Ladies, I rarely find much useful advice on packing for traveling that is written with women’s needs in mind. And by needs, I mean our actual needs, not like the “need” to look hot 24/7. So I’m going to be straight with you.

These certainly don’t apply to all women, but here are the things that I wish I had known to bring when I started traveling.

*I am not a doctor so please see a medical professional before you travel. This advice is based on my personal experience and should not replace the advice of a medical professional.*

1. Bring your own tampons.

One thing that I didn’t realize when I first started traveling was that in many countries, tampons are hard to find. You will find pads galore, but you may have trouble locating your favorite OB ‘pon. So now I travel with a stash of my own. Hit up COSTCO before you leave town and take all the tampons you think you’ll need for your trip, plus some extra. You might be able to trade extra tampons for beer if you meet a less-prepared female friend on the road. 😉

2. Bring your own condoms.

Now I don’t want to perpetuate stereotypes, but I will tell you from my experience and that of my friends that “standard” condoms are different sizes depending what country you are in. In many Asian countries (even some very modern ones like Hong Kong and Japan) it may be hard to find “standard” Western-size condoms, and impossible to find larger condom sizes. In any event, when you’re abroad it might be difficult to find condoms at all if you don’t know where to look, so do yourself a favour and bring lots. And while you’re at it, bring a few different sizes and maybe your own lube too. Even if you don’t use them, a friend in need will thank you for your foresight.

3. Consider getting a birth control implant.

Accessing the pill can be annoying, difficult, or impossible, depending on where you are in the world. All it takes is one misplaced bag, one stolen purse, or one piece of lost luggage to have your birth control gone. I personally opt to have a birth control implant. There are a few different kinds of IUD’s (intrauterine devices) available, and many use small amounts of hormones while some use none at all. You can also get a contraceptive implant in your arm called Implanon. For some reason this isn’t approved for sale in Canada, but it’s free in the UK, and costs roughly $800 in the US. I believe that it’s available in Australia and throughout Europe as well.

Now $800 for 3 years of birth control may seem like a lot, but if you don’t have insurance and are paying out of pocket for your birth control, think about how much that will cost you over 3 years. Plus implants give you the added convenience and security of not needing to remember a daily pill, or fill a monthly prescription.

If you go the IUD route you can get one that will last for up to 5 years. If you travel a lot that could be a huge stress relief. Plus some Planned Parenthood clinics will offer discounts based on income level. Call you local Planned Parenthood, sexual health, or women’s clinic for more information.

4. Take a yeast infection cure with you.

Even if you’ve never had a yeast infection before, strange lands might give you your first one. If you get yeast infections sometimes, you should really consider taking a pill with you. In Canada we have Diflucan, but I’m sure there are others depending on your country.

Tell your doctor that you’re going to be traveling and ask her to prescribe you a yeast infection pill to take with you just in case. Doctors are typically fine with doing this. Otherwise you can pick up a pack of Canestan (or other topical yeast infection treatment) at the pharmacy before you leave.

Trust me, this is easier than trying to mime your symptoms to a doctor or pharmacist who doesn’t speak English.

Additionally, acidophilus (the “good” bacteria that balances your gut and your vagina) is available as a pill supplement and it great for your immune system and preventing yeast infections. Some brands are meant to be kept refrigerated so consider asking your pharmacist for a recommendation if you won’t be able to keep yours cold. I usually try to bring some with me when I move abroad.

OK female friends, that’s all. Happy trails to you!

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