“Casual Sex on the Road” might be a better description of this graphically descriptive book on sex and the traveling woman. From the first page, which contains a quick index for locating the “Hall of Fame sex travelers” stories within, readers can indulge in narratives of casual encounters, purposeful adventures, and anecdotal tales of “impetuous couplings.”
Chapter headings include “Discovering the nymphomaniac within” and “Instant sex, Amazon style.” A word of caution: this book is not for the reader with any lingering inner pruderies. The author provides a wealth of information on customs, a sociological compendium of ethics and etiquette, and plenty of information about both the pleasures and dangers inherent for women exploring the world’s men when traveling.
Belliveau’s first book, An Amateur’s Guide to the Planet, described travel in twelve countries, and she has been a reporter, editor, and designer at newspapers including the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post. Her reporter’s experience is aptly illustrated in the manner in which she includes patiently collected research from around the world.
Interviews and quasi-sociologically oriented research are interspersed with Belliveau’s narrative. She begins the book with a brief explanation of her own romantic history of divorce, travel, and sex. And she provides her reasons for writing: “Romance will take issue, again based on extensive personal experience, with errors and negative judgments in academic reports on female sexual behavior while overseas.” Indeed the book seeks to justify and even glamorize women and their sexual encounters abroad through anecdotal tales; the bibliography provided is extensive and includes sources from online forums and postings.
Because the book is a collection of stories, and because of the way that personal narrative is mixed in, it can feel somewhat choppy; it functions more as a reference text than a travel narrative. Readers will likely find the table of contents, which is arranged geographically and by theme, as well as the index in the back of the book, the most helpful way to explore this book. The final chapter, “Sex, power, ethics and the future,” may be the most helpful, and most practical, for the female traveler preparing for an adventure abroad.
For women contemplating sexual experiences overseas, Belliveau provides a frank, contextual guidebook to experiencing foreign men. As the author concludes, “Every woman who navigated her way to rambunctious satisfaction with a stranger sees men with changed eyes.” Adventurous readers will no doubt find this to be true.