The Backpacker’s Guide to Sex on the Road (PS: Bring Condoms!)

Alright, lovers. Settle in, press play on a sexy song and let’s get down to it: the birds and the bees, aka the ins and outs of hooking up while travelling. Grab your notebook and let me enlighten you with the unofficial, yet super official, “Backpacker’s Guide to Sex On The Road.” To start us off, let’s begin with a rudimentry yet mandatory tip that will ensure you live a long, healthy life (and help your mom not to worry as much). 

1. Be safe, be smart (condoms are cheap worldwide)

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CONDOMS ARE NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. Say it out aloud with me now: “condoms!”, “don’t be silly, wrap that willy!” On a personal note, I would not recommend opening with that line — its success rate is very low. 

But always, always bring a supply of condoms. Why? Because you may face difficulties obtaining them on the road due to language barriers and differing sexual education/reproductive health mandates, so it’s always good to be as prepared as possible.

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Wrap it up guys!

If you’re a woman and already following a birth control plan (IUD, the pill, etc), then make sure you have enough or are up to date for the duration of your trip. Consider making an appointment with your doctor before you depart to discuss the best options for on-the-road birth control plans, especially if you’ll be away for a long stretch of time.

Regardless as to whether you’re on birth control or not, make sure you use condoms every single time you have sex (unless you’re with a long-term partner and you’ve mutually decided to forgo the latex) as they protect against pregnancy (for heterosexual encounters) and STIs (for all kinds of encounters). Stay on top of checking yourself for STIs – not only do you want to be safe for your own sake, but your sexual partner’s sake as well. 

2. Tell your travel buddy

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Telling a friend or someone you’re friendly with on your travels is great not just for that high-five moment, but for your own safety. There’s no way you can know everything about someone you’ve recently met, so take every precaution: tell someone where you’re going, who you’re going with and roughly when they should expect you back. 

3. Travel is about living in the present

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Travelling is all about living in the moment, and this sort of atmosphere can extend to sex: naturally, there are fewer worries on the road (carpe diem, YOLO and all that) and a more open environment is a given. So, while you should still absolutely be safe, you shouldn’t get hung up on anything like your “number” or being considered slutty. Do whatever you feel comfortable with – you should only face judgment from yourself, nobody else (despite society trying to convince you otherwise).

4. Say no to travelling to Paris, say no to sex — it’s your choice

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In a similar vein, if you don’t feel comfortable or don’t want to have sex, then don’t. You should not feel pressured into thinking you should because other people are or because you might come across as boring or prudish. Your choices are your own and saying ‘no’ is 100% ok and your prerogative. Remember: consent (even if it’s just between you and yourself) is sexy. 

5. Sextiquette while travelling

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Bill Nye: Not an expert on everything apparently.

We’re talking dorm rooms, noise and all that blush-inducing sex talk. I don’t feel like it’s stretching too far to say that it’s best for everyone – dorm roommates and yourself included – if you splurge on a private room in a hostel. They usually don’t cost that much more than a dorm if you split it and you’ll be glad for the privacy. Couples who go travelling together: you have no excuse, you know you’re going to be bumping uglies so don’t subject your fellow travellers to the soundtrack. 

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Michael Bolton: A man who knows what’s up.

If a dorm room with other travellers is the only choice, then be considerate of noise. When we’re drunk, we’re naturally less aware of using our inside voices, so either zip it or stifle with a pillow (whatever tickles your pickle as they say). Other tips include: don’t use the top bunk, drape a sheet over the bottom bunk, don’t do it in the morning or early evening when dorms are busy. Just be aware that although some people might be fine with enthusiastic but unforgiving-on-the-springs dormroom sex and consider it the circle of life within backpacker communities, others will definitely not be impressed.

Of course, you could always find a hostel rooftop (romantic under starry skies), laundry room (empty at night), shower (easy clean-up) or canoodle somewhere outside. Whatever you choose it’ll make for a good travel story and increase your chances of winning every game of Never Have I Ever for the rest of your natural life. 

6. Be aware of the local rules for each country

Spoiler alert: there are.

Spoiler alert: there are.

Just because something in your home country might be ok (or at least an act you can get away with), the same may not be true when visiting other countries. You don’t want to end up in the headlines (or more likely JAIL) for getting naked on hallowed grounds like an ignoramus. Check the country’s laws and learn their cultural customs before heading over. Be as respectful towards their customs as you would your own sexual partner (and maybe have “I’m sorry” in the local language ready just in case…).

7. Be a confident traveller and know what you want

Whether you’re simply looking for no-strings-attached fun or for that steamy Italian fling to turn into something more, make sure you, say it with me, co-mmun-i-cate. Obviously not in a “Hey you, I want sex!” sort of way, because that would be pretty creepy and ineffective, but while talking in the lead up to actually doing anything.  You can usually get a sense of what the other person is looking for and have the opportunity to subtly work in your side of things.

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It’s important to protect your feelings in these situations. Some travellers are looking for a relationship, others may want a series of one-night stands or have a sex bucket list so to speak (e.g. sleep with as many different nationalities as possible). There’s also always the chance that some travellers may be in a relationship and not tell you, so keep this in mind or do some digging if you don’t want to be an unwitting accomplice to infidelity.

Remember: you don’t want to get emotionally involved when there’s no point, resulting in heartbreak that dampers the rest of your trip. Always respect someone’s wishes and choices, but make sure you’re on the same wavelength and if you aren’t…well you’ll never be able to meet as many new people as when you’re travelling! 

So wherever you’re travelling, have a safe and mind-blowing sex life! Don’t forget to celebrate all the emotionally and sexually mature decisions you’ve made with a song: