Periods when Travelling

Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many people need to travel for various reasons.  I bet a lot of people are planning fun holidays for when it’s safe to travel again too!  For these reasons, I thought I’d share my tips and tricks for how to cope with your periods when travelling.

For this article, I’m assuming that:

  1. You will at some point (every 12 hours at least) have access to a semi-private bathroom with clean running water and soap and you will feel safe using this bathroom.  
  2. There will be enough time for you to change/clean period products in this bathroom
  3. You have either packed the period supplies you would need and/or have the ability to get more at a shop.

My personal experiences with periods when travelling have involved long aeroplane flights, long layovers in airports, long train rides, and long car rides.  Please keep this in mind when going through these tips, as they may or may not match your own experiences for a variety of reasons.

Have I planned to travel around my period?

Yes, I definitely have.  I have considered departure days based on when I know my cycle is going to start.  This does not mean I have always wanted or been able to adjust my travel plans, but my period is something I consider.

Why?  Because, for me, managing my period while traveling is an extra stressor.  It’s not necessarily difficult or impossible, but it is another thing I have to think about.  Besides packing period products, I am typically more introverted and have lower energy when I’m on my period.  Depending on where I’m traveling and with whom, this could change the travel experience.

Has it ever stopped me from traveling?  Absolutely not!  And I hope it doesn’t stop you!  By tracking my cycle and packing extra period products, I’m confident that I’ll be able to maintain my menstrual wellbeing in pretty much any circumstance.

Periods when travelling: What I pack

There is a slight difference in what I’ll pack if I won’t be on my period vs if I know I’ll be on my period while traveling.  Since I only use reusable period products, I know I’ll never run out of supplies (as long as I have them packed).  Really, just a menstrual cup would cover me for any length of time.  Honestly, though, I personally don’t enjoy changing a menstrual cup in a public bathroom (there’s no shame!  I’m just a bit lazy 🙂 ).  That’s why I will bring or wear reusable period pads or period underwear if my travel is more than 12 hours.  I find them easier to change in public bathrooms and usually less risk of getting messy (for me).

Periods when Travelling: An Overview
Not Expecting to Bleed While TravelingFor Sure Bleeding While Traveling
Traveling for less than 12 hoursI’ll wear:Regular underwearRegular trousersMaybe a reusable pad liner
I’ll have in my handbag/easy access:Menstrual cup1 reusable pad linerHand sanitizer
I’ll wear:Regular underwearMenstrual cupBack-up reusable pad/liner
I’ll have in my handbag/easy access:Extra back-up reusable pad or linerHand sanitizer
Traveling for more than 12 hoursI’ll wear:Regular underwearRegular trousersPotentially a reusable period pad liner – If I’m traveling for a long period of time but can’t change my clothes, I sometimes like to change a pad liner every 8 hours or so.

I’ll have in my handbag/easy access:Menstrual cupReusable cloth pad liner or moderate padMaybe an extra pair of underwear if I have roomHand sanitizerPainkillers
I’ll wear:Period Underwear – I have some with clips on the sides so you don’t have to take off your trousers to change themA reusable period pad that fits my flow that dayRegular trousers
The period underwear is if I don’t get a chance to change my pad when needed.  I’ll use my reusable period pads as normal, changing them as needed throughout the trip.

I’ll have in my handbag/easy access:Small wet/dry bag – to store clean and used reusable period padsMenstrual cup – in case I run out of pads or somethingExtra period underwear (I have two with clips for easy changing, which is enough for my travels)Hand sanitizerPainkillersToilet paper and/or wipes – if I have a little tp left on the roll before I leave, I’ll stick it in my bag.  Also depends on how/where I’m traveling.

Periods when Travelling: Extra supplies

If you tend to get cravings or have items that simply make you feel better on your period, bring them!  Maybe that’s a chocolate bar, salty nuts, or your favorite tea.  Consider bringing something that can help with your digestion, if your period tends to affect that.  Be aware of what you might want to wear if you get bloated or get hot or cold easily.

What if your period surprises you?

Try not to stress!  Nearly half of the world menstruates and will have had a cycle that’s come early, late, or somehow surprised them.  See if there’s someone around who may have period supplies that they can spare.  Chances are there will be some other travelers who have extras.  Also, I’m sure most travel workers will be helpful in one way or another.  Having your period surprise you should be at most a mild annoyance, not something that ruins a trip.  

Final tips

  • Change period products regularly
    • Remember, it’s important to your health to change period products regularly.
  • Know how you’re going to store/dispose of used products
    • If you use reusable products, have an extra bag to store the used ones.  Even if you use disposable, you might need an extra bag in case.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
    • Whether that’s asking someone for period supplies or painkillers.  You won’t be offered them randomly, so the only way you’ll get them is by asking. 
  • Track your cycle
    • This can help you anticipate when you might start bleeding.  However, travel and the stress that can come with it can affect your period too.  It might come early, later than expected, or last longer.
  • Have a few supplies packed
    • I’m assuming everyone would have room to pack a menstrual cup or a few pads.  Anything that you need during your period should be easily accessible while travelling (period products, painkillers, snacks).  Make it a habit to always have supplies just in case.
  • Leaks happen, it’s ok
    • Leaks happen and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it – so go with the flow and show that world that nothing will stop you 🙂

I hope these tips help you decide what to pack for your period while traveling.  These are things I have learned from my own experiences of having my period while traveling – you may need or prefer other ways of maintaining menstrual wellbeing.  Share below if you have any tips or questions on this topic!

What more period tips? Check out our podcast on Spotify or Apple.

Written by Morgan Ludington

March 15th, 2021

Edited by Lilypads

Photo by Morgan Ludington

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