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Sex and Travel

Travelers always have the best sex stories, right?

“I had sex in a hammock in a cave after rock climbing, kayaking, smoking weed all day, and swimming in phosphorescent plankton all night. You just can’t getter better foreplay than that.”


***Just thought this post could use some really awkward AND SUPER SEXY photos to go along with it πŸ™‚

travel sex on koh phangan
What can I say, I like a man with inexplicably tight pants.

Given all of the travel bloggers out there, and all the sex travelers are reportedly having, you would think there would be lots of articles about travel sex for the entertainment of the Internet world, but a quick Google search revealed no such excess.

There was this Huffington Post article making travel sex sound like THE BEST AND MOST UBIQUITOUS THING EVER and this Adventurous Kate article that begins with a little anti-slut-shaming-female-empowerment note, and both seem to say simply that sex and travel are the power combo.They often go together.

I also found lots of “use condoms, take birth control, be safe!” Important, but not what I was looking for.

Never mind, I found what I was looking for! ;)
Never mind, I found what I was looking for! πŸ˜‰

What I wanted to uncover through this project was more about the connection between sex and travel, on a deeper level:

  • How do travelers as a specific community view sex and romance, given the often casual or impermanent nature of their surroundings and partners?
  • What role, if any, does sex play in their travels?

I interviewed some travelers, all of whom have spent considerable time either backpacking or living abroad or both, of varying nationalities, sexual orientations, and genders.

These are their words:

On losing your virginity while traveling:

“I lost my virginity when traveling. This confirmed that traveling is a way to continue to grow, and there is any place in the world where an important milestone can be achieved. Not that losing my virginity was an enormously important milestone that I just HAD to achieve, but it helped me to not hold back any experience that could shake my emotions just because I was away from home.”

Amsterdam is prepared for travel sex. Are you?
Amsterdam is prepared! Are you?

On travel taking sex off of a pedestal:

“You go out in the world and realize that sex is just something humans do. It’s natural and healthy and random and always different and likely something you will have to work on with a partner.”

On having a more open mind while traveling:

“Well I didn’t have much sex before I traveled, so I guess it had a huge impact for me. Travel sex was the first time I actually enjoyed having casual sex. Before that, I had sworn off casual sex as empty and bad and depressing. But then when I had casual sex while traveling, it became this sort of game with myself to see how good I was at identifying connection with people before sleeping with them. So now I see how casual sex can be really really good. Still not as fulfilling as having sex with someone you deeply know and care about but definitely fun.”

“If I went traveling and met someone and had sex with them on my travels, getting close to some stranger was like getting close to some new place.”

“It becomes easier to enjoy sex for what it is and not attach expectations to it as much.”

Having a more open mind to...girl on girl action? More like sad goodbye kisses in Thailand!!
Having a more open mind to…girl on girl action? More like sad goodbye kisses in Thailand!!

On being vulnerable as a foreigner:

“Casual travel sex and non-travel sexual encounters are pretty similar with one key difference: as a traveler, you are always more vulnerable than when at home. Even if you’ve been in the place for a long time…you are at an inherent disadvantage for not being an expert in the target culture.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hook up, it just means that you should weigh the risks even more carefully and try to keep in mind that this encounter may mean very different things to the other person (or people) than it does to you.”

Gotta watch out for those damn Americans and their sexuality.
Gotta watch out for those damn Americans and their sexuality.

On sex with locals:

“By far the easiest way to pick up another language has got to be getting to know a local…in the biblical sense.”

On becoming disillusioned by casual travel sex:

“For me personally I had never really had sex outside of serious relationships and was always curious. But after seeing the availability of sexual opportunities during traveling and also seeing other travelers hookup so frequently, sex itself seemed to become a sort of commodity.

“If you do have a one night stand while you are on the road it is most likely you will never see that person again and I have a difficult time being okay with that. Especially if you meet someone you really feel a special connection to while on the road, how shitty is it to then go your separate ways and never fully experience that connection. To me travel is definitely NOT about the sex. I think you in fact learn more about yourself if you let go of the need to feel validated by having sex and collecting an empty string of lovers.”

It's hard being a very serious tattoo artist BUTT someone's gotta do it!
Butt tattoos…

On romance on the road:

“I think romance can happen at any time, at any place, and you have no control over it. Love is unplanned, and powerful and all consuming and I do think traveling sets a great foundation for meeting that person. Traveling teaches you to make your own decisions and think for yourself which I think is the ideal way to be when starting a relationship of any kind.”

“Sex complicates everything, and makes everything more beautiful. Well, maybe it’s actually romance that does that.”

“I feel that it’s exciting but I don’t think there’s room for romance. I don’t see how it can happen. There can be flirtation, like with new experiences, but you’re not courting a deep connection. I don’t think anything is impossible…I think it’s unlikely and I haven’t experienced it. It’s possible that I wasn’t open to it and that’s why it didn’t happen – I was chasing sex, not love.”

Did someone say looking for love?
Did someone say looking for love?

“It can be a wild sex party out there if you want. But of course, most of us are looking for love and therefore it becomes a bit complicated. Thinking something will work out and it doesn’t…there is definitely some disappointment and a lot of wondering and fantasizing about different scenarios but... well, we women do that anywhere in the world, traveling or not.”

“I think I would be wary of anyone who said romances aren’t worth it. Hell, travel romances even have the nice advantage that you can simply go your separate ways eventually, you can have good excuses to end things once they’ve run their course, so any cost is lessened.”

cafe du monde travel sex

On falling in love on the road:

“For me, falling in love while traveling has been the culmination of all the soul searching I did while I was alone. I first found out who I was, and what was important to me by leaving behind everyone else’s expectations, which then left me able to truly fall in love with the right person FOR ME. Not the right person for the life that I society says I should have, not the person who looks good on paper. But the person who’s heart is the same as mine.”

This one's true love
This one’s true love

“Like when you are dancing on a beach and someone is looking at you and you get this feeling you just have to go for it. And suddenly, you feel like this is the only person in the world that truly could ever understand you and that you’ve met this person in another life before. And you find mansions with open doors and rainbows are appearing in the sky… And then, when you are sitting on the balcony of a guesthouse in Bangkok, holding each other’s faces, forehead to forehead, moments before one person has to go to the airport pouring out your heart and hoping beyond hope that this is the real thing.. those are the seconds you feel alive. And then when it does work out, and say you move to Europe and try to build a life together.. well, that’s another story.”

On leaving your significant other at home while traveling:

“Chances are you’ll find that the two of you have changed quite a bit in a small amount of time, but not necessarily in the same direction.”

“I think it crazy to leave someone you love to go traveling long term, with the intention of going back to them.”

“Traveling did change my experience of sex, in a way that it tested and reinforced my self-control and self-morals during a time that I was traveling abroad while being with a girlfriend at home. Don’t get me wrong I was presented with situations where I connected with many beautiful, intelligent, like-minded, sexy women travelers and locals, who would have been any man’s dream to hook up with in the setting of a foreign country. Instead what I took from those interactions was the connection itself.”

SO! Sex and travel: what’s the verdict??

“The happiest times of my travels – and maybe even in my life – were when I was having sex while traveling. It’s like this complete liberation, you become absorbed in the moment, completely present. Travel without sex is a bit empty.

“When I traveled I went through phases of feeling sexual and feeling like I just wanted to explore on my own, without having sex.”

“Sex while traveling took away from the experience because instead of focusing on myself or what I was doing I would be preoccupied with trying to process the connection I had made. Sex would distract me from myself and what I really wanted.”

“After I went traveling and slept with so many people, my desire to sleep with so many people went away when traveling went away. I had sex every day for six months when I was traveling. Like literally, most nights I was having sex with someone new. It gave importance to things in relationships other than sex, maybe because I had so much of it. It made me value love a lot, and companionship. The quality/quantity thing. That the best sex is with a person that you get to know, and the best place you travel to is a place you get to know.”

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