What is it about getting away that makes a vacation so conducive to getting it on? With millions of Americans on spring break this month, a quick look at the vicissitudes of vacation sex seems in order.
Of course you don't need a study (although there has been one) to tell you that college students are inclined to seek out opportunities for casual sex during spring break.
But data also suggests
that even non-student holiday travelers are likely to feel more sexual
during a vacation, and for similar reasons: a sense of freedom from
at-home restrictions, a relaxation of inhibitions, a focus on having a
good time and, no surprise, high alcohol consumption.
First and foremost, vacations provide an opportunity to escape from all the things that stress us out when we're at home - work, parenthood, that pile of socks next to the hamper.
"Taking time to check-out from your hectic life, and check-in to a hotel or resort is the perfect way to rejuvenate your relationship and reconnect with your partner," says Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Igniteyourpleasure.com.
"When on vacation turn off your digital devices, and tune in to your partners," adds Logan Levkoff, sex educator and author of "How to Get Your Wife to Have Sex with You."
"While a vacation is no time to go on a physical diet, it could be just the time to go on a 'digital diet' and cut back on your intake of e-mails and texts," Levkoff says. "More than anything vacations should be about re-connecting with your partner and disconnecting from your daily life."
And guys, take note: researchers in the Netherlands found that "the key to female arousal seems to be deep relaxation and a lack of anxiety." One study scanned the brains of men and women during the process of sexual response using a technique called positron emission tomography (PET). The results showed that the parts of the female brain responsible for processing fear, anxiety and emotion were reduced during sexual activity.
"What this means is that deactivation, letting go of all fear and anxiety, might be the most important thing, even necessary, to have an orgasm," says Dr. Gert Holstege of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
Where else better to deactivate and power down than on a relaxing vacation. And what better reason than the female orgasm, to plan one?
But it's not only the stress-free atmosphere of a vacation that can help set the mood - exposure to new and novel experiences can stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter which plays a big role in sexual excitement. Use your vacation as a chance to try something new... out of the bedroom.
As you and your partner plan your trip, sit down separately and draw up lists of all the places you find exciting. Perhaps you'd like to road trip through the southwest. Or go on a Mediterranean cruise. Or head up to Vermont for a music festival. Fill your lists with places and activities you've never experienced before. Then compare your lists and see where there's overlap.
"These experiences that are novel play a role in arousal and remind you and your partner of what it felt like when you first met," says Levine.
After planning a getaway that will make the both of you happy, make sure there's lots of room in the schedule for intimacy. You may not want to work your way through the entire "Kama Sutra" but perhaps there's just one new position you've been longing to try. Or you can use the privacy of your hotel suite to try out a new toy, don a new piece of lingerie, or experiment with role playing.
Vacations provide safe spaces in which you can lower your inhibitions and try something new. And those new experiences -- whether in or out of the bedroom -- can increase arousal levels.
Of course, not all vacations are a walk in the park, and some of them do come with extra baggage - the kind you can't stow away in the overhead compartment. Kids, tight schedules and sometimes even other people who you may be vacationing with can make it difficult to let go completely. But between quick getaways, organized retreats, and kid-only activities, there's always a way to overcome these obstacles.
And even if you're home this week, with no immediate vacation plans on the horizon, that doesn't mean you need to give up on the benefits of vacation sex. With a few simple touches and a little bit of imagination, you can skip the travel and enjoy a sexy staycation right in your own bedroom.