Traveling on your period is not the end of the world (Promise!)
Our ultimate guide to help you survive (and thrive) traveling on your period.
Ten years ago the advice for traveling on your period would probably have been to plan your trip for a different week, but HELLO, it’s 2021 now and why should we skip out on our favorite places just because Aunt Flo has decided she wants to join?! Saying that, a little extra planning goes a long way to ensure you get the best out of your trip, and don’t end up with a camping trip horror story to tell, so here are our best tips and tricks to help you travel whilst on your period (without worrying about it).
Plan your transport
The thought of long haul public transport whilst on your period fills many with nail biting anxiety, but there’s no reason it should. Whilst in an ideal world, we’d all be at home curled up in a ball, sometimes life has other plans. We’re covering the main modes of long-haul transport, planes and buses, but these tips can be used for most other types of transport too.
If you happen to be on your period for a long haul flight, ensure that you pack your period products in your carry-on as opposed to your checked in luggage. Also, try and get yourself an aisle seat, so you can nip across to the toilet as many times as you need, without the dread of attempting to wake the drooling, snoring stranger next to you who’s been comfortably nestled in your shoulder for the last half an hour. Foods high in salt and sugar can make your period pain worse, and as airplane foods are often filled with these, drink lots of water to balance it out, and eat as much fresh food as you can.
For buses, pre-planning your journeys can be a lifesaver, and if it fits into your itinerary, book your cross country bus trip for a day you’re not expecting your period. That being said, if there’s no alternative, no problem. Long haul buses tend to stop every few hours, usually at a gas station or restaurant, so use that chance to change your period product. There is normally a toilet on the bus, but use it at your own peril, only the brave survive that experience. If you know your period is due on that particular day, popping in your menstrual cup in the morning, or slipping a pantyliner into your underwear will help give you peace of mind.
Note: Tampons are not a good choice for long haul travel unless you are extremely responsible. Toxic Shock Syndrome is a serious matter, and is caused by leaving tampons in for too long, allowing bacteria into the body and releasing harmful toxins. TSS can be fatal, which is why it is so important to change your tampon at regular intervals. If you’re looking to switch out to a non-toxic product that is more suited to long haul travel, a menstrual cup is a great alternative. Made from medical grade silicone and completely non toxic, Phia Cup only needs to be changed every 12 hours, and you can sleep with it in without any problems.
Check the local customs
Periods are becoming less and less taboo as the years roll on. Well, for us at least. In a lot of countries, this simply isn’t the case. Particularly in South Asian countries, your monthly cycle is still unspeakable, and there are rules around where you can visit at this time, especially religious sites. In fact, in Nepal, menstruating women have to isolate for a week! Check the local customs, as it could be that your temple tour has to be pushed back a few days.
Get your comfies on
Period pain to us is synonymous with curling up on the sofa tucked in with your favorite blanket, a hot water bottle, a cup of tea, and Friends episodes on repeat. Whilst this isn’t always possible when you’re traveling, getting comfortable is. Your uterus can physically swell when you’re on your period causing the bloat that a lot of us know only too well. Loose playsuits or dresses are your friend. Not only are they extremely comfortable, but having material away from your body will help with those pain induced hot flushes too.
Play 'Spot The Toilet'
Have you ever tried changing a tampon over a squat toilet? Only to then find there’s no sanitary bin? Well, it’s not a pretty picture. The wonders of good plumbing are often not appreciated until you travel to a place without it. Play toilet bingo and take advantage of every western toilet you see. Bringing a sealable plastic bag with you for your period waste is also a great idea. Alternatively, a menstrual cup only needs to be changed every 12 hours, which should see you through your day’s activities until you can get back to your hotel. It also creates absolutely no period waste, so you won’t have to carry the world’s worst party bag around with you. You can learn more about the Phia cup here.
Almost everyone has an embarrassing story of being caught off guard by their period. Don’t let that be you. Whether it’s with a period tracking app, or simply a note on your phone, be in charge of your cycle and know when to expect it.
Put together an emergency kit
You will not always be in the optimal place when your period pops up to say hi. In fact, you may be halfway through a 3 day jungle trek without any access to a toilet or shower. In that instance you’ll be grateful to your past self for putting one of these together. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just a few essentials that you can keep in your bag at all times.
- Your period product of choice. If you’re using single-use period products, bring a few.
- Tissues/ toilet paper.
- Wet wipes.
- A sealable plastic bag for any waste.
- Hand sanitizer.
- An emergency chocolate bar. (Sometimes the craving just hits you!)
Research the country
If you’re a ‘fill up your entire backpack with 500 spare tampons’ kind of girl, you’re well prepared for this, but if you’re a ‘pack 1 spare tampon and hope for the best’ kind of girl, you might not be. Period products are not as accessible as you may think in many parts of the world, and popping out to pick up some tampons may turn into a walking city tour before you know it. Whilst you can get hold of pads and often tampons in most places, it can take a bit of searching, and the prices are often much higher than you’d expect. Also, if you’re particular about your go-to brand, bring some extra with you as there’s a good chance you won’t find it.
Don't let it stop you
Gone are the days where you couldn’t do anything fun while you were on your cycle. These days you can enjoy all the activities you love without having to worry about any embarrassing leaks, thanks to the advancement of period products. Menstrual cups, tampons, and period-proof swimwear all exist, so you can forget sitting on the beach alone, staring longingly at your friends in the water, and start splashing around instead.
Traveling on your period really doesn’t need to be stressful, and we hope these tips have given you more confidence for your next trip abroad, Women have been having periods since the dawn of time, and if Cleopatra and Joan of Arc could deal with them, and still be badasses, then so can you.
If you want to find out more about the life changing magic of a menstrual cup on your travels, click here. It’s eco friendly, only needs changing every 12 hours, and has no toxic chemicals whatsoever. Make the switch to Phia Cup!