For the past three years, I’ve spent a month every summer in Greece with my boyfriend’s family. It’s taught me many things: Firstly, how to communicate with 2 memorised phrases and elaborate hand gestures. Secondly, that ouzo is never a good idea. And, thirdly, how to deal with my period whilst on holiday. In fact, I like to consider myself a bit of an expert on that last one.
I have a relatively regular cycle of around 30 days (trust me, I track it religiously!), so it’s inevitable that at some point on a four week adventure I will get my period. Sure, it’s a pain in the uterus, but it’s something a lot of us will have to deal with at some point in our lives. If you know that you’re due on whilst away and you don’t like the idea of delaying it with a pill, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t stress, my period-having friends. I’ve got your back. After my fair share of swimming costume leakages and grumpily sitting by the pool whilst everyone else had fun, I think I’ve cracked it. All you need is a bit of forward planning and to make sure that your suitcase is fully stocked with the essentials.
The wonder of the menstrual cup
I know that I go on about my Mooncup as though it’s my first child, but that’s because it truly has changed my life for the better. For anyone who hasn’t been on my social media channels or blog for more than 5 seconds at a time and therefore may not have heard about it, a menstrual cup is a reusable sanitary product that collects your period blood inside of your vagina. It can be emptied, cleaned off and reinserted whatever stage your period is at. Now that is a serious space saver, my friends. No more packing a plethora of different absorbency tampons in a zip-lock bag. Just one little silicone beauty.
Menstrual cups, like tampons, can also be used whilst swimming since they’re worn internally. And, perhaps most incredibly, they only need to be changed between every 6 and 12 hours, dependent on your flow. That means that you can head off on your excursions, live your best life and not have to be constantly thinking about where the next toilet will be.
Menstrual cup care whilst travelling
In terms of caring for your menstrual cup and keeping everything hygienic whilst away from home, I would massively recommend taking sterilising tablets with you. It’s a lot easier than having to find a way to boil your cup in your hotel! I also think that it would be handy to invest in one of these sterilisation cups, which allow you to do so on the go.
Finally, make sure that you have hand sanitiser and a couple of PH neutral baby wipes with you in case you need to empty and reinsert your menstrual cup in a public toilet.
Sanitary product disposal
If for any reason you can’t or don’t want to use a menstrual cup and are opting for conventional sanitary products instead (may I recommend these organic and eco-friendly ones from TOTM?), then it’s important to keep in mind how you will dispose of them. The truth is that public toilets abroad, be they at the beach or in town, just might not have bins. That’s where the Fab Little Bag comes in. It’s a completely biodegradable way to dispose of your pads and tampons and, since they each have a sealable top, you can always keep them in your handbag until you get to a bin with no stress.
Create a period pouch
You know better than anyone else what you need on your period. For me it’s my menstrual cup, a few back-up pads, ibuprofen, lavender oil and baby wipes. Whatever you use, pouch that shit up. That way you can chuck it into your beach bag or rucksack and feel secure that you’ve got everything you need.
I’m a massive fan of these TOTM “Be kinder to your vagina” purses for this very use.
All of the pants
I know you want to pack your best lacy knickers as a little holiday treat but, trust me, take your big, period pants too. And lots of ’em. When you’re abroad and bleeding there’s no such thing as “too safe” when it comes to undies.
Consider your swimwear
If you’re on a beach holiday, you might want to put some serious consideration into the swimwear that you pack. Even though I’ve only ever leaked once whilst using my Mooncup, and it was the first time I tried it, I feel a lot more secure wearing dark bikini bottoms just in case.
It’s even possible to get leak-proof swimming costumes from the brand Modi Bodi which claim to be able to fight odour, dry super speedily and not stain. Though I haven’t personally tried them, they seem like a great option for someone who wants extra security and is willing to splash that cash.
Keep your travel buddy in the know
Unless you’re being a total badass and travelling alone, I can’t understate the importance of keeping your travel buddy or buddies in the loop. You don’t have to tell them how many ml you’re bleeding each day, but do let them know when your period starts and finishes. That way when you say that you “need the toilet”, nobody is going to think that you can just hold it for an hour. And they might be a little be more sympathetic if you have a strop even though you’re on your holibobs.