We’ve all been there—preparing for a long-awaited trip, when we’re hit with the realisation that our period coincides with those meticulously chosen dates.
Even if your period is unlikely to arrive during vacation, you probably want to pack a couple pads or tampons, just in case. They don’t take up that much space, and if you do end up with a scarlet surprise, you’ll be prepared.
If your period arrives unexpectedly while you’re abroad, most local pharmacies and supermarkets should have what you need (although it depends on the country). If not, a female friend will likely be willing to help you out, although this is never guaranteed, and her supplies may not be enough for two people.
To avoid these scenarios, pack as many sanitary products you will need for the number of periods you are likely to have over the duration on your trip, then throw in a couple extra. Add a few more pairs of underwear, too.
Some feminine hygiene products are better suited for travel than others—menstrual cups, for example, are reusable, easily cleaned and sterilized, take up next to no space, and are much better for the environment than disposable products.
If you will have access to a washing machine, consider period panties. Depending on the intensity of your flow, these can be worn in combination with a tampon, menstrual cup or menstrual disc, or on their own. A good pair of period panties will be breathable, which is definitely something you want for long bus rides or flights.
If possible, pack clothes that will serve multiple purposes: adequate for the weather and other conditions ahead, without compromising period comfort. You don’t want to be wearing super skinny jeans if you’re feeling achy and bloated.
Wet wipes can be a godsend if there is no running water readily available, both for your hands and your nether regions—just make sure they are genital-friendly.
Don't forget about painkillers if you suffer from cramps or headaches. They might not be easy to find on-the-go (and in some countries, analgesics are not available without a prescription), so bring enough for entire trip.
If there’s a chance you’ll be having sex, protection and birth control are a must. Risk of pregnancy and STD infection is still present during period sex. A towel on the bed and tissues nearby will make clean-up efficient.
If you’re on the pill, you can ask your doctor if you could skip the placebo pill to avoid menstruation during your trip. This could delay your period and save you the hassle of dealing with it, but don't do it without the approval of a professional.
Situations where you have to sit in one place for a long time are unpleasant at the best of times. In combination with your period, they can leave you feeling like a sticky, smelly mess. To avoid this, keep your necessities nearby, in your carry-on luggage or on your person. Going to the bathroom every few hours to clean up and change your period products will help you feel relatively fresh. If there is not bathroom available on board, try to plan ahead and clean up beforehand (and when you arrive at your destination).
This is a sudden, potentially fatal condition. It's caused by the release of toxins from an overgrowth of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. Toxic shock syndrome affects menstruating women, especially those who use super-absorbent tampons. The body responds with a sharp drop in blood pressure that deprives organs of oxygen and can lead to death.
You wouldn’t want your period ruin your plans, but don’t overdo strenuous activities. For instance, if you know that the first day of your period is difficult (e.g. if you suffer from particularly heavy bleeding or cramping) perhaps avoid activities that could compromise your enjoyment (and safety) in combination with these distractions, such as rafting a wild mountain river or skiing.
If you are travelling with a group, you may not be able to adapt your plans to your bodily needs. There is no shame in opting out if you need rest. If you are determined to participate, however, try to give yourself a stamina booster by getting plenty of sleep and nutritional value prior to the event.
You will feel much better if you maintain a healthy diet while on your period. This can be difficult to do during the holidays, especially in places with unfamiliar foods, but try to opt for salads, fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grain bread instead of fried, salty or sugary meals. Red meat, poultry, fish, nuts and green vegetables contain iron, whereas citrus fruit and dark chocolate are said to help relieve cramps.
Hydrating is also important. Try to drink 2 liters of water per day, more if you’re active. Don’t forget to bring water on lengthy car rides and flights.
Adapting to weather changes, such as the heat of summer, can mess with our cycles. Delayed, shorter, and missed periods are common, but things should return to normal within a few weeks. Even so, eliminate other common causes (stress, pregnancy), before writing it off as part of the season.
You can go swimming while on your period, although it takes a little extra preparation. Some women use tampons, pantyliners or pads, which will prevent menstrual blood from leaking out into the water, but will also become waterlogged to some extent—something you’ll need to address as soon as you get out of the water. A dark swimsuit may offer some stress relief if you’re nervous about leaks.
There is also such a thing as period swimwear—much like period panties, this can be worn either on its own or in combination with internal products depending on the intensity of your period. Period swimsuits are fairly effective in discreetly managing your period while you’re on land. However, the padded area will absorb water and take a much longer time drying than the rest of the suit, so this type of swimwear be more suited to lounging at the beach rather than actually swimming.
Sunbathing may help you relieve cramps, although some women may feel more comfortable in cooler conditions, as body temperature can be increased at the beginning of menstruation due to higher progesterone levels.
You can track your period using WomanLog. Download WomanLog now: