13 Proven Tips For Your Best Vacation Sex, Ever

This story was originally published on December 18, 2015.
Whether you're planning a trip with your partner or merely fantasizing about one, vacation sex likely plays a starring role in your vision. It deserves its reputation as particularly delicious. Stress is your sex life's archenemy, and when you and your partner step away from what stresses you out from day to day (work, empty fridges, dirty dishes, kids, if you've got 'em), you may find yourselves as interested in each other as you are in the sightseeing. If you prepare for it, vacation sex can be the best kind of sex.
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Since I like to do my research before proffering advice, I volunteered to take my partner to Rendezvous, an all-inclusive couples resort in St. Lucia in the West Indies, to conduct field research and compile vacation-sex best practices for you, dear reader. (I know, my job is hard, but someone's got to do it.)
On the menu: a weekend in a beachfront cottage; late-night dancing at a nearby street party; a couple's massage; a candlelit dinner on the beach; far too much champagne (this all-inclusive thing is dangerous); and, yes, some much-needed time and space to reconnect physically, because after a long week of battling New York City, my partner and I are much more likely to be eating takeout in his bed than scattering it with roses. (Which Rendezvous kindly did for us one night.) Click through to discover our findings, and tips for better vacation sex — from which toys to bring to how to shut down conflict before it begins.
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Let your partner plan at least one thing.

If you tend to take the reins when it comes to planning a trip itinerary (e.g. you booked the hotel, you researched all the restaurants, and you made sure everyone had their passports), agree to go hands off for at least a day or a half-day. Let your partner play "camp counselor" for an allotted time and have them choose the activities that you do during the day. You might enjoy being in charge, and find it soothing, but your partner will appreciate sharing the responsibilities and making you feel relaxed, too.
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Illustrated by: Abbie Winters
Experiment.

If your vacation is in a location with a hot climate, cool down (as you heat things up) with temperature play — meaning: apply low (or high) temperatures to provoke a sensual response. When people think of temperature play, they often think of warm wax or massage oil, but a cold toy can be more appealing when it's sweltering outside — and you likely already have one in your freezer.

"Ice is a simple and sensual way to incorporate temperature and sensations into your sex life," Good Vibrations product and purchasing manager Coyote Days told us. "Not only does the ice chill the part of the body it’s touching — nipples, inner thighs, buttocks, stomach, and more — but the ice water it creates can also be a fun."

You can also cool a glass dildo by placing it in a bowl of ice water or, if it's made of borosilicate glass, placing it in the freezer (soda-lime glass is more fragile, so stick to ice water if that's what your dildo is made of). Another pro tip: Sensations of cold will feel even more intense if the recipient is blindfolded. Now go forth and get your -Weeks-style ice-cube sex scene on.
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Illustrated By Abbie Winters.
Pack smart.

Just as you strive to bring a tightly edited collection of clothes and accessories when you travel, you want to bring a few discreet, space-economizing sex toys that still pack a punch. I’m annoyed by battery-powered toys in any context, but if you do bring any, make sure to remove the batteries and stow them separately from the toys so that the TSA doesn’t wonder why your carry-on just started buzzing. Also, consider waterproof toys if you’re eyeing shower, hot-tub, pool, or ocean action.

For this trip, I packed OhMiBod’s Lovelife Share Couples Vibrator, Lelo’s powerful-yet-quiet INA 2 rabbit vibrator, JimmyJane's silk-and-leather cuffs, and, of course, lube, because lube makes everything better, always — Ronda Rousey, y’heard? (Keep in mind that the TSA’s liquid limit is 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters per item, so leave your 55-gallon lube drum behind.) For longer trips, don't forget any necessary chargers. And remember to pack whatever birth control you rely on at home!
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Illustrated By Abbie Winters.
Do your research.

Read up on the culture of your destination and the behavior it expects of couples. Some regions frown on PDA, for example, while some are less than accepting of same-sex couples. Homosexuality is illegal in certain parts of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean Islands, which isn’t to say that you and your same-sex partner shouldn’t go, only that awareness of local context is important. LGBTQ-friendly travel resources such as Out Traveler and the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association can help you plan your trip.

Another not-so-fun fact: Sex toys are illegal in India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, so you may want to consider leaving the tech out of your sex if you're traveling to one of these places. And, if you want to be extra-cautious about traveling with birth control to regions where attitudes toward it are dicey, you can ask a doctor to write you a note for added defense of your right to have it.

(Unsurprisingly, at a couples' resort in the West Indies, PDA is permitted.)
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Illustrated By Abbie Winters.
Attempt in-flight hookups with caution.

Remember that they still technically count as public sex, which is illegal, but if you are truly determined to join the mile-high club, here's what to do: Wait until it’s nighttime, the lights are off, and passengers are sleeping. (If you have a daytime flight, as my partner and I did, don’t even try.) You can warm up with some discreet hand action under a blanket at your seats, since you won't have time for foreplay in the bathroom. Then, one of you enters the bathroom, locks the door, and disrobes just enough for access; the other follows close behind and knocks a quiet, pre-planned pattern to signal to the first person to open the door. Get in, get done, and get out, with your exits a few beats apart. And be real: The goal isn't to enjoy the sex — it's to say you did it. (It still counts if no one orgasms, because I'm a sex writer and I say so.)
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Illustrated By Abbie Winters.
Timing is everything.

Because it's the way it usually goes at home, you may default to initiating sex at night, after dinner and a full day of museum-hopping, jet-skiing, hiking etc. But that's also when you're likely to be the most tired — and/or drunk, if you indulged in a few (and why not? you're on vacation). These are less-than-ideal conditions for the intimacy you've been looking forward to. Solution: Start your day with a hookup. You'll feel connected and energized before you even hit the breakfast buffet, and the pressure will be off for later. Additional rounds are, of course, still very much encouraged.
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Illustrated By Abbie Winters.
Compromise on travel style.

The busier and longer your trip is, the more important compromise becomes. A weekend in the Caribbean is less likely to reveal tension between your respective approaches to travel than, say, a month of backpacking through Europe, so for involved vacations especially, discuss your traveling styles and priorities for your itinerary in advance. If one of you likes to wander around and get lost and the other prefers to follow a structured route, set aside time for both of these — and remember that you can always...
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Illustrated By Abbie Winters.
Do things apart.

Traveling together doesn't mean spending every minute together. One afternoon during a trip with an ex, we both needed some space, and so I headed downstairs to journal while he stayed in the room...only for me to later discover that I had somehow locked him in. (He was not amused.) This was an extreme way of doing it, but temporarily splitting up can turn sexy. If you want to check out a nearby cathedral and your partner has an eye on that used bookstore on the corner, instead of flipping a coin, part ways for the afternoon and then meet up to tell each other all about it over dinner. It'll be like you both got to do both things.
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Illustrated By Abbie Winters.
Nip fights in the bud.

Unfortunately, the problems that you and your partner have at home won't disappear in paradise, but vacation is not the time to hash them out. If you find yourselves fighting, do a physical-needs check: Are you tired? Uncomfortable? Hungry? Halt the conversation and grab a nap, coffee, shower, sandwich, or some combination thereof. At the end of a day, the best response is often to go the fuck to sleep, to quote the noted children's book. And try to table Serious Relationship Discussions for after your trip.
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Illustrated By Abbie Winters.
Phones off.

I would never tell you not to photograph your trip, and sure, you may need to throw up a few Instagrams to let everyone languishing over their laptops know that you are Living Your Best Life. (Did you even go to the West Indies if you didn't take a tree-pose photo on the beach as the sun was starting to set?) But then, unless you're using it for navigation or itinerary research, put the damn phone down. Seriously. You've presumably told work that you will be OOO (for extra credit, turn on your vacation responder before you leave), and this time is the perfect excuse to focus on your surroundings — and your partner.

My M.O. is to leave my phone safely locked in my hotel room whenever possible, use the hotel's Wi-Fi (no extra phone-bill charges!) to share a few pics, and resist the urge to check notifications until the return trip — only emitting, not receiving. I feel less connected to my life at home and more connected with my traveling companion.
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Illustrated By Abbie Winters.
Mediate expectations.

The anticipation beforehand is one of the best parts of a vacation, but it can create hard-to-meet expectations. Something will go wrong: You'll miss a train, hotel construction will wake you up at six one morning, or hot weather will lead to a yeast infection that derails your bedroom plans. (I mean, God forbid, but it could happen.) Instead of expecting perfection or fixating on mishaps, focus on the "small," sensory details of your trip — and your sex — as much as you can.

As Jessica Boehme, M.Ed. and sexologist, has suggested to me, "During sex, take time to feel your partner's skin underneath your fingers, explore their body with your eyes... Memorize them, breathe in their scent, listen to the sounds they make, taste them." Vacation is when you actually have time to follow these tips. And, when snafus arise, take comfort in the fact that they may become your funniest stories.
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Illustrated By Abbie Winters.
Be daring.

What have you been wanting to try sexually but haven't had the time or opportunity to? The adrenaline of travel sets the right tone to introduce a new move, try some light bondage, or test the waters of dirty talk — whatever you've been kicking around in your head but haven't yet done or discussed. You and your partner are already going on an adventure together, and that can extend to sex. To pass time in transit, take turns adding to a list of activities you might be interested in exploring together. Whether or not you get to all of them on your trip, you'll return home with fresh ideas for your sex life (and an NSFW souvenir).
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Illustrated By Abbie Winters.
Proceed with caution in the ocean or pool.

While underwater sex has a romantic reputation, it presents logistical challenges. First, a disclaimer: Indulge in it at your own risk, since you can’t be sure that any public body of water won’t give you a bacterial infection (unsurprisingly, bacteria that is harmless when it comes in contact with your skin can wreak havoc when introduced to your vagina or anus). If you’re still determined to get it on under the sea, keep in mind that water actually reduces women’s natural lubrication, which you can counteract by applying silicone lube before you hop in. Underwater sex that involves penetration with a penis is safest when a condom isn’t needed, since the chance of it slipping or breaking is higher — but if you are using one, put it on before submersion, make sure that the fit is perfect, and wait until you’re out of the water to take it off.
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