A different kind of energy jolt comes from vacation flings, one that doesn’t often come from any old one-night stand. That Sunday morning feeling after a run-of-the-mill hook-up isn’t precisely one of hair-raising electricity— it’s more of a head-thrumming urge to get in the shower and take a knee in there for the day. To put it simply, there’s not usually an itch to get back out there as soon as possible and do it again. But all of that changes when you’re in a new city, with no reservations surrounding a single resident of the bar you’re in, or the beach club, or the hotel. Everyone is completely new to you, and there’s a unique element of surprise that comes with each person, free of charge. It sort of makes you want to try all of them on for size.
There’s also a confidence level that spikes up when you’re in a new environment, and it doesn’t only hit you once you’re in bed with the catch of the day— it’s most powerful when you’re getting ready to cast the line. No one from your daily life is around to watch, judge, or tell you that “you’re not usually like this.” The floor is yours, and you get to do with it as you please. A perfectly timed lick of the lips at a bar; an-offhanded comment to your waiter that drips with innuendo; it’s all about a release of the inhibitions that hinder your sexuality, for fear of being “too forward” in reality— a place where consequences run rampant. But when hundreds if not thousands of miles separate you from any fallout, you can play as fast and loose as you like.
The notion of “now or never” is a crucial factor too. You see someone who’s so attractive, your brain is already conjuring images for a sex dream later that night, and you suddenly think— why not just push up my tits and give this a whirl in real-time? There’s no need for any of the subtlety and nuance typically required for serious endeavors, ones which you hope will amount to a relationship, or at the very least, a date. No, subtlety and nuance are nearly useless when all you’re hoping to do is get the object of your desire undressed. Of course, that’s not to say you need to walk right up to someone and proposition them; the pursuit and playful banter always add a little spice to the situation. It gives you somewhere to build the tension, and conversely, tremendous insight into any personality red flags that might make you want to abort the whole mission. But if he or she meets the marker, your hastily laid plan should get you, well, hastily laid.
Once the tension piques and the urgency is dangling in the air, hypnotizing you both, the tripwire activates; the make-out ensues. The moment when neither person can take it any longer is arguably one of the better highs available. Knowing that a stranger wants you, wants your body, wants to do things to you that render them speechless enough to take the leap and lean in for the kiss… perhaps intoxicating is the better word. It could be argued that this feeling hits during any average one-night stand, sure. The key difference, though— no one knows you here. Maybe you’re married and need a quick fix with a man who looks like he just walked on to the NFL. Perhaps you’ve just gone through a break-up and feel like a mess in your everyday life— but not in your fantasy vacay-land. You know you’ll never run into anyone you meet again, so there’s a bonus mentality of, fuck it.
Speaking with a woman in her mid-twenties, reflecting on her experience studying abroad, she described one bout of vacation sex as “a minefield of the unexpected. It was like an improv game of ‘yes, and.’ We just kept going with each others’ every whim until we exploded.” When I asked her to elaborate, she described a scene in Amsterdam in which she approached an attractive man at the bar, sidled up next to him, and told the bartender, “I’ll have whatever he’s drinking.” He introduced himself immediately and bought her the drink, and they flirted for a few minutes before he led her onto the dance floor and kissed her. His hostel was directly next to the bar, and they pushed into each other against the narrow walls of the spiral staircase like pinballs as he led her to his room. They fucked until they were interrupted by all 7 of his roommates returning from the bar and walking in on them while she was face-down, ass-up. She told me this with a laugh, and when I asked her about the sex itself, it was an afterthought. “Oh, the sex was good. But that’s not why it was memorable.”
It’s easy to underestimate just how important that element of surprise can be. Great sex is great sex wherever you are, but it’s not always a story worth telling. The times that make you ache for the adventure, the recklessness, the danger— those are the kind of instincts that will lead you to book your next vacation, to feel that rush of adrenaline. Being the stranger in a new place is a hook that never fails to catch.