Hell hath no fury like a woman… who realises her period has come to say hi just before a long-haul flight. There’s honestly nothing worse than coming on your period when you’re about to board a plane for the next 9+ hours, strapped in a seated position, wedged between strangers, with no hot water bottle or your duvet. And that’s what happened to me the last time I had to embark on a 26-hour journey from Melbourne to the UK last summer.
I saw red. I was absolutely furious that out of all the days I could be on my period, it decided to strike on the exact day that I had to make an already hellish journey. So as I dragged my sorry, bloated carcass through the terminal, I hurriedly leapt online to find out some top tips on how to survive a flight when on your period. Hope for a chilled flight was out the window – I was preparing for battle.
Tips, advice, old wives tales – I was taking notes and was ready to put them to the test to see if they could improve this already dire situation. If you’re a woman, bookmark this. If you’re a man, click away, be morbidly fascinated about what we have to go through, or take notes for your wife/girlfriend to win brownie points incase she gets into this predicament. Welcome to Hell Airways – destination RAGE.
How to survive a flight when on your period
OK dramas aside, yep being on your period on a flight is uncomfortable and an annoyance, but it really does SUCK when it’s your first day. I, like many women out there, have an incredibly crap first day with bloating and sharp cramps being the main show. So what’s a girl to do?
I hopped onto Girls Vs Globe, an online Facebook group of girls who love to travel (run by Sabina from GirlVsGlobe.com) and banshee-ed out to the female mass that I was in need of advice. And they didn’t let me down. #GirlPower. See what tips and tricks they had for me to help me survive my flight… and see if any worked!
Tip 1: Be prepared!
Let’s get right into the thick of it. Have a good stash of sanitary towels and tampons of various levels. Spare pants and feminine wipes are also key as staying fresh helps reduce the gross factor.
Tip 2: Heat Pads
Stick-on heat pads was the top recommendation to survive a flight when on your period. As heat does soothe the cramps down below, they were already on my radar, but as this tip was repeated more and more in those precious few hours on land, I high-tailed it to the pharmacy to pick up some Deep Heat Patches for Back Pain.
Yes, I know I didn’t have back pain, but the only difference between those and the regular patches was that they were extra large. Extra large to slap over my gut. Now it makes sense, eh? The heat slowly released over 3 hours and provided some soothing relief to the sharp cramps.
Tip 3: Lots of fluids
Water water water! We all know that water and fluids are key to surviving any flight, but when your’e on your period, you gotta gulp it all down. I usually bring my own refillable bottle and often pop to the stewardess section to fill it up, either by their supplies or using the water fountain.
Tip 4: Get an aisle seat
Now this is what I try to arrange on every single long-haul flight. I drink a lot of water, so I take a lot of toilet breaks. And if you’re tucked away by the window or in the middle of some strangers, you’re going to annoy the hell out of them every time you get up. Factor in Lady Red and you will NOT want to have any barriers between you the loo. This is pretty high on our list on how to survive any flight, especially when on your period.
I’m terribly British and the thought of having to disturb another human being sends me into throes of awkwardness and shame, so nab an aisle seat when checking in online and have the route clear for any dashes.
Tip 5: No fizzy drinks… or booze?
If you’re on a period which is anything like mine, then you’ll know that the bloat is REAL. And it’s not a ‘Ooo I feel fat’, it is undo-your-jeans-help-me-Im-sufficating-Im-going-to-explode. Add that with altitude, which bloats us at the best of times, then ‘uncomfortable’ doesn’t half cover it. You don’t want to add bubbles into your already overcrowded system, so just step away from the Diet Coke.
Also, say no to delicious Prosecco and G&T’s – although they may be able to help dull the whole experience, they will wear off and you’ll soon be back to square one with a bigger belly and a thudding head. Although, as Liv from Livonashoestring.com mentioned: Vodka. A Bloody Mary is a Bloody Good idea.
Tip 6: Dress appropriately
As we all should do anyway, dress in your most comfiest clothes for a flight. Tara Povey from Whereistara.com reminded me to be dressed in something reminiscent of pyjamas. Fuck the haters – I don’t care if I look like shit, I got bigger things to think about.
- Avoid tight waistbands – have nothing that presses on the belly/uterus.
- Loose wins over fitted – who cares about showing off your curves. I need to be shrouded and nursed.
- Layers that can be slipped on and off – your temperature may be slightly askew so be prepared for hot flushes.
- Fluffy socks. Why not.
Tip 7: Pamper yourself
Tara Povey also recommended a refreshing face mist to help freshen yourself up. I didn’t pick one up as I was running low on cash after Tip 8, but it would definitely be worth testing in the future. Instead, I got some baby wipes/feminine wipes to help me freshen up if I felt it was needed (not on my face FYI).
Another little pamper would be chocolate. Now I had many say NO SUGAR, which I do agree with as it may add to the bloat situation…. but come on now. I had very little to find joy on this flight so a cheeky Kit Kat had to be had.
Tip 8: ALL OF THE DRUGS
Now this was what I was hunting for. I wanted a list of pills and powders I could take to solve all my issues and be done with it:
- Ibuprofen: classic cramp reliever and a staple in any travellers bag.
- IBS tablets: I didn’t get hold of these, but it would be a good idea to test as my period cramps are reminiscent to IBS. I spied Buscopan Cramps which targets stomach pain & discomfort, and abdominal cramps. Always read the label though, y’all!
- MAGNESIUM: Powdered magnesium was a god send. Magnesium can relieve muscle cramps and spams, and supports relaxation and sleep. Add two teaspoons to water and sip away, and it helps with the cramps. It’s predominantly used for those who exercise and want to give their muscles a helping hand in repairing, but it also helps with the old period cramps.
Whatever you choose to try, be sure to figure out a plan of action when you can feel your period brewing before a flight. Don’t be caught out, and together ladies, we can get through this. And get to that sweet sweet bed waiting for us on the other side.
Let us know in the comments below if you’ve got any suggestions that I missed out! Every little helps ; )
*To anyone grossed out by this post: Welcome to the female body. It may be strange and it might not always be pleasant, but we will never apologise for our bodies. And if you were put through pain reading this, imagine what it’s like having to go through this every month.