A period packing list is an underrated one for sure but when you plan ahead for a period that lines up with your travels, being prepared with the following products will eliminate a lot of the stress that comes with menstruating, especially when you’re not in the comfort of your own home.
I’ve put together this low-waste period packing list with cramping, comfort and cravings in mind as well as, of course, options that have a reduced impact on the planet whilst you explore it.
The following products will not only empower you by letting you be your best self on your period but they also empower other women too. The two brands I have worked with to create this period packing list for you, Coconut & Cotton and Saalt, are female-owned brands who also support organisations that offer menstrual health education and products to women in need around the world.
Every day girls all around the world miss school on their periods because of discrimination, lack of information or no access to menstrual hygiene products. UNICEF estimates 1 in 10 girls in Africa alone miss school because of their periods.
Patriarchy dictates that we are to feel ashamed of our periods and as a result, education on menstrual health and access to affordable products is lacking all around the world and this is simply unacceptable. We deserve to take back the power and beauty behind the natural process of our periods for all people who menstruate and together we can by supporting companies and organisations that do just this. My personal recommendations are:
The products recommended in this period packing list not only help to empower you and other menstruating people, they are also low waste. They have been designed, made and chosen to last you years and eliminate as much single-use waste as possible.
This period packing list is also handy for putting together an environmentally-conscious period care package for someone you know who has just started their period for the first time or is finding menstruation more challenging than others.
Let’s start with what a menstrual cup is if you aren’t too sure. A menstrual cup is a silicone cup that is worn like a tampon but rather than absorbing the blood and only being good for one use, it collects the blood and can be washed out and reused for 10 YEARS!
Though the upfront cost seems significantly higher than a box of tampons, the price of a menstrual cup will end up saving you dollar, dollar for years to come.
As well as saving you money, a menstrual cup will also help to save the planet from a vast amount of single-use menstrual waste. With each individual it varies but the average menstruating person will have periods between the ages of 13-51 and will use approximately 11,000 tampons (alone) in their lifetime. With this in mind, the lifetime of a single Saalt menstrual cup (10 years) will save Earth from approximately 2,900 tampons – that’s not even considering pads.
Saalt has created a very exciting calculator to help you find out roughly how many period products you will prevent from polluting the planet if you switch to a menstrual cup. Calculate how much waste you will divert with Saalt here.
Before finally switching to a menstrual cup, after I had used what I thought was all of my tampons (they turned up in various handbags and drawers for about a year after), I was eager to use it for the benefits to the environment but I was TERRIFIED. I was scared that it was too big for its purpose, that it would go off on an adventure inside me and need to be removed by, eek, another human being, the idea of emptying it seemed gross and I was really scared that removing it would sting like a bish. Valid fears but once I started using it I found those fears faded away and were replaced by feelings of empowerment and confidence.
If you want to read more about my experience using a menstrual cup you can in my blog post Travelling on your period with a Saalt menstrual cup.
Saalt offers menstrual cups in 3 sizes:
Regular – recommended for people with a high cervix or who have carried a child to term. They hold 3-4 tampons worth and are ideal for those with a medium-heavy flow.
Small – recommended for people with a low cervix, first time users over the age of 18 and those with a light-medium flow, it will hold 2-3 tampons worth of blood.
Teen – Saalt recently introduced a smaller size designed specifically for menstruating people under the age of 18. The silicone softness is between the soft and the original which makes it ideal for young menstruating people. It will hold 1-2 tampons worth.
Saalt also offers two types of silicone in the regular and small sizes. Their original silicone menstrual cup is firmer, opens more easily and is ideal for those with an active lifestyle. Their soft silicone is better for those with sensitivities such as increased cramping or bladder pressure.
Saalt offers a Twin Pack which gives you the opportunity to try both their original and soft silicone cups for a reduced price.
If you’re uncertain about which menstrual cup you need, take Saalt’s cup quiz for extra guidance. You can also reach out to the friendly folk at Saalt for advice.
£24.99 for a single cup and £38 for a Twin Pack or Duo Pack.
$29 (USD) for a single cup and $49 for a Twin Pack or Duo Pack.
Switching to a menstrual cup is scary when you haven’t used one before, even transitioning from tampons to a menstrual cup is a big jump for so many – it was for me. For those who don’t feel comfortable using a menstrual cup on their period or want a cheaper reusable alternative to period panties (see more below) reusable sanitary pads are the answer to your low-waste menstrual health needs.
This reusable Eco Femme organic cotton sanitary pad from Coconut & Cotton comes in fun patterns and recyclable packaging but there’s so much more to the brand Eco Femme that Coconut & Cotton supports.
Eco Femme products are ethically made by empowered women in Auroville, India. The production of these handmade sanitary pads provides women in rural areas with a living wage and the sales surplus helps to sustain Eco Femmes educational programmes for Indian girls and women as well as provides them with affordable menstrual products.
When you purchase an Eco Femme pad they give one to a girl in rural India.
How to wash a reusable sanitary pad
First soak the used sanitary pad in cold water for half an hour then wash by hand or in a washing machine on a 30ºC eco wash with Tru Earth’s Biodegradable laundry detergent sheets (see more about these below). Hang to air dry naturally.
Each pad is designed to last for at the very least 75 washes which will cover 3-5 years of period protection! That’s at least 75 plastic sanitary towels that have been avoided!
Each single-use sanitary pad made with plastic (most leading brands) takes over 800 years to decompose. Build a collection of pads to rotate during each menstrual cycle and you will be protecting the environment from thousands of single-use plastic waste over your remaining periods.
This Eco Femme sanitary pad is a day pad and is made with 6 layers and offers medium protection from leakage. Coconut & Cotton also sells reusable panty liners and a plus pad that has 7 layers for extra leakage protection.
An alternative to menstrual cups and reusable pads are period panties, but what are period panties? Period panties/knickers/undies are underwear that are designed to absorb period blood.
I love them because they’re basically a discrete version of a menstrual pad. I haven’t used every brand but I can speak to the quality of Saalt Wear, Saalt’s very own period panties, and they are amazing. They’re so light that they feel like regular underwear with a slightly thicker gusset. They are soft and sensitive and come in various cuts including a thong that absorbs 1-2 tampons worth of blood and high waisted briefs that absorbs 2-3 tampons worth.
Saalt Wear or any period underwear for that matter can be used either in place of a menstrual cup, pad or tampon if you haven’t made the switch yet they can be used as an extra layer of protection with any of the aforementioned period products.
They are made from an antimicrobial and moisture-wicking material that draws moisture away from your body and prevents odour, they’re also stain resistant.
What I particularly love about them is that each pair of Saalt Wear is made with three post-consumer recycled plastic bottles! So you’re not only saving plastic waste but you’re also giving it a second life.
I own a thong in Volcanic Black and bikini cut in Quartz Blush both in medium. The thong is perfect on the lighter day at the end of my period when a cup won’t collect much blood but I still have spotting and I want to avoid VPL.
Saalt wear comes in a size range of XS – XXL. The sizes run small so I recommend sizing up.
A bar of soap is already the perfect plastic-free washing alternative on your travels so if you’ve already made the step towards a plastic-free bathroom it’s likely you’ll already have this on your packing list.
Allow me to nudge you towards this Friendly aloe vera soap from Coconut & Cotton. As well as washing your hands and body you’ll need soap to keep your menstrual cup (if you choose to use one) clean. It’s very simple to do and only requires a quick wash with cold water and some soap but I encourage you to be mindful of the soap you use. To avoid irritation to your most sensitive area use a perfume-free and gentle soap such as this aloe vera soap.
Aloe vera has antibacterial properties which is ideal for washing a menstrual cup between uses.
Friendly Soap use recycled and recyclable packaging and their soaps are free from preservatives, palm oil and cruelty.
Accidents happen but don’t let it ruin your clothes. If your menstrual cup doesn’t quite form a seal or your period starts earlier than you anticipated you may accidentally leak into your underwear, clothing and sometimes bedsheets (we’ve all been there). If you don’t have a washing machine where you’re staying, have a couple of laundry detergent sheets in your luggage. Rinse the area with blood under the cold tap, dissolve a little of the detergent strip (for frame of reference I use half a strip for a light load of washing) into cold water in the sink or bathtub and leave the garment(s) in there to soak for a few hours (judge it on how stubborn the stain is). Once it looks like the stain has washed out, rinse and hang out to dry.
I switched to Tru Earth laundry eco-sheets in 2020 and I see no reason to go back when there’s all these amazing reasons to use them:
They’re dissolvable and biodegradable
They’re free from chlorine bleach
They have absolutely no plastic packaging, and the packaging is compostable
They’re flat so they are perfect for packing on a trip
They’re liquid free so there’s no risk of leakage in your luggage
Shop either the fragrance free, scented or baby True Earth laundry detergent eco-sheets from Coconut & Cotton.
One of the best things about wearing a menstrual cup is that you can wear whatever you want without fear of leaking (provided it’s inserted correctly). I never felt comfortable wearing light colours with a tampon, especially on heavy days when the string would absorb blood and stain my underwear. After just a couple of periods I knew I could trust my Saalt cup and I don’t even hesitate putting on a white swimsuit.
Let’s be realistic though, we don’t feel like serving up looks in white swimsuits every day of our period and that’s okay! So pack some sweatpants or something equally comfortable for when you feel bloated and need to just lounge about. Remember to listen to your body and hold space for how to feel.
Period cravings hit different right?
I rarely eat chocolate but come my period it’s all I want and it never tastes as good as when my uterine lining is packing its bags.
If chocolate is your period craving too then take a look at Cocoa Loco chocolate from Coconut & Cotton. Cocoa Loco chocolate is organic, vegetarian, Fairtrade and is free from Palm Oil. Your craving can satisfy you and care for the planet too.
Most of us who menstruate crave something salty or chocolate on our periods and though studies can’t really confirm why, we know our bodies want it. So if you’re going to be on your period or premenstrual on a flight, long train ride or road trip then pack some of your personal cravings so you don’t have to go too long without them.
Lavender headache gel
On the 2nd day of my period, like clockwork, I wake up with a terrible headache that is guaranteed to limit what I will achieve that day if I leave it untreated. In recent years I have reduced the circumstances in which I will take painkillers – I’m not against them, I just don’t want my body to rely on them to alleviate pain – instead I use natural remedies. So when my inevitable period headache comes around I use the lavender headache gel from Norfolk Lavender.
This translucent gel made with lavender and peppermint oils soothes tension and alleviates stress. Trace some of the headache gel across your forehead and gently massage it into your temples. You’ll know it’s working when it starts to tingle.
The tiny pot won’t take up much space and can be reused after (unlike packets of painkillers).
If you’re a Norfolk local or on holiday/vacation in Norfolk, you can shop Norfolk Lavender products from Norfolk Lavender, Jarrolds and Cromer Gift Shop (which has the second biggest stock of Norfolk Lavender products after their own gift shop).
If you have lavender essential oil knocking around, simply dab a little onto your temples.
Rechargeable hand warmer
If you suffer from cramps like so many of us who menstruate do, applying heat to your abdomen will help to relax your womb muscles and alleviate cramping. You may find that a hot water bottle or a soak in the bathtub does the trick at home but who really wants to pack a hot water bottle on their travels if you’re not going somewhere frosty?
If you know heat helps to relieve your period cramps consider getting a reusable hand warmer. It’s compact, rechargeable, heats up quickly, has multiple settings and doubles up as a phone charger (any kind of portable phone charger is a traveller’s friend right?).
Then come winter (or if you travel somewhere cold) this reusable hand warmer will keep your mitts toasty and you’ll be so grateful to yourself and period cramps for purchasing it.
Coconut & Cotton is a female-owned, environmentally conscious business located in Shaftesbury, south-west England. Both their store and online shop sells affordable plastic-free and low-waste products. Living a life of low impact on the environment is their focus and each one of their products will enable you to live a more mindful and less wasteful lifestyle. When you order from Coconut & Cotton you can trust that it will be sent out plastic free and in reused and reusable packaging.
If you ever find yourself in Shaftesbury then be sure to pay the owner, Lucy, a visit as she is a ray of sunshine and will be more than happy to share information about her products so you can live a more environmentally-conscious life.
Saalt is a female-owned menstrual health brand who create clean, ethically made and sustainably sourced menstrual products. Their products enable people who menstruate to care for themselves whilst protecting the environment by using a plastic-free menstrual cup that will last 10 years. Saalt is a certified B Corp and gives 2% of profits to help further educate people around the world about menstrual health and sustainability.
Go follow Saalt on social media for tips on how to use your menstrual cup and better care for ourselves and the planet. Just like Postcards from Hawaii they openly talk about periods to challenge the social stigma surrounding them.
For more with Saalt take a look at Travelling on your period with a Saalt menstrual cup.
Do more on & for the planet, Gabriella
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This article is a sponsored piece with Coconut & Cotton and Saalt. I was originally and still remain a customer of Saalt and Coconut & Cotton. I highly recommend purchasing your low-waste menstrual health supplies from both of these brands as their advocacy for our environment and menstrual health is unparalleled.
As a Saalt Partner I may earn from qualifying purchases made using my affiliate link.
Earth Day discount code is valid from 22nd April – 25th April 2021.