known as the perfume capital of the world.
3. Swimwear worthy of your body
Jetsetters should always be ready to get a little wet. Tropical weather’s calling, honey; you deserve better-than-average swimwear. Life’s too short to have anything but fun in the sun, so you can rely on Charlie’s Resort Trunks to show yourself off with the perfect skimpy silhouette! The brand exudes sex appeal in the most elegant manner — the boys won’t know if they want to invite you skinny dipping or on a date.
Queer womxn and nonbinary folks will rejoice to discover Humankind, a gender-inclusive brand that will wash away all the traumatizing memories of your parents forcing you into a bikini. Classic styles for the most unique of people.
4. Sunglasses to live your best incognito life
Undoubtedly my favorite travel accessory, I don’t leave the house without my Remo Tulliani Envy sunglasses. I’m not making any expert medical claims; however, they shelter my anxiety. For whatever reason, a pair of swanky shades makes me feel safer exploring unfamiliar streets and surrounded by strangers. It’s also fun for people watching and getting a good look at all the cuties. Designer Remo Tulliani says, “We always wear our pride strong, especially when we travel. We never know what circumstances we may run into, rain or shine, we are always prepared with the perfect accessory.”
Also, I have trouble falling asleep on transportation because I don’t like people watching me sleep, so yes, I’ll be that dude knocked out with sunglasses — these are so lightweight I don’t even notice. And, of course, they keep those rays at bay in particularly sunny destinations like Remo Tulliani’s headquarters in Scottsdale (and nearby Phoenix) or Marseilles, France’s sunniest city.
5. A vanity travel kit to gather all your precious goodies
A little planning and organization will spare you from scrambling to find the equivalent of a CVS nearest you. You can spend your limited vacation time googling the translation for enema, or preparing for the frisky night ahead. Which sounds more appealing? Not to mention I can’t live without my dental flossers, face wipes, or 85 SPF dry-touch sunscreen, too!
Having a vanity bag to keep your goodies in check will make you feel like you’ve got your life together — at least when it comes to toiletries. I purchased a similar version of Victorinox’s Zip-Around Travel Kit in Switzerland and never looked back.
6. Portable speakers that turn your travel into a music video
Trust me on this one: nothing puts you in the mood to dance like a Pussycat Doll in the shower than being somewhere new. I’ve been shaking my hips to JBL Go 2’s sound for the past year, and it hasn’t disappointed me.
Whether at a gay beach or park, a groovy playlist and the means to enjoy it with friends set the scene for a perfect day. Just remember that with great power (over the soundtrack) comes great responsibility.
7. The destination of your dreams needs the bag to match it
I am such a bag person; it’s insane. This is why I don’t have pets — I prefer to pet my luggage that never pees on the floor. Need I get started on the fact leather is an aphrodisiac? But parents have favorites, and mine is PARK Accessories Sudbury Gym Bag. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s fancier than anything else in my closet. The texture has this perpetual sparkle to it. I feel like a movie star carrying it.
Brandon Blackwood’s leather duffle will also do the trick. Both bags are small enough that you can get away with using them as my “backpack” on the plane and still get a carry-on. Call me an evil genius.
8. Posture-saving tech for remote workers
Avoid becoming the Hunchback of Fire Island! Posture is everything, especially if you’re still fantasizing about becoming America’s Next Top Model (I know, I need to let this go). I did not realize how close my face would bend down toward my laptop until my mom called me out on it and then proceeded to imitate me.
Obovus Solutions’ minder Laptop Tower Stand 2.0 will help you get back to that upright queen that you are. (Keep in mind it’s four pounds, so it’s best to maximize your Airbnb home office.) I prefer to use it with their wireless folding keyboard to keep my fingers grounded but take my productivity to the sky.
Pack your bags, we’re going on an adventureSubscribe to our weekly newsletter for the best LGBTQ+ travel guides, stories, and more.