So you’re surfing the crimson wave on the very weekend of a very much anticipated trip. It’s undeniable how uncomfortable it is to roam around a strange place, or to do anything else for that matter, when you’re on your period. It has been established since the beginning of time that monthly cycle is practically a curse to women. But when you’re traveling, it can be a whole new level of discomfort– tampon strings hanging out of your bikini, leakages, cramps that could ruin the entire day– ugh. But a true traveler would know that canceling your plans, no matter how active or intense they are, is not an option. Thanks to today’s science and technology, traveling on your period could be a breeze. Okay, maybe not entirely, because who am I kidding here. Nevertheless, there are a few ways to relieve even just a little bit of those discomforts. Gathered from years of nursing books and years of travel itself, here are some little tricks crafted from my brain that I’m sharing with you to make Aunt Flo friendlier on the road.
Mind Over Cramps
First of all, traveling teaches you to adapt to the environment. It enhances your resiliency and you kind of just learn to go with the flow (see what I did there). That doesn’t necessarily mean to walk around like a wildling, leaving trail spots everywhere you go. But traveling does toughen you up. And plus what better way is there to divert yourself from all that hell when you’re so busy doing what you love? So mind over matter. Easier said than done, I know. But it does help a little when you let your mind conquer the physical symptoms. Here are other things you can do during or prior to your period to relieve some cramp pain.
-There are plenty of over the counter pain relievers that are known to work wonders. Keep some in your first aid kit as not every country has the brand name of your preference. Midol is known to cater to cramps itself, but I personally like Motrin.
–Regular workout or anything that gets your heart rate up helps you avoid menstrual cramps. The more you do it, the less likely you’d be suffering at the time of the month. Yoga is also known to eliminate the possibility of cramps.
-Watch what you eat. Your diet affects how smooth your period is gonna go. Load up on leafy greens as they’re a great source of magnesium and calcium, which helps the regulation of your muscle contraction.
–Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine are vasoconstrictors. Just think of your vein narrowing down, causing your uterus to tighten more, hence the cramps. So avoid coffee, tea, soda, and chocolates.
–STAY HYDRATED. Even when you’re not on your period, stay hydrated anyway.
-Don’t force yourself if you can’t handle the pain. Take a break, sit down, go for a siesta. While you’re at it, why not go for a hot shower for some relief. Or a hot compress if you don’t fancy a shower. Just fill up a water bottle with hot water and place it over your abdomen.
Pads vs Tampons vs Menstrual Cups
I HATE IT. I haven’t used pads for over a decade already. This is the worst thing you can rely on during your period while traveling. It will inhibit you from doing so many activities and I’m sure you already know that. Consider something else. ASAP. But here’s what you can do during your travels if switching is not option.
-Accept the fact that you will miss out on certain things such as swimming.
-Convince yourself to switch to something else.
Tampons are reliable until they’re not. It has its pros and cons, but at the end of the day, it does its job. Just make sure you’re loaded up because many countries do not sell tampons (especially in Southeast Asia. I had to get mine shipped here to the Philippines).
-Pack some in your hand bag or carry on. You don’t want to be causing a commotion while you’re in transit when you’re searching for a tampon.
-If you’re going to be out and about for the entire day, consider using a panty liner along with your tampon to avoid leakages on your heavy days.
-Carry around feminine wipes (or baby wipes) for when you change. Also bring a handy sanitizer with you to make sure your hands are clean.
-I recommend changing your tampon as soon as you can after dipping in the water to avoid yeast infection or any vaginal drama.
I’m not going to try to convince you to make a switch because we all have our personal preferences. But I will share with you what I know. But before that, don’t snub what you haven’t personally tried because…it could be life changing. Before backpacking Southeast Asia, I made a very essential decision to switch to the Diva Cup. I’ve read up on it, watched youtube videos, and learned everything I could. The cup had me at “it’s healthier”. Like most women were, I was adamant about the idea of putting something foreign inside of me to “collect” my blood. Let’s just say it. It sounds f***** gross.
I say consider it anyway. Not for your permanent go to every month, but for traveling at least. I recommend it for travel simply because it can last up to 12 hours. That means less public bathroom visits (I clean the cup in the morning before wandering around, and then at night time), one less thing to carry around in your purse, and less leakages to worry about. This also means peeing peacefully without getting any strings wet. The cup is obviously not for everyone, but for me, it changed my life. So consider it, read up on, and let it change your life too. Some things to keep in mind when making a switch to the cup:
-A feminine wash also works as a cleaner for the cup. Water and mild soap is the most common way to do it and there are also soaps specifically made for the cup.
-One of the best times to clean your cup is during your shower.
-You should know this already but I will remind you anyway to make sure that you wash your hands before doing some work down there.
-Minor leaks happen especially when you’re still getting used to the cup. Wear a panty liner during your heavy days just to be sure. At least until you’re confident enough with you cup placement skills.
-When leaks happen, it usually means that it hasn’t been properly placed. Also, it could mean that it’s gotten way far up into the vagina. To avoid this dilemma, do your regular kegel exercise to strengthen your muscle’s grasp. If you’re not on the cup, do it anyway.
Stopping Your Period:
This is an option many women do. There are many ways to completely put a halt in your period either temporarily, semi -permanently, or sporadically. Different types of birth controls that has been invented and been proven to work flawlessly are available. You will have to talk to your doctor to see which one will work best for you.
Some women like to permanently stop their period for special events such as traveling, wedding days, honeymoon, etc. and the birth control pill usually works almost impeccably. To do this, instead of taking the placebos or taking your week off the pill, you just immediately start a new pack instead. Take note that women who do this are usually under prescription already, meaning they’ve been on the pill for awhile. I don’t personally recommend this because I just don’t like the idea of meddling with the regulation of your cycle just like that. I’ve done this a few times in the past and when I finally get my period the month after my missed one, it was just dreadful– it was heavier than normal and my cramps were more painful. but a woman’s got to do what she’s got to do. Still, I suggest talking it over with your gyno.
Whatever decision you make on how you deal with your period while traveling, one fact remains the same: you need to be prepared. So whether you’re using pads, tampons, or the cup, keep some of these in mind!
-Do not forget your wipes. Not all public restrooms provide toilet papers.
-Keep your sanitizer with you when you visit the restroom.
-Many public restrooms do not provide garbage cans (yes, Southeast Asia), and I suggest you don’t even attempt flushing it in the toilet unless you want to leave a big ol’ mess in your cubicle. Carry around small plastic bags so you can store your disposables until you find one.
-Keep a bottle full of clean water with you just in case you need an emergency clean up while on the cup.
-Carry around an extra pair of undies just in case you get a profuse surprise.
–Wear comfortable clothes. You don’t want another reason to be cranky. With cramps, bloating, and possibly the heat wherever you are, you don’t want to be in tight fitting clothes. Go for leggings or yoga pants. Also, avoid the obvious such as white bottoms. When it comes to bikinis, stick the dark shades and possibly printed ones.
Remember that it’s different for everyone. I personally think diversion is the best way to forget about feeling so crappy, so I’d put on my comfy shoes and go out and explore just as I planned. But there were also days I’m okay with just finding a good cafe and just read a book and watch people walk by. Maybe even just stay in the hotel/hostel, order in, or chill by the pool. Either way, you’ve got to make the most of it. Good luck!
Do you have any special tricks for traveling on your period? Lets me know!