Vacations and sex go together like sunshine and ice cream. It’s easy to see why it’s such a pleasing pairing: One of the biggest contributors to a low libido is stress. On vacation, daily worries melt away and you have more free time to enjoy each other’s company. Traveling with your partner is proven to improve your relationship, and so does frequent nookie. So with this in mind, here’s a guide to giving sex a starring role on your next trip away.
1. Bring your toys.
Vacations are the perfect time to try new things and intimately reconnect with your partner, and bringing toys along for the ride is a great way to enhance your adventures. Just remember to do your research about what you can and can’t bring, choose discreet versions that don’t take up too much space in your luggage, and pack everything safely and securely. Nothing kills the mood like having your best butt plug whipped out at airport security for all to see.
2. Turn your phone and laptop off.
This one’s on par with “don’t stick a fork in the toaster” in terms of obvious advice, but it’s such an important point. While you should send your other half a steamy message or two throughout the day, being glued to your screen on vacation is a definite no. Not only does it show your partner you’re not invested in the time you’re spending together, it also draws your attention away from enjoying the moment, intimate or not. Plus, heavy phone use is linked to feelings of anxiety and depression, so you’re potentially compromising your own well-being too.
The same goes for bringing phones into the bedroom. A recent study by Asurion found that couples who brought their devices to bed were twice as likely to spend time staring at their screens than getting romantic. And receiving a text from your mom or boss is a real mood killer. Switch it off, or better yet — leave it in another room. If you know you’ll have some early starts while you’re away, then bring an old-fashioned alarm clock along.
3. Plan for unsexy things.
Vibrators, lube, and bikinis aside, you’ll need to pack things like sanitary items, contraception, ibuprofen, and other medication to help with an upset stomach, allergies, and bites. If you’re concerned about emergency contraception, then remember to pack some just in case. It’s readily available in the US, China, and much of Europe, but in other countries, it’s only accessible with a prescription or not at all. If you’re worried your own supply may be confiscated, ask your doctor to write you a note.
It’s tricky to find tampons and condoms in some regions, including parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Bring a small stash if you can’t do without or want to avoid miming using a tampon to a pharmacist who doesn’t speak your language.
4. Do new activities together.
Research shows that couples who try new activities together are happier. Unfamiliar experiences stimulate the dopamine system — and when you do something that causes you to release this happy hormone, it’s a positive reinforcer. This means you’ll feel more open to trying new things and be in a better position to deal with snafus (if they do happen).
Cooking classes, horse riding, hiking, and extreme sports are all good options because people bond faster when they’re working on something challenging, as opposed to doing something passive, like watching a movie or sunbathing. And remember to pick activities together and acknowledge your partner’s ideas so you do something that you both enjoy.
5. Dive in (with caution).
Sex in the hot tub, pool, or ocean is a summer sex staple. But it’s not all smooth sailing: Water isn’t all that hygienic (hello yeast infection!) and it decreases a woman’s natural lubrication. If you’re planning on getting frisky underwater then add extra slipperiness with silicone lube (water-based options wash away) and bring medication just in case you do get a bacterial infection.
Water also lowers the effectiveness of condoms, so if you’re using one, make sure it’s well-fitted, and don’t take it off until you’re on dry land. Oh, and public sex is illegal everywhere, so be extra careful when getting it on in the sea.
6. Spend time apart.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or so the saying goes. When you go on vacation with your other half, you’re suddenly thrown into a situation where you’re around them 24/7. This sudden leap can feel surprisingly stifling, so remember to take some time apart, even if that’s just you lounging by the pool while your partner goes shopping. Not only does this give you breathing space, it means no one feels pressured to do an activity they’re not interested in, and you’ll have plenty to talk about over dinner later on.
Just because you’re spending time apart, doesn’t mean you can’t get sexy together. Aside from sexting, you could try app-operated toys, like the We-Vibe, which lets your partner control your stimulation from a completely different location.
7. Manage expectations.
It’s natural to look forward to your trip together and picture how amazing it’ll be. But don’t idealize things too much: Vacations rarely go perfectly, and if your idea about how things should be is too rigid, you’ll set yourself up for disappointment.
Food poisoning, UTIs, hangovers, exhaustion, sunburns, crowds, and hotel building work happen. When plans go belly up, remember to stay calm and not let irritation get the better of you. Talk issues out rather than storing resentment up. And if things do get to be too much and you end up having an argument, try to keep your temper in check, don’t blame each other, and get some space, as well as a bite to eat and a nap if necessary.
8. Don’t get sunburned.
Aside from being bad for you and painful, a sunburn limits your ability to enjoy any physical activity together. Plus, lobster-red and peeling is not a great look. Remember to slather on plenty of sunscreen whenever you’re outside, and get your partner to smooth it onto those hard-to-reach spots.
9. Pick the perfect time.
Contrary to popular belief, getting it on at the end of the day when you’re full of wine and food is not sexy. You’re both exhausted from sightseeing, and while alcohol increases desire, it decreases the quality of the experience.
Try having sex first thing in the morning, or in the early afternoon. Not only are you full of energy, but you’ll feel relaxed and more connected throughout the rest of the day, and it takes the pressure off later when neither of you can be bothered. If you’re planning an evening hookup, then cut back on the food and wine and send each other steamy messages throughout the day to build anticipation.
10. Respect your hormones.
Testosterone is a hormone present in both men and women, and it plays a big part in our libido’s peaks and dips. High testosterone levels mean high sex drive. Unfortunately for heterosexual couples, males and females peak at different times of the day (males in the morning and females in the afternoon/early evening), so don’t get upset if one of you is up for it and the other isn’t.
Try picking a time that’s somewhere in between, or relax and cuddle together in bed without necessarily having sex. Simply being close to each other builds intimacy and shows your partner that they’re your top priority. And don’t forget to hang your “do not disturb” sign on the door so room service doesn’t surprise you with a knock.