One for the ladies (and everyone else wishing to get educated)!
You’re on a beautiful vacation in the Caribbean and *surprise* put away those white bikini bottoms and say hello to cold sweats because you are on your period! Everyone periods differently, but today I would like to share some tools that have really helped me over the years.
Up until a year ago, I used strictly pads and tampons to manage my period. I liked how they were easy to use and they were clean. I always had some with me and I could quickly and cleanly switch them whenever I needed to. However, I was always so frustrated that they took up so much space in my bag (especially when I only had a carry-on), not to mention the trash they created (sometimes there are no trash cans in hostel bathrooms!) and how expensive they are. I always dreaded running out when I was traveling and having to find a convenience store that sold the kind that I preferred.
I switched to a menstrual cup a year ago and though it took time to get used to it, I have not used a pad or tampon in several months. Most people know the Diva Cup brand, but I went for a Blossom Cup because it was, well, cheaper. I also invested in two pairs of Thinx over the past year, which are period underwear that (depending on your flow and the type that you use) can replace pads and tampons. I use them as a back-up to my cup. They help me worry a little less about bleeding on those white hostel sheets. When I travel, I love that I only have to pack the cup and two pairs of underwear. They take up very little space and I have stopped being nervous about those convenience store trips.
The only downside to traveling with Thinx is that I have to find a good way to wash them and that they take a long time to dry off. It can feel a little awkward at first if someone walks into the bathroom and sees you bent over the sink washing large amounts of blood from a pair of underwear, and if you don’t have a good place to set them out, they will never completely dry. And though I really try to make an effort to normalize periods and all that jazz, it can feel uncomfortable sometimes to have someone walk in on me washing out a bloody cup in the bathroom sink (gotta keep those things clean!)
It feels really good to be reducing the size of the footprint I leave in places I visit, so I am happy to be managing my period a bit differently now.
Of course, I always keep a small emergency kit in my purse/backpack that holds a pad and a few tampons and a baggie of advil, just in case I need it. You never know! The advil come in handy especially, because I get pretty deadly cramps.
Another tool that has really helped me, (whether I’m traveling or not) has been a period tracking app. It helps me figure out approximately when my period will happen, so I know not to book a big tour or hike for that day. As someone who gets pretty sick on my first day, it’s great to have that information so that I can set aside an afternoon in my hostel, maybe watching a movie or vomiting into a toilet.
Do you love a hot pat when you’ve got cramps but are you traveling without one? Put your computer over your uterus and hope that it overheats.
It’s no fun having to change your plans or miss out on fun when you get a bad case of the womanhood, but it always helps to be prepared. If you’re traveling with a partner, let them know what’s coming and that it might affect your ability to be out-and-about. And when you’re feeling awful, find small pleasures to help you feel better. Cut yourself off from the world if that’s what you like! Indulge in some chocolate! You deserve it!
I have an endless supply of unfortunate period stories from my travels (I could write a book on it), but they’ve become a little less traumatic in the last year or so. Menstruating readers – I would love to hear your stories, tips, tricks, questions, fears, etc! Happy perioding!