We've all been there: You wake up the day before your meticulously planned beach vacation only to discover Mother Nature has #blessed you with her presence.
That's right, I'm talking about your period.
A Period By Any Other Name
It's 2018, we aren't ashamed of our periods anymore. Lots of people bleed once a month—and there are many people who don't. Either way, this doesn't make you any more or less of a woman. (Great, this very basic boilerplate statement is now out of the way.)
So, lets talk about what we can do to make each of our experiences more comfortable and enjoyable when we're on the road and outside of our normal routine.
Think About Your Period Before You Travel
If you're already stressing about your upcoming trip, the stress might be impacting your cycle. Of course, stress can impact the regularity of your period. This means it could be longer, heavier than usual—or go away completely.
Either way, any change in stress can affect your body.
One way to avoid your period altogether is by basically postponing it. If you take the pill, consider skipping your placebo pills to delay bleeding while you're traveling.
But don't take it from me: While this is a safe option for many people, check with your gynecologist to make sure this is a healthy choice for you.
If you decide not to mess with your contraceptive pills, you can still make sure you're as comfortable as possible below the belt while traveling. It all starts with the right choice of underwear.
In the summer, choose lightweight cotton underwear, without synthetic fibers. As for tampons, pads, and panty liners, try a product made with natural materials for comfort in all seasons. Look for organic products, there are less chemicals that can cause irritation.
Period Supplies Are Vital
Don't forget your tampons, pads, menstrual cup, or period-proof underwear on vacation. This seems obvious, but you can never be too prepared. If you're on the pill, don't forget to bring enough supply for the entire trip. While you're at it, pack extra if you can.
Protip: You can't buy tampons everywhere in the world. Wait, what? You can't buy tampons everywhere in the world?
It's true, only 2 percent of people in China use tampons, while 70 percent of people across Europe prefer them. Even if you can find tampons, they may not be your familiar brand. Americans are used to tampons with plastic applicators, while in France you'll find brands with no applicator at all.
This travel blog has an ongoing list where real people document their successes or issues finding feminine hygiene products in different countries around the world.
Tampons Aren't For Everyone.
If you want to travel sans tampons, you can think about using a menstrual cup. But don't forget about hygiene on your trip. Manufactures recommend boiling the cup once your period is over for several minutes to clean it.
Period-proof underwear from brands like Thinx can also be a lifesaver when traveling. These underwear are super absorbent and easy to clean.
They're ideal for hiking trips or backpacking, when you've got limited space in your backpack for packages of tampons or pads. They can also be hand-washed, which is perfect for those who are worried about what to do after their cycle.
Some people also find that intrauterine devices (IUDs) are the best option, especially for long-term travelers. Low-hormone IUDs can be inserted for up to five years and will lead to a lighter—or even non-existent—period.
If you also suffer from severe cramping—the kind that can ruin a meticulously planned vacation—an IUD could be the answer.
How About A Bit Of Exercise?
Ugh, I know, I hate it when people say that too. There's nothing worse than having extremely painful cramps and then someone suggests you "go on a jog."
Every period is different—and only you know what's best for you and your body.
That being said, a bit of light exercise on vacay can always be good for you. Don't be nervous to swim while on your period. Did you know the pressure from the water in the pool will prevent leakage while you swim?
Tampons can absorb a bit of water while you're swimming, but they're perfectly fine to use if you aren't comfortable using a menstrual cup. Just change it after!
Going hiking or walking through a new city? Don't miss the sights because you're looking forward to laying in bed with a hot water bottle: Try a heat patch. They're sold at drugstores and pharmacies, and normally have a photo of someone using it on their back for pain.
If you get especially bad cramps, pop one on under your clothes before you go exploring so that you can relieve some symptoms while on the go. You can also use Icy Hot cream.
#Protip: I've got an off-brand one that is scented, and it's saved my life not only on vacation, but also on days where I simply couldn't make it out of bed without it.
Don't Forget Self-Care
Don't forget to plan rest periods. While traveling or on vacation, it's easy to get busy exploring and forget to take the time to relax. But dragging yourself to see the sights while doubled over with cramps sounds (and is) miserable.
After extensive city exploring, hikes, or even a day at the beach, let yourself unwind in a cozy restaurant or bar. If you need to go lay down, watch some Netflix and take a nap—don't feel bad about participating in some self-care.
What the heck, hit up a local spa if you're up for being really pampered. Dedicate yourself to some me-time. It is your vacation, after all.
Traveling on your period doesn't have to be inconvenient. Share these tips with the other travelers with periods in your life, and keep this conversation going.