Nerve.com had a feature up this week asking travelers about their love and sex lives. (This being Nerve, you might not want to click through if your office has filters up, and you might not want to read on if you don’t want to read about my views on sex while traveling.) It’s a quick round-up of questions they asked a few people at a bar in Colombia, but I think it’s a pretty accurate slice of the average backpacking population. (ETA: I realize they’re asked very leading questions in the vein of “make your travel sound as sexy and illicit as possible,” but still, you can choose how to answer those.)
The main themes seem to be:
1) Travel is better when you’re single because you can get laid more.
2) In fact, even when you’re dating someone while traveling, be quick to emphasize just how complicated and non-serious the situation is lest you feel too tied down.
3) Indulge yourself in broad generalizations about the sexual proclivities and romantic tendencies of different ethnicities.
I can really only sign off on #1, and that only if you’re not traveling with your partner. If you’re traveling with your partner, that’s a whole different kind of fun travel.
#2 just makes it sound like backpacking is the ultimate refuge of commitment-phobes, and #3 is not only inaccurate but gross.
I’ve certainly met plenty such travelers on the road, people who consider themselves ambassadors to the sexual United Nations. They use much the same checklist for their dicks as they do for their backpacks; has it been inside as many countries as possible?
And yeah, I just generalized them to be guys. There are women out there with a similar attitude, but overwhelmingly it’s dudes doing this kind of sexual tourism. Even in that Nerve interview, the woman who says she prefers to be single talks about being happy with oneself and enjoying sexual partners as they come along, not as notches on a mobile bedpost.
I think it all ties back into your general approach to travel. If you see travel as a way to meet exotic peoples with strange customs in foreign lands, you’re going to fetishize your sexual experiences with those people as times when you touched the Other. If you see travel as a way to integrate yourself into foreign cultures and look with disdain on those who stayed home, unenlightened about the wide world that you’ve just discovered, you’re going to fetishize your sexual experiences with people in the foreign culture as proof that you’re a citizen of the world to whom no label can be affixed.
If, however, you see travel as a way to meet people on their own terms, in their own lands, in their own time, as fellow travelers in the world, you’re more likely to have sexual experiences with real people rather than stereotypes and personal checklists.
Photo from here.