Backpackers and solo travellers enjoy more sex than the average person. But they also run a higher risk of being caught in the act, catching an STI and falling in love. Now, I’ll reveal all in my ultimate guide to sex and hooking up while travelling and backpacking!
Below, I’ll share 8 secrets about backpacking sex in hostels – find out where backpackers hook up in the hostel, how often they shag, who they have a fling with and your chances of catching an STI.
I’ll also share 22 tips for a better travel hook up – so that you can enjoy private, safe and pleasurable sex while travelling!
Learn how to make friends, find dates and enjoy better sex whilst travelling solo on Nomadic Yak!
Disclaimer: Sex comes with inherent risks. Nomadic Yak takes no responsibility for your behaviour when backpacking or travelling. You are solely responsible for your actions.
10 Secrets About Backpacking Sex in Hostels
1. Backpackers masturbate in the dorm rooms
I was in George Town, Malaysia. It was late in the afternoon and I was sitting on the hostel balcony with some new travel buddies. One of them says, ‘I’m going to grab my speaker from my bag.’
30 seconds later he re-emerges from the dorm looking like he’d seen a ghost… ‘Someone’s having a wank in there,’ he says. All of us erupted in laughter but it went silent when the culprit awkwardly stumbled out ten minutes later.
The truth is, most backpackers (male and female) have had a wank in the hostel before – during a quiet moment in the dorm room or whilst taking a long shower in the shared bathroom (see my tip below about wearing flip-flops).
If you are going to masturbate in the dorm room, don’t do it at 3 am when everyone else is trying to sleep. Believe me, not everyone is asleep – someone will hear you (or worse, you’ll wake people up).
Better yet, hire a private room and you can enjoy yourself all night long without interruption or mid-wank anxiety!
2. Backpackers have sex in dorm rooms and shared bathrooms
It’s 2 am and you’re sound asleep in your 12-person dorm room. Suddenly, the door slams open and two drunk backpackers stumble in, giggling and whispering obnoxiously loud. “Shut up,” groans one of your roommates.
The drunk couple climbs into the same bunk bed and 2 minutes later it starts squeaking and shaking like a rusty flagpole in a hurricane. A pillow goes flying through the air toward the guilty couple, followed by another chorus of ‘shut the hell up.’ Two minutes later, the squeaking starts again and within 5 minutes it’s all over.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed this exact scenario throughout my 6+ years of solo travel. Believe me, you will experience it too at some stage.
It’s common for backpackers to have sex in dorm rooms (particularly in party hostels or after a pub crawl). The slightly more respectable backpackers might opt for the shared bathroom instead (in a shower stall).
The only problem is, everyone can hear you (yes, even from the echo chamber that is the hostel bathroom). Sometimes, one of your roommates will say something and make it incredibly embarrassing for you. Other times, no one will say anything but they’ll treat you awkwardly the next morning.
3. Backpackers have more sex than the average person
You want the honest truth – one of the advantages of travelling alone is that you have more sex than the average person.
According to my research, 57% of backpackers have sex when travelling.
Of those backpackers who have sex during their trip, most only have one sexual partner. A large portion of backpackers have between two to five sexual partners. And 11% of backpackers have more than six sexual partners during their trip! 1,2,3,4,5,6,8
|Number of sexual partners during trip||Backpackers who had sex (average percentage)|
Studies also suggested that backpackers have a higher number of sexual partners than non-travellers. 1
Note that male backpackers are more likely to have numerous sexual partners. Female backpackers are more likely to have one sexual partner during their trip.
In one study, someone even reported having 21 sexual partners during their backpacking trip – probably one to avoid)!2
That same study reported that most international backpackers have sex weekly or monthly:
- Daily – 9.8%
- Weekly – 34.1%
- Fortnightly – 17.1%
- Monthly – 39%
In summary, backpackers and solo travellers have sex more frequently and have more sexual partners than people that don’t travel!
4. You’ll travel and fall in love with some of your sexual partners
Let me guess – you’re not the type to fall in love easily. You’re just looking for a few casual travel flings and hookups.
Most backpackers think they’re playboys or playgirls. But then you meet someone during your trip, travel with them for a few weeks and before you know it, you’ve fallen in love and find yourself 3 months deep into a long-distance relationship.
Prepare yourself for the emotions that come with sex and hooking up whilst travelling.
In fact, one study found that of the international backpackers in Australia who had had sex in the last 3 months:
- 46.3% had sex with a regular partner
- 48% had sex with casual partners.2
And of the backpackers who have sex whilst travelling, about 65% are single and 35% are married or in a relationship. 1,3,4,5
And as you can see in the table above, most backpackers only have sex with one sexual partner (rather than two or three).
This all suggests that almost 40% of backpackers have sex with one person, travel with that person and continue having regular sex with that person. I’d be willing to suggest that most of these travel flings turn into long-distance relationships.
5. A lot of backpackers don’t use condoms
Ladies and gents, beware – 16% of backpackers don’t use condoms whilst travelling. Surprisingly, however, backpackers do use condoms more often than the average person!
Studies show that condom usage varies wildly amongst backpackers (both male and female).1,2,3,8
|Condom usage||Backpackers (percentage)|
Interestingly, the majority of those backpackers that never used condoms during intercourse were female (probably because they were relying on other contraception methods like the pill).
6. Backpackers have higher rates of STIs
What’s the best way to ruin your travels – catching an STI and having to apply ointment to itchy and oozing sores every few hours.
The most common STIs amongst international backpackers were chlamydia, genital warts and herpes.1,2,4,8
|Current STI diagnosis||Backpackers infected (percentage)|
|Genital Warts (HPV)||5.6%|
Other studies also suggest that backpackers have higher rates of STIs compared to non-travellers.1,2
The takeaway – always use a condom (ladies, you should also carry condoms in your luggage (see tips below)).
7. One in three backpackers hook up with a local
Backpackers don’t exclusively sleep with other backpackers – sometimes, they sleep with the locals!
Studies suggest that 42% of backpackers sleep with a local. And up to 25% of backpackers sleep with sex workers!1,5,6,8
|Slept with a local||Backpackers (percentage)|
One study also suggested that nearly 10% of backpackers sleep with 2 or more locals!2
Whether or not you sleep with a local will depend on the cultural norms of your destination (see my tips below).
If you do spend the night with a local, be sure to tell someone you trust and consider sharing your location via your smartphone (one of my 35 solo travel safety tips).
8. Backpackers are drunk most of the time when they have sex
Here’s something that won’t surprise you – backpackers drink a lot when they travel.
22% of backpackers drink alcohol in excess during their trip (compared to 9.5% of non-travellers).1
Here’s something else that won’t surprise you – all that drinking and partying amongst backpackers leads to a lot of sex in hostels.
About 67% of backpackers drink before having sex. Only 33% of backpackers rarely or never drank alcohol prior to sex.2,4
|Drink alcohol before sex||Backpackers (percentage)|
|Most of the time||14%|
The more alcohol a backpacker drinks during their trip, the more sexual partners they will have on average.2
9. Some nationalities are better at picking up than others
My research shows that Canadian and Dutch backpackers are more likely to have sex than other nationalities of backpackers – or maybe they’re just more willing to brag about it!
|Nationality||Percentage of backpackers who have sex during trip|
|Rest of World||38%|
Only about a quarter of French and German backpackers have sex whilst backpacking.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to collect any data on how many American backpackers get lucky during their trip – I imagine you Yankees fit in somewhere between the Canadians and the Rest of the World.
However, these results aren’t final – participate in my Nomadic Yak solo travel surveys and let me know how much sex you have whilst backpacking.
10. Some nationalities use condoms more often than others
My research shows that Canadian and Australian backpackers are more likely to consistently use condoms than other nationalities of backpackers.
|Nationality||Percentage of backpackers who use condoms consistently|
|Rest of World||62%|
British and Swedish backpackers are least likely to consistently use condoms during their trips.
Again, I haven’t been able to collect any data on how many American backpackers use condoms consistently. Take two minutes to complete my Nomadic Yak solo travel sex survey and let me know how often you use condoms when backpacking.
22 Tips for Better Travel Hook Ups and Sex
Accommodation – Tips for Travel Sex and Hook Ups
1. Hire a private room
There is a 99% chance that someone will hear you (or see you) having sex in your dorm room (despite my tips below about choosing the perfect hostel and bunk bed).
The bunk beds shake and creek. There are people constantly walking in and out of the room. There are no locks on the door. And someone is always awake (even when you think they’re asleep).
Book a private room for the night if you’ve got a chance of getting lucky. You don’t have to be a billionaire to afford a private room – most hostels offer them at reasonable prices (cheaper than a motel or hotel).
And if you bring someone back late at night after a night of partying, ask the receptionist if there are any private rooms left (rather than waking everybody up in your dorm room).
2. Always choose the bottom bunk
The problem with having sex in a rickety old hostel bunk bed is that it squeaks and moans louder than you do. Your roommates will hate you come morning.
You usually choose your bed when you first arrive at the hostel (if it isn’t already assigned to you).
Don’t choose the top bunk if you think you’ll be having sex in the dorm. It always shakes more and makes more noise.
Instead, opt for the bottom bunk. Then, use my next tip…
3. Hang a towel from the top bunk
If you’ve opted for the bottom bunk, you’ve got an advantage – you can hang a towel from the top bunk as a makeshift curtain around your love nest.
This doesn’t provide perfect privacy – people can still peer in and everyone can almost certainly hear you.
As an added sound barrier, make sure that you hook up under the duvet (it helps to lessen the… squelching.)
4. Book a hostel that offers pods and curtains
Not all hostels are made equal – some dorm rooms offer a heap of privacy whilst others provide none at all.
Always opt for hostels that provide privacy in the dorm rooms. Some dorms even have pods (enclosed beds with a curtain at the end), which are like your own little cocoon.
Look at the pictures of the dorm rooms before booking your hostel. At the very least, you want your bunk bed to have a curtain if possible.
5. Use the sock-on-the-door trick
In the unlikely event that you find your dorm room empty whilst wanting to get frisky with your backpacking buddy, you can try the sock-on-the-door trick.
Hang a sock on the outside door handle – a signal to your roommates, ‘Don’t come in here, there’s some freaky stuff going on.’
But be warned that this signal is not always internationally recognised. Some people have no idea what it means or simply don’t care and will barge in regardless.
Also, note that you should only use this trick during certain hours of the day (i.e. the middle of the day). You don’t want to prevent your roommates from going to bed or being able to access their luggage – they won’t thank you for it.
6. Carry a doorstop and portable door lock
Most hostel dorm rooms don’t have a lock on the door – they are always open so that everyone can come and go as they like.
If you want an added layer of security on top of the sock-on-the-door trick, try jamming a doorstop behind the door to prevent roommates from barging in.
I suggest that backpackers (particularly female backpackers) carry an Alarmed Door Stop and AceMining Portable Door Lock. You’ll sleep better knowing that creeps won’t be able to easily break into your room when staying in dodgy hostels or motels.
Sleep Soundly Knowing Creeps Can’t Break Into Your Room
7. Explore the hostel for lockable rooms
This one could land you in trouble with the hostel staff, so proceed at your own risk.
Some hostels have common areas that are rarely used and have a lockable door (e.g. the laundry, games room, rooftop, etc.). If you can’t get any alone time in the dorm room, you could explore the hostel for a room that you can lock yourselves in.
But again, be warned that this is disrespectful to the staff and other guests. It could get you kicked out of your accommodation (or worse, you could accidentally lock yourselves in and need to call for help – embarrassing).
Personally, I think it’s smarter (and more comfortable) to get a private room.
8. Keep your contraception within reaching distance at night
When you hear one of your roommates climb down from their bunk bed at 2 am and obnoxiously rustle around in their bag for a condom, it’s pretty obvious what they’re up to.
Don’t be that person.
Instead, keep your contraception in a toiletries bag next to you on your bunk bed (so that you don’t have to climb out of bed and wake everyone up).
Whatever you do, don’t keep your toiletries in a plastic bag (the rustling will drive your roommates nuts). I recommend this hanging toiletries and cosmetics bag for women and this leather toiletries and shaving bag for men.
Health and Safety – Tips for Travel Sex and Hook Ups
9. Men and women should include condoms on their packing list
The best protection against STIs and unwanted pregnancies is abstinence – but this isn’t realistic for most backpackers.
So, the next best protection is condoms.
Every man should include a pack of condoms on their male solo travel packing list.
But women should also include condoms on their female solo travel packing list. If a man says he doesn’t have a condom on him, you’ll always have a backup in your toiletries bag. And you’ll feel more comfortable using a condom that you know is safe and new from the packet.
Save Yourself the Pain and Shame of an STI
10. Wear flip-flops in the bathroom and shower
Hostel bathrooms are nasty – you tiptoe across the wet towels and slip on slimy bodily fluids as you step into the shower.
Backpackers are renowned for shagging and wanking in the bathroom – so you certainly don’t want to be showering barefoot.
Always wear flip-flops when using shared hostel bathrooms. It will help protect your feet against warts, rashes and other skin infections.
When you’re done, dry your flip-flops in the sun before wrapping them in a plastic bag and packing them back in your backpack.
Stop Stepping in Shower Sex Slime
11. Get an STI check before and after backpacking
You don’t want to be responsible for spreading STIs throughout the backpacking community and ruining your travel buddies’ lives.
Get an STI check from your local doctor before you leave for your backpacking trip. Don’t be embarrassed, it’s something that your doctor does all day, every day. All you’ll need to do is provide a urine or swab sample.
If you know you have an STI, always tell potential sexual partners that they are at risk of contracting that STI. It’s unethical to give someone an STI without telling them (and illegal in some countries (particularly regarding HIV).
You should also get checked for STIs once you return from your trip. Some STIs don’t show immediately and can lay dormant for years. But it’s best to address them early before unknowingly spreading them.
12. Take a shower before and after travel sex
No one wants to go down on a sweaty backpacker who stinks like a pig. Always take a shower before you get jiggy with other travellers in your hostel.
Ladies, fill this TSA-approved travel container set with your trusted products before leaving home. And if you don’t want to carry loose shaving razors in your backpack, this OLOV Rechargeable Electric Trimmer might be more convenient.
And don’t forget to shower after you’ve done your dirty deeds as well – no one likes lying in a pool of their own sweat (it can lead to infected piercings).
Stay Sleek and Sexy on the Road
13. Avoid sex in public
A friend of mine was once descending via train from Jungfrau (the highest mountain in Europe) and getting a little frisky with his travel buddy in an empty carriage.
That’s private enough, right? A fun travel story?
It was fun until they realised that they had arrived back in town and a car full of lads driving alongside the train was gawking, pointing, cheering and snapping photos!
Getting caught hooking up in public can be embarrassing. But it’s also illegal (indecent exposure) in many countries and could land you in legal trouble.
14. Beware of drink spikers, pickpockets and kidnappers
Tourists are regularly robbed, assaulted, kidnapped and murdered in some parts of the world.
In 2022, at least 25 tourists were murdered in Colombia. One of those was Paul Nguyen, an American tourist whose body was found next to a garbage bin after going out on a Tinder date with a local woman.
Both male and female backpackers need to be cautious of who they are hooking up with (particularly when using apps like Tinder to meet locals (see below)).
Female backpackers should carry one of these Nightcap Drink Cover Scrunchies – it doubles as a scrunchy and a cover for cups and glasses to prevent drink spiking.
Never leave your fling unattended around your valuables (wallet, phone, laptop, etc.). By the time you come back from the loo, they may have taken off with all of your stuff.
Female Backpackers Can Party Without a Worry
15. No prostitutes
If the horror story above doesn’t scare you, the idea of being extorted by prostitutes and pimps should.
A quick Google search reveals hundreds of stories of tourists being blackmailed by prostitutes (they threaten to release a secret recording of you online if you don’t pay the ransom).
Overcharging is another common trick – they demand more money than you originally agreed upon and when you refuse to pay, their pimp threatens to physically harm you.
Prostitution is also illegal in some countries. Visiting a prostitute whilst travelling could see you arrested or extorted by the local police (who often corroborate with the prostitutes and wait outside to catch you).
Not to mention, sleeping with prostitutes in popular sex tourism destinations is a surefire way to catch an STI.
16. Beware of the local culture
Some cultures don’t take too kindly to casual sex.
When backpacking through the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia (particularly Islamic countries), be aware that it may be illegal or highly frowned upon to have sex before marriage.
In other countries, locals have grown accustomed to having casual sex with travellers and backpackers (particularly in parts of Europe, Asia and South America).
Be aware that many of these locals use you for sex and then play on your emotions to ask for money (some also have wives or husbands at home who might come after you if they find out).
17. Have the local emergency number saved (and other safety tips)
Buy a local SIM card as soon as you arrive at your destination. This way you can message or make a call in an emergency (even in the taxi from the airport to your accommodation).
You should also visit this list of emergency numbers and calling codes from around the world. Locate your destination and save the number as a contact in your phone.
If you ever feel sexually harassed or have been sexually assaulted, you need to be able to dial the local emergency number quickly.
If you feel threatened but don’t want to call the emergency number, call one of your friends or family (or pretend to call) and loudly tell them where you are and who is around you. When nearby predators hear this, they will think twice about trying anything.
Keep yourself out of harm’s way by studying my unique list of 35 solo travel safety tips!
How to Get Laid – Tips for Travel Sex and Hook Ups
18. Learn how to make friends before you learn how to pick up
You want to know my #1 tip for getting laid whilst backpacking – learn how to befriend someone before you learn how to pick up.
You should be able to speak to anyone about anything. You should have them in the palm of your hand in under 60 seconds but keep them engaged for hours.
How do you do that? Read my 9-step guide to making 100 travel buddies and you’ll find out!
Once you’ve got a conversation going and you’ve piqued their interest, then you can push things a little further by holding eye contact, touching and engaging in a little pillow talk.
19. Make the most of party nights
As I mentioned above, most backpackers have sex after drinking and partying.
So, hostel bar crawls and themed party nights are your best chance of finding a hookup.
This is why some backpackers choose to stay in “party hostels” – hostels that are renowned for getting rowdy and raunchy. You can find party hostels by filtering the search results on Hostelworld for the following facilities:
But remember – if someone is so drunk that they are incapacitated, they cannot legally consent to any sexual activity (see my tip below about consent).
20. Always get consent
Never have sex with someone unless you have their full consent. If you don’t get their consent, you could be criminally prosecuted and punished in a foreign country.
Consent is when your partner agrees by choice to sexual activity and they have both the freedom and the capacity to make that choice.
If your partner says ‘no’ or acts in a way that suggests that they are not agreeing to sexual activity, you do not have their consent.
If your partner is too drunk or intoxicated to agree to sexual activity, then they do not have the capacity to make that choice and have not given consent.
Consent is a serious issue – you do not want to ruin your travels and your life (or the life of the other person) by being charged with sexual assault or rape.
21. Take a ride on Tinder
You’d be surprised how many backpackers use Tinder and other dating apps to find a hookup in their destination.
Tinder is a great way to find a date with other travellers around your destination.
I’ve also seen a few backpackers use it to meet locals, who can show you parts of town that you wouldn’t otherwise get to see.
However, be cautious when using Tinder in foreign countries. Every year, 100s of tourists are robbed, assaulted and murdered by locals (many of whom use apps like Tinder to lure you in (see my tip above on drink spiking, pickpocketing and kidnapping)).
If you do use Tinder whilst backpacking, always let your family and friends know where you are and who you are with (try to subtly take a picture of their face and number plate).
22. Don’t be shy or overthink it
People are more sexually forward and experimental when backpacking and staying in hostels (as the statistics above suggest).
If you’re worried about getting laid whilst travelling, you’re overthinking it.
Instead, you should focus on having fun, learning from your experiences and making lots of travel buddies.
If you do these things, you will be fun to be around – then sex will come to you naturally (instead of you having to constantly seek out sex).
No one wants to hook up with a desperado who is constantly pushing for sex – it’s cringy and creepy.
Summary: Backpacking Sex in Hostels and Travel Hook Ups
75% of backpackers and solo travellers have sex during their trip. Whilst 50% of backpackers only have one sexual partner every three months, more than 30% of backpackers have 2 or more sexual partners in that time.
Because backpackers and solo travellers have sex more frequently and enjoy more sexual partners, they also have a higher risk of catching chlamydia. This is made worse by the fact that a quarter of backpackers don’t use a condom and more than 75% of backpackers drink alcohol before sex.
There are dozens of steps you can take to make travel sex safe, private and pleasurable. Always opt for private accommodation, carry contraceptives with you (both male and female) and avoid sex acts that may be considered lewd or illegal at your destination.
Statistics in this article that cite numerous sources have been averaged across those sources.
- McNulty, A., Egan, C., Wand, H., & Donovan, B. (2010). The behaviour and sexual health of young international travellers (backpackers) in Australia. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 86(3), 247–250. https://doi.org/10.1136/sti.2009.038737
- Fischer, J., Debattista, J., Rostami, S., Peet, A., Dean, J., Allen, K., & Stewart, M. W. (2013). Sexual risk taking in a community sample of international backpackers visiting Brisbane, Australia. Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health, 27(2), NP2400–NP2409. https://doi.org/10.1177/1010539513483822
- Hughes, K., Downing, J., Bellis, M. A., Dillon, P., & Copeland, J. (2009). The sexual behaviour of British backpackers in Australia. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 85(6), 477–482. https://doi.org/10.1136/sti.2009.036921
- Gareau, E., & Phillips, K. S. (2022). Sexual behaviors at home and abroad: an online survey of Canadian young adult travelers. BMC Public Health, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-022-13383-7
- Sexual behavior of foreign backpackers in the Khao San Road area, Bangkok. (2013, July 4). PubMed.
- Gareau, E., & Phillips, K. S. (2022b). Sexual behaviors at home and abroad: an online survey of Canadian young adult travelers. BMC Public Health, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-022-13383-7
- Dahlman, D., & Stafström, M. (2013). Female Swedish backpackers in Vietnam: A hypotheses generating study on sexual health risks while travelling. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, 11(4), 243–249. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmaid.2013.04.005
- Davies, S. G., Karagiannis, T., Headon, V., Wiig, R., & Duffy, J. E. (2011). Prevalence of genital chlamydial infection among a community sample of young international backpackers in Sydney, Australia. International Journal of STD and AIDS, 22(3), 160–164. https://doi.org/10.1258/ijsa.2010.010354
Find More Solo Travel Tips on Nomadic Yak
Learn how to make friends, find dates and enjoy better sex whilst travelling solo on Nomadic Yak!
Nomadic Yak helps solo travellers to plan journeys that are adventurous and authentic.
Every article is written by me, Harry Dale. I’ve travelled to 40+ countries over the last 5 years – alone.
You’ll find 100s of solo travel tips on how to save money, make more friends, build a social media following and much more.
Plus, you can use my solo travel destination guides to discover international sights and attractions that few other travellers get to witness.