10 Things to Consider about Relationships and Sex While Travelling
Travel possesses a special power when it comes to falling for someone on the road. After all, with all the excitement and intensity involved, the environment is incredibly well suited for emotions to run riot and relationships to blossom! Here are 10 things to think about when it comes to relationships and sex while travelling.
I’m forever impressed at how quickly relationships can form on the road.
On the other side of the world you meet a complete stranger for the very first time and before long you feel as close to them as any long standing friend from home.
How does it happen?!
Well, the nature of travel makes it a bit like rocket fuel for relationships.
Travel is an intense experience of emotional highs and lows, close encounters and novel goings on. Life often moves at pace and you’re in a new place every few days with new people to meet all the time. No one knows you either, which means you can be anyone you want to be.
Remember, the simple fact that you’re travelling immediately gives you something in common with other travellers- an intrinsic link that sparks conversation and catalyses connection.
And, though travellers come from all backgrounds and walks of life, the fact that both of you wanted to travel in the first place suggests your personalities may match in other fundamental ways too.
Then, on top of all that, there’s the added incentive to go and meet new people in order to stave off loneliness. Where introducing yourself to strangers might feel weird at home, on the road it is a natural and encouraged part of the process.
And finally, just to add further fuel to the relationship forming fire, there’s the frequent addition of alcohol and a general party atmosphere; inhibitions get lowered and decisions (sometimes to be regretted the following morning...) get made in the heat of the moment.
Simply, the nature of travel lends itself to intimate connections between people.
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To get physically and emotionally close to someone overseas is novel, exciting and, frankly, a very common and positive part of many people’s travel experience.
Equally, love, sex and intimacy of any kind on the road is another way of learning about who you are, experimenting with new ways of life, trying new things and living your travels fully.
It adds another element to the trip and creates new memories that, for better or worse, you’ll be talking about for years to come!
But it also comes with possible challenges.
From unreciprocated love and long distance relationships, to drunken mistakes and STIs, there’s always the potential for hurt, uncertainty and negativity.
Such emotional highs and lows can greatly impact your experience, so I wanted to put together a ‘guide’ to highlight some potential first time travel considerations when it comes to relationships and sex on the road!
Things to Consider about Relationships & Sex while travelling
In no particular order, here is a random assortment of 10 things to think about when it comes to this topic!
Sex and relationships overseas are fun and exciting
Everything is more extreme when you travel and that is never truer than when it comes to relationships and sex.
On the road you fall for someone in a rush: intensely and overwhelmingly, like a teenager doing it all for the very first time.
If it is just a casual thing, then the same is true- a fling on the other side of the World is an exciting prospect!
So long as you’re both expecting the same things from the start and no one is misled into thinking it’s more serious than it really is, I’d encourage anyone to allow foreign romance into their trip.
You shouldn't be ashamed of having sex overseas
Don’t be ashamed if you have flings while you travel!
The topic of casual sex remains one-sided in society, where guys often get applauded for it and girls get chastised and ‘slut-shamed’- for want of a better phrase.
And this is definitely true when you’re travelling.
Like I’ve been saying, relationships, sex and travel often go hand in hand. You’ve gone travelling to have an adventure, try new things and experience life to its fullest.
Sex overseas is a part of this process and, in some ways, almost embodies these aspirations.
It should be celebrated, as opposed to being shamed.
Here’s a great piece by Adventurous Kate on this topic
It’s a new way of travelling
Getting into a relationship on the road, and travelling around as a couple, dramatically changes the experience.
Travel takes on an entirely different, fun and rose-tinted sheen, but also comes with a bunch of additional considerations when it comes to the practice of travelling.
You’ll be making decisions together, altering your own plans to accommodate for the other person’s; you’ll be sharing resources (food, money, space…) and spending a huge amount of time together.
It can become intense and arguments can occur if you aren’t careful.
But, overall, sharing the experience of travel with someone you care for is an amazing feeling, which adds a whole new dimension to what you do.
It is full of uncertainty
Any sort of relationship abroad is full of uncertainty.
You fall for someone in a rush on the other side of the World and it is a complete whirlwind of emotion and intensity.
But you might live hugely different lives back home, or come from completely different countries.
It is travel that has brought you together, but maybe you’re both planning on travelling for different periods of time, or have a flight to catch that’ll take you in separate directions.
It is sod’s law that finding the person of your dreams often happens under circumstances that threaten the longevity of any potential relationship.
You fall for someone, but there’s something that means it might not last.
In some ways I wonder if it is exactly the difficult predicament that makes you want it more- like forbidden fruit.
That thought aside, I know, from person experience, that the thought of saying goodbye can be pretty heart wrenching.
There can be very little certainty with relationships on the road, which can be hard to think about.
The fact that the future of things is so uncertain can, in a backwards way, add to its value. Feelings get intensified and, as it passes, the value of time spent with the other person is ever enhanced.
So, it's important to try and stay present
In these situations, to the best of your ability, try and stay present in the time you have together. The future may well be uncertain, but, as Ekhart Tolle points out, all we ever have is ‘now’.
As difficult as it can be, try to enjoy the time you have with each other, rather than projecting into the future and worrying about the coming separation.
Embrace what little time you have together.
This leads me to my following points.
It is better to have loved and lost...
I know this old adage is super cheesey and clichéd, but I think it is actually very true and relevant to relationships and sex while travelling.
It can feel like a hard decision to get involved with someone when you know (due to time and travel plans) the relationship is likely to end before it really begins.
You might ask:
“What’s the point of letting myself in for the pain of the unavoidable separation, for the sake of a few days/weeks together?”
It is a fair question and one that many people will choose to listen to. But I’d always err on the side of action: going for it in spite of the inevitable heartache to come.
I remember being 16 when I fell in love for the first time.
It was over the course of one long weekend, at a festival, with a girl I’d first met at the same venue a few years previously. A little older, we hit it off again and I was totally and utterly besotted.
She’d thought, and I’d (begrudgingly) agreed, that long distance would be too difficult though. I was beyond gutted when it came to saying goodbye.
However, though it wasn’t going to work longer term, the weekend had been incredible and I remember it to this day.
As we went our separate ways, the girl gave me a piece of paper with this written on it:
It helped at the time and has stuck with me whenever this sort of bittersweet situation has arisen.
Whether you give it the label of ‘love’ or not, to have experienced deep, authentic feelings for someone is a beautiful thing.
And that is never truer than when these emotions are intensified by limitations of circumstance while travelling or otherwise.
Revel in the experience of a relationship on the road and try not to talk yourself out of it for fear of future hurt.
Long distance can definitely work
Equally, remember: you don’t actually have to say goodbye!
Even if your homes are separated by oceans and it seems impossible to sustain a relationship at such distance, know that you most definitely can.
It isn’t easy, but neither is it impossible.
And it is happening more and more these days, as greater numbers of us travel overseas, falling in love with people from all over the World as we do.
With a bit of work and commitment, through technology (Skype, Facebook, Whatsapp etc...) and cheap air tickets, long distance relationships are more feasible than ever.
Practice safe sex while travelling
I’m not your mum.
…But when it comes to sex on the road, be safe.
Be sensible and use some form of contraception if you’re having sex overseas.
Take a pack of condoms (or your preferred form of contraception) with you when you travel and remember to actually take them on nights out etc, rather than leaving them in your back pack!
You can also find contraception on the road in all the same places you do at home: pharmacies, supermarkets, some public toilets etc.
Be aware of the practicalities
Having sex (or at least, having sex in private) when you travel can be something of a practical challenge.
You’ll probably be staying in hostels, or guest houses, where there are always lots of people milling about. Dorm rooms are busy, bathrooms are shared, TV rooms are occupied...
Privacy can be hard to come by.
So get creative. Be inventive. Make it a challenge.
But be respectful of other people too. No-one wants to be in the bottom bunk with two love birds making a racket above them...
Keep the culture in mind
Likewise, keep the culture in mind.
It is good practice to consider certain travel principles on the road. One of which I think is respect.
Be mindful of the country in which you’re travelling and aware of their social practices, as well as (in some cases) the laws that are in place.
For instance, in some Middle Eastern Countries, in line with Islamic Law, public displays of affection are socially unacceptable and sometimes even a criminal offence.
A lack of cultural awareness catches travellers off guard every year and, in severe cases, ends up in their arrest.
Beyond the threat of prison time though, it is just good practice to be aware of and respectful of the social customs and (oftentimes legal) expectations of the place you’re staying.
When it comes to relationships and sex, especially in conservative and religious countries, be mindful of what is and isn’t acceptable.
What may seem harmless and innocuous to anyone from Western society may be explicit and deeply troubling to communities overseas.