Packing For Your Period
Here are a few specific things I’ve learned to tuck in my backpack that a more tame packing list might omit. Anyone with a period seriously needs to think about these items before taking off on a long-term international adventure – not all of them are available worldwide!
This option still makes some people squeamish but I cannot recommend it highly enough. Tampons are fine when you have the luxury of frequent access to bathrooms with running water (or bathrooms at all), but when traveling these can be few and far between.
Menstrual cups have serious staying power, they allow for bathroom breaks without any fuss, and they are better for the planet we enjoy exploring so much. It can take a couple of tries to find the perfect fit, but trust me – it’s worth it.
If you just can’t get on board the cup train (zero judgement here), definitely pack a solid supply of your favorite brand of tampons. Pads are generally easy to find worldwide, but tampon selections are more limited.
This only applies to my fellow old fashioned travelers still using the pill or patch option. I’ve struggled to stock up enough birth control on past trips because doctors don’t like to prescribe too much at a time. But a 3 month supply won’t exactly last your RTW trip. Luckily, there are options.
You can buy whatever brand the local pharmacy will sell you once you’re abroad, but the process of adjusting to a new birth control is a part of no one’s dream vacay.
Better yet, you can order your birth control brand online and have it mailed to you. Fill out a questionnaire, select your preferred brand, and within 2 weeks you’ll have a 3 month supply of your chosen pill in your mailbox. I’ve also been able to repeat my order early by messaging my doctor. We can now leave the country feeling comfortable with an 8 month supply of whatever pill we know and love. Well, maybe not love, but at least one we know our bodies will tolerate.
And while we’re talking pills…
The Morning After Pill
Again, the lucky travelers rocking an IUD need not concern themselves with this one, but if you aren’t a member of that group, bring some backup. Accidents happen and backpacking increases the odds of the unexpected. It is part of the fun after all. But what’s not fun is spending weeks of your trip living in terror as you wait for your period to arrive – or not.
Pharmacies in the U.S. should sell you these pills hassle free, just ask at the counter. There is also the option to order online (although I haven’t personally used this service so I can’t endorse it). If you are fortunate enough to never use it, you may be able to help out one of your travel sisters in a very big way.
Yes, I am well aware this technology has spread across the globe. Still, they can be harder to find when traveling. Where/how to buy condoms isn’t always the question you want to ask at the hostel front desk or try to convey through hand gestures at the local pharmacy. Also, take it from a girl who has purchased condoms too small, too big, and way too strawberry scented, it’s easier to buy them when you can read the packaging.
Toilet Paper / Tissues / Wet Wipes
This seems too obvious to include, but even after years of travel, I’m still guilty of being paper-product-less at crucial moments. Shake drying is a skill but not one I need any more practice at. Fold up some toilet paper, stash away some napkins, and tuck away some tissues. Put them in strange places in your backpack and resupply with reckless abandon. You will not regret it.
There’s nothing worse than the dreaded gush – especially when you’re on an 8 hour bus somewhere hot and sticky. Sure, packing light is ideal, but if there’s one thing you’ll want to pack an extra stash of, it’s underwear. I’ve heard Thinx are excellent for waste-free travelers. While you’re at it, keep a bar of soap in a tin or plastic bag in your pack. You won’t always have quick access to a laundromat, but finding a sink at the end of the day shouldn’t be too hard. I’ve found that underwear dry out overnight with a good wringing in most climates.
And one last suggestion: If you ever find yourself in need of any of the things listed above, ask another traveler who may have a stash. Don’t be embarrassed, we’ve all been there!