Passport & Visas
All passengers travelling to the destinations featured on this site must be in possession of a full passport. We suggest that it has at-least six months validity remaining. If you do not have a passport, please be sure to make your application at least 12 weeks prior to departure.
The visa information we have provided is based on those travelling with a full British passport. We have tried to be as accurate as possible regarding visa requirements, if unsure please contact the appropriate consulate for further information. We cannot be held responsible for any client who does not obtain the correct documentation.
Australia – Visa required. We can electronically issue tourist visas, which are valid for up to three months. We charge £10 for this service.
Thailand – Visa issued on arrival for stays of up to one month.
South Africa – Visa not required for stays of up to 90 days.
Singapore – Visa not required for stays of up to 30 days.
Hong Kong – Visa not required for stays of up to six months.
Bali – Visa issued on arrival for stays of up to 30 days.
New Zealand – Visa not required for stay of up to six months.
Health & Safety Overseas
In certain countries, general standards may be lower than those we expect in the UK, and you are advised to exercise care particularly in the choice of food and drink, especially with regard to tap water, shellfish and ice in drinks. The risk of insect bites and stings can be reduced by the use of repellent sprays or creams and you are advised to check with your GP or pharmacist as to the most suitable products available.
Some of our features destinations require specific inoculations and malarial protection. The risk of HIV infection, the virus which causes AIDS, is a serious problem the world over and you are advised to use condoms purchased in the UK, as foreign products can be inferior. You should avoid all contact with needles, such as tattooing and ear/body piercing. Please take care of your belongings – we recommend that you utilise safety deposit boxes when available.
Foreign Office Advice
This information is taken directly from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Travellers Attitudes towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers around the world can be very different from those in the UK. However, despite potential extra hassles, it is possible to have a very positive and enjoyable travelling experience. One thing's for sure: the better prepared you are, the fewer problems you are likely to have. We hope the following tips will help you.
Before you go
- Check out all relevant Travel Advice, and make sure you take out adequate travel insurance, checking that the cover provided is appropriate to you and your circumstances. Be sure to read the small print in the policy and declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your insurer so that you’re fully covered for all eventualities.
- Get a good guidebook and get to know your destination. Find out about the local culture, laws and customs of the countries you will be visiting. There are, of course, many travel guides on the market that specialise in advice to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers, and many other guidebooks include sections specific to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers. The Internet and gay press can also be a great resource.
- Check entry requirements, e.g. visas, with the Embassy or High Commission of the country you intend to visit. If you have a communicable medical condition, such as HIV, you may find it more difficult to obtain a visa for entry to certain countries, particularly if you plan on staying for any length of time. The Terrence Higgins Trust website or THT Direct (call 0845 12 21 200 - lines are open from open from 10 am until 10 pm Monday to Friday, and 12noon - 6pm Saturday and Sunday) may be able to provide further information on entry requirements for people living with HIV for the country you wish to visit.
- Leave copies of your itinerary, passport, travel insurance documents and credit cards with someone at home. Take copies of all these documents with you and keep them separate from the originals in case any of them are lost or stolen. We recommend you keep the originals in the hotel/guesthouse safe when you’re not using them.
- Plan to stay healthy while you are away and think about your sexual health before you go. If you are concerned, consult your GP before you travel, and if you are taking prescribed medication, check it is legal in the country you are visiting. If you do take medication with you, pack it in your hand luggage and make sure you take a prescription and a GP's letter with you in case you are stopped by Customs or lose your medicine and need to replace it.
- Be aware that many sexual health products are not as readily available abroad as they are in the UK and quality can differ depending on where you are. For further information on sexual health visit the Terrence Higgins Trust website or call THT Direct on 0845 12 21 200. (Lines are open from open from 10 am until 10 pm Monday to Friday, and 12noon - 6pm Saturday and Sunday.) THT Direct provides a confidential service and offers free advice in many languages on sexual health issues and may be able to provide information on sexual health services and products available in the country you wish to visit.
- Take with you a list of British Consular Offices in the countries you plan to visit. If you do encounter any difficulties, then get in contact with the Consul. We take our commitment to helping all British Nationals seriously, and offer a discreet, non-judgemental and professional service to anyone who needs it.
- For specific information concerning local law and attitudes to open same-sex relationships, you might want to seek advice from local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups. Contact details can normally be found in travel publications or on the Internet. They are often best placed to advise you of local laws and sentiment. Travel agents and tour operators often have a good idea of the situation on the ground for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers, particularly in the more popular holiday destinations. There are, of course, travel agents and tour operators who specialise in travel arrangements for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers. You may also want to seek advice from the Embassy or High Commission of the country you will be visiting.
- In some cultures, heterosexual friends of the same sex show affection for each other by holding hands where this might not be the norm in the UK. However, an excessive physical show of affection, by both same-sex and heterosexual couples, is often best avoided in public. In some countries this can offend local sensitivities and could cause difficulties.
- The Police in many areas of the world have been known to carry out entrapment campaigns on those involved in what they consider to be lewd or indecent behaviour. Find out about the local situation; we recommend discretion where you are unsure.
- Be wary of new-found ‘friends’ and be aware that criminals, especially thieves, have been known to exploit the generally open and relaxed nature of gay ‘neighbourhoods’ and beaches. Never leave your belongings unattended and try to avoid carrying large amounts of money around with you.
- Do what you can to avoid potentially risky situations, just as you would do at home, and remember that alcohol can affect your judgement and your ability to react. Be aware of your environment, remain alert, and stay in control. You may attract unwelcome attention or receive unwelcome remarks. Most people find that it is usually best to ignore them.
- As a rule of thumb, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers are more likely to experience difficulties in rural areas, where open same-sex relationships are often less common, than in urban and resort areas. Be aware that some resorts can be quite segregated: when you’re outside of the distinct gay ‘neighbourhoods’ open expressions of your sexuality might be frowned upon.
- More and more hotels are now actively welcoming same-sex couples; but be aware that some resorts do not accept bookings from couples of the same sex, and guesthouses in rural areas are generally less likely to be accustomed to welcoming same-sex couples than those in cities. Best to check before you go, and make reservations in advance to avoid difficulties when checking in.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I be ‘out’ while travelling abroad?
This is a decision that you need to make for yourself after having carefully examined the local situation. In many parts of the world an element of homophobia and macho-ism is prevalent, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people often maintain a low profile. Public handholding, kissing and other outward signs of affection are not commonplace in many countries around the world, and excessive physical displays of affection are generally frowned upon for both heterosexual and same-sex couples. While some cities may appear to be gay-friendly destinations with distinct gay ‘neighbourhoods’, outside of these districts, and especially in rural areas, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers may experience open hostility. It is normally best to use caution in situations where you are unsure of the reception you may receive, as you would do in the UK.
Can you advise on the age of consent overseas?
In many countries the age of consent is different for heterosexual and same-sex relationships, and can vary from region to region within a country. Reference desks at public libraries and student support centres at local universities are often good sources of local information for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers. The Embassy or High Commission of the country that you intend to visit may be able to advise you on local laws and customs and on the age of consent.
In which parts of the world am I likely to have particular difficulties?
In some countries same-sex relationships are illegal and punishable by imprisonment or even the death penalty. You should check attitudes towards same-sex relationships in the country you plan to visit, and exercise caution where unsure. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers may have particular difficulties in countries where a large percentage of the population have strongly-held religious beliefs which have traditionally been opposed to same-sex relationships.
Why can't the Foreign and Commonwealth Office provide a list of countries where same-sex relationships are illegal?
In many countries same-sex relationships are not specifically mentioned in law, and in others the law is unclear. Even in some countries where same-sex relationships are legal, certain acts may be illegal, and discrimination can exist. Often, local society can be intolerant of open same-sex relationships, although same-sex relationships might not necessarily be against the law. Likewise, in some countries where same-sex relationships are illegal, the particular law is not necessarily strictly enforced. In some countries, a distinction is also drawn in law between men and women. The best advice is to check with a local gay organisation and, as appropriate, Embassy or High Commission of the country you are visiting. Always play safe where unsure.
As a post-operative transgender traveller, can I be issued with a passport using my new identity?
The Identity and Passport Service is responsible for issuing passports in the UK. For further information on obtaining a passport visit their website www.passport.gov.uk or call their national advice line on 0870 521 0410. Overseas you can renew your passport at most British Consulates, but please check with the Consulate beforehand to confirm that they do provide this service. If your passport has been lost or stolen, report the loss to the police and obtain a certificate of loss. Our staff will need to make some identity checks before issuing the new passport.
In most cases it is possible to be issued with a passport using your new identity, but whatever the reason for changing your name from that on your birth certificate, you will need to produce some form of documentary evidence detailing the date and circumstances of that change.
What should I do if I run into problems while overseas?
Seek the advice of your tour operator, local police or the nearest British consulate. Our consular staff overseas are there to help all British nationals, and your concerns will be taken seriously. We are committed to serving all members of Britain’s diverse society, and our staff understand their responsibility to treat people fairly. We do not make generalisations or assumptions or pass judgement. Our staff work to strict consular confidentiality guidelines, and are careful to comply with legal requirements regarding the disclosure of personal information to third parties.
Our staff overseas monitor and record incidents brought to their attention by British Nationals about the treatment they have received from host authorities and issues of concern are regularly raised with the relevant body. Let us know if you experience problems, so we can work towards resolving them or improving further the service we offer.
What should I do if I think I have been treated unfairly or I am not satisfied with the service I received?
If you think you have been treated unfairly, or are not satisfied with our consular service or the consular service provided at a British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate abroad please let us know. Please contact the Director of Consular Services at the address below:
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Old Admiralty Building
LONDON SW1A 2PA
Tel: 020 7008 0223
Fax: 020 7008 0152
Your complaint will be taken seriously, and we will deal with it quickly and courteously. We undertake to investigate and give a full reply to your complaint within 10 working days. If we cannot give you a full reply within this time we will tell you when we expect to do so and keep you up-to-date with progress. We will record and examine complaints, and use the information to help make sure we offer the best possible service. We actively welcome suggestions on how we can improve our service to all sections of the British community
Packing Your Bags
Always pack your own bags and never carry any items for anyone else. Please carry the following items in your hand luggage only: Passports, Visa Documents, Air-Tickets, Accommodation Vouchers, Insurance Documents, Money, Travellers Cheques, Credit Cards, Driving License. Only one piece of hand baggage is permitted for those travelling from the UK. Strict restrictions are also in place for those transporting liquid and fluid in their hand baggage, they must be stored in containers no larger than 100ml and carried in a clear plastic bag.
The provision of water, drainage and electrical services are often less efficient than those in the UK. If problems do occur, we would ask you to be patient and understanding and to appreciate they are totally outside our control and liability.
“Gay Friendly” – An Explanation
Much of the accommodation we feature is “Gay Friendly” – this term refers to mixed accommodation, where the management and staff welcome gay guests. This accommodation is carefully selected and seldom, if ever, poses problems for our clients. However, you should be aware that while we do not envisage any problems, and while the overwhelming vast majority of holidays pass without incident, we cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of other guests booked with other holiday companies.
If you are made to feel uncomfortable in anyway, please contact us, and we will do our best to remedy the situation. You may find that some ‘Gay Friendly’ properties will have their fair share of families with children, especially during school holidays. If you feel this may adversely affect your enjoyment please seek the advice of our staff before you book.
Our site indicates certain properties that are particularly unsuitable for clients who are disabled. However, that does not mean that all other properties are ‘disabled friendly’. Freedom To will do its very best to ascertain the suitability of any particular property but the company has not researched in detail factors such as door widths, height of lavatories or baths, number of steps etc. We welcome enquiries from all potential customers, regardless of physical abilities, but would ask that you bear in mind that we are not a company that specialises in holidays for the disabled, and while we do our best to accommodate disabled guests we cannot guarantee that overseas provisions will be entirely satisfactory. Airport assistance can be arranged and should be requested at the time of booking.
Your Outward Journey
Please check in for your flight at least two hours prior to departure and take into account any road-works or delays on your journey to the airport. If you are reserving ‘off-airport’ parking, please also take into account that there may be a short wait for your courtesy coach between the car park and the airport terminal. If you have any special catering requests for your flight, such as kosher or vegetarian meals, please ask at the time of booking. We will also endeavour to meet any specific seating requests you may have onboard you flights.
Tickets and Vouchers
The vast majority of airline tickets are now ‘electronic’, which effectively negates the need for any paper documentation. We will supply you with an itinerary listing your reference number and flight information, but all you need to present at check-in is your passport. If your chosen airline issues paper tickets, we will ensure that these are sent out to your home address. For any late bookings, we are able to send your tickets out special delivery (for a small charge) or organise airport pickups.
Driving restrictions differ for all the destinations we feature. We will only book car hire for those aged 21 or over, who have held their license for at least 12 months. Strict penalties operate for violating local drink driving laws and you are strongly advised not to drive if you have consumed any alcohol. Driving on the opposite side of the road and unfamiliar road signs and markings can be confusing and you are advised to allow yourself time to adjust.
Care For The Environment
As tourists, we are guests in other peoples countries. We would ask you to take particular care to save water, turn off lights when not in use, to dispose of litter carefully and to be aware of the risks of fire when discarding matches and lit cigarette butts. Just a little thought helps preserve the environment both for our hosts overseas and for future holiday makers.
If you have any special requests regarding your Freedom To Holiday, please tell us when you book. Although we are unable to guarantee every request, we will do our best to ensure that your wishes are carried out.
Freedom To Ltd accepts Amex, MasterCard and Visa; we also accept all current debit cards. There is a 3% surcharge on all credit card payments. We do not accept cheques/cash any longer as a method of payment.