Feature image courtesy of My Eco Flow
Let’s face it, traveling while on your period can be a huge bummer.
Travel can be anxiety-inducing enough without managing cramps, food cravings, and that sinking feeling that you’re bleeding through your jeans.
And while it’s totally understandable if all you want to do during that time of the month is curl up in a blanket burrito, it’s frustrating to feel like your period might steal some of your hard-earned vacation days.
If you’re nervous about traveling during your period, or wondering how to manage it while in transit, this post is for you.
I asked a group of fellow travel bloggers to share their best period travel hacks to help you quell any anxiety about your flow and make the most of your trip.
I have no doubt that these tips will help give you the confidence and re-assurance that, with a little planning, traveling while on your period doesn’t have to be a big deal.
Let’s dive in!
- 1 1. Use menstrual cups
- 2 2. Carry disposable bags for used sanitary products
- 3 3. Take every opportunity to refresh
- 4 4. Wear Period Panties to Protect Against Leaks
- 5 5. Consider using IUD Birth Control
- 6 6. Pack your favorite products from home
- 7 7. Plan Ahead with a Period Tracking App
- 8 8. Choose your wardrobe carefully
1. Use menstrual cups
By Corritta from My Eco Flow
Let’s get real, your period always seems to show up at the worst time, and that’s especially true when you are traveling. Travel is what inspired me to make the switch to menstrual cups instead of disposable period products.
It was too stressful trying to find tampons when my period decided to start a few days early while traveling.
Menstrual cups are great because they last up to 10 years, are made more environmentally friendly, can be worn for up to 12 hours, and you can’t feel them.
How awesome is that?
There were so many pros to switching to a menstrual cup that I had to try it. Honestly, menstrual cups have changed my understanding of my body and my relationship with my period.
Surprisingly, I no longer dread it—no need to worry about trying to change a tampon or pad in a disgusting restroom. You can enjoy your day without worrying about your period ruining your good time.
There is an initial learning curve, but that gives you the chance to learn about your body and truly understand your cycle. You’d be surprised how little you know about your period until you switch to a menstrual cup.
While there may be an initial ick-factor, think of all the things you will gain! With menstrual cups, you spend less money, help the environment, and can explore without constantly changing throughout the day.
Additionally, many report the reduction or complete elimination of menstrual cramps. Why not take the plunge and change how you think of your period?
2. Carry disposable bags for used sanitary products
By Kristine of Wanderlust Designers
One thing I have learned the hard way is always to take some sort of a small baggie for my used sanitary products.
For some reason, there’s not always a trash can available in the restrooms – not only when traveling in remote areas like Patagonia (where the bathrooms are very few and VERY far apart), but even in Europe (Italy, for example).
It’s not exactly pleasant to have to take the used product just wrapped in toilet paper, for instance (on that note – always carry tissues with you when you travel. Trust me.).
My favorite bags to use are the zip-lock bags from Ikea or similar. They are small enough to not take up too much space in a purse or a backpack, and the seal gives an extra sense of safety.
There are usually sanitary product baggies available in the bathrooms in the hotels for those times when Aunty Flow strikes unexpectedly or when you forget to take a baggie from home.
3. Take every opportunity to refresh
By Lara of The Best Travel Gifts
If you are a cheap backpacker like me, you have probably also regularly found yourself cramped in small local buses for hours, without having any idea when the next break will come. Personally, I love these moments; I always think they are the most hilarious of my trips.
However, when I’m on my period, and I am not sure when the bus will stop and whether I’ll make it without refreshing, I don’t think it’s hilarious at all.
So for those moments, I made two rules for myself. The first one is to use every break, or every time I need to change buses to refresh. Whether it’s tampons, pads, or the menstrual cup doesn’t matter.
It also doesn’t matter if it’s only been an hour since the last time, because you will never know how long it will take until the next opportunity.
Second, if an accident does happen, or I am insecure about it, I accept it.
There is nothing I can do to change it. I’ll just tell myself it’s natural, and I won’t see the people on the bus ever again. But most importantly, don’t let your period hold you back from traveling.
Editor’s Note: This tip is crucial in Mexico, especially if you’re traveling by bus. Always carry a few pesos in coins as you will probably have to pay to use bathrooms anywhere you stop. Additionally, you should always carry wet wipes and tissues in your purse, as bathrooms aren’t always well-stocked and may lack running water.
4. Wear Period Panties to Protect Against Leaks
By Nadine of Zero Waste Memoirs
Traveling when on your period can be anxiety-inducing, especially if your flow is unpredictable. Something I’ve personally found helpful to stem the worry is to wear period panties as a ‘back-up’ to other products such as tampons or pads.
This way, if your flow is heavier than usual, or you don’t have the chance to change your pad/tampon as regularly as you would like, you can at least be assured there won’t be any leaks. The panties will soak up any excess.
Period panties are also a handy product to wear on those days when you’re expecting your period to arrive at any moment! You won’t have to go rushing off to the bathroom, as the panties can typically hold around 2-4 tampons worth of blood.
Of course, because of this ultra-absorbency, they’re totally fine to use on their own too – and make an excellent zero waste period choice.
When it comes to washing them on the road, they don’t typically need any special treatment other than a quick rinse before throwing them in the machine. But if you’re worried about smells and can’t wash them right away, simply give them a quick rinse and store them in a reusable ziplock bag until you can.
5. Consider using IUD Birth Control
By Courtney of Courtney the Explorer
The Mirena IUD birth control is not only 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, but it can also stop your period. About half of the women using Mirena stop having periods. My period stopped a few months after getting the IUD.
Soon after, I backpacked Central and South America and did not have to worry about buying tampons or feminine products. I never had to worry during 15+ hour-long bus rides or while living and working on a farm in Palora, Ecuador.
I highly recommend Mirena or an IUD for long-term backpacking trips or if you plan to move to a small town or village abroad. I would like to forewarn that there are side effects of Mirena and birth control in general.
I ultimately decided to remove my IUD after having it for almost 5 years. I loved not having a period and the money I saved not buying tampons but did not like the side effects. I now use a menstrual cup and find it perfect for travel. Consult your doctor for more information.
6. Pack your favorite products from home
By Sydney of A World in Reach
Traveling while on your period can suck, but something I’ve learned to do makes it a little easier to bring along a period pack on my trips filled with all of my favorite menstrual products from home.
I started doing this after a visit to Quito, Ecuador. I hadn’t expected my period to come during the trip, and I had only brought a few tampons from home. When my supply was getting low, I decided to venture to the supermarket to restock.
The only problem?
There were no tampons in sight, only pads. This wasn’t the end of the world, but I personally find pads super uncomfortable, so I was not excited to have to rely on them for the rest of the trip.
After doing a little bit of research on where to find tampons in Quito, I found out that it can be pretty tricky to find tampons in many countries. Plus, if you do get lucky enough to find them, it can be hard to find them with applicators.
Now, I always make sure to pack plenty of tampons from home.
I keep some in my purse and keep the rest in a pocket inside my suitcase. They don’t take up much room at all and weigh virtually nothing, and it’s comforting knowing that I won’t be stuck using uncomfortable pads or struggling with an applicator-less tampon.
7. Plan Ahead with a Period Tracking App
By Anuradha of Country Hopping Couple
Traveling during periods can be stressful with cramps, mood swings, and migraines. Not knowing when your period is due is certainly going to add to the intensity of emotional madness.
But, thanks to technology, there are now period tracking apps that tell you when your next cycle is due. Which means you can plan ahead and pack accordingly.
Can’t imagine going on a 10-hour bus journey without having a backup of period products, can we? However, if I know my dates well in advance, I can prepare mentally and emotionally and pack my menstrual cup or tampons in my handbag.
A period tracking app not only predicts the expected date of your period, but you can also log your moods, cravings, pain levels, headaches, bloating, and more.
Additionally, the app helps you see the pattern over time and plan proactively.
Personally, I have been using a period tracking app for over 7 years now. It has been a life-changer. Every time I am preparing to pack for my holidays, the very first thing I check is my expected period date.
If my period is due during holidays, I choose darker clothes (you know why!), comfortable outfits, and running shoes instead of pointed heels and a mini skirt.
Editor’s Note: I use the Clue app to track my periods, and it is incredible how accurate it can be at predicting my cycle. Plus, thanks to their educational resources, I’ve learned all kinds of fascinating things about my body.
8. Choose your wardrobe carefully
By Mal of Raw Mal Roams
A great way to prep for your period days while traveling is thinking ahead about the clothes you’re going to wear for certain activities. If you wear the right type of clothes, you will feel more comfortable and enjoy yourself more.
For hiking, I recommend choosing dark-colored trousers or shorts with a looser fit and breathable material. I usually would use a large tampon and a thin pad, and if there is a spillage, it won’t be a big deal if the trousers are black.
I hiked a volcano in Bali on a heavy period following these tips. I was the slowest in the group, but I still made it! For city sightseeing, lightweight dresses work perfectly. Choose darker colors or patterns during your heavy days, with a loose fit and breathable fabric to feel comfy.
For a beach day, think dark colored bikinis, and if you’re worried, wrap a cute scarf around your hips. It will accessorize your beach look nicely and add that extra comfort. Shorts will work fine too.
If you’re feeling bloated on that day, you can always wear a light caftan for more coverage or a one-piece swimsuit. They are actually back in fashion too!
And, for going out, a little black dress will always do a good job. You can wear some fancy shoes or a chunky statement necklace to make the outfit a little dressier. I would stay away from white jeans for obvious reasons.