By Ellen Beshuk

Periods Don't Take Vacations - Managing Menstruation While on the Move

Traveling during your menstrual cycle requires foresight and self-reflection to ensure you remain comfortable and enjoy the journey. Whether it’s choosing the right menstrual products, staying hydrated, or keeping active, emphasizing preparation can turn challenges into manageable situations. 

Pre-travel Preparations 

Navigating your period while traveling requires planning and self-care that can make a difference in how your travel days will go.

It is wise to overestimate the hours you’ll be on the road or in the air since delays are common and supplies aren’t always readily available. Menstrual products may be compact, but their impact can be significant. Having an extra supply could be the difference needed to make it through the day.

Dhriti Chatterjee, a travel advisor at Lowest Flight Fares and avid backpacker tracks her period with her travels but always has an emergency period pack with products and painkillers just in case.

“I have trailed through multiple sceneries, be it the moist rainforest or ice-capped mountains, but one thing that still irks me is when I get my period while traveling,” Chatterjee said. “Two years ago I was trailing through Everglade National Park with a few friends and suddenly got my period. Thankfully, I always carry emergency period kits with me while traveling.”

Packing more than just products and staying as close to your routine as possible can keep you comfortable while you’re miles away from home. Extra period precautions can include hot pads and anti-inflammatories to manage cramps. Also, consider adding teas that support your cycle to your suitcase.

Prioritizing your own health can even mean securing sleep. You can block out the world and rest your hard-working body by packing soundproof headphones or sleep masks.

Thoughtful preparation ensures that you take control of your period while traveling rather than letting it command your day.

Journeying Well

After you pack for the journey, there are a couple of habits to consider while traveling. Choosing both the product and the environment to use it in can lessen discomfort.

Maybe you prefer opening a fresh pad in the anonymity of the airport bathrooms to avoid the cramped airplane spaces. Depending on the flight duration, these restrooms might be unavoidable, but traveling is not the time to try new things.

Stick with a reliable absorption method you know and love. Venturing into the unknown can lead to unexpected leaks or the unfortunate realization that menstrual discs can move with too much laughing. The last thing you want is to awkwardly waddle through airport security or need to make an emergency stop after just hitting the road. If you want to use a specific period product, experiment at home first before relying on it while traveling. 

Stay Hydrated!

Whether flying or driving, people tend to drink less water to avoid bathroom trips. Even though it is inconvenient, a person on their period should accept that they will be frequenting the bathroom. But with this realization, you can plan accordingly.

Dehydration only adds to the fatigue and lethargy that periods bring and can induce headaches. Drinking water can ward off cramping, reduce bloating, and put you in a better mood for arriving at your destination. All these benefits are worth the extra trips to the bathroom, especially since it will keep you active. 

Move More, Feel Better 

While it can be easy to want to curl up in a ball and not budge for the duration of your travels, moving whenever possible can help with blood flow and ease period cramps.

In airports, don’t just sit and wait for your group to be called. Stay active, stretch, walk, or even just stand. You will not have the choice to move from your seat soon, so take advantage of it now!

Jodi Ogle, CEO of Transcend Recovery Community, has over 25 years of experience providing self-care strategies to individuals on the road to recovery. She suggests gentle movement and relaxation to cope with the stress that traveling can bring.

“Traveling can be physically and emotionally taxing, especially when dealing with period cramps,” Ogle said. “Remember to prioritize self-care and listen to your body's needs. Take breaks, practice relaxation techniques, and engage in activities that ease discomfort, such as stretching or gentle exercises.”

Taking walks past the airport gates or getting out of the car also puts people in closer proximity to snacks. While keeping yourself fed is important, there are some options that are better than others when it comes to traveling on your period.

Snack Time

The best habit to follow while traveling is making decisions about food choices before hunger strikes. This can keep women from following their cravings. Maybe you have visited this airport before and know what restaurants are offered. If not, decide what meal will satisfy you and keep you from cramping before the temptations begin.

If you know you have an extra sweet tooth during menstruation, pack fruit, low-sugar treats, and especially dark chocolate. Just because you are craving something does not mean it will make your body happy. 

Vacationing with the uninvited guest

Whether you are the type of person to have every day of your vacation planned in advance or prefer to take it one day at a time, being on your period can have an impact. With all the care products available today, it is physically possible to do or go wherever you desire, but that does not mean you must.

The most important aspect is to listen to your body and decide what would make the trip most enjoyable even if it means missing out on an outing or two. Balancing between not wanting to miss anything while making sure you are not pushing past your abilities can lead to difficult decisions.

Choosing to rest without the rest of the group may be tough in the moment but can lead to a more enjoyable vacation for everyone.

Only you know your limits and can advocate for your needs. Yulia Saf, a female travel blogger and creator of MissTourist, often must balance taking care of her body while creating content. Even though her blog relies on her sightseeing, she understands the importance of self-care.

“My rule of thumb when traveling is to respect my body's needs,” Saf said. “If my symptoms are severe, I try to plan light activities or take a rest day; there's no point in forcing yourself when you're not feeling up to par. Trust me, the world's wonders are more enjoyable when our bodies are at their best.”

Along with listening to your needs, it also may be helpful to share with others. Informing a few of your fellow vacationers can really help ease the mental burden and make sure you are not suffering in silence.

Even just telling the designated group leader could make decision-making easier, but periods are personal experiences, and it's up to each woman what they choose to disclose. Some people are not comfortable with sharing what their bodies are going through, so there is no pressure to inform the people you are traveling with.