At best, getting your period can be an inconvenience. At worst, it can be completely debilitating. So, while menstruation is completely natural and nothing to be embarrassed about, it can still be frustrating when your time of the month lands slap-bang in the middle of a holiday you’ve been looking forward to for ages.
But periods don’t have to ruin your time away. With a little bit of preparation, they can be easily handled even when you’re not in your usual surroundings or out of your normal routine.
“Periods are part of nature,” says Wuka’s menstrual lifestyle expert, Ruby Raut. “So worrying about them isn’t worth the stress.
“It is common to take contraceptives to delay your period and avoid it coinciding with your holiday. This isn’t terrible, however, rather than interrupting your cycle’s natural pattern it can actually be much more liberating to live in sync with it. With the right prep and knowing the products that work for you, there is nowhere you can’t go and nothing you can’t do when you are menstruating.”
As the summer holiday season gets in full swing, we asked Raut and other women to share their tips and tricks for managing periods while on holiday. So whether you’re planning a lazy beach getaway, a city break or a camping trip, you won’t have to let your period get in the way of your break.
Try a menstrual cup
“My menstrual cup has been a lifesaver on holiday. It’s great when I’m doing lots of swimming because I know it won’t absorb any seawater and I don’t have to worry about a tampon string poking out of my bikini. It was also great when I went on a camping holiday recently. It was really discreet and meant I didn’t have to carry loads of pads and tampons with me and it was easy to clean without lots of facilities to hand. It’s been an absolute game-changer.” Amy, 26, Manchester
Monitor your energy levels
“Periods have a way of draining your body’s energy reserves due to low oestrogen and progesterone hormone levels, with some also experiencing decreased blood-iron levels, leading to fatigue and dizziness. Taking a break from intense physical activities is a good idea, but this doesn’t mean that you have to sit by the pool all day and do nothing – unless you want to of course! A gentle hike to take in a beautiful view, beachside yoga or a city cycle tour are all great ways to stay active on holiday while taking in your surroundings and not exhausting yourself.” Ruby Raut
Map out toilets in advance
“I have really heavy periods so I need to make sure I’m near a bathroom to change my tampon every couple of hours. When I go on holiday I make sure I know where the public bathrooms are located in advance. I recently went to Majorca and picked beaches to visit that I knew had good toilet facilities so I was never caught short. It really eased my anxiety about going away on my period.” Bianca, 28, Coventry
Book in the important things
“We can often feel irritable and ‘moody’ when on our periods. This isn’t something to be ashamed of: it is simply a biological consequence of the body’s fluctuating hormones. To start with, always feel able to share that you’re on your period with the people you are travelling with. In order to maintain your Zen, coming prepared to the holiday is the best path to take. Plan the little things, like organising an airport transfer before you leave means no one will be left sweating in the back of a taxi, and dinner reservations mean you will be able to avoid disappointments and being turned away at the door.” Ruby Raut
Invest in sports tampons
“I swear by sports tampons [extra flexible tampons designed for exercise]. I’m an active person, I love working out and being active, and don’t want my period to get in the way. When I’m on holiday and I know I’m going to be doing a lot of swimming or walking, sports tampons, which are super flexible, are the best.” Mari, 32, London
Buy a period swimsuit
“Those of us who love to swim are often afraid to dip more than a toe into the sparkling blue waters due to fear of leaking or discomfort. Don’t be put off. Simply pack bikini briefs or a period swimsuit with in-built period pants to absorb your flow. Choose a pair that can be worn as is or even underneath your favourite bikini set.” Ruby Raut
Plan your outfits
“I plan my outfits when I know my period’s coming on holiday. Usually, that means avoiding white clothes, bringing a pair of black cycling shorts with me and making sure I have a sarong or wrap in my bag just in case.” Phoebe, 29, London
Eat and drink wisely
“Food cravings on your period can be powerful, however, getting too carried away with eating and drinking on holiday can be uncomfortable and lead to issues such as indigestion. It’s a good idea to try to eat a balanced diet for overall hormonal health. On holiday, though, enjoying the local culture and relaxing shouldn’t have to be sacrificed. Look for foods that are rich in nutrients as well as flavours, such as açai bowls, superfood salads or protein-loaded pastas.” Ruby Raut
Bring cooling sleepwear
“If you know you get extra warm in bed during your period, make sure to bring breathable cotton nightwear to sleep in and pack a cooling face mask that you can stick in the fridge and use to lower your body temperature as well as depuff the face. If you suffer from sensitivity to light and noise, then investing in a quality eye mask and ear plugs can really help.” Ruby Raut
Change your mindset
“I have really heavy periods and get intense stomach cramps, so whenever I got my period unexpectedly or when it was inconvenient it used to make me really upset and anxious. As I’ve got older, I’ve realised I can’t change it and I shouldn’t be ashamed of it either, which has really helped me change my approach to my period and not let it get in the way of me doing things as much. Bringing lots of paracetamol with me is also a must.” Kim, 35, Glasgow
Make sure you’re comfortable for the journey
“Being on a long flight is not an ideal time to have to get up and down every few hours to change your tampon or pad. Instead, opting for comfortable period pants in a heavy flow means you can sit stress-free all journey long, and even sleep, without worrying about leaking or getting up to change. When packing, make sure to bring a detergent bar for washing any period pants when away and waterproof bags for storage if on an adventure holiday or camping.” Ruby Raut