GRAYGAY TRAVEL DEALS AND ADVICE
TRAVEL PROMOTION

For an overview of gay travel and essential advice for getting the best deals, start at the Travel Deals and Advice.

While gay travel and gay travel agents have sprung up everywhere - few seem to have much to offer older men. However we have created extensive calendars of Events for older men and admirers.

Crusing (on ships!) is an increasingls popular option for many people but there are many options to choose from to get the perfect trip for you, so read our Guide to Gay Cruising and then the Gay Cruise Calendar.

We provide information on the best ways to get Discounts on Flights and Accomodation and a roundup of Gay Travel Guides and Maps.

We have listed the specialst Gay Travel and Cruise Companies but many of the mainstream travel sites also have a gay-orientated travel section and we have reviewed these for their gay content.

Would you like to go to all of the places you've ever dreamed of, make new friends, have a unique holiday and save money at the same time?

Gay home exchange enables you to enjoy the comforts of staying in a private home when travelling. Find out how your home holds the key to staying for free.

Home Around the World is a gay owned and run home swap, guest and host service. Our worldwide members discover imaginative, and unique solutions to create the perfect holiday.

How to get the deal you want
For mature travellers or anyone on a budget, the Internet can provide some great bargains - especially if you can be open about the days you travel on. However, simply using a search engine to try to find bargains often leads you to sites that aren't bargains at all. So it does pay to know where to look and the differences between the travel site types :-

TYPE BEST FOR WORST FOR
Travel operators (Airlines/Hotels/Rental Companies)
e.g. British Airways, United, Delta
Guaranteed seat. Frequent travellers programs. Internet bargains. Can be difficult to find bargains.Can be difficult to compare deals and sometimes only promote their most profitable offers ahead of bargains.
Tour Companies
e.g. Kuoni, Thomson Holidays
Packages including all travel and accomodation and avoiding hassle of organising everything yourself. Local rep available to provide support and sort out issues. Independednt travel or avoiding hordes of tourists. Charter planes can have very bad legroom. Can work out cheaper to book flight and accomodation separately.
Search Aggregators
e.g .ITA, Kayak.com
Seeing all the available travel options. Filtering to see the best deal. Finding internet only deals that some airlines and hotels only offer on their own sites.
Online Travel Agents
e.g. Expedia, Travelocity, CruiseDirect
Travel where you want the entire holiday and all travel to be all included in one price. Specialist travel. Can be difficult to compare deals and sometimes only promote their most profitable offers ahead of bargains
Travel Review/Forums
s
e.g.
TripAdvisor.com , Air Review
Comparative and critical information about travel operators. How to get deals. How to avoid being ripped off. Some oerators and owners create false positive reviews. Not every hotel is covered and opinions vary.
Travel Bid/Last Minute
e.g. Priceline, Lastminute
 Last minute deals. When you don't care about specifics of travel or accomodation. Some "bargains" are not what they appear. Some hotels only offload the worst rooms they can't let normally.

Detailed reviews of sites and suggestions for getting the best deal can be found on the Travel Discount pages.

What kind of trip are you making?
If you're looking for a traditional package holiday where the flight, airport transfers and accommodation are all included, then the Internet doesn't normally provide the best deal since you can't negotiate the price. Best to use the Internet for research to find out which tour operators cover your chosen destination, and TripAdvisor.com to research the hotels - then use the phone to negotiate a deal and trade one tour operator off against the other.

You should also compare your best deal with using the low-cost airlines and booking the accommodation direct as this may be beneficial - but bear in mind the additional costs of airport transfers etc. Also find out which charter airline your tour company uses, as legroom can be minimal on some of them, and then check the seat-pitch at Air Review.

When to go
While most major international cities are busy year round, check before you take a bargain deal that you haven't chosen the month when everyone is away and many amenities closed (e.g. Paris in August). Also check the schedule of local and national holidays at NationalHolidays.com.

Gay resort locations tend to be seasonal with the warm winter places only busy between autumn and spring (e.g. Ft Lauderdale and Gran Canaria) and others only busy in warmer months, although these are usually best outside the school holiday season when the families predominate (e.g. Sitges, Benidorm).

Some resorts are busy in high summer only (e.g. Provincetown, Fire Island, Mykonos) and some quiet in high summer due to excess heat or humidity (e.g. Palm Springs, Ft. Lauderdale). Finally there are natural hazards to be aware of such as the annual influx of lethal jellyfish in Carins, Australia which means you can't swim in the ocean between November and May and the hurricane season in Florida.

Do it Yourself
If you're looking to create your own travel package involving flights, accommodation and/or car hire - then you can make some significant savings if you know where to start.

Flights
If you've a date and destination in mind, use a mega search website such as ITA, Kayak.com - these search multiple airlines and some brokers for the best deals to save you having to fill in the flight details multiple times. For US travel, also use the SideStep browser plugin as this also includes some web-only fares.

For European budget airlines, search Skyscanner and WhichBudget.

Having found your deal, then use the airlines' own website to make the reservation - this ensures your reservation is valid in case of any dispute.

Hotels
If you're looking for mainstream cities and hotels, then try TravelAxe which scans multiple hotel websites for the best deals and then enables you to filter the results by location, star rating, price etc. It will connect you to the relevant website to make the booking.
Travelocity is also good for finding the hotel rooms and the best rates.  Both have good filters and maps.

If you're looking for resort hotels, especially in Europe, check Alpha Rooms for the best deals.

If you really don't care about the location of your hotel, you can "Name Your Own Price" and allow hotels to bid for your custom on Priceline.  There are very helpful message boards that are a "must read" before bidding, so visit Bidding For Travel and BetterBidding first. Priceline is best for US locations as more US hotels use PriceLine to sell surplus accommodation. For Europe, also try Lastminute.com - although the latter does tend to promote it's own deals rather than the best price, unless you change the sort order of the results or use the Map facility.

Cruises
If you're looking for Gay Cruises see the Guide to Gay Cruising and then the Gay Cruise Calendar. For mainstream cruises there are brokers such as CruiseDirect who have extensive search facilites to enable you to find your ideal cruise. It's worth checking out the Message Boards on CruiseCritic.com
for reviews of ships and routes.

Frequent User Programs
Airline companies have been cutting back on the benefits they offer to frequent users and making it even harder to actually use the free flights. Best bet is to travel outside peak times or use them to upgrade. However, they usually work best for you if you book direct through the airline or hotel companies telephone reservation systems since operators will often get you reservations when planes or hotels are busy.

Rental Cars
With a mninefield of prices and insurance options, rental cars can seem to cost you double the price you booked them for by the time you get the keys. Kayak.com has the best combination of prices and filtering of results (e.g. to find a lower price on a larger car). In Europe, also try HolidayAutos.

Join the frequent renter programs of Alamo, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise and Thrifty (the usual low cost winners) to eliminate waiting in line at the counter and pressure to upgrade, purchase insurance or petrol.

20% - 50% of the total cost is due to taxes and fees imposed by governments and airport authorities. You can avoid these fees if you arrange to get to pick up the car outside the airport without using their shuttle. This technique has greater benefit for longer rentals.

Dare you book a double?
In most major European and US cities, we have never experienced any difficulty when checking in to a hotel with a same sex partner - but if you using smaller hotels, bed and breakfast hotels or if you staying in a more conservative location, refusal can be embarrassing.

Our take is that's it's your money and what you do in bed is your business - plus you're unlikely to stay at the hotel again so does it really matter what the receptionist thinks. If you're concerned, then try booking a double for single occupancy (although most major hotels only have doubles or twin rooms anyway). Or you can use a booking service such as GayRes that only books gay-friendly hotels.

Go gay all the way?
It can be very liberating to stay somewhere where you don't have to worry about holding hands with your partner or kissing in the pool. I have enjoyed some of the most superb accommodations staying in gay hotels and guesthouses and also made some great friends as a result. On the other hand, some of the "gay" accommodation I have stayed in is the worst I have ever had to endure - particularly in Europe, where standards are generally much lower than North America - so do some research before you book (see below).

Bear in mind that you will usually pay a higher price to stay in gay accommodations compared to their similar "straight" alternatives (otherwise known as the "Gay Tax"). Also check out the reviews and suggestions from other travellers in the GrayGay Guide using the menu on the left.

Gay Accommodations
To find and book gay and gay-friendly accommodations, go to Purple Roofs or GayPlaces2Stay. For independent reviews of gay accommodations, check out the Travel section of Gay.com (which now includes the reviews from OutAndAbout Magazine) as well as the reviews on TripAdvisor.com.

Life Swopping
An alternative way to get low-cost accommodation and possibly a more in-depth impression of a location, is to swop homes or hospitality with someone who lives where you want to stay. Travel Lambda Connections Club is a hospitality and home exchange network aimed at men over 40, mainly in North America. HomeAroundThe World.com and One World One Family and are similar exchange networks without the age focus and a more international base.

If you need information that's not covered here or have any suggestions, send an email to travel@graygay.com

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