You’re excited to go on this wild road trip on the coast, it will be fun, camping, day excursion and fun again! But your beloved biological clock reminds you how life is unfair. Our period are particularly gifted to strike at the wrong time at the wrong place. Don’t you worry, Auntie Ava got your back. She made all the mistakes possible while travelling on her period but she eventually won the battle. As a long-term traveller, I am more than geared up to face any type of pain and flow because I know they can easily vary through the year. You don’t have to cancel any plans, just follow my best tips to survive your period while travelling.
1. How travelling affects your cycle
We know that changing more than three time zones can affect our sleep and disrupt our body’s functions. As female travellers, we also experience some rollercoaster in our cycle. And it sucks. So if you notice that Aunt Flo is late or non-existent during the weeks following your journey, don’t panic. It might be one of the side effects of jetlag.
Our bodies work in interdependent cycles. One cycle affects another. So when our sleep pattern is disrupted because of the abnormal amount of light exposition, our menstruation shifts. Anything can happen, from no flow to an early Crimson wave tsunami. Better to be all geared up. Check out this Teen Vogue article for more scientific details.
2. How to plan ahead
It is always recommended to try to follow your cycles. Some of us are lucky and get regular period due to their contraception. For the others, consider downloading a period tracker app so that will help you to detect the symptoms in advance and see the wave coming from the shore. Yes, I am going to follow up on the naval metaphor… Knowing when your period are due will help you to schedule your activities around it. For example, if you are aware that the few days prior to it are generally painful, you could just have a couple of days chilling in a city or a village. Take the time to relax, explore the surrounding without embarking on the biggest adventure of the trip.
3. How to prevent the period pain
If you are willing to avoid medication, there are plenty of natural ways to reduce the discomfort:
- stay hydrated
- watch your diet and include more greens
- avoid food with high sugar
- drink sage infusion
- put some heat on your tummy (may it be a hot bottle water, a heatpack or the cat of the hotel)
4. What to bring
Depending on the country you are travelling to, some of your usual period supplies might not be available. One of my friends was used to have tampons with an applicator and she couldn’t find them anywhere in Australia. If it is your case too, you might try to practise tampons without applicator back home before travelling. Some places like South East Asia don’t even sell tampons.
To be fairly honest with you, I gave up using traditional products for multiple reasons. First, they are filled with chemicals. Some countries may use formulas which would be banned in Europe. If you are accustomed to using them and you are going on a short trip, you can take a decent amount in your luggage but otherwise, they will take a massive amount of space. If you are willing to travel the world for an extended period of time you might want to look up some sustainable alternatives.
Sustainable and reusable products
I travelled with tampons when in Europe but when I decided to make the big leap to Asia, I knew it was time to shift to other solutions. They are space-savers and reusable so no need to hunt for that missing bin. Here are the products I am using ever month wherever I am on the globe.
My flow is on the heavy side so I can’t just use pads. Lucky for me, the menstrual cup can hold three times more liquid than any tampons and can be kept up to 8-12hours. I usually rinse it with the bottle from the water I carry with me. To sanitize it after my cycle I used boiling water whenever I get a chance.
I personally have no issue with my own blood, I am in touch with my womanhood on this topic. Although, I totally understand why some ladies won’t do it because they feel it is gross. I would still advise to give it a go for 2-3 months while you are in the comfort of your own home. you never, you might hit two birds with one stone! Find a new sustainable way to and save up both space and money for your holidays.
To complement the cup, I am also using reusable cotton pads and panty liners. I got the Lunapads at least two tears ago and they are still travelling with me. They are dark so no problem with stains. I casually wash them along with the rest of my clothes and I have never been caught in an embarrassing situation.
Period underwear can be used as cotton pads. They are basically underwear built to retain your flow. I haven’t got a chance to check them out yet. I have seen the Thinx campaign but I would need to dig into their reviews a bit more to see if it is worth it. I believe it would be a great backup solution.
5. Keep the culture in mind
France has witnessed its first tampon add where the period blood was no longer represented blue but red, as it should be. If it is that hard for a country known for its sexual liberation to acknowledge that women bleeding is a natural part of procreation, I let you imagine that it is not the case in most of other places in the world. Period are still taboo, for example, you can’t enter in some religious temples. Once, I was living in a remote village in Nepal, I couldn’t touch anyone’s food and I had to eat in a separate room because it was shark week. Hopefully, there will be a change in people’s mind but your travel is not the place to show off your feminist ideas. You are a visitor in a place which has its multi centenary culture and traditions.