What Is the Allure of Hooking Up with People on Vacation?
The average person looks forward to many pleasurable activities on vacation: relaxing by the pool, drinking fruity cocktails or mocktails, reading a good book, sleeping in, setting their online status to "away"—the list goes on.
But for some people, the desire to have amazing sex with a hot local or fellow traveler comes in at No. 1 on this vacation to-do list.
There's no denying that having a short-term fling while traveling is a fantasy for many people. It's something plenty of folks seek out once they've been freed from their day-to-day responsibilities.
Judging by the sheer number of movies and television shows that follow the people on vacation hooking up plotlines, it's clear the fantasy is communal.
What is it about a holiday fling that people find so alluring?
Does physiology cause people to hook up on vacation?
Part of the attraction of a vacation encounter involves the idea of living out a fantasy, but much of the appeal is physiological, according to Massachusetts-based breakup and relationship coach Emmi Fortin.
The anticipation and excitement of meeting a person on vacation releases chemicals, such as adrenaline and dopamine, that hype up our nervous systems, serving up a drug-like "hit" of happiness, she explained.
She said those same chemicals help us attract potential holiday hookups in the first place.
"Many times, we are already in a higher-vibe state when on vacation, because we are laughing more, doing fun things or spending time with people we enjoy," Fortin said.
"These things make those happy chemicals already more prevalent throughout the body, making you look more attractive to someone else and someone else more attractive to you," Fortin shared.
Why is no strings attached so appealing?
The lack of accountability required and the absence of pressure for a fling to become something more are additionally appealing, Fortin said, especially in a culture where we are socialized to constantly be on the lookout for "Mr. or Mrs. Right."
"You don't have to worry about these things because you're not taking this person home to Mom and Dad," she said. "You're typically getting the best parts in a short burst of time without having to assess whether the person would realistically be a compatible match."
Isabelle Uren, who lives in Denmark, has had her fair share of holiday hookups. One that stands out as particularly satisfying took place in Japan, where she met a guy who was traveling with friends.
They spent the night singing karaoke at a bar, which she said resulted in a pretty hefty hangover and the loss of her voice. But their chemistry was palpable, she said, so they decided to spend more than just one wild night together.
"We had a great couple of days, enjoying the rose-tinted glasses of a holiday hookup," she said. "Losing my voice made talking a challenge, but it did mean I had to get up close and whisper everything in his ear, which he found pretty sexy, so I think it worked in my favor."
As Fortin said, much of the allure of vacation relations, at least for Uren, is the absence of pressure and overthinking.
"You can just enjoy it for what it is and you really make every minute count," Uren said. "I also kind of love the mystery of it, of not knowing or needing to know if it could have been more."
Why do vacation hookups prioritize pleasure?
According to the director of experience at California-based erotic club SNCTM, whose members prefer to remain anonymous, the hedonistic nature of being on vacation means it's a time when people can actually afford to prioritize their desires over everything else—something most individuals simply don't have the luxury of doing in day-to-day life.
"Above all, vacations are meant to make you feel good," the director said. "A trip out of town provides a much-needed break from the rigors of daily life, affording travelers a golden opportunity to place desire ahead of responsibility."
But contrary to popular belief, Fortin said prioritizing pleasure doesn't have to be reserved for once-a-year vacations. We may actually be able to experience some of the thrill that comes with a holiday hookup in our daily lives.
"If we can try to live more of our day-to-day lives with permission to have more fun, live with less stress and step out of our comfort zones to be curious about the unknown, we may be less apt to feel the need to step into a fairytale and escape our everyday lives on vacation," she said.
The bottom line
People may not need to wait for the fun of a vacation hookup but can incorporate the freedom a vaca means into their everyday lives. It just takes a little practice.