All women who travel have an unforgettable period-related horror story or two to tell. Fortunately for women travelers, menstrual products are available in almost every country, and reusable gear such as menstrual cups and washable pads make dealing with your flow on the road much simpler. However, there still remains the pesky problem of menstrual cramps.
Cramps can range from mild to severe, but no matter how much pain they cause, they are not something you want to deal with traveling. True, they are not something you want to deal with ever, but it’s definitely more comfortable to manage the pain when at home. Scarcely when traveling will you get the option to curl up in bed with sweat pants and an electric heating pad.
Rather than hope for the best, take measures to plan for your cramps so you can deal with the pain when away from home. Here are some great measures you can take to manage cramps during your travels.
1) Stack your birth control pills
If you’re already taking hormonal birth control, consider whether or not you want to deal with your period at all when traveling. By “stacking” your pills (i.e. skipping the “filler” pills and taking going straight to the hormone pills of the next month), you can avoid having your period altogether. Doctors advise against doing this for too many months at a time, but when traveling for only a few months, stacking pills is a convenient way to avoid the issue of periods altogether.
2) Always have ibuprofen
Never be stuck without this highly useful anti-inflammatory drug. When you’re on a long bus ride and have no other remedy handy, ibuprofen is sure to save you hours of pain. Midol is also useful. Midol is ibuprofen combined with a diuretic, so it relieves bloating as well as cramps.
3) Pack disposable heating pads
Heating pads and hot water bottles are one of the best menstrual cramp remedies, but that’s hardly an option for women who travel light. Who has room in a backpack for a rubber bottle? Instead, hit up a pharmacy for a few compact disposable heating pads so you can get some instant relief when cramps get bad.
4) Try Tiger Balm
Tiger Balm is available in many pharmacies and on almost every street corner in East Asia. Because it packs small and is easy to find, Tiger Balm is the perfect cramp remedy for women travelers. This natural salve eases muscle cramps and works surprisingly well on relieving menstrual cramps and tension. Rub a little on your lower abdomen as needed for cramp relief. (Hint: This is such a good remedy, you should use it when you’re at home too!)
5) Plan for “rest days”
Some of the best trips happen because you take it slow. Why not plan to stay in one place for a few days during the worst of your cramps? You can still explore and tour, but stay close to your hostel or hotel room so you can rest if your cramps get out of hand. It may seem silly to plan any part of your trip around your period, but it’s a small sacrifice for a huge payoff in comfort.
Periods can put a damper on an otherwise fun trip. However, with a little preparation and reliable remedies on hand, you can deal with your menstrual cramps comfortably during your travels.