For many, this kind of no-strings encounter is a highlight of any jaunt. Next time you fall into bed with a raunchy exotic, though, at least make a mental note of their nationality – that way, you can claim another flag.

Yes, another flag – that’s the principle of flagging, the craze which involves ticking and bonking your way through an international checklist of various nationalities. And according, to Evan Smith, co-author of Destination Fornication: The Field Guide For Flaggers, some flags are easier to collect than others.

“Your own flag doesn’t count but if you’re an Aussie, for example, then New Zealand, Canada and English are pretty easy,” Smith, known in the flagging community as The Hunger, explains. “And the English also rank top of the most promiscuous list, so there you go.

“At the other end, the Vatican flag is basically uncapturable – no one is born there. Let’s say you had sex with the Pope – that would actually end up being the German flag. Then there’s North Korea, which is hard to get to; Saudi Arabia, there’s the religious factor; Bhutan, because of its geographical isolation; Swaziland, there’s a lot of disease.”

Proof of The Hunger’s commitment, though, is the fact he has managed to claim one of these rare, sought after flags, although not without igniting some controversy.

“I did actually capture the Saudi flag, although it is in dispute,” he says. “I was living in the Middle East and hooked up with a Saudi girl, but she was also British. Does it count? I’ll take it. You have to put yourself in an environment where that’s possible.”

The Hunger, 28, hails from Sydney but has spent much of the past decade overseas, including a stint working in hostels in France and later teaching English in the Middle East – hence the Saudi conquest. Flagging, he says, is merely a neat name for the between-the-sheets adventures young, globe-trotting travellers have been pursuing for years.

“Backpackers like to party, travel and hook up – that’s a big part of it,” he says. “Whether you’re into a French guy or a French girl, there’s always an interest in the exotic. And, these days, the world’s more mixed up and more accessible. If you look at life in any hostel or on a Contiki tour, people are hooking up and it’s a way of learning about the world at the same time.”

That said, The Hunger’s co-authour and partner-in-crime, a connoisseur of flagging known as Atlas Al, found himself in some hot water in his quest for the Vietnamese flag – it’s a cautionary tale that opens their part-memoirs, part-instructional guide.

 

“He unknowingly slept with a prostitute,” The Hunger explains. “He thought he had picked up legit but then she asked for money. Prostitutes can be really visible in some parts of the world but we don’t want to encourage that – paid for flags don’t count.

“Another time, we thought we were going to meet some nice Lebanese girls but we ended up with some of the local mafia. It just shows that you need to know the environment.”

This immersion theory forms the bedrock of The Hunger’s guide to successful flagging. If you want to collect the hard-to-acquire flags, you have to be willing to go the extra mile. Once you get past the easier flags, he insists, the rest require some hustle and determination.

“You need to understand something about the country,” he says. “You’ve got to give yourself a chance – take the pulse of these places, think like a local and adapt. You can’t expect to go where tourists go and pick up.”

It’s a recurring motif in the flagging manifesto – to succeed, you need to be able think on your feet and roll with the punches. You need to be daring enough to improvise. If you sleepwalk your way through a trip, following the crowd, you’ll come home empty-handed. The Hunger has some plenty of sage advice for would-be flaggers.

“I think, if you’re a guy in Sydney, hanging out at the Ivy or the Golden Sheaf – he might do well in that environment, but might then struggle overseas,” The Hunger explains. “For example, he goes to Argentina without bothering to learn Spanish – the point is that you have to recalibrate and adapt. The typical Aussie, for instance, might not do too well in a Parisian café – there’s no one style that works everywhere.”

Of course, there are some slightly more cut-and-dry guidelines, some handy hints gleaned from years of observation and sniffing around backpacker bars and hostels.

“There are a few unofficial laws,” The Hunger says. “Generally, girls prefer to shag the night before they leave, because they want to avoid that walk of shame situation. If there’s a group of people in a hostel, you have to lead – don’t be passive, because nothing will happen. And if you go to a location, there will two or three hot girls who have guys hanging around them, and you can just waste so much time – it’s fine to have a crack but there’s a whole city, so don’t limit the possibilities by sitting around waiting for something to happen.”

There are other rules as well, mostly designed to prevent cynical flaggers from inflating their haul without doing the hard work.

“Well, it’s one flag per shag – if someone has two passports, you don’t get to claim both,” The Hunger says. “Blowjobs don’t count – you actually have to shag. And it’s not always about how many – if you’re obsessed with the number, then the quality will suffer. It’s more about an interest in the world and in fine women. Is someone with 50 flags better than someone with five? No – it’s about the cool story.”

It is this premise – that the adventure itself is the object – that underpins the ‘weighted flag theory’.

“Picking up a Uruguayan in Uruguay, for example, is worth more,” The Hunger says. “It takes more balls, for a start, and it means you have to go outside your comfort-zone. Are you going to be a tourist or an explorer? You don’t want to take the McDonald’s version of travel – stand here, take the same old picture. You don’t have to do what everyone else does.”

And, ultimately, flagging adds to the fun of travel.

“Flagging is mostly for guys, I guess, but also for girls,” The Hunger says. “We just want people to go out there and have a look, have fun and enjoy the adventure.”

 

%TNT Magazine% shutterstock 500484871

“He unknowingly slept with a prostitute,” The Hunger explains. “He thought he had picked up legit but then she asked for money. Prostitutes can be really visible in some parts of the world but we don’t want to encourage that – paid for flags don’t count.

“Another time, we thought we were going to meet some nice Lebanese girls but we ended up with some of the local mafia. It just shows that you need to know the environment.”

This immersion theory forms the bedrock of The Hunger’s guide to successful flagging. If you want to collect the hard-to-acquire flags, you have to be willing to go the extra mile. Once you get past the easier flags, he insists, the rest require some hustle and determination.

“You need to understand something about the country,” he says. “You’ve got to give yourself a chance – take the pulse of these places, think like a local and adapt. You can’t expect to go where tourists go and pick up.”

It’s a recurring motif in the flagging manifesto – to succeed, you need to be able think on your feet and roll with the punches. You need to be daring enough to improvise. If you sleepwalk your way through a trip, following the crowd, you’ll come home empty-handed. The Hunger has some plenty of sage advice for would-be flaggers.

%TNT Magazine% shutterstock 420460630

“I think, if you’re a guy in Sydney, hanging out at the Ivy or the Golden Sheaf – he might do well in that environment, but might then struggle overseas,” The Hunger explains. “For example, he goes to Argentina without bothering to learn Spanish – the point is that you have to recalibrate and adapt. The typical Aussie, for instance, might not do too well in a Parisian café – there’s no one style that works everywhere.”

%TNT Magazine% shutterstock 396526624

Of course, there are some slightly more cut-and-dry guidelines, some handy hints gleaned from years of observation and sniffing around backpacker bars and hostels.

“There are a few unofficial laws,” The Hunger says. “Generally, girls prefer to shag the night before they leave, because they want to avoid that walk of shame situation. If there’s a group of people in a hostel, you have to lead – don’t be passive, because nothing will happen. And if you go to a location, there will two or three hot girls who have guys hanging around them, and you can just waste so much time – it’s fine to have a crack but there’s a whole city, so don’t limit the possibilities by sitting around waiting for something to happen.”

There are other rules as well, mostly designed to prevent cynical flaggers from inflating their haul without doing the hard work.

“Well, it’s one flag per shag – if someone has two passports, you don’t get to claim both,” The Hunger says. “Blowjobs don’t count – you actually have to shag. And it’s not always about how many – if you’re obsessed with the number, then the quality will suffer. It’s more about an interest in the world and in fine women. Is someone with 50 flags better than someone with five? No – it’s about the cool story.”

It is this premise – that the adventure itself is the object – that underpins the ‘weighted flag theory’.

“Picking up a Uruguayan in Uruguay, for example, is worth more,” The Hunger says. “It takes more balls, for a start, and it means you have to go outside your comfort-zone. Are you going to be a tourist or an explorer? You don’t want to take the McDonald’s version of travel – stand here, take the same old picture. You don’t have to do what everyone else does.”

And, ultimately, flagging adds to the fun of travel.

%TNT Magazine% shutterstock 420460630

“Flagging is mostly for guys, I guess, but also for girls,” The Hunger says. “We just want people to go out there and have a look, have fun and enjoy the adventure.”

Of course, there are some slightly more cut-and-dry guidelines, some handy hints gleaned from years of observation and sniffing around backpacker bars and hostels.

“There are a few unofficial laws,” The Hunger says. “Generally, girls prefer to shag the night before they leave, because they want to avoid that walk of shame situation. If there’s a group of people in a hostel, you have to lead – don’t be passive, because nothing will happen. And if you go to a location, there will two or three hot girls who have guys hanging around them, and you can just waste so much time – it’s fine to have a crack but there’s a whole city, so don’t limit the possibilities by sitting around waiting for something to happen.”

There are other rules as well, mostly designed to prevent cynical flaggers from inflating their haul without doing the hard work.

“Well, it’s one flag per shag – if someone has two passports, you don’t get to claim both,” The Hunger says. “Blowjobs don’t count – you actually have to shag. And it’s not always about how many – if you’re obsessed with the number, then the quality will suffer. It’s more about an interest in the world and in fine women. Is someone with 50 flags better than someone with five? No – it’s about the cool story.”

It is this premise – that the adventure itself is the object – that underpins the ‘weighted flag theory’.

“Picking up a Uruguayan in Uruguay, for example, is worth more,” The Hunger says. “It takes more balls, for a start, and it means you have to go outside your comfort-zone. Are you going to be a tourist or an explorer? You don’t want to take the McDonald’s version of travel – stand here, take the same old picture. You don’t have to do what everyone else does.”

And, ultimately, flagging adds to the fun of travel.

“Flagging is mostly for guys, I guess, but also for girls,” The Hunger says. “We just want people to go out there and have a look, have fun and enjoy the adventure.”