It's Valentine's Day, which means it's officially time to celebrate all that's great and beautiful about true love. Except, of course, that's boring, so we're not going to do that.
Instead, we're going to celebrate a love that's a little more fleeting than it is beautiful: travel love. Yes, you fall hard and you fall often when you travel. You meet people who will change your life forever, people who seem so impossibly exotic and charming, people with whom you'll clearly spend every single moment of the rest of your life.
You won't, obviously. But that doesn't make travel love any less real.
Unfortunately though, as many travellers would understand, it's very rare that the instance of falling in love while you're on the road coincides with your having enough money and the right circumstances to be staying somewhere decent enough to celebrate that love. It's very rarely private beachside villas we're talking here – it's far more often divey hostel dorms.
But that doesn't stop us. So, to celebrate the beauty of Valentine's Day, we present to you a list of the locations that personify the saying "desperate times call for desperate measures". You know, in your heart, that these are absolutely terrible places to attempt to get "intimate" with that special someone in your travelling life. And yet I'm sure most of us can tick off at least a few…
There are probably only 10 or 11 people for whom this is a worse location than the couple who are actually attempting romance – and that, of course, is the 10 or 11 people who are sharing their room. No one particularly wants to listen to Sergio from Spain and Karly from Bundaberg get it on on the top bunk at three in the morning. And yet we've all been there, lying in the dark, pretending that squeaking of springs isn't what we think it is. Not really a great time for anyone involved.
Any shared accommodation
Though a dorm full of strangers is clearly the worst scenario, any other form of shared accommodation is going to be pretty awkward as well. Whether you're sharing with a friend or two and having to schedule "private time" in the room, or there are family members in there as well and you're trying to get away with these shenanigans in secret – once again, no one's really having a great time.
There's a fair bit of romance to the camping experience, communing with nature, sitting around campfires, watching the stars. However, that air of romance dies the minute you unzip the tent. Trying to get intimate in one of these canvas cocoons is like trying to play football in a space suit. Everything gets in the way. The ground is hard. The roof is low. Knees and elbows stick into everything. Still, as someone who used to run camping tours of Europe for young backpackers, I can tell you with certainty that people manage to make it work.
As with camping, there's something very romantic about staying in a traditional Japanese inn. These beautiful homes usually have tatami-mat floors, paper walls and traditional futon beds, all of which sounds amazing until you get swept up in the exquisiteness of it all and decide it's time to get intimate and then remember that you're lying on a thin mattress on the floor surrounded by paper walls. Not ideal.
There seems to be some sort of legend status attached to getting it on in an aeroplane toilet, to joining the "mile high club", which is cool and all, but you can't really claim it as an enjoyable experience. It's tiny in there, for starters. You're also likely to get caught by a bunch of hosties who are really over having to tell people that this is not the done thing. Oh and also it's a toilet.
More space than an aeroplane toilet, for sure. But also far more germs. This really is a location of extreme desperation, when your dorm mates have kicked you out of your bunk because they don't want to listen, when you're down to your last few pesos and can't splash out for a private room, when you're kind of boozy and a toilet cubicle down the hallway seems the logical answer to your lustful conundrum. Good luck with that.
Anywhere that public displays of affection are illegal
Maybe you're an exhibitionist. Maybe the idea of a risky semi-public dalliance while you're away from home and no one knows who you are sounds like something you'd like to experiment with. No worries. Except, of course, if you're in a country where that sort of thing is illegal and is likely to land you in jail. Even "passionate kissing" in countries such as Indonesia, India, the UAE or other parts of the Middle East could see you saddled with a large fine, or worse. Nothing sexy about that.
This is another of those experiences that has been mythologised over the years in the likes of songs and cocktails, and yet the actual practice of it is one of the least sexy things imaginable. For exhibit A, I present to you: sand. Sand has a habit of getting into places you'd rather it didn't, something that's only made worse by the taking off of all your clothes. Sand gets everywhere, it's probably windy, it's also very public and pretty uncomfortable. Stick to the cocktail.
What do you think are the worst places to get "intimate" when you're travelling? Do you have any disaster stories?