Backpacker Sex Etiquette

Today I want not to tell you a story, but to discuss a delicate topic. I feel that although this topic has been fringed upon in another blog post by Claudia it requires further discussion in my opinion.
Okay, let’s set the scene. You have been travelling with your lady/man/raptor/goat and while sleeping in the car and the one man tent has got you so far, you are both looking for that elusive hot shower which doesn’t run on fifty cent pieces and will inevitably and capriciously plummet from amazonian to arctic in a matter of milliseconds as soon as your change runs out. You decide to check into a hostel for one night, but to save your forever diminishing funds (due to trying to stay warm in wilderness showers) you pick the sixteen bed shared dorm and effectively pick the last two cheap beds in the whole of town. You both rush to the showers and cleanse yourself of a week’s worth of dirt, sweat and shame and as you slip into a fresh set of clothes you feel like a new person; almost as if you have skipped two monkeys in the evolution line. You’re feeling so clean that you feel you could create an excel spreadsheet, start understanding formulae and actually have a real adult life.

You feel good, and decide that while you’re having a relaxing evening in civilisation that the money you saved on your humble accomodation could in fact be spent on a beer or twelve down at the pub. You grab your partner by the arm and skip gleefully through the door into the warm orange glow and the gentle ambience of clinking glasses, soft jazz music and the German language. You drink a couple and drown yourself deeper and deeper into each other’s eyes. A hand touches a leg, a stare lingers a second longer than polite, a kiss blossoms on the lips and suddenly the blood is flowing south. You drink up and run back together excitedly to the hostel.

It’s late, and it’s dark, and everybody is sleeping. You frantically devour each other’s faces but of course in hushed tones, and knowing that if you can be really really really quiet, you might just get away with it.

Do not be this person. Just don’t do it.

Firstly, you won’t get away with it. Out of those fourteen other sleepers you will have at least one snorer, one sleep talker, one gassy roommate and at least one light sleeper who will most likely already be awake due to all the snoring, sleep talking and farting. If that light sleeper happens to actually be asleep, chances are they will be the person on the top of your bunk and you will gently (or not so) rock him/her/it awake. That poor soul can absolutely feel absolutely everything you are doing because, let’s just face it, hostel bunks are, at least 98% of the time, rather shit. Every time you pump down into your respective other, you’re basically pumping down into poor James sleeping less than a metre above you. James doesn’t want this. James just wants to sleep.

Secondly, you’ll anger the backpacker gods and they will bestow a curse upon ye. In the near future you will become James on the top bunk and realise just how shitty this position to be in is. Nobody is ever impressed with the couple having sex in the shared room.

Thirdly, hostel duvets tend to be on the modest side, which are not so good for concealing your modesty. When the welcoming light bleeds through the shutters and into the dormitory, there will most likely be a cheeky nipple or left testicle or loose labia for poor James to witness as he tries to pack his belongings into his backpack to catch his flight on time. James might even start to cry.

Fourthly, (which I just found out is actually a word), if by some miracle your muffled moaning, your bunk rocking and of course the squeak squeak squeak of questionable bedframes under strain and slap slap slapping of (I’m not even going to complete this sentence) hasn’t forced any witnesses to your crime, people forget that sex smells, rather unpleasantly too. James is almost traumatic now. James is shaking in the corner.

Nextly (which spellchecker informs me is most definitely not a word), think of how many people have potentially had sex on that mattress before you and how gross that is. Smelly Bob in the corner may have even masturbated there. Picture that. Smelly Bob with his hands on his junk. Ha, now you don’t want to do it.

Okay, so here’s how to do it properly. Tom’s step by step guide to fucking with respect to your fellow backpackers.

1) Find a private space, if possible. If you are travelling in a couple then why not check into a private room? If there are no private rooms or you are too poor or you did not anticipate to be getting some, take a romantic shower together. People are more likely to forgive you for enduring a loud shower than enduring a night of passion from the spectator’s seat.

2) If none of the above is available, why not take a romantic moonlight stroll down the beach and find some shadows. Just anywhere but the dorm room. I should probably mention this is probably illegal but trust me, sleep-deprived-grumpy-post-night-of-no-sleep-because-you-were-fucking-too-loudly Tom is a lot more scary than the police can ever be. And yes, he holds grudges.

3) If you’re thinking about fucking in the dorm room, punch yourself.

4) No seriously, purge it from your mind.

5) Don’t ever presume you are alone. Hostel life is very public and there is seldom any privacy. If, by chance, you do find yourself seemingly alone in a dorm room and falling victim to your lust, make sure you are constantly ready to cover up the second that door handle starts turning. I’ve walked in on too many people in the act and it’s just not pleasant for anybody. Once they even carried on.

6) And if you do think you are alone, please check first. Please.

7) If you do ignore all of this, be prepared for hilarious or annoyed comments from other travellers. Be prepared for public shaming. Be prepared to leave the hostel and never come back. Be prepared to face the consequences of your disrespectful actions.

I don’t know what else to say really. From being in dorm rooms with people trying to covertly perform coitus I can honestly say that, while it’s hilarious for the first maybe two seconds, once that moment has passed it really is a huge disrespect and a difficult thing to approach. You can’t block it out, because often you have to be up early and every diminished second of sleep counts, and so you end up getting frustrated and angry and upset. I have been James. In every one of those scenarios, once all in one night. The smell is the worst and the least anticipated. The great thing about travellers is their ability to connect to almost strangers and help out anybody; we are a fantastic community that collates all corners of life into a small category (except those who do not travel), and it’s people like the couple on the bottom bunk who are immortalised in our minds. Don’t ruin the reputation of something beautiful for one night of lust.

This has been a public service announcement from Tom @ indieroad.

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