Written by Krysta
You’ve booked a plane ticket for an amazing trip that you just can’t wait for. You count down the days, slowly but surely.
4 months to go… 3 months to go… 2 months to go… 1 month to go… 2 weeks to go… 1 week to go… 3 days to go… 1 day to go… Hang on… Is that… Oh no, your period!
I think every woman out there has been in this situation. And it’s annoying, frustrating, and just not fair. The thought of relaxing in your new bikini by the poolside or suiting up to go scuba diving might start to fade from your mind, even though those are the reasons why you booked your trip in the first place.
But not so fast.
There are ways to make sure that you still have a great holiday. I’ve been caught in the unfortunate situation where my monthly visitor has paid a visit during a trip a few times now. Below are some tips and techniques that I’ve picked up over the years to help make the situation more manageable.
Warning: some of these tips might not be pleasant and might be a bit graphic, but it’s all a part of being a woman!
1.) Buy a menstrual cup and period panties.
I dealt with using pads and tampons for ages, both at home and while travelling, and it’s safe to say that they’re just annoying. You have to make sure that you bring enough with you (taking up precious luggage space) or go out of your way to find a pharmacy or a chemist to buy some. Some travel destinations don’t even have them readily available.
You have to estimate how many pads/tampons you’ll need each day when you leave your hotel, and maybe get a panicked feeling when you’re going through them quicker than you thought you would. If you do run out and have to buy some more from the shop around the corner, sometimes they cost a lot more than they do at home.
Not only that, but the different sizes and types are needed at different times of your period. I needed a Super box of tampons, a Regular box, a box of night-time pads, and a box of panty liners for different times of my period.
So what’s the best solution?
The menstrual cup.
This is a silicone cup that you put in similarly to a tampon, but rather than absorbing the liquid it just catches it. You take it out and empty it at a similar time that you would change your tampon. Rinse it out with clean water, and reinsert it.
They’re compact, you only need one of them (or maybe two, if you want a spare), they’re easy to put in and take out once you get the hang of it, and it saves you so much money when you break it down. I paid £19.99 for a Mooncup, while a box of tampons in England will cost £5.69 for a pack of 36 (from Boots).
You do the math.
Another benefit is that the menstrual cup is also much better for the environment as you’ll no longer be producing waste with used pads and tampons, never mind their discarded individual wrappers.
If you’re new to the world of menstrual cups, they might seem scary at first. But have patience when you first get it, as I can safely tell you that you won’t get the hang of it right away. Buy one well before a trip and practice at home. After a few cycles, you’ll be used to it and wonder how you ever lived without one.
Now you might be thinking of your dreaded heavy day. What if the cup can’t hold everything and there’s no bathroom nearby?
This is where period panties come in.
Period panties are just like a regular pair of underwear but have a built-in lining to absorb any blood. These aren’t foolproof so personally, I wouldn’t wear one on its own as my only protection (especially when you’re on heavy flow), but they’re a fantastic backup to a cup.
They’re a bit bulkier than a regular pair of underwear, but they’re less bulky than wearing a pad. Once you get on with your day, you’ll completely forget that you’re even wearing a different pair than normal. They’re a snug fit so nothing leaks over the side, and they can hold a few milliliters of liquid which should be secure enough if they’re being used as a back-up.
Period panties come in a variety of sizes and also in a variety of styles (including thongs if they’re your cup of tea). Different styles will hold different amounts of blood, so make sure to purchase both a size and a style that’s suitable for your flow.
I bought two pairs of EvaWear Period Panties for a total of £31.00, meaning that my periods are fully covered for a total cost of £50.00, which might seem like a lot until you calculate how much you spend on pads and tampons. Keep in mind that both the cup and the period panties can last for years at a time if taken care of properly.
Seems much less expensive now, doesn’t it?
I can’t stress enough how much my life has improved, and how little stress I now feel during that time of the month, since investing in these two items.
I did plenty of research before I purchased anything to find the best makes for both products, but to be honest I really didn’t see huge variations. I just took the plunge and settled with the MoonCup and Eva Wear, although there were a few brands I was picking between. There was no specific reason for picking these exact brands, but I can safely say that I’m very happy with them and would highly recommend them both!
Remember when I mentioned strutting around in a new bathing suit on holiday, and how it was possible even with your period? Period-friendly bathing suits also exist and work in the same way as the period panties. I haven’t tried one myself yet, but love the idea.
2.) Always carry pain relievers.
Ibuprofen or Paracetamol can go such a long way for easing period pains. Always have some in your bag, as it can come in handy for much more than just period problems. Personally, I know exactly what day I will need to take some, and it’s only on the one day, so I keep on top of things and take a pain reliever before I even head out of the door. I take the package along in my bag so I can take more when needed.
3.) Prepare in case of any leakage.
This one might sound a bit funny, but all women have been in “that” situation at least one time, if not more. It’s unbelievably embarrassing.
While travelling it can be easy to forget to continuously go to the bathroom to make sure things are okay, and it can be very difficult to even find a bathroom to use sometimes. I’ve been in a situation where I know that I’ve needed to go right then, but haven’t been successful in finding one.
You know that feeling. The awful, horrible, embarrassing, wish-that-the-floor-swallows-you-up-because-it-feels-like-everyone-is-staring-at-you-because-you-might-have-blood-on-your-pants situation.
This is when having a dark pair of trousers or shorts on can save the day. Any leakage is hidden quite well with black/dark blue materials. And, to make things even better, you can always tie a cardigan around your waist in moments of desperation. I’ve done this in Jasper (Canada), Malaga, and Copenhagen. Foolproof every time! (Side-note: these situations all happened before I invested in the products mentioned earlier in this post).
One more trick: if you’re unsure if you’ve leaked, ask your travel buddy to check. I’ve lost count the number of times that I’ve asked James to check for me. I’ll whisper a quick word to him, walk ahead a few steps, and he will hang back and have a quick look. It’s safe to assume that, if you have a travel buddy, they’ll usually be someone that you’re comfortable with. Most close friends or partners won’t mind helping you out.
4.) Know your body, and plan around it.
Most people who are of the age to travel have had their period for enough time to know their bodies. It’s extremely useful to know both your body and your cycle while you travel.
Know approximately when your period is supposed to start, know when your heavy days are, know how many pads/tampons you will need (or cut this one out with a menstrual cup and period panties!), know how many days it will last, know of any aches or pains that you experience, know how to counter them, know when to counter them, and know what your limits are during a cycle.
Save any strenuous activity for when you know it’s not your heavy day. As much as tampon advertisements want us to believe it, it’s just not possible to wear the smallest bikini in the world, jump off a diving board, flip three times and enter the water gracefully without a splash, then exit the pool with a huge smile on your face because you feel fantastic and amazing, even though you’re on your “heavy day”.
Heavy days mean extra protection and more regular bathroom trips, so plan any water-based, strenuous activities for a day that’s not your heavy day. It’s just not worth it, and you’ll enjoy yourself much more when your monthly visitor isn’t the first thing on your mind.
5.) Carry antibacterial hand gel with you.
Being in a city where bathrooms are around is one thing, but being out in nature is another. Privacy can be easy enough to come by if you wander off a path or are in a secluded area, but hygiene isn’t as readily available in the middle of nowhere. There’s no toilet paper, no running water, and no garbage can. In a state of emergency, the lack of a bathroom won’t stop you from doing what you need to do, so you might as well be fully prepared. The most important item on this particular list would be antibacterial hand gel. It’ll keep your hands as clean as possible afterward, but remember to still wash them as soon as you’re able.
Having a ziploc bag or a carrier bag can also be useful for if you need to change your pad or tampon in the wild. You can place the used one in the bag and dispose of it properly when you get to the next garbage can. I’ve been in this situation before and it’s not a nice feeling (again, in Jasper. And yes, it was the same situation that I previously mentioned. It was one eventful hike up a mountain). But being able to somewhat clean up for the time-being makes it that much better.
Wet wipes could also be extremely useful in this situation. They would make any messes easier to clean up, and you can dispose of them in the same bag.
And there you have it!
I told you that it wouldn’t be pretty. But it’s also a very important topic that needs to be discussed, as it’s an issue that every woman experiences. Hopefully these tips help you out even just a little bit if you find yourself in a not-so-pleasant situation.
How do you prepare if you’re travelling with your period? Do you have any more tips that I missed out?