By Jess Goulart
When you’re 22 and you pack a backpack for a post-grad tour through Europe, and your parents ask what one of your major travel priorities is, you probably won’t say “sex.”
Even though the last decade was rife with sexual revolution and, today, not only sex but historically marginalized forms of it are talked about in the mainstream (thanks Christian Grey!), it’s still not entirely socially acceptable to openly admit you want to hook up with strangers.
That might lead you to believe sex isn’t often explored by travel writers, but in fact thousands of bloggers have written on the topic, including some of the world’s most popular travel professionals. There’s even advice out there on how to use sex to travel. Hint: it involves being paid for it.
Not to say you should go that far, but if you’re like 50 percent of young people who were polled in Ibiza, survey says sex while traveling is probably on your to-do list. Or, at least, you won’t shy away from the opportunity if it presents itself.
Why is sex on the road important to us?
Yes, there are physical and mental health benefits: self-confidence, stress reduction, even increased creativity. Also, studies show the physical sensation of “falling in love” takes one-fifth of a second, and love and desire are closely linked in the brain. Thus, from a physiological standpoint, feeling a connection with someone you just met to the point where you want to sleep with them isn’t crazy at all.
You know what is crazy? The amount of travelers who have unsafe sex. It’s because of this common behavior that you’re three times more likely to contract an STI while abroad.
Maybe it’s because travelers won’t admit that they want to sleep around and then find themselves unprepared. Maybe it’s because there is an increase in alcohol and drug use while on vacation or, for some other reason, inhibitions are at an all time low.
Whatever the case, knowledge is power, so in the immortal words of Salt-N-Pepa, let’s talk about sex (and travel), baby.
Don’t go to their house.
Though an amazing cocktail of seratonin, dopamine, and other chemicals swirling in your brain might make you feel like you’ve known a stranger your whole life, the truth is, you haven’t.
Odds are that stranger wants to take you to their place for some totally benign hanky-panky, but do you really want to risk going home with a serial killer, or–worse yet–a Christian Grey wannabe?
Bring them back to your hostel, find a hotel room, a bathroom, a park bench, hell, even a well-positioned bush, or drag your annoyed friends with you, but don’t go back to a stranger’s house alone. Ever.
Be honest with yourself. If sex is a priority for you, be prepared. Even if you don’t think you’ll be having sex, but you aren’t morally opposed to the idea, put a condom in your wallet. In fact, put three in there, just for good measure.
Also, little tip, condoms don’t actually work unless you put them on. Don’t be like the 41 percent of people that recognize condoms are important, but end up not using them “in the heat of the moment.”
Use a dating app.
You want sex, they want sex, it’s a match made in heaven and, more importantly, a match made where you can see a person’s profile prior to meeting up with them.
Tinder, OkCupid, Party With A Local, even Couchsurfing, offer safe (but still fun) alternatives to going to a bar and picking someone up. Business Insider actually named Couchsurfing as “the best hook-up app,” and even suggests slightly more obvious alternative platforms like Couchbangs.com.
The five-minute rule.
Being swept away by romance or passion or lust or whatever you want to call it, happens to the best of us. Throw in whiskey, dancing, and the knowledge that you’ll likely never have to see someone you slept with again if you don’t want to, and it’s no wonder sex and travel go hand in hand.
That’s why long before the whiskey and dancing begin you should make the five-minute pact with yourself: whenever you are about to hook up with someone, excuse yourself from the situation for five minutes and, to be blunt, get your shit together.
Think: do I really want this? Am I prepared? Do I have all my essentials–ID, money, map, phone? And last, but definitely not least, does someone know where I am and who I am with?
There’s power in numbers.
That doesn’t mean you have to invite your buddies into bed with you (though hey, whatever floats your boat), but if you’re going out to party, bring someone else along. First of all, they can hold your hair if you wind up over-doing it, second of all, they are a living witness to what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with.
Remember, travel is about exploration, and if you want that to include sexuality that is completely okay, but be smart about it.
And maybe still don’t answer “sex” if your parents ask you about your travel plans.