– BY CYNTHIA STALDE –
Even without being on your period, a long flight can seem like a headache. Well, at least that’s how I see it. Pardon, saw it! The longest flights I’ve taken have been to Thailand and took about 12-15 hours. The first time we flew out in the morning, the second time we flew out in the evening and my period started midair, somewhere over Russia. Yes, there’s a reason I’m telling you this, because there are some tips that need to be taken into account depending on the time you fly out. So buckle up and pay attention for a leakage-free flight.
Apart from the obvious ‘pack your bags before flying’, there are some other things you should also do for a more comfortable, and perhaps even less jetlagged, flight on your period.
Get an aisle seat
If you haven’t already checked in and you know there’s even the slightest chance of being on your period on take-off day, book an aisle seat! If your menstruation is nearly due, chances of it starting on the day of flight are pretty high, because the pressure can really mess up your cycle. My period started four days earlier than expected, because, take a guess… I was in the air sitting in a plane.
If you’ve already been assigned a window or middle seat, and you do get your period on the day of departure, kindly ask your neighbour to switch seats. You don’t have to tell them the whole story, just say you get cramps and need to walk every now and then.
Pack your favourite brand
If you pack everything the day before the flight, you can go to bed earlier and get a good night’s sleep in your own bed, which is certainly more comfortable than those airplane chairs. I’ve learned another reason idea to pack your luggage the day BEFORE flying the hard way. Every time I’ve packed my bags chaotically the morning of departure, I’ve always forgotten something. This of course meant more expenses at the destination as you’ll need to buy that hairbrush, conditioner or menstrual cup.
If you have a sensitive skin and a favorite brand of tampons or sanitary pads, pack enough supplies in your check-in luggage to last you the entire holiday. There’s a chance you won’t find them in the country you’re visiting. My go-to sanitary pad brand is Naturella and they didn’t have it in Thailand. This is especially important if you’re using reusable products like washable pads or a menstrual cup. Definitely don’t forget to take them.
What to take in carry-on
Your carry-on luggage should hold all the essentials to stay entertained and comfortable from the moment you lock your door, to the moment you enter the hotel room at your destination. Think of every possible period-related scenario that could go wrong (leakage, cramps, nausea, etc.) and then prepare for all of these happening during the flight. If for example you’ve ever experienced nausea when menstruating or if you’ve had at least once leaked when on your period, then assume it WILL HAPPEN on the flight, due to all the pressure and sitting almost constantly in a 90˚ airplane chair.
Pack list for the carry-on:
- Your most comfortable choice of period products (tampons, pads, reusable ones…)
I personally use a menstrual cup, because you don’t have to worry about where to discard used sanitary products. Not all airplanes have a waste bin and you can’t throw them in the toilet, so keep this in mind if you use tampons and/or pads.
- A pair of pants. Perhaps yoga pants as they take up little space. It’s good to have a spare pair in case of leaking.
- A zip-lock bag. Very handy if there’s no waste bin in the toilet. Also good for keeping stained underwear or pants in case of leakage. Just put it in your pocket, it takes up near to no space.
- Warm comfy socks. So you can kick off those shoes and still have warm feet.
- (Inflatable) pillow. I always take a real small pillow which I hold in my arms. To get a quality rest instead of neck cramps.
- Medicines. Over-the-counter ones like Ibuprofen. If you take prescription medication, take along the prescription in your wallet. In some countries, any medicine that isn’t regular aspirin gets thrown away by security control.
- Some healthy snacks. Such as nuts, dark chocolate, bananas, chewing gum (it’s good for take-off and landing). Avoid apples, they’ll give you bloating.
- A reusable water bottle. Ask the flight attendant to refill it during the flight. You’ll need to drink a lot of water to lessen the cramps. Also: airplane air is super dry.
- Facial spray mist and cotton pads. In travel size. As I mentioned earlier, the cabin air is super dry, so you’ll be happy to re-freshen/clean your face a bit.
- Lip balm and/or face cream. Also travel sized. Put them in a separate zip lock bag so the security staff won’t take them away.
- A good book. If you’re flying for some time there’ll probably also be movies, but maybe you’ve seen them all.
- Headphones. This is a personal preference, but I find the quality of the headphones they give you for free in the plane just unbearable.
- Passport and ticket. No further comment.
The buckle & unbuckle marathon
If you have check-in luggage, you’ll usually get to the airport at least two hours before boarding. In that time, try not to sit anywhere, especially if your flight will take longer than five hours. You’ll be sitting that whole time, so why sit any longer? Go for a walk around the airport, or, if it isn’t that big, do some yoga, dance or just walk from one end to the other. Whatever you do, keep those muscles moving!
In the plane, store away your carry-on, put your socks on, chew some gum and get ready for take-off. Once the seatbelt-signs are off, stand up and walk to the bathroom and back or just stand next to your seat for a while. Do this once every 1/1.5 hour. Seriously, if you’re on your period, this WILL help. Maybe even do some stretches and bend your muscles in order to avoid the tingling numbness in your butt, feet and back. Casey Neistat does push-ups during his flights, and he’s definitely not on his period. When ‘exercising’, also re-fresh yourself with facial mist and make sure to drink a lot of water.
Time zone tricks
If you’re going through a lot of time zones, like I did when flying from Latvia to Thailand, then DON’T SLEEP! Let me explain: I flew out in the evening and got to Thailand the next day at noon. What’s your first thought upon arrival? ‘I’m tired, I want to sleep, let me sleep!’ Right? NO!
When you board the plane, think about what time is it at the destination. Add those hours to the time it is now where you are. If it’s 6 hours later and you’re departing at 4PM, then at 6 PM you might want to take a nap. Sleep for a few hours and then wake up. Imagine you woke up at midnight (taking the time from your starting location), that means that at your destination it’s now 6 AM. An early start for the day, yes, but you’re teaching your body to get used to the time zone it’s traveling to. This way, when you arrive at the destination at, say, 1 PM, you feel like you still have energy for another 8 hours. Get an early night’s sleep the first night at 9PM, et voilà, you’ve just tricked jetlag.
Sorry, no booze
Last, but certainly not least, don’t drink any alcohol while in the airport or on the plane. Why not? Because A) it’s not good for anyone on their period (been there, done that). And B) it certainly doesn’t help with the jetlag.
After the flight, take a shower, change your clothes, go out and eat some real food (I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not a fan of airplane food). Try to stay up until it’s a time that’s appropriate to go to bed at your destination and be happy with the fact you just had a hassle-free flight on your period!
Have a safe & comfortable flight!
About the author: Latvian Cynthia Stalde blogs about the battles of body hair removal and the joy of periods on Miss Coty. After finishing her Bachelor’s Degree, she decided it was time for some self-time, so she’s now living all over Europe, starting with Portugal. In the past, Cynthia occasionally missed a couple of days of school because she wanted to pull out her uterus and throw it out when ‘that time of the month’ came around.
More personal stories?
The crimson wrath, by Noni Roberts
A very public menstrual leak, by Sarah Sahagian
Going off the birth control pill, by Taq Bhandal
Me & My Cycle, by Mariette Reineke
A time for celebration, by Robyn Jones
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