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Menstruating While Living In A Van

by Alice on 17th October 2018

Being on your period while traveling can suck! Living full time in a van you forgo some home comforts which can be most missed during your time of the month. So I’ve put together some tips on having a carefree period whether your living on the road, backpacking, on holiday or even just want some advice to be more eco with your flow!

Issues around menstruating happen to be close to my heart, just before living on the road I put together my own art installation about period poverty and breaking the many taboos surrounding menstruation! (more about this on my 'Art' Page). 

I became more eco and health conscious a few years ago which led me to find healthier and more sustainable alternatives to disposable menstrual products. Using reusable products is not only great if your at home but amazing for those traveling. In this blog post I’ll explain what’s worked for me while traveling and why re-usable menstrual products are best wherever you are!

Why go reusable? 

They are such money savers! Being economical is a big factor when your roaming Europe on a budget.

Your never caught out! If you love to be off-grid and away from civilisation then the worst thing is coming on with no menstrual products or shop in sight. With reusable products you always have them with you even if your period catches you out by being early!

Better for your body! Conventional tampons and pads are made of a mix of not so great materials for your body. They can upset your natural balance resulting infections and some even increase period pain!

Better for the planet! A lot of us travel to see the wonders of the natural world and unfortunately its all too common to see the negative impact humans have on the environment. By using reusable products you eliminating the single use waste of menstrual products keeping tonnes of plastic out of the land and ocean. Also lowering the demand for pesticide covered cotton plants to make your pad or tampon.

period pants - Shethinx

Period pants are just like your normal undies but are made with a super absorbent and antibacterial material. I use Shethinx a great brand from America with loads of choice and they also support menstrual charities around the world while generally being period positive with everything they do. They cost around £30 each but often do offers and multiple discounts.

They can last all day or night and soak up to two tampons worth of blood.  This can be great for not worrying about changing pads or tampons in the day or leaking over night.

  • Super snug and comfortable design ensures maximum movement without risk of leaks! (great for those who still want to be active over your period).
  • Choice of great designs and materials. They even have organic cotton for the extra eco conscious.
  • Easy clean. Simply give them a rinse with cold water or soak then chuck them in with the rest of the washing, but without fabric softener as this stops the absorbency. Then just line dry and they are good to go again.  Also you don’t have to wash straight away, I let them dry and leave them with the washing until laundry day! (For more tips on washing on the road see my blog post: Laundry on the Road).
  • They last years. If you look after them they can last years and years! Making them well worth the price.
  • Best choice if you prefer pads or want the most care free option. Simply slip on and your good to go for the day!


moon cup - Organi Cup

If you’ve never tried a moon cup you’ll kick yourself you didn’t sooner! They are perfect for days you’ve got a lot to do and if you’re lucky you might even forget your on your period! I use Organi Cup but there’s loads of companies out there, I chose Organi Cup as it was the most eco one I could find. Its basically a small squishy cup made of medical grade silicone which you fold up and insert into yourself. You have to sterilise it in boiling water at the beginning of each period and wash with warm water each day you use it.

Its benefits include:

  • You can wear it for up to 12 hours.
  • Minimal risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome compared to conventional tampons.
  • If your on the go and need to take it out you can simply use toilet paper to clean it out and then re-use it. You can clean it later when you get home.
  • Comes in different sizes to suit you. It can get some getting used to so make sure you check the companies info when buying to make sure you get the right one for you.
  • Lasts 5 years.
  • Freedom while menstruating. This little cup could be all you need for your period so great for space saving and never being caught out without a pad or tampon.

Reusable menstrual pads - Luna Pads

Reusable pads are similar to period pants in the way they work but instead go on to of your existing pants. Some just sit on top others have poppers or Velcro to keep them secure. These offer the same freedom as period pants and if you chose a company like Luna Pads they offer some really great designs. You can even get different feels like super soft brushed velvet. They can be easier to wash while traveling as they are smaller but if you are a supper active traveller even on your period then you can risk the pads moving about a little depending on how close fitting your existing pants are. Their benefits are similar to period pants but some additional benefits are:

  • They are smaller than period pants so can be taken with you easily and often come with a wet case protector.
  • Easy to wash. You wash them in the same way as period pants but being smaller they can be easier to wash while traveling because they are smaller.
  • Prices range from a few pounds to £30-£40 for sets. Great if your just starting out and don’t want to spend lots on your first try and reusable pads/ pants.
  • Easy to buy. You can buy on Amazon, so its great for traveling and you don’t have a postal address, simply order to an Amazon locker or pick up point along your route.
  • Can last years, just like the pants if you look after them they last for years.
  • Wide variety of styles, colours, materials, sizes, shapes, fastenings, ect. There are loads to chose from when it comes to picking a re-usable pad, Luna even has a quiz to help you find what’s right for you so your bound to find something to suit you.

Period tracker app – Natural cycles

Another great thing for traveling or just general reproductive health is a period tracker app. I use Natural Cycles and it has revolutionised my relationship with my menstrual cycle. It works by having you take your temperature first thing when you wake up and inputting the temp into the app which then works out where you are on your monthly cycle. By doing this over a number of months the app will be able to tell you when you’ll be coming on your period and when you are ovulating. So no more being caught out by your period coming early or worry when its late! The benefits include: 

  • Knowing when your period is coming so you can be prepared. 
  • Greater understanding of your cycle. 
  • Can eliminate or reduce the need for other contraceptives. 
  • It is 93% effective which is the same effectiveness as the pill. 
  • The Natural Cycles app costs £39.99 per year or £5.99 a month. Either way it can work out much cheaper than prescriptions and buying condoms.
  • Greater freedom while traveling. 
  • Health benefits from not using hormone contraceptives, for example the pill can increase the risk of breast cancer.

For more info check out their website.

My best advice with reusable menstrual products is do your research and find what’s best for you. And if you don’t get on with one product don’t let it put you off completely and go running back to the plastic covered single use stuff straight away! Having said that re-usable products aren’t for everyone and especially over your period you don’t want to endure yet more hassle so do what feels right for you. There are also organic cotton and more ecological brands of the disposable menstrual products so maybe try making the switch to them first before trying full reusable, it will be better for you and the environment. 

Thanks for reading and whether your living in a van, traveling or snuggled up at home I wish you a very happy period!

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