It's That Time of the Month Again and I'm About to Get on a Plane!
Have you ever been surprised by Aunt Flo while travelling?
“But Aunt Flo, I wasn’t expecting you till next week”, I said respectfully. “Oh deary, I thought I’d pop by early to surprise you”. “How thoughtful of you Aunt Flo”.
Well, the truth is, I haven’t. Ever!
Whatever you call it, riding the crimson wave, shark week, shedding the lining from your uterus, or like the proper grown up you are, your period, she’s bound to be there for you and your vagina every single month.
That is, unless you're taking the pill like me, up until recently.
I had been on the pill for as long as I’d been sexually active. I mean, I was a late bloomer in that department. Although boys were interested in me, I wasn’t interested in them until I was about 16. Even then, I was a little terrified I’d end up on MTV’s 16 and Pregnant – because I’ve got to hand it to school’s sex education, they make the whole thing seem like a death sentence. Cue Mean Girls quote.
As soon as I started having sex, I went straight onto the pill.
The pill and I had some really good times. My body seemed to tolerate it, or should I say, step back and let it do it’s thang. I loved being period free while I travelled, on special occasions and all throughout summer. I'll admit, I was skipping my period pretty damn frequently.
Fast forward to the end of 2016. Things were good between me and the pill, we rocked at being intertwined. But I started reading more and more about what the pill was doing inside my body – because the truth is, no one has actually told me what I was signing up for, and I quit. Just like that, I ended my great relationship with the pill.
And so now, I'm about to go travelling for a month, and I've had to really think about covering myself for when I get my period during that time.
Travelling with your period
It's good to be prepared for your period while travelling, because some countries may not sell your preferred tampon, some might not even sell pain killers over the counter. It's better to be prepared than to lose a few days of your trip to your period. Nothing sucks that, 'I am women, hear my roar' feeling out of you, than being defeated by your period.
Create yourself a period kit
A period kit is a little case you can add to your luggage or carry on, full of all the things you need while on your period. That way it's all there in one spot when you need it – saves you stressfully rummaging through your bags for a tampon when you need it most.
This is a personal choice, but I like to use tampons. Now, you have to bring tampons with you because a lot of countries don't sell tampons as easily as your home country. Particularly countries in Asia. It's always better to be prepared than to find yourself in a messy pickle.
I haven't been game enough to try one of these yet, but I'm keen to give it a go sometime soon. If you haven't heard of an menstrual cup before (can someone, pleaaase come up with a better name?!), it's a silicone bell shape that is warn inside your vagina to catch your period. Depending on how heavy your period is, you can leave it up there for up to 12 hours! Sounds like a dream. Once you remove the cup, empty the fluid into the toilet, give it a quick clean and pop it back up there. I believe Diva Cup where the first company to come out with them, so if you want more info, check them out.
For those in-between period moments and during to prevent any annoying leakage. I don't usually use liners in my day-to-day life, but I they'll definitely come in handy while travelling. Especially on those frustrating occasions where you have to search endlessly for public toilets.
Handy if you find yourself in a toilet with no toilet paper or need to dispose of your tampon.
Imagine having nowhere to put the damn thing once you're ready to discard it. Zip-lock bags mean you've got somewhere to store your used tampon temporarily. It's a bonus if they aren't see-through.
Panadole or Ibuprofen
For those dang cramps and aches.
I dunno about you, but I treat myself while I've got my period. You want chocolate? Go right ahead! You hungry, AGAIN? Go on, eat up! I like to bring a bar of my favourite chocolate and my favourite tea. Nothing makes me more comfortable and relaxed like a piece of chocolate (or block) and a warm cup of my favourite tea.
Track her like she's a majestic unicorn
I like to use the free app, Flo, which lets you track your entire cycle. You can log when you get your period, how you're feeling, your symptoms, your vaginal discharge, when you have protected and unprotected sex – it's seriously a fantastic app. And what's better is, the more you track, the more the app can predict your cycle.
Flo can predict things like, when you'll get your period, when you'll ovulate, when you're most likely to get pregnant. It's a fantastic way to understand being you on a really deep level.
Haaaalp! What if I'm stuck on a plane?
Girrrl, that sucks! But it doesn't have to be the end of the world.
Treat this time as time for you. You may be stuck on a plane, but at least you can literally switch off, get comfy and binge watch that show you've been too busy for.
First things, first, get into your comfy clothes. If you're worried how you look in the airport, bring a change of comfy clothes in your carry-on. Also bring a spare pair of undies, just in case!
Make yourself a nest
With your noise cancelling headphones, your scarf and your coat, you can make a little nest for yourself. Wearing headphones is the universal sign for, do not disturb, so hopefully your seat mate will understand to leave conversation to the minimum.
Now, that you've created your little cocoon of sorts, it's time to make your experience better. Take some painkillers and treat your time in the sky like a spa retreat. And don't give a fuck about what the person sitting next to you thinks – it isn't your problem!
Face mask – planes already suck the life out of your skin and so does your period, so hydrate with a face mask. You may look silly, but to tell you the truth, everyone else is probably thinking, 'dannnng, I should've thought of that!'.
Moisturise – bring some deep, nourishing moisturiser and go for gold. Do your feet, your arms, your legs, your hands, your face. Hydrate it all and hydrate often.
Drink tea – if you're not flying on a budget airline you'll often have free food and drink service. Bring a collection of your favourite teas and ask the steward to bring you a cup of boiling water.
Chocolate is your best friend – chocolate is my favourite thing to indulge in when I'm feeling pretty shitty! My favourite chocolate is vegan, rich and not full of sugar, so I only need one piece to satisfy my cravings.
Binge – whatever you want; tv, movies, podcasts, it's all good!
Make sure you've got your period kit handy. Bring the kit with you to the bathroom, you never know when you might need something.
Make sure you're getting up from your seat every now and then to move your feet. Go for a walk, go to the toilet to give your teeth a brush and check on your tampon. If you're wearing a panty liner, you should feel relaxed that nothing's seeping though. And for the love of women's uteruses everywhere, don't leave your tampon in for more than 8 hours!
Look, we should rejoice when we get our periods!
We should love our periods like the girls in the tampon ads love theirs. At the end of the day, it's amazing what our bodies go through every month, and we don't let it knock us down – we get on with our lives, stabbing pains and all. And I think this ad really nails that idea...
Let's help make period's less of a taboo topic, so, tell me something about your period.