I get it. Periods suck. They suck at home. They suck at school. They suck at work. They especially suck when they pop up on a beautiful trip you’ve been planning for months.
As the queen of bad periods and an avid traveler, I have had some extremely annoying and uncomfortable period situations around the globe.
Today, I am spilling all of my period travel tips. I am sharing some wisdom born of over a decade of menstruating on the go. Brace yourself for many pieces of valuable information and a little bit TMI.
8 Tips for Traveling on Your Period
When I was in middle school and fairly new to periods, I bled really badly while biking in Cape Cod with my family. I was too embarrassed to say anything to my mom, so I just pushed through. However, the universe was looking out for me. I crashed my bike and got pretty cut up and was able to pass any visible stains off as “part of the accident.”
I don’t know if this was good luck or bad luck, but this experience made me extremely nervous to travel on my period. I wanted to avoid it at all costs. I have talked to grown women who are scared to plan trips anywhere near the time of their period since so much is out of control when you’re on the go, especially if it’s with others.
Without medical intervention, you can’t just skip your period for a trip. If it comes, you have to deal with it.
That’s why I have decided to throw together some of the period travel hacks that have saved me from uncomfortable situations time and time again. Let’s get to it.
1. Pack the Products
I learned the hard way that period products can be hard to come by in some countries, especially ones where tampons are considered extremely risque. Sometimes, it isn’t that there is a shortage of products, but the packages are very small and can get expensive.
For example, in the Dominican Republic, tampons were so incredibly expensive (even though everything else in the grocery stores are relatively cheap). Pads were fine, but I know a lot of people have strong preferences either way.
I typically calculate how many products I’d need for the time of the trip. However, I do not typically buy a whole thing of pads and just stick them in my suitcase. I divide them up and put them in different places in my luggage. I do this for two reasons.
First, I like to have multiple sizes of pads and tampons easily accessible no matter where I am. If I have a backpack, purse and carry on, the products get divided between all of them. If any bag gets lost, you still should be good to go
Second, I do what I can to save space. Period products are the last things I pack because know that they can be shoved to fill small spaces at the end.
Of course, which products you use will depend on your preferences, but take into account the activities you’ll be doing on your trip. We will get a little bit more into this in a moment.
2. Play it Safe with the Liner
Do you want to know how many times my period has gotten funky while traveling? Too many.
If I know that my period is going to be coming at some point on my trip (even if it’s DAYS away), I wear a panty liner from the time I leave for the airport. Carrying around bloody clothes wadded up in your suitcase or putting a pad over bloody underwear for the remainder of a 15 hour flight is not the slightest bit fun.
Honestly, this is also a non-period travel hack for long haul flights that I have heard before. Since traveling around the world often promises a day or two of no showering, many people wear panty liners and change them regularly so that their underwear stay nice and fresh.
Either way, I feel like being prepared with liners are the way to go.
3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Traveling has a tendency to make you dehydrated. The plane alone dries you out, but I know when I’m on the go I tend to drink less water.
Combine this with your period and potential related symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea and all that fun stuff) and you’re heading down a dark road.
There are a couple of ways I combat that. First off, Vitamin C is my best friend. I use Vitamin C packets, pills and gummies before and during my trip. Vitamin C has a million health benefits, including aiding in hydration and the absorption of iron.
I also bring a metal water bottle when I travel. This helps me avoid buying tons of plastic water bottles but makes it convenient to bring water on the go.
At home, I am a Yeti girl. But on the road, I am a Zulu girl. I got my Zulu water bottle at Sam’s Club a few months back, and I love it because it doesn’t leak and it keeps my water cold. You can get a 2-pack on Amazon for under $30 which is super nice.
4. Black Leggings, Spandex and Bike Shorts
Looking cute when you travel is obviously the preferred way to go, but with all of the bloating and bleeding, feeling cute can be difficult.
Black leggings and spandex have been life saving in situations when I have been unable to use a bathroom for hours on end. Black leggings and spandex have been life savers.
I wear the black leggings when appropriate, but then I pack outfits (like t-shirt dresses) that can be worn with black shorts underneath. I have had many pairs of black spandex over the years, but my favorite are the Nike Pro style but from Under Armor. I am sure the Nike ones are just as good (if not better) but I do my best to avoid Nike for ethical reasons.
My favorite black leggings are from American Eagle. I really like their shiny move leggings and I have them in a million colors, but the black is the important one here.
Another clothing item that I have recently thrown into the mix is black bike shorts. These are cool because they have the effect of leggings (holding everything in, no thigh chaffing and hiding period stains if they are black) but they are shorts. They are typically long enough that my butt cheeks don’t fall out and they are a modest length for wearing in public.
I feel like bike shorts and big tees are the perfect period outfit because they make me feel like I am held together but not busting at the seams when I get super bloated. It’s also a cute alternative for boating, kayaking and other water activities that don’t necessarily need require a bathing suit.
5. Period Friendly Swim Options
As I mentioned, I have been wearing oversized tees and bike shorts as a water activity alternative. However, swimming in your clothes is not fun.
I have two go-to black bathing suits for when a bathing suit is absolutely necessary on my period. I have one simple black one piece and high waisted black bikini. I also have a black crochet coverup.
If you notice, black is a common theme here. I do not love to wear black, but like I mentioned earlier: I have had so many period mishaps because I was unable to get to a bathroom for a really long period of time due to being on a boat or being out in the middle of nowhere. Of course, you’ll do what you can to protect yourself against leakage, but black is a great way to cover it up.
6. Preparing for Pain
I, for one, get the most painful periods. The first day typically consists of me writhing in bed and crying. I often have cramps so bad that keep me up all night, so that ruins a second day. Missing this much time of your trip can be absolutely frustrating.
If Midol, Pamprin or another period medicine works for you, make sure you pack it! I have been taking CBD and that helps. I was lucky to be in a Cannabis-friendly state during one of my last trips that was graced by my period and a low-dose of THC before bed actually did the trick. When in Rome, am I right or am I right?
If you suffer from bloating, I recommend carrying a couple bags of moringa tea with you. It tastes like green tea and relieves a bloat like no other.
Other than the heating bad and THC, I would recommend getting all of these before you travel, especially if you’re traveling internationally. Buying medicine in a language that you only kind of understand can be dangerous.
7. Create a Period Travel Kit
In addition to packing the items I mentioned, I also recommend creating a period travel kit of sorts that is always easily accessible.
I stow a little pouch with a couple of pads and tampons plus an extra pair of underwear in my purse or personal item (usually a backpack) so that I don’t have to dig into my suitcase if I am in the airport or something like that.
You can go ahead and throw any meds in here if you want. What it comes down to is packing what works best for you.
8. Plan Period-Friendly Activities
When it comes to planning excursions and adventures, you’ll probably want to plan your most low-key ones on the worst day of your period.
You know which days are your heaviest or most painful. I don’t recommend going out on a boat or climbing waterfalls on those days (although I’ve done it before). Save those for when your flow is a little lighter and you don’t expect crazy cramps.
I know that staying active on my first few days help me, so a nice relaxed hike or nature walk could be nice. Honestly, do what makes the most sense for your body. You’re on vacation, and you deserve to have a nice time.
I know nobody prefers to travel on their period, but I don’t think this natural process should hold you back. I feel like your period should not cause you to miss amazing experiences.
If you can plan travel around your period, that is great. If not, I hope these 8 period tips helps you travel with comfort during that time of the month.