It’s almost become a modern parlour game: cataloguing the key experiences you want to have notched up, or places you want to have been, before you ‘kick the bucket.’ And it usually involves heartfelt wishes such as seeing the Taj Mahal at sunset, climbing Machu Picchu, or swimming with dolphins off the Great Barrier Reef.
As far as we’re aware however, nobody has yet compiled The Naked Bucket List, so here are some suggestions (keeping it clean, of course) of things you have to do naked at least once in your life. Some of them will cost money, others nothing. Some might be classed as glamorous, others far more down-to-earth. Some of them you can easily do on your own, others involve - or are enhanced by - the involvement of fellow naturists.
You may already have ticked several of these off your list already: We certainly hope so. But if you’ve still to find your adventurous spirit - or have non-naturist friends who have yet to discover the joys of the naked lifestyle and need pointing in the right direction - maybe the following will provide some inspiration...
1. SKINNY DIP
We’ve all stripped off at some stage and thrown ourselves headlong into the sea whilst on holiday, a cooling river at the end of a long hot walk, or a fountain in the midst of drunken celebrations. Haven’t we? You’d be surprised by how many people have gone through life and only ever got wet outdoors wearing a swimming costume. To those of us who are medically proven to be allergic to lycra, it’s an appalling thought. And a wrong to righted as soon as you can. Head for a nearby beach, take the plunge whilst abroad, feel at one with nature in the open countryside or - if you need the moral support of safety in numbers - sign up for a sponsored skinny dip and do your bit for charity at the same time as shaking off those inhibitions.
2. VISIT A SAUNA
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a sauna at home, or have friends who have had one installed, nothing can beat the experience - usually enjoyed in free-thinking destinations such as Germany, Austria, the Netherlands or Scandinavia - of the mass communal sauna. Many Europeans scratch their heads at the British notion that you would even consider donning swimwear in the sauna: it’s unhygienic, uncomfortable and you don’t get the full health benefits of the experience. Nudity in spas and saunas is pretty much the norm once you cross the channel, and it’s something that is enjoyed by the whole family, across the generations, without anybody batting an eyelid - unless you forget to sit on your towel, that is.
3. POSE NUDE
It’s an incredibly liberating experience to stand in front of somebody to be painted, drawn or photographed, so try giving nude modelling a go sometime. It is (or should be) a sensual rather than a sexual experience, and you don’t have to have the ‘perfect’ body to do it. In fact, most people holding the pencil, brush or camera would probably prefer it if you don’t - it makes the creative process, and the final result, much more interesting. Sign up with a local art group or photography society, join a workshop or go on a special interest holiday, or simply ask any friends who are enthusiastic amateurs if you can be their muse for the day. And there’s double the fun if they’re naked too.
4. SET SAIL
For sheer exhilaration, it’s hard to beat the feeling of hurtling through the waves on a yacht or power boat with the wind in your face and the sun beating down on you: unless you’re doing it naked, in which case the thrill is even more intensified. It’s the perfect way to get an all-over tan, and you can often spend most of the day without clothes - swimming, sunbathing, dining on deck and pulling your weight as crew. You certainly don’t have to own a vessel, or even be an experienced sailor, to enjoy a naked sailing holiday: there are plenty of options in Europe, the Caribbean and further afield to enjoy life on the ocean wave as nature intended.
5. BOOK A NATURIST HOLIDAY
For first-time naturists, this is often the ideal solution to any qualms they might have about going naked in public. Most establishments are sensitive to the issue of newbies, and very few - especially the smaller, more intimate ones - will adopt a strict ‘naked at all times’ rule. Ease yourself in gradually, dispensing with your swimming costume initially when you are by or in the pool, and from then on, it will seem perfectly natural to be naked around strangers: who of course, by this stage, won’t be strangers any longer. If you’re the sociable type who likes making new friends on holiday, you’ll be amazed at how much quicker you get to relax, and know somebody, if you are all naked.
6. BE FLEXIBLE
If not quite a fully-fledged trend yet, naked yoga is becoming more than just a curiosity, with groups popping up all over the place. It stands to reason that if you are stretching your body and your mind whilst participating in this ancient art, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable, flexible and receptive to positive thoughts if you don’t have the encumbrance of clothes. There are mixed and same-sex classes available in a growing number of locations, and for the ultimate back-to-nature experience, get away from the yoga studio and try it outdoors in the open countryside, or even better on a beach.
7. SPLASH OUT
You could call body-painting the hands-on version of life drawing, or the adult version of face-painting. Either way, it’s another art form that is becoming increasingly popular at workshops, public events, in marketing, and at specialist festivals. Some models might wimp out by keeping their underwear on, but it’s best done, and appreciated, if the subject is totally naked. Large-scale open days have been held in Amsterdam and New York, and Austria annually hosts an international festival showcasing some of the weirdest, wackiest and incredibly creative examples of the genre.
8. GET SPONSORED
Skinny dipping for charity isn’t the only way you can take your clothes off for a good cause. The 1970s fad of streaking has come of age in the past few years in the shape of sponsored streaks, and you can do your bit to help tigers at London Zoo or polar bears at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Or highlight environmental issues by saddling up for one of the many World Naked Bike Rides.
9. GET SPORTY
Not all sports and pastimes lend themselves easily to naked participation, but in addition to the naturist clichés of volleyball and boules, there’s a whole host of activities you can enjoy in the nude, from watersports and horse-riding to tennis, archery and golf. Check out naturist websites for details of events such as the world nude surfing championships in Brazil and naked beach Olympics in Australia, join a local naturist club with sports facilities, or try something new on holiday at a naturist resort or campsite.
10. WALK TALL
Not all bucket list options - at least of the naked variety - need to cost you the price of a long-haul airfare, a luxury hotel, and your life savings in holiday spending money. They say the best things in life are free, and sometimes enormous satisfaction can be gained from simple pleasures. Few are better than taking a long walk along the beach, on your own or with your partner, without a care in the world or a stitch on. But we’re not talking about painfully hopping over the pebbles in Brighton or avoiding the extra-curricular activity in the dunes at Cap d’Agde: you need to do this on a real beach. A huge, open expanse of sand, with the end of the beach barely in sight, the sun on your body, and the sea crashing at your feet. It’s life-affirming, guaranteed to make you feel good, and can be done by anybody. What’s more, you’re never too old to start.