Guest Post: What’s the best way to manage your period while travelling?

Advice from Clémentine at Voyage de Miel

Anyone travelling with a womb may have to face dealing with their period on the road. Sadly, period protection is yet another concern a male traveller wouldn’t have to worry about.

My husband and I just came back from our honeymoon: a 14-month world tour, here is how I handled my period while travelling.

Contraception on a world tour

This conversation can’t start without mentioning contraception, which often dictates period flow and regularity. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any of the contraception options offered to me good or really convenient while travelling. Also, it is sad to note that when going to the doctor and asking what to do for contraception while travelling as a couple it was never mentioned my husband could be the one dealing with it…

So, here is my rundown of the options available: Patches and rings might not be available everywhere and are tricky to safely store in the long run. You could stock up on a lot of pills but you might end up getting it wrong with the jetlag, the time difference or lose it’s effectiveness if you get sick from food or drink poisoning. Implants and IUD’s can be rejected, are a significant medical procedure to put in place and not suitable for everyone. Condoms quality, safety and availability might vary greatly depending on where you are in the world so might not be 100% reliable.

But I do have a great answer on the best period protection: reusable period underwear! 

Accessibility to disposable period protection worldwide

First a word about using disposable period protection. I always found sanitary pads for sale in pharmacies. However, it was mostly external pads, not tampons. Also, the quality and effectiveness were extremely variable from one country to another meaning that some were unpleasant to wear.

It is also essential to note the very negative impact the use of disposable protections has on the environment. We would like to encourage anyone travelling to consider the best options for the planet and to work on reducing their waste on the road. The health risks due to the use of toxic agents in manufacturing also need to be considered.

Taking a menstrual cup on a world tour

I have tried and used the menstrual cup while travelling. The advantages of the menstrual cup are obvious: a low purchase cost for long use, the possibility of using it for several hours without needed to change, and, of course, it hardly takes up any luggage space.

During a backpacking-style world tour, however, it is not so easy to use. We sometimes spent several days with limited access to water, making cleaning the cup and changing it very complicated.

After hearing about the period underwear among the travel community, I finally decided in Australia (midway through the world tour) to invest in period panties. It was a revelation for me!

Reusable period underwear 

Menstrual panties or period underwear, are external hygienic protections, which are washable and reusable throughout the life of the product. 

The price, however, is a dissuasive factor as the technologies used makes it an expensive purchase, but it is a real long-term investment. Period underwear is easy to use and convenient on the road. They just need to be rinsed after use and can be washed with the rest of your laundry. A good brand will have the underwear coming out clean in any type of laundry, a conventional machine cycle or a cold by-hand one (which is the most common laundry style on a world tour). The fabrics used for the absorption capacity means the underwear will dry quickly. In reality, you only need to invest in a few pairs depending on how efficiently you can clean them (3 was enough for me). 

For me now, period underwear is the easiest and best period protection for travelling. They don’t take up extra space in your luggage as you can wear them on regular days. In fact, they are also great on sweaty or humid days as they are fast drying. With more and more competition on the market, the technologies are getting better and prices lower. But there is definitely room for improvement on contraception and period management for travellers overall.

Find period underwear brands tested and tried on our blog:

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How much plastic is in our period products?

In 2020, many of us want to live more sustainably and a major concern is the consumption of single-use plastics. In fact, around 45% of shoppers are actively seeking products that are better for the environment. For many this means ditching plastic bags, water bottles and coffee cups, but what about our period products?

Unfortunately, single-use plastic is an unbearably common feature in many disposable period products. From plastic tampon applicators to layers of plastic in pads, it can be hard to be eco-conscious while menstruating.

Particularly as much of the plastic in these products is as a result of major companies innovating to make our periods quieter, more discreet and much more convenient. From individual plastic wrappers to scented bags for disposal, these products can contain up to 90% plastic that takes over 500 years to break down.

In a lifetime, the average menstruator will use in excess of 10,000 products, many of which will be thrown away or flushed. These items, such as tampon applicators, will end up littering our beaches after making the journey through the sewers and out to sea after improper disposal. Period products are the fifth most common type of plastic waste found on Europe’s beaches.

Part of the problem is that disposable products have been advertised to us for so long, and from an early age, as the de facto way to manage your menstruation. They offer us an ease and convenience that means they quickly become part of our routines without us stopping to properly question the impact of these products on our environment and if there is a better way. 

While there are many reusable products on the market and an increasing number of low or no-plastic disposable options available, these products often come with a heftier price tag or require more pre-planning to use them effectively.

How can we tackle the excess plastic in our period products?

As a consumer you can make a choice to buy and try reusable options such as cups and period underwear, sending your vote to the industry that you want change. There are also increasing numbers of options in many major retailers for low or no plastic pads and tampons. If you can afford to make these changes you can support the growing eco-period industry and reduce your individual impact too. 

But this is not all! Making the world a better place is not just down to the choices of individual consumers. Major retailers need to address the use of single-use plastic in their products and through the amazing work of campaigners such as Ella Daish, companies are beginning to wake up to the devastating effect of single-use plastic on the environment, moving to change the design and packaging of their products making it easier and more affordable for consumers to make eco-friendly choices. 

So, are the tides finally changing on single-use plastic in period products, or are they still full of used tampon applicators?

Why not join me today and pledge to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in your period products, or better yet sign Ella Daish’s petition to make all menstrual products plastic-free!