Why Vacation Sex is So Hot

By Dr. Justin Relationships Why Vacation Sex is So Hot

Have you ever noticed that you feel hornier than usual on vacation? If so, you’re not alone! Travel has a way of opening the door to more feelings of sexual arousal and desire, which is why many of us have had the experience of having more—and often more exciting—sex while vacationing. Just think for a moment about your own experiences with sex and travel. Perhaps you and your partner joined the “mile high club” or had a romantic tryst on your hotel balcony. Maybe you had a hot hookup (or even a threesome) on spring break. Or perhaps you had sex on the beach or in the woods with your lover. Vacation sex often takes the form of trying new things or doing things that you might not typically do at home, which is why the internet is replete with articles and social media threads about the hottest vacation sex stories. So, what’s this all about? Why does travel often make us horny, and why is vacation sex so damn hot? Let’s break down the psychology behind it.

Most of Us Fantasize About Sex and Travel

Part of what’s going on here is simply that most of us have had fantasies about sex occurring far from home—so maybe we’re just living out our fantasies when we’re traveling because it presents a unique opportunity to bring them to life. We often picture sex taking place in exotic locations because it adds some element of novelty or because it evokes a sensual or romantic feeling. Likewise, we often imagine sex in places where we would be “breaking the rules” or where there would be a risk of being caught, so there can be a taboo element to this as well. As some evidence of this, in the survey of 4,175 Americans’ sexual fantasies I conducted for my book Tell Me What You Want, I found that 90% of my participants had fantasized about sex in a hotel, 85% had fantasized about sex in nature, 83% had fantasized about sex on the beach or in another exotic location, and 53% had fantasized about sex on an airplane. These numbers tell us that travel and vacation are very common elements of our sexual fantasies. And so when we’re surrounded by all of those travel cues, it might very well bring those fantasies to mind—and perhaps even prompt us to act them out.


Vacations Break Our Routines and Relieve Stress

When we’re on vacation, we don’t follow our normal schedule. You don’t need to set an alarm to get up early and go to work. You don’t need to do chores around the house. You’re not exhausted from work and a long commute at the end of the day. Every day of vacation is a “choose your own adventure” opportunity. So without the rigidity of our normal schedules, this simply creates more opportunities for sex. But it’s not just that—vacation also puts us in a more relaxed mindset. For one thing, you don’t have all of the normal cues around from home that can stress you out, like that pile of laundry sitting around, the overgrown yard, or that home improvement project that still isn’t finished. Plus, you’re away from work, your boss, and the office. All of this has the effect of reducing stress, which is one of the biggest libido killers. In short, more free time + less stress = greater odds of feeling desire and having a chance to act on it.


Novel Environments Can Turn Us On

Simply being in a new setting produces some level of generalized physiological arousal. You’re seeing new people and places and trying new things. Non-sexual novelty is stimulating—and it has the potential to amplify sexual arousal. This is especially true when we’re engaged in active and exciting activities, like swimming in the ocean, rock climbing, or riding a roller coaster. The arousal boost we experience from popular vacation activities can spill over into the bedroom and boost sexual arousal through a process known as excitation transfer. Heightened physiological arousal can also be mistaken for sexual arousal because they share a lot of similar properties. When you’re breathing fast, and the heart is really pumping from doing something active and fun, you might misattribute the source of that arousal to the sexy stranger you just met or the skimpy outfit or bathing suit your partner packed for the trip.

When We Travel, We Can Be Anyone We Want To Be

Traveling to a new place where nobody knows us affords a newfound sense of anonymity and freedom from judgment. You have the chance to be someone new or explore a different side of yourself. For example, maybe you’re not somebody who hooks up at home because you’re from a smaller town and you don’t want everyone to know your business. If so, you might very well find that travel is when you really get your flirt on and try things you don’t usually do at home (as they say, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”). You might also find yourself being a little more outgoing because, if you’re rejected, so what? You’re not going to see that person every weekend when you go out, so the stakes are lower if you take a risk and approach someone.


We Often Drink More on Vacation, and Our Friends Might Encourage Us To Get Wild

People tend to let loose on vacations and often consume more alcohol. We know that alcohol has a disinhibiting effect and, in small to moderate doses, can be a bit of an aphrodisiac. Alcohol can also lead us to put our “beer goggles” on and find a wider range of people to be attractive. So booze (and any other substances you might be consuming) can also fuel sexual exploration. Who we’re traveling with matters as well. If you’re on a spring break or a bachelor/bachelorette party trip, your friends might encourage you to lean into your wilder side, perhaps by doing several rounds of shots, putting on your short shorts, and then hitting the clubs. Research finds that traveling with friends is strongly associated with hooking up, particularly on spring break trips. If you’re traveling with a partner, the odds of sex are going to depend on where you are in your relationship and whether you’ve packed any emotional baggage. If it’s a newer relationship where the sparks are still flying or a long-term relationship where you’re making a celebratory getaway (such as for an anniversary), odds are that you’re going to take advantage of the opportunity to connect sexually. By contrast, if you’re in a relationship where there’s a lot of conflict and that follows you to your final destination, well, that’s another story. Maybe you’ll have hot vacation make-up sex. Or maybe one of you will be sleeping on the floor.


Sunlight Exposure Boosts Testosterone

Lastly, when we travel (especially for summer vacations), we tend to go to sunny places. Interestingly, research has found that exposure to more sunlight actually increases testosterone production. In studies where animals have been exposed to more UVB light, that testosterone boost is linked to more mating behavior. In controlled experiments with humans, men and women alike report increased feelings of passionate love following a UVB light treatment. In short, just getting a little more sun can make us horny.


Taking a vacation not only increases our chances of feeling desire for sex and creating more opportunities to pursue it, but it also opens the door to trying new and different things that we might not normally do in our home environment—and exploring novel sexual acts is a breeding ground for passion. There are so many things that change when we travel. Our environment is different. Our activities and schedule are different. And we’re often a different version of ourselves. As a result, it’s no surprise that all of this often translates to having more—and better—sex on vacation.

Time to plan a trip?


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Maticka‐Tyndale, E., Herold, E. S., & Mewhinney, D. (1998). Casual sex on spring break: Intentions and behaviors of Canadian students. Journal of Sex Research, 35(3), 254-264.

Parikh, R., Sorek, E., Parikh, S., Michael, K., Bikovski, L., Tshori, S., … & Levy, C. (2021). Skin exposure to UVB light induces a skin-brain-gonad axis and sexual behavior. Cell Reports, 36(8), 109579.