Even when we can lounge around the house in our PJs, period week isn’t the best part of the month, so getting your period while traveling is even less appealing. Whether visiting home, traveling for work, or taking a much-needed vacation there are a few things you can do to ensure that your trip goes off without a (period-related) hitch.
1. Pack Smart
Whether or not your period is due, it’s smart to be prepared for a surprise visit from Aunt Flo since travel can disrupt even the most regular cycle.
Being prepared is especially important if you’re traveling to a developing country where sanitary products are not widely available. Pack your usual pads or tampons or – if you haven’t already – consider switching to super travel-friendly menstrual cups! Just one small reusable cup can do the job of thousands of tampons.
They’re made of medical-grade silicone and can be worn for up to 8 hours at a time – even overnight – making them a travelers dream. There’s even a collapsible version that fits into a case the size of a lip balm, so you can drop it into those tiny pockets in your carry-on or day bag.
2. Be Prepared
Apart from bringing period protection, there are a few other things you can keep in mind to make dealing with your period while traveling a little easier.
Tissues: toilet paper isn’t always available in some countries, so it’s best to bring your own.
Plastic bags: just like toilet paper, it might be hard to find a place to dispose of pads and tampons, so have a couple of freezer bags you can store them in until you find a trashcan.
Bottle of clean, safe water: if you’re using a menstrual cup it’s smart to carry a bottle of clean water with you, just in case you don’t have access to a sink or safe water. That way you can rinse the cup off over the toilet if needed.
Hand sanitizer: anytime you’re removing a tampon or menstrual cup, you should have clean hands. A travel bottle of hand sanitizer is good for cleaning up – both before and after you use the restroom.
Plan ahead: if you have a regular cycle and know you’re going to get your period on a certain day, a little preventative protection might be in order. Tampons and pads absorb everything, so they can dry you out and irritate your skin – especially just before your period starts. One of the best things about a menstrual cup is that it collects your flow rather than absorbing it, so it won’t be dry or irritating like pads and tampons. Just insert the cup before your period starts so it can’t ruin that long plane ride or full day of sightseeing.
3. Stop for Toilets
Take advantage of restrooms whenever you find one, because changing or emptying your menstrual care often is crucial to avoiding leaks. This is less of a problem if you’re using a cup, which can be left in longer and holds more than a tampon or pad.
If you think you’ll be away from a toilet and will need to change during that time, you can wear a backup pad just in case.
If you’re using a tampon, be sure not to leave it in for longer than the manufacturer’s recommended time to lower the risk of tampon-related toxic shock syndrome.
4. Think Comfort First
Being comfortable when on a plane or crowded bus or exploring a foreign city is always preferable – but when you’re on your period it’s doubly important. With cramps or bloating the last thing you want to be wearing is a pair of tight jeans, so try to keep comfort in mind when packing and dressing for trips.
And that doesn’t mean you have to show up to the airport in your pajamas (though there’s nothing wrong with that!), a nice pair of yoga pants or a loose dress can be comfortable and stylish.
5. Stick to healthy snacks and water
Sometimes when on our periods all we want is a bag of chips and a chocolate bar. But junk foods, salty snacks, and soda can actually worsen PMS symptoms and increase bloating. It’s better to stick with healthy snacks like nuts and fruit. Bring along a reusable water bottle and fill it up every chance you get so you can stay hydrated and cool. Dehydration can make cramps and discomfort worse so drink up!
6. Enjoy yourself!
Being on your period while travelling is a hassle, but don’t let it take away from the experience. Sometimes the best way to forget about your period is to get out and distract yourself with the beauty of a new place or a new experience.
Other times it’s better to grab a good book, some take out, and enjoy some down-time in your hotel. You’re the only one who defines your fun and travel is all about doing the things you want. Just make sure you’re prepared so you can enjoy your trip, your way.