How to Survive Your First Nude Vacation

No tan lines, no problem. If you're considering a nude cruise, here's what to expect as a first-time nude traveler. (Note that the atmosphere and rules of every nude group differ. The following is based on a Bare Necessities cruise.)
by Brooke Morton

Pack clothes you can easily remove.

For first-timers, it’s a leap to spend all day, every day buck-naked. You will wear clothes now and again, especially when easing into nudity. Best bets include sarongs (even for men), scarves and button-down shirts. Most cruise ships include bathrobes in every room, popular among nudists — especially with men, who wear them to bars and dance clubs. They can be especially handy as a hygiene policy requests that guests place a towel or other layer between themselves and any part of the ship, making it a perfect layer to sit upon after disrobing.Shelly Strazis

Show your stuff early in the day.

It’s like toeing the water in the pool: Better to jump in sooner than later. Try to go naked to the day’s first activity, be it breakfast, meditation or a walk around the ship. Because many guests stay up late dancing, gambling and socializing, few rise early. It’ll feel like less of an audience. Plus, it’s easier to stay naked than get naked.Shelly Strazis

Liquid courage can mean a few things.

Many women admitted that the first time they ever tried on the nudist lifestyle, they relied on alcohol. That said, you don’t need to wine to feel comfortable, but you may want to hop into the drink — the pool. Skinny-dipping is irresistible, so why fight it? Plus, pools serve as anchors for daytime fun, such as dance parties.Shelly Strazis

No pants, no pockets.

With no clothes, you won’t have a place to stash your room key, which doubles as a credit card aboard ship. Bring a wrist wallet, wristlet purse or lanyard for your room key. You’ll be most thankful on the waterslide.Shelly Strazis

Bring the sports bra.

On day one of the cruise, I wondered about the dress code for every activity. I feared overdressing for even the jogging track, sporting my usual get-up that I wear around my neighborhood. But the track is one place where most folks dress somewhat sensibly. However, I did see men jogging shirtless and women in thongs. Note that you will see more flesh among those who prefer exercise bikes.Shelly Strazis

Take a cue from college kids.

Bring along a small wipe board to affix to your door, dorm-room style. It’s an easy way for friends to leave you a message to make plans. Yes, you can make room-to-room calls, but the atmosphere on board is fun and light, like summer camp, so you’ll be spending little time in your cabin anyway.Shelly Strazis

Nude lunch, yes. Nude dinner, never.

The dress code for the cruise I joined mandated that all people cover all bits for dinner. However, lunch dress code was anything goes. At first, I thought I would feel weird eating salads and such among the buff. But like anything else, it’s only weird the first time, and it’s only as odd as you make it. Because nudists are comfortable naked playing volleyball, they’re just at ease dishing up soft-serve.Shelly Strazis

You can eat alone at home.

When the maitre d’ asks if you’d prefer to dine privately or with a group, always pick the latter. You may fear being seated next to duds, but remember: Whether you sit next to an accountant, an 89-year-old ex-Navy diver or a hand model, all these people get naked for fun. It doesn’t get more intriguing than that.Shelly Strazis

Don’t fret awkward moments.

Before I left for the cruise, my friends kept joking how men would handle getting too, er, happy about the scenery. One of my friends Googled this and found a site giving directions, including the suggestion to simply roll over on your chaise lounge. Hm. Well, this was a topic I had wondered about, too. But during my 10 days of nude travel, I didn’t see a single general at attention. People kept saying: “It’s not sexual.” And before I went nude, I thought how could naked bits not be sexual? But talk to anyone and he or she maintains the most well trained eye contact you’ve ever seen. Plus, most of the time, something else, like a conversation about cocktail recipes or Pluto’s status as a planet, is going on anyway.Shelly Strazis

Just say yes.

You’re doing this to try new things, right? You already waved goodbye to your comfort zone when the ship left port, so chances are you can’t feel much more out of place. So just say yes, to ping-pong tournaments, body-painting lessons and costume contests.Shelly Strazis