Somewhere Over the Rainbow

My Travel Life Derailed
By André Morriseau
This past Christmas, I was all booked for a much-anticipated eight-night cruise when the federal government issued a travel advisory that sent me running for cover under my bed. As an oldish individual on his last gay nerve, I was sincerely a bit overwhelmed by the myriad of warnings, rulings, tests and paperwork that had turned travel into a trip to OZ filled with second guessing.
As soon as I heard about the travel advisory, I contacted my travel agent, who informed me that my extensive travel insurance had me covered. After gasping with relief, later that afternoon I got a return call informing me that I was not going to receive a rebate. All I would receive is my travel insurance money and a credit from the airline for my flight.
I was so disappointed but realized that many people in the world have far greater problems, not least of which those working in the shell-shocked travel industry. I was ready to accept my fate when the phone rang a couple of days later informing me that I would be receiving a full credit for my cruise for the next calendar year. I was back in the game.
I know that I’m biting at the bit for planes, trains and automobile adventures to start again. A number of years ago, friends and I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu with Toronto-based and world-renowned Out Adventures. I was speaking recently with founder Robert Sharp about how the industry has changed since COVID and what advice he has for gay travellers moving forward.
Read the fine print! No matter where you purchase insurance, flights, cruises or tours, be sure you find a reputable travel agent you can trust to help you navigate the ever-changing requirements and restrictions. Robert suggested that all travel decisions need to be made with adaptability in mind. All travel investments need to be flexible, refundable or insured.
When we look at the economic hardship COVID-19 has wreaked on the travel industry, Robert wants gay travellers to think in terms of the economic devastation that marginalized destinations experienced. He kindly recommends that gay travellers support queer-owned businesses such as hotels, restaurants/bars and tour operators. Most queer-owned businesses support their community. For every guest who books with Out Adventures, US$50 is donated to Rainbow Railroad, helping LGBTQI+ individuals around the world to live their lives free from persecution. The donations will potentially reach $25,000 by year’s end. As Robert so eloquently stated, “Travel is a privilege at this time; it’s our privilege to give back.”
Canadian staycations look like a safe bet across the board. Toronto Pride is making a comeback this year with a full month of programming beginning on June 1 and concluding with the annual Festival Weekend from June 24 to 26. There’s going to be a lot of pent-up partying to unleash, and where better to do it than in Canada’s largest city, home to its biggest LGBTQ2+ community? “After two long years, we are beyond excited to bring together – in person – the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Toronto and beyond to celebrate the 2022 Pride Festival,” said Grant Gonzales, co-chair of the Pride Toronto Board of Directors. “We know that queer businesses across Toronto have struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we welcome the opportunity to showcase them throughout Pride Month.” Whether Nanaimo and Victoria, Calgary and Queen City, Pride Winnipeg, Fierté Montréal Pride or St. John’s, Canada has homo-grown gaycations for all.
“ Tourism is a state of mind and where you are at a certain time in your life. I still remember hitchhiking back to Vancouver, thumbing a ride on Highway 17 outside Thunder Bay in the summer of ‘77 – the best and cheapest vacation of my life.  
I was so happy to connect with an amazing old friend, Eddy, who’s been flying the friendly skies internationally for many years as an airline steward with a major Canadian carrier. When Eddy and I maneuvered the aisles at the Daily Planet restaurant here on terra firma, we entertained our guests with wit and humour. Eddy continues the tradition. Now more than ever he sees the need for maintaining a sense of humour. A recent guest stated, “We’re in 3FNG. No reason to swear madam.”
After two years of COVID restrictions and not being able to hang out with travellers on long-haul flights, Eddy looks forward to things getting back to some sort of normal. Business is booming in the skies, and with Eddy’s sparkling smile greeting us, hopefully there’s a Carnivale of joy heading our collective way.
I’m sincerely looking forward to busting a move and travelling again soon, whether to Sitges in Spain, Soho in London or Ste. Annes Spa in Grafton, Ontario, my eye is on the future. Tourism is a state of mind and where you are at a certain time in your life. I still remember hitchhiking back to Vancouver, thumbing a ride on Highway 17 outside Thunder Bay in the summer of ‘77 – the best and cheapest vacation of my life.
Good luck with that here in the 21st century. I loved the ‘70s; now I’m almost in my own. No more hitchhiking; now it’s Uber and a martini. Happy trails…