If you’re heading out on the road for a year – or even a week – and you’re in the mood, chances are good you could find yourself in a position to “get a little action.” You might be thinking that sounds great, and we can’t blame you. But this is the part where we’d like to gently remind you of all the common-sense things you want to think about now, before you leave home, so you don’t have to worry about them when you’re in a drunken stupor at 2 o’clock in the morning in a 30-bunk hostel room.
Just trust us on this one.
Here are a few reasons to have safe sex: AIDS, genital herpes, crabs and other STDs. When travelers, especially backpackers, hit the road, they tend to think they are invincible. This is not the case. Do not think that you will be able to tell if someone has a STD. Even if your partner tells you he is clean, remember that you have known this person only briefly. The best protection from STDs is to use a condom. Like tampons, condoms can be found in large cities throughout the world, although you may have more difficulty finding them in devoutly religious or conservative countries. Marie Stopes’ Passport to Sexual Health is an excellent resource for worldwide information on the availability of birth control, HIV risks and legality of abortion, among other topics.
If there’s even a chance you may have sex while you’re gallivanting around the world, consider your birth control options. Although a condom works as birth control, an extra safety precaution won’t do you any harm. There are a lot of different birth control options that are available to a traveler. You can read about the pluses and minuses of many of them here, and many of them double as a way to manage your period while you travel as well.
Getting some without waking everyone else up can be tricky. For the sake of other travelers who may not be up for the frolicking fun, or have those pesky train things to catch, be considerate. Most people don’t want to hear your sex session… And those that do, well, do you really want them listening? We at BootsnAll recommend either making use of a bathroom or shower stall for a quickie, or splurging on a single room at the hostel if you really think you’re gonna get some. Yes, it’ll cost you a little extra, but we can’t think of a better come-hither line in a hostel than, “Hey, I reserved one of the private rooms tonight…”
Sex in Less-Than-Sanitary Conditions
Sex on Dingy Beds
Here’s another reason to bring a sleep sack/thin sheet/sarong. Some hostels – and you know the ones we’re talking about – don’t change the sheets very often (or ever, it sometimes seems). So… If the sheet is even remotely scary looking, lay something else down over it before you lay down.
A little dirt never killed anyone, but excessive amounts of dirt/dried leaves/twigs/sand can upset the delicate Ph balance in your vagina – not to mention hurt a whole hell of a lot. While having sex outdoors, keep this in mind. If you have access to purified water, rinsing afterwards may reduce your chance of irritation. Unpurified water in polluted lakes/streams should not be used, for the same reasons you wouldn’t drink it: Parasites.
Yeast Infections and Treatments
Yeast infections happen while you are at home, so why wouldn’t they plague you on the road? Causes for yeast infections vary, but are generally due to antibiotics that have killed off good bacteria, allowing yeast to flourish, non-cotton, tight, or dirty clothes that trap heat and moisture, chemicals such as inks, dyes, and perfumes (think: douches), and nonoxynol-9, a spermicide that is found in many condoms. To do your best to prevent yeast infections, change your underwear at least every day (more often if you are in a hot climate and perspiring). You should also avoid douching, and if you are sensitive to lubricants you should avoid condoms with nonoxynol-9.
While traveling, if you begin to have symptoms of a yeast infection, visit a pharmacy or doctor. Symptoms of a yeast infection include vaginal itching, burning, painful urination, painful sexual intercourse, and thick, cottage-cheese-like discharge. If you visit a doctor, you may be able to get a prescription for an oral drug like Diflucan. If you have a history of yeast infections and will be traveling for an extended period of time, ask your doctor for a prescription before you go. While traveling, you can also visit a pharmacy for a topical treatment such as Monistat.
We don’t know the availability of yeast infection medication in developing countries, so if you have direct experience trying to obtain treatments for yeast infections, please let us know so we can update this article.