Vacations are not what they used to be. Lazily sipping cocktails all day, being as inactive as possible while lolling on the chaise in front of the pool, maybe fitting in a little shopping. It all seems to have gone by the wayside. The new trend in travel for many couples is eco-adventure vacations. But not for the reasons you may think.
Yes, many couples are interested in living a more eco-friendly lifestyle; one that tends to include outdoor adventure activities (think hiking, surfing, kayaking etc). However, these couples report that not only do they feel they enjoy a more active, nature oriented vacation that injects a sense of adventure in their lives, but that their relationship and sex lives are strengthened as a by-product.
What does this mean as a result? Eco-adventure travel fosters several skills that can positively reinforce traits couples seek. This desire to get “out of the box” of their everyday lives also serves as a way to combat boredom in their relationship. It shakes things up enough for them to garner experiences that more typical couples would not experience on the rote trip to a resort in Florida.
While some individuals may find the idea of trekking glaciers or surfing Indonesia as daunting, these activity travelers say they experience a sense of rejuvenation. Many return home and are able to apply the skills they have learned on their trips. Rebecca, a 32 year-old mother of a one states that, “My husband and I seem to communicate better now than we ever have. While rock climbing all over the United States we discovered that the challenges put upon our ability to communicate in sticky situations and negotiate difficulties seemed to train us for everyday life. When you are in a life and death situation on a mountain, arguing over who takes the trash out at home is a moot point.”
Researchers John Gottman and David Schnarch reinforce the importance of a sense of individuation within one’s couplehood as well as creating spontaneity with in a relationship. These two attributes can often have a “make it or break it” affect on long-term relationships. Eco-travel allows people to continue to individuate by excelling on their own but to also bond under uncommon circumstances.
Tim states that he feels closer to his partner Martin because the trips they’ve taken whitewater rafting become all about them as a couple. “How we navigate the river is a direct metaphor for our lives. We’ve shared things together that we haven’t with anyone else.” This increased sense of emotional intimacy can carry over into the bedroom.
An interest in “healthy risk-taking” poses an overlap into sexuality. There can be a sense of spontaneity that may not exist otherwise, that anything can happen on these trips. This ability to seek out adventure spills over into sex lives. “Having sex in non-traditional places, breaking out a new sex toy, experimenting within our own boundaries, all of these concepts grow out of our overall desire for adventure,” Rebecca says.
Again and again, these couples reiterate that life and therefore relationships should be fun, at least some of the time. There is a pervasive sense of openness, a willingness to try something new and fail in front of a partner – to be emotionally and physically vulnerable, an ability to be able to communicate needs and desires. These seem to be the most important traits whether a couple is bonding through eco-travel in the jungles of Borneo or experimenting with their sexualities in the comfort of their own bed.
image is a copyrighted photo of model(s)
Dr. Kat is the resident sexologist at Adam & Eve and also runs a private practice and media consulting business. She has a Doctorate from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Her professional affiliations include AASECT, SSSS, and the American Board of Sexologists. She also has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and completed a postgraduate degree in Marriage, Family and Addictions Recovery Therapy.
© Copyright Dr. Kathleen Van Kirk