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The Ultimate Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Vacation Guide: Part 3

Shopping Vacations

Shopping Vacations

If your kind of vacation is shopping until you literally drop, then there are many places that can fulfill your spending needs. There is a world out there waiting to be shopped and brought, all you need to do is open up your wallet and step inside spending heaven.

Your first stop will need to be Britain's favorite hotspot, London. Gone are the times where you have to have a stiff upper lip to step foot into the likes of Harrods. Times have changed and have developed into a shopper's dream. Gay or Straight, rich or poor, you will be guaranteed to find what you are looking for. London offers a number of original and wonderful shops for all. Portobello Road should be your first stop if antiques are what you need in your life; it houses the world's largest antiques market, as well as some of the most amazing vintage fashion from around. If your shopping is all about High Street, then head to Oxford Street (the ultimate High Street); with everything you need from Louis Vuitton to Primark, it will cater to every need, whatever the price. Covent Garden and Camden Market are other must-sees in the London area; Camden Market offers a variety of designer workshops along with studios, stalls, shops, bars, cafes and restaurants; selling alternative, vintage and designer clothing, art, furniture, jewelry, collectables and international food. Covent Garden is dominated by street performers, shops, market stalls, pubs and restaurants.

Seeing as for many of us, shopping is the greatest pleasure of all time, rather than a chore, you may forgive us for getting a little excited and somewhat squeaky at the sound of the till's 'ker-ching'. Rio de Janeiro is an exciting place to shop in and - as a plus - is very affordable. Therefore you don't need to lie if your partner or parents ask how much you spent! Rio de Janeiro is a great place for malls, with some so big you could spend the whole day there and not go round the same shops twice. Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana are all a hit with shoppers and serious shoppers at that, all full of delightful surprises, bound to distract you more than once on your trip.

If you are a true shopaholic, in every single way possible, then head to Paris for a shopping experience with the experts. Although if the thought of expert shoppers scares the wit out of you (and to be quite honest, you are not the shopper you may think you are), then here are a number of places to head to (just to pretend you can actually be an expert).

If designer fashion is a must and the chic that is brought with it from home furnishings to cosmetics, then head over to Louvre-Tuileries and Faubourg Saint-Honore, (and put on your best French accent). This is home to the real fashionistas: basically every well-known chic boutique will be around here, with more designer shops than you can shake a stick at. Next stop is the Department Stores District, in Boulevard Haussmann; if you have done your homework, you will be well aware that Paris has quite possibly the world's most amazing department stores, where you can even attend free fashion shows. The department stores themselves are a vision of beauty, as well as housing some pretty amazing shops; you will be in awe at the sheer beauty of the buildings themselves. Galeries Lafaytte is not only the largest department store in France, but in the whole of Europe; with the flagship store being Boulevard Haussmann which looks like a wonderful art gallery.

Romantic Getaways

Romantic Getaways

In need of relighting that spark between you and your partner, or just keeping it alight? Then head out for that much-needed romantic getaway and discover the love you both have or even once had. The stresses and strains of life can be hard for anyone and can put a great deal of pressure on any relationship, the aim is to fight it and not let it win. A romantic trip away can mend everything, given you put in the work and make the most of what you both have. We have devised the best places for gay couples to relax in and make the most of each other.

First on the list has to be the most romantic place in the world, the place romantic couples flock to: Paris - the City of love, romance and - most importantly of all - passion. With so much beauty to take in and such amazing sights to see, we defy you not to get caught up in the moment - it's difficult not to. Paris is a very liberal country, meaning that you can truly be yourselves and smooch the night away as you look down at the City from the Eiffel Tower. The famous Notre Dame is another great sight to witness, take in all of that beauty and history of the Gothic Cathedral. If you enjoy views of nature, then taking a stroll along the river Seine could provide you with a vision most would only ever witness in their dreams. And not forgetting the Arc de Triomphe, that which honors those soldiers who have fallen for France in battle.

Perhaps one of the most romantic things to do in Paris is simply having a picnic, something many of us don't get a chance to do; so why don't you head to the grounds of Chateau de Versaille? A gorgeous Palace which will quite literally take your breath away. You never know, after this trip of a lifetime, you could well be returning with a ring on your finger.

If you don't want to travel too far from home, then Hawaii may be the place for you and your loved one. It is, of course one of the most beautiful destinations you could go to in the world, and with so much natural beauty around, it is pretty difficult not to get into the mood here. Hawaii is so romantic that it is one of the top Honeymoon destinations in the world, and has been so for many years.

You can guarantee wonderfully hot weather, along with picturesque beaches, which together creates a truly romantic destination. Kaanapali Beach is one of the best beaches in Hawaii, something you are recommended to pay a visit to and have a long romantic stroll along the sea-front. If you like to watch the sunset then Mauna Kea is the Island for you; the sunsets in Hawaii have created a name for themselves, providing many with an out of this world vision and the chance to witness the green flash.

Another amazing sight is the Waipi'o Valley, along the Hamakua Coast, or often referred to as 'the Valley of the Kings' (being a previous home to the rulers of Hawaii). Not only is the place a natural beauty, but the most popular way to get around is on horseback or a mule-drawn wagon, something both of you would have most likely not experienced in such a romantic atmosphere.

If Hawaii and Paris are simply too predictable, then how about experiencing what Buenos Aires in Argentina has to offer? Buenos Aires is the largest City in Argentina and is often labeled as the Paris of South America, with beauty, art and museums at the heart of the City. It holds the largest number of theaters in Latin America, with a lot of its architecture based upon French and Italian influences. Buenos Aires is simply made for lovers, full to the brim of romantic restaurants and parts for those perfect picnics in the Rose Garden of Palermo. Of course you can also go for a very romantic stroll along the waterfront of Puerto Madero, perfect to finish off your romantic vacation.

Backpacking for the gay traveler

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Who said you have to be 18 and straight to go backpacking? We certainly think otherwise; which is why many people are opening up to the idea of catering to the adventurous backpackers amongst us. Those who love everything about the outdoors shouldn't be neglected in the backpacking front; one tip is just to be sure you know the best places to visit as a gay traveler.

There are plenty of communities for the gay backpacker to gain a little advice from the experts, as well as the opportunity to experience backpacking itself. The issue however with backpacking, is that in general there are only a few places you could really backpack around; America (of course), Europe (excluding Poland, although it is legal, it is more often opposed by the locals) and Australia. Such places can be explored openly (in terms of where you want to go, and without hiding your sexuality). Moab yoga on the Rocks is situated in one of the most liberal and gay-friendly areas in the area which is generally fairly conservative (Utah). It is a four day backpacking experience in one of America's most beautiful open spaces. The hiking is limited to five people at a time, due to the yoga and meditation entwined with the walks, keeping the relaxing feeling intact. You don't need to worry if you have little knowledge of Yoga, it is taught by experts. You are advised to book early as the retreats tend to be booked up sooner rather than later, so keep a date in mind and book it as soon as possible.

Thousands of gay backpackers flock to Australia every year: it is sunny, easy going and full of fun, what is there not to love? Australia's outback is a wilderness waiting to be explored, and you are sure to be fascinated at the surroundings you will be experiencing. Although if you are looking for an easy ride, then this may not be the backpacking experience for you, Australia's outback is vast, and can be difficult for many. If you are backpacking in Australia, then witnessing Kanagroo Island is a must, as it is the best place to see a large range of sea and land native animals including Koalas, Kangaroos and Wallabies. Australia is renowned for its wine, so experiencing Adelaide's world famous wines and visiting the masses of vine yards waiting for you to pick your way through.

Casual encounters vacations

Casual encounters vacations

There are a large number of places to visit to enhance your libido all over the world. We have listed some cities and countries to visit, all of which are known for their Gay acceptance, although further research may be advised if you wish to turn your vacation into a bit of no-strings attached encounters. Some places can be notoriously rude and sex-fuelled, so you may want to keep a slightly open mind about some of the places you are going to visit.

Amsterdam needs no introduction, being one of the world's most liberal countries and acceptance of a great deal of sexuality. The Amsterdam nightlife runs off the sex industry, so if you choose to visit here you can expect to be caught up in the latest gay cruising clubs and bars, as well as engaging in some gay fetishes.

Thailand is also known for being a notorious sex hotspot for any sexuality, including the LGBT community. Visit here with an open mind, many tourists head over here with one rule: what happens in Thailand stays in Thailand. Thailand has a large sex industry, which feeds the economy, hence it being so popular with many.

If you love the Brazilian way of life, then visiting the gay capital wouldn't be such a bad idea. Rio de Janeiro offers many gay tourists a very sex-fuelled vacation. Packed full of gay baths, adult movie theaters and sex hotels, casual flings are generally accepted and sought after by many.

Last but not least, if you do not live in San Francisco, then you may want to head to the ultimate gay City in the world. San Francisco has a large number of members in the LGBT community. There are a number of clubs, societies and associations; who are all open to the leather and bondage fetishes of the gay community. San Francisco is generally open to sex, whether it is public, commercial, or even promiscuous, anything goes.

Gay travel in a nutshell

Gay travel in a nutshell

Living in a world where traditions and customs differ greatly in every single country, getting an idea of the best places to visit and vacation is the main priority. In general, many would rather vacation in a country where they needn't hide their sexuality and can simply be themselves. You will need to be aware that just because your home town is accepting of who you choose to date, some places are a lot more traditional and therefore their acceptance is little to none. Take on board the advice given to you and simply have fun.

  • Check out gay guides for specific countries, which can tell you the best places to visit.
  • Know the places to avoid and choose where your sexuality wouldn't get you into prison. Check the law; be sure that your sexuality is accepted in the country you are travelling to.
  • Speak to your travel agent or tour operator; they know where to go and where not to go.
  • Speak to other members of the LGBT community, there are plenty of travel groups, societies and associations for you to join and share your findings and experiences with each other.
  • Ignore any unwelcome remarks, as they say sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you. Likewise you may get a few awkward looks, just ignore them, people have conflicting opinions and you are unlikely to be accepted by everyone.
  • Ask the right questions when planning your trip, if you are unsure about anything at all then ask.
  • Check out reviews, the public are not paid to be biased to a certain country or holiday, so their advice is likely to be more reliable.
  • Keep an eye on the Pride events, the countries that hold Gay Prides will generally accept the LGBT community anytime, but you will be guaranteed a great vacation, and will be less likely to be the victim of hatred from others during the parades.

Once you have taken into consideration each point, be sure to act on it to ensure you have the best vacation possible. Not every country subscribes to the 'We're here, we're queer, get used to it' attitude. Something you may be required to accept rather than attempt to fight.

Go back to part 1