August 30, 2014

Finding Tampons on the Road Less Traveled, and Other Menstrual Miracles

tampons on the road

Flickr Photo Credit: Conor Lawless

Let’s face it, ladies. There are no tampons on the road less traveled. In fact, there are times when it’s fairly difficult to find any sort of feminine hygiene products at all. What’s a girl to do?

Well, the most popular option I’ve read about and tried is called “The Keeper“. It’s an eco friendly alternative to tampons, and you can take it with you wherever you go, using very little luggage space to do so. The company even makes an alternative version in silicone, for those women who are allergic to latex.  Word of advice: you’ll definitely want to test drive this option at home for a few months before hitting the road.

In addition (or instead of), you may want to explore the washable cloth pad option. Many of the larger health food stores have them, or you can order them online. You’ll also probably want to spend some time researching different designs that meet your comfort standards specifically. If you are needing to penny pinch in this area, here are some links to help you out:

I’ll be honest. This is not a transition I wanted to make. In fact, I made the journey kicking and screaming. And, I’ll probably use the disposable version on the road wherever available. However, after spending nearly an entire day in Costa Rica hunting down a place to purchase any type of feminine product, I decided that I’d best not be counting on finding them in some of the more remote travel locations at all. Hence, my exploration into the world of alternative feminine care.

While I probably wouldn’t have made or even considered this transition if I wasn’t about to spend six months trekking God knows where (we’re going to just see where we feel moved to go), I have to say that it is liberating to not have to carve out as much space in my luggage, and also to not have to plan on spending such an inordinate amount of time tracking down the necessities instead of actually enjoying the trip.

I hope this was helpful, and would be interested in any other road goddess tips on how to manage these items successfully under extreme conditions.

Comments

  1. Celine says:

    I’ve just discovered your blog today. As an avid leisure and business traveler, I know how horrible it is to have to hunt for tampons and such. I’ve been using The Diva Cup for the last four years as a result of trying it out for travel. Its great to travel with as it takes virtually no room but when at home, there is no need to think about if you have to run to the store to pick up more supplies because this month it is heavier flow than usual. Have you thought about switching over to alternative methods permanently? Give it a try. Saves time, money, and the environment.

  2. webmaster says:

    Hi Celine!
    Glad you are enjoying the blog. Yes, I’ve used the alternative methods at home as well. We are in transition right now, and so I’m sort of 50-50, so to speak. But they are such cool products, and it’s such a relief not to have to run to the store if I don’t want to. I couldn’t agree more. Have a great day, and thanks for stopping by.

    Myscha

  3. Patricia says:

    Myscha,
    This sounds terrible, but it is true. When I was very young, we were so poor that we often had to steal a little toilet paper from service stations each day, or do without it completely. The men in the house never seemed to care, but my mother and I certainly hated the situation. Needless to say, we could not afford pads or tampons. My dear mother would use old dishcloth material folded over and over so it would be very absorbent. Thankfully, time passed, and our living conditions improved somewhat.

    I immensely enjoy your writings. The trials and tribulations that you describe are so familiar to myself and many other women. I smile when you seem to doubt your sanity, at times, as you come up with your own unique way of making your way through your world each day. I had to learn at a very early age to improvise, and I find that it comes in very handy in these difficult financial times… I look forward to more journeys along the road with you!

  4. webmaster says:

    Hi Patricia! Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. You know, in many parts of the world women go through this all the time, as the poverty is so pervasive that even rice is hard to come by. So feminine products are a luxury many of them can’t even dream about. That being said, once you have the system set up at home, alternative products can be incorporated with less difficulty than you might expect. I’m so thrilled you enjoy the articles. You know, often times I question whether to share a certain level of information, but ultimately believe that if nobody is willing to open up and discuss just how real they have to be to make ends meet, then people who need the strategy or tip won’t necessarily receive the information they need to try out something new. Looking forward to further reader participation from you!

  5. firsttrek says:

    I just stumbled upon this article while I was trying to find information on this particular subject… I’m planning on going on my first trek, in nepal, in May, and I have no idea what to expect in this regard! I was definitely looking at the Diva Cup… but I know you’re supposed to at least rinse them between emptyings. The two concerns I had with that are 1) is there even a lot of opportunity to rinse it? and 2) is the cleanliness of the water an issue (if you have to put water purifiers in it to drink, why should I wash something in unpurified water and stick it you know where? :P )? Maybe I’m making it overly complicated, or maybe I’m just naive and it will all be so simple when I get there, but until then I can’t help but worry about it a little bit. I’d welcome any tips and tricks. :)

  6. webmaster says:

    Hi First Trek,

    Your concern about water access on a particular day is valid. One way some women get around it is to have an extra bottle of water that they never drink from to use in the toilet stall or behind a bush. That’s the supply of rinse water. That and a few baby wipes or even a damp cloth in a water resistant bag (similar to what women who use cloth pads use to compartmentalize them for the day) should do. If you only have tap water to rinse with that you are not sure is safe, you can either dilute it with vinegar (although this is only convenient to keep in your hostel room likely) or keep a squirt bottle of grapefruit seed extract on hand to put a few drops in the rinse water before you take off for the day. It kills nearly everything. Keep in mind however, that the toughest days with your menstrual cup are going to be the first few days of your period. That’s when the flow is heaviest, making it necessary to change more frequently. Otherwise, on light days it’s safe to wear up to 12 hours.

    Also, just a tip. Start using your cup a few months before you go. It’ll give you a sense of the best techniques in various situations, so you won’t be going in cold. It’s definitely not a skill you want to develop under duress. (Trust me.) If you’re interested in learning more, here’s another article I wrote on eco friendly feminine hygiene that goes into more detail, including a comprehensive comment discussion by various readers afterwards with some great tips and links to other online articles on “how to groove” with a Diva Cup or Keeper. http://www.wisebread.com/green-for-girls-a-feminine-perspective

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