Illustration by Sophi Gullbrants
After toiling away at work for months, you and your partner are finally going to a dreamy destination together, free of everyday obligations. Perhaps it’s a cozy ski weekend, or a few days lying on the beach, or a week of museums and ruins in an ancient city—either way, you’re probably anticipating every moment of it. Ideally, your libido will be up, your anxiety will be down, and your inbox will be a distant memory.
A vacation with your lover can be sexy and relaxing, but it can also bring up some surprising emotions, tensions, and expectations, especially if you’ve never traveled together. Here's how to make the most of your romantic getaway—sexually and otherwise.
Share your fantasies early to get the juices flowing.
Vacation always stokes your imagination; some studies have shown you’re happier thinking about and planning your vacation than you are actually going on it. And chances are that sex plays a big part in that. Choose a destination you both feel enthusiastic about from the start, and then share your fantasies with your partner, so you can plant a seed in both your minds for future excitement and bliss. Maybe you cross something off your sexual bucket list, or maybe you keep your eyes peeled for outdoor sex opportunities.
Arrive prepared—for any scenario.
The more planning you do, the better you’ll feel in an unfamiliar place. Make sure to pack way in advance, and communicate with your partner about what you might need, whether it’s rain gear for a capricious climate or a high SPF sunscreen for poolside hangs (sunburned sex is the literal worst). Err on the side of the lower-budget partner, so no one will feel stressed about splashing out if their bank account doesn’t allow it. Definitely look into the cultural norms of your vacation spot when it comes to PDA or acceptance of queer couples.
And, of course, bring allll the sex accoutrement. Vacation gives you extra time and mental space to be creative and spontaneous, so you’ll want to be prepared with any toys, lube, condoms, or outfits that put you in the mood. If you’re a vulva- or uterus-haver, you might want to bring some not-so-sexy stuff like emergency contraception, yeast infection medicine, or probiotics to balance your vagina's pH, especially if you’ll be swimming. (Pro tip: Waterproof silicone lube is best for pool or ocean sex!)
Designate a separate, easily accessible bag for your supplies, or try Dame’s new couple’s kit, Duo, a pouch packed with pleasure-related goodies.
Don’t overschedule yourselves.
This is a rookie error many couples will make, but take it from us: You need to factor in downtime. That means a full night’s sleep every night, plus pockets in the day for naps, regrouping, cuddling, or sex. And don’t forget about jetlag—the best plan is to succumb to the extra rest you need. Fighting through it will only put you in a terrible mood.
Enjoy the vacation sex vibes!
"Vacation sex" is definitely a real phenomenon. Time off means a reduction in stress, and a relaxed body is more likely to desire sex, experience pleasure, and have orgasms. You’re also free of any judgments your community or family back home might have (no slut-shaming on vacation!) which means you can feel free and uninhibited.
A new place or scenario can also create a sex-bubble for your psyche. One study in the journal Annals of Tourism Research found that, for women, the “mental transition” of vacation acts as a “liminoid and ‘chora’ time-space” where women can “recreate their selves through alternative sexual behavior.” Essentially, this liminal space gives women, even those with steady partners, permission to engage in unconventional sexual behavior, roleplay, and “authentic expression.” The women in the study also reported heightened awareness of bodily senses.
But don’t put pressure on each other to be constantly in the mood.
Sometimes couples on vacation fall prey to the “honeymoon effect”: There’s so much pressure to have the Best Sex Ever that a partner completely loses their libido. (Or both partners do!) Have sex if you’re feeling it, but don’t force yourself to be intimate because that’s what you’re “supposed” to be doing.
Above all, be patient with each other.
Different sides of our personalities often reveal themselves in an environment that may be stressful or unpredictable. This could be a delight if your partner exhibits positive qualities like adventurousness or bravery. But it could also be a huge bummer: You might discover that your lover is more squeamish about bugs than you thought, or gets flustered when they’ve lost their sense of direction. Prepare yourselves for these revelations and be extra-kind. Show one another acceptance. Remind each other of those early, blissful vacation fantasies. And give each other space, if needed; it’s exhausting to be together 24/7 and therefore totally fine to take a few hours alone.