Updated April 12, 2022.
Okay, ladies, let’s talk about it. All of it. We all deal with ourselves when we travel, and it can be kind of gross! Sometimes you don’t know when you’ll have access to a restroom. Sometimes you’re on a plane for 14, 16, or even 20 hours with no access to a shower. Sometimes you’re on your period! Here’s the ultimate list of products and strategies I use to keep clean and smelling sweetly on my travels. So let’s talk about it. I’m not afraid!
Your Period Meets the Menstrual Cup
It’s the grossest thing, it’s the most embarrassing thing, it’s the smelliest thing, and it’s the first thing I want to address: our periods.
The menstrual cup is the single most life-changing product I have ever purchased. I used to have debilitating cramps, and I used to have to change my super tampon and super pad every hour the first two days of my 7- to 9-day period. The rest of the time I still dealt with leaks and discomfort from the synthetic material of the tampons. Oh, and I lived in fear of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) every moment of my period, but I wasn’t willing to just do pads because the leaks were worse!
So when I found out about the menstrual cup, I didn’t care that it sounded weird. I was going to try that thing! There’s definitely a bit of a learning curve the first cycle or two, but here are the best things about using a menstrual cup:
- You can practice before you get your period, so there’s not pressure to get it right the first time.
- It’s silicone, so bacteria cannot grow on it.
- No possibility of TSS.
- NO MORE CRAMPS! Not even pre-period cramps!
- Can stay in up to 12 hours, but I have left it in up to 24 hours (long story!) on my lightest days with no issues.
- Shorter periods. I went from 7 to 9 days down to only 4 or 5!
- No more leaks!
- Save money and reduce waste: one cup can be used up to 5 years! Have you ever counted the number of tampons and pads you use for just one cycle? Have you ever counted up the cost for those things in just a year? It really adds up!
- How confident am I that there will be no leaks even on my heaviest day? Just ask my WHITE RUNNING SKIRT!
Note: The size of the cup you need relates to your vagina’s physical size, not your flow. Trust me, if a small can handle my flow for 10 hours or more, it can handle yours. I used to fill up a super-plus tampon and a super-plus pad every two hours on my heavy days. Now, I never fear leaks, I never feel discomfort, I never have cramps, and I do not smell!
Small for pre-childbirth or under 40 years of age:
Medium for mothers or over 40 years of age:
Want more? Here are 5 Ways to Travel Sustainably
Panties Meet Pantyliners
Okay, so I just got done telling you no more pads, and now I’m telling you to pack pantyliners. But only as needed. It gets a little messy “down there,” especially when fasten seatbelt sign stays on too long and turbulence takes its toll; especially when you go straight from work to an overnight flight to exploring a new city all within 24 hours; especially when you just have to wear the same undies two days in a row. Things happen, so I sometimes use a pantyliner if I know it’ll be a long day… or two!
Maintain Healthy Teeth and Gums
Of course you should bring a toothbrush and toothpaste with you on your travels, but I’m sure I’m not the only one on an overnight flight who thought, “this is too much trouble,” and didn’t bother to brush all night long. That’s why you need a Wisp! You don’t need to bring liquid toothpaste with you (at least not in your carry-on), and you don’t need to worry about where to put that wet toothbrush when you’re done. You just brush and toss it. These little things do a really good job, too!
Actually Awesome Natural Deodorant
Does your sweat smell worse when you travel? Mine does, and I’m not too proud to admit it! You’d think I’d be cool, calm, and collected about travel with as often as I’m on the go, but truth be told, I’m an anxious traveler. Well, I’m an anxious person, really.
It’s no secret that stress sweat smells worse than regular sweat, and it’s becoming less and less a secret that some of the ingredients in regular deodorant may cause medical problems like breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, which both run in my family. Because of that, I made it my mission to find an actually effective natural deodorant.
After three years of searching, multiple brands, and a year of stress-testing one brand in particular, I finally decided that Native Deodorant is the best! Even my husband has switched over to it, and he literally sweats more than any person I have ever known. It doesn’t keep you from sweating, but it does keep your sweat from stinking, and you can even get a custom scent that is unique to you!
Dry Shampoo and a Brush
I came late to the dry shampoo game, but now I’m fully on the band wagon! I have frizzy, curly hair, so brushing it is not my normal scenario. But when I straighten my hair, using dry shampoo and brushing it out as directed can make my straight hair last for 5-7 days! Even if you just need a little hair refresh after a long flight, dry shampoo and a quick run-through with a brush can make all the difference in my mood and energy for the jet lagged day ahead.
Essential Info: Tips for Traveling with Curly Hair
I’m about to blow your mind: conditioner can be used on more than just your head! You can certainly use it as rinse-out conditioner, but also don’t be afraid to use it as a leave-in conditioner as needed. It can also tame frizziness and flyaways as a touch-up hair cream, and you can use it as shaving cream on your legs and under arms, too! In a pinch, use it on dry skin as lotion. Just remember a little goes a long way!
More here: The Best Tips for Traveling with Curly Hair
Some liquids are worth packing: conditioner, contact solution, dry shampoo, etc. Did you know, however, that you can save precious space in your liquid toiletries bag by switching to some solid toiletries? Solid soap, shampoo, sunscreen, bug repellent, and deodorant all work just as well as—if not better than—their liquid counterparts!
Need to cut back on your liquids? Check out the
Ultimate Guide to Solid Toiletries
Stinky Clothes Meet Odor Neutralizer
The reason we need pantyliners and deodorant is the same reason we need an odor neutralizer: bodies stink after a while! And that transfers to our clothes, despite anyone’s best efforts. To make your clothes last just one more wear (or two), all you need is Downy wrinkle-releasing spray, which also contains Febreeze!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
One of the most important ways to stay healthy in your travels is to hydrate. Shoot for a gallon a day, but at a bare minimum, get eight ounces per hour in-flight. Dehydration can quickly lead to muscle cramps, dry and itchy skin, headaches, dizziness, and more, so bring a refillable bottle with you and fill it up as needed! The one below is my favorite because the screw-on tops do not pop open during flight, there is no straw for bacteria to grow in, the opening is big enough to fit ice into, and the smaller spout means I don’t end up with water splashing all over me when I drink from it!
So what questions do you have? What do you think? Let’s talk about hygiene and cleanliness because it’s so important!
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