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In today’s Wanderlust Wednesdays I share a nearly disastrous packing mistake: I forgot to buy tampons before a MAJOR diving trip.
Why Tampons & Komodo Dragons Don’t Mix
Normally, this isn’t a major problem. In fact, out of the 37 countries I’ve traveled to in the past 6 years, I’ve never found a town, city, or village that didn’t have tampons when I needed them – until now.
While I’ve had to resort to the unthinkable during my travels and had to use pads when I spent 5 weeks living in the remote Guatemalan jungle, it was the hefty price difference not convenience that prevailed: 50 cents for 20 pads vs. $10 for a box of 10 tampons.
This particular time, however, pads were not an option.
I spent 3 grueling days traveling to Labuan Bajo – the gateway to the world famous Komodo Island – and was beyond ecstatic at the thought of diving in one of the most spectacular dive sites in the world when Mother Nature decided to rock my world upside down.
My period decided to rear its ugly head two days before my dive and I’m in the one town in the whole entire world where tampons are NOT sold. UGH!!!
I searched far and wide just to find out that this small town only offered pads. How was this possible in a destination built on diving I thought? How did the local female divers deal with it?
This was a stupid mistake on my end and one that was easily preventable. 1) Indonesia is a conservative country and 2) I could’ve bought tampons in Bali before I left. Overpriced or not, they were not worth the pain of not being able to dive.
I was near tears when I was informed that the local dive instructors use reusable feminine cups instead of tampons. What would I do now?
Fortunately for me, this story has a happy ending: a generous traveler graciously offered me enough tampons to get me through my dives and saved the day!
So this doesn’t happen to you, I thought I’d share some insight on traveling and preparing for your period.
- DO NOT BE ALARMED – Tampons are widely available around the world. As I mentioned above, I’ve been traveling for almost 6 years and this is the first time it’s happened. Not a bad average.
- Just because you’re traveling in a conservative or religious country it doesn’t mean you won’t find tampons. Most tourist oriented cities and towns will sell them. However, if you are in a conservative location, buy them when you do see them. Don’t wait until last minute.
- Keep a small box of tampons in your travel bag or suitcase at all times – enough to get you through the first couple of days at least. Depending on your flow, 10 should be a good number to avoid overpacking but also avoid any emergencies. You can buy more along the way. When you’re done with one cycle, add a fresh box for the next month.
- Always carry a few tampons in your daypack or carryon bag on long transportation journeys for easy access.
- OB Tampons makes tampons without applicators which makes them more convenient to carry due to their small size and you also don’t have to worry about disposing of the applicator – environmental plus.
- While tampons may be a bit more expensive than at home, avoid packing 6 month’s worth of tampons just to save a few pennies.
- If you don’t want to deal with the stress or cost of finding tampons abroad, consider investing in a reusable device such as the Moon Cup. I’ve heard mixed reviews but it’s worth taking one for a test drive before a trip. For the women that do use them, they LOVE them.
- And lastly, learn from my reckless planning and BE PREPARED if going on a diving trip or water based activities. Even if you don’t expect your period to fall during your travel time, pack enough tampons to get you through the water activities.
- Worst case scenario; pads can easily be found and are very cheap around the world ranging from 50 cents to $2 in many countries. Even in small towns, most local shops will have the basics no wings, no frills pads that will get the job done.
Please keep in mind these are only guidelines and every trip is unique. If you are moving to a remote location for an extended period of time, it may be worth asking someone that lives there, a work colleague, student counselor, trip organizer, etc.
I can’t stress enough how it is not a common occurrence to find yourself in a place without access to tampons so this article isn’t meant to stress you out just to offer some guidance.
Visit Gynopedia to learn more about the availability of menstrual products worldwide in addition to other subjects such as contraception and sexual health.
What is your Wanderlust Wednesday experience? Share it with us by commenting below!