I'm not holding back on this post which includes information on women's menstrual cycles and feminine hygiene products so reader beware!
Okay ladies! I'm headed out for my first long trip that will span a couple of my monthly cycles. Plumbing, sanitation and waste systems will be different from what I am used to and I'll be looking to tackle some sporty activities while abroad.
I've always used fairly traditional pads, tampons, liners but am concerned about access, sanitation and packing supplies while I'm gone. A friend suggested to me a menstrual cup (so many brands now to chose from) and know a lot of women travellers swear by them. But I also hear they take a while to get used to and a couple cycles until you're comfortable with them and at this point will only have one cycle to practice with before I'm off.
I'd love to hear recommendations of what you use while travelling, experiences which would be helpful to share, troubleshooting when in less then ideal conditions etc. I know this is a touchy topic for some to talk about so publicly for some women but sharing information can be so helpful!
I agree with the 2 previous answers about the Lady/Diva Cup, although this could change depending on your destination. If running water and toilet paper are a rare commodity where you are going, I'd advise against it, unless you make sure, as Patricia suggested, to have lots of tissues and a bottle of water on hand.
I also travelled with OB tampons (w/o applicator). They are light, don't take much space, and a good alternative if the Diva Cup isn't suitable.
As far as cleaning the cup, just stop by a pharmacy and get some sterile wipes. Much easier than carrying around a bunch of tissues and wasting bottled water.
I don't know if this is an option for you, but consider using the pill to regulate your cycle. Instead of the placebo week, just continue with the next packet. It is the best thing I did when I traveled.
My biggest tip is this: Pack it all with you. I had a surprise cycle while on vacation in Germany and lets just say it was so hard to find my preferred style of tampons. And trying to figure out applicatorless tampons in a airplane lavatory when all you are used to is applicators is hard. So if you are going to do something new, start practicing now.
Seconding the menstrual cup suggestion, though I do have to warn you that you will want to test for stiffness/flexibility before you travel with them. If you have experience with tampons then they will help quite a bit. I would recommend reading a bit more about the different brands before you buy though.
The Diva Cup, from what I was told, can be very stiff and may not be comfortable for first timers. I am using the Lady Cup myself, though it is apparently quite a bit softer compared to the Mooncup and Diva cup.
General rule of thumb for me is that you will need a bottle of clean water or at least some tissues with you in the bathroom when you change, especially during heavy days. A good wipe should suffice if you don't have running water. I would also recommend still wearing a pad in the early days; you WILL have spills but a pad should help you catch most of them and you should be able to go longer between pad changes/emptying.
Also, for the first few times you wear them, you WILL be sore down there. This is normal; your vagina is being stretched to hold the cup, and it will adjust over time. But expect to feel more sore than usual.
Have fun on your trip, and all the best!
I agree with using a menstrual cup. Diva cup is a good brand. One cycle period is enough time to start learning/ trying. Just takes time to get comfortable. Saves a lot of space and money- both useful when traveling. Easy to clean as well.
And the question is completely normal and valid. Gotta know what ya gotta know! Way to be prepared and do research. Have safe travels!