Editor’s note: This article was published before the coronavirus pandemic, and may not reflect the current situation on the ground.

Travel to Turkey, Finland, Japan, or Austria and you’ll soon discover that communal saunas and bathing—and therefore nudity—is a thing. But instead of shying away from these experiences, Ben Groundwater argues that we should embrace them in all their awkward, liberating glory.

We’re a bunch of prudes. That’s the only conclusion I can come to, the only assumption I can safely make. We’re uncomfortable with nakedness. We don’t like taking off our clothes.

If you’re anything like me, then there are probably very few occasions in which you would find yourself nuding up around other people—around friends, and around strangers. It’s not part of my culture. It’s not a thing we do.

Case in point: I’m in Austria on a press trip and end up at the Aqua Dome, a series of saunas and hot pools in the Oetztal Valley. It’s essentially a sauna theme park; a sauna Disneyland if you will. There are small saunas and large saunas, old-style saunas and modern saunas, hot pools and cold pools, salt baths and ‘glacier rooms’.