Periode auf Reisen, CBD-Öl

<tc>PERIOD</tc>. traveling – part 1

By Silja Elsener (text, illustration & photos)

Our illustrator Silja was traveling overseas. And with her also PERIOD. Many questions came up: Can I wash out my menstrual cup with non-drinking water? How do I deal with my PMS mood in the middle of strangers? And how do I find time and space for myself in a crowd?

PERIOD auf Reisen


Being on the road for two months also means getting my period twice. I used to always pack a large amount of tampons and pads because I learned not to trust that the right products for me would be available in the country in question. For a few years now, however, I have been using my menstrual cup almost exclusively and only rarely use disposable menstrual products, for example when camping. Or just while traveling.

This year I would like to forgo that and just take my cup with me. What worries me, however, is hygiene: How will sterilization work if I only go to hostels with shared kitchens? Do I feel uncomfortable boiling the cup? What if there are only toilet cubicles without sinks? Is it safe to wash the cup with water that is not suitable for drinking after emptying it? As a precaution, I buy two additional menstrual cups and leave with four in my backpack. Better safe than sorry.

As the trip progresses, keep talking to other backpackers about how they deal with their periods while on the road. They tell me stories of tampon worries because there is only one size of tampon available in supermarkets, of horror cramps and of cups not fitting properly and therefore leaking on a long-haul flight. And of women who take the pill so that they don't have bleeding on the go.

I also talk to other cup users about handling and hygiene and how incredibly practical this little thing actually is.


In the days before the days, I like to withdraw, take more time for myself, and approach everything a little more calmly. But here that is almost impossible. No matter where I am in the hostel, there are people: in the dorm, in the lounge area, in the kitchen - everyone engages you in a conversation.

I'm going to the beach. As soon as I spread out my scarf, another woman sits down next to me and starts talking to me. Where I come from, how long I've been traveling, where I'm going next. Why do everyone always want to talk? I don't want to be rude, but I notice how short and curt my answers to their questions are. At some point I unpack my book and escape into the written pages.

At home I just don't socialize with people if I don't feel like it, I don't meet any friends or only meet very specific friends. When I travel, however, I feel transparent, exposed: everyone can see how I'm feeling. I notice how much more irritable I am in the days before, how much my emotionality is noticeable. I can't hide it, I can't protect others or myself from it.

I also find it much more difficult to say NO when traveling. If everyone else goes on a trip, I want to go with them. If everyone else goes out to eat, I want to go with them. If everyone else goes surfing, I want to go with them. I say YES to everything so as not to miss anything. And so that I don't feel lonely in my PMS mood in this unfamiliar environment among strangers.

I feel lonely even though I am surrounded by people with whom I feel very comfortable. I feel lonely and excluded when I'm not included in a conversation, I feel lonely when I go into the sea alone while the others are playing volleyball together. I feel lonely when I'm doing things that I normally enjoy alone, and sometimes I even seek out being alone.

The current takes me with it and pushes me and my surfboard further away from the others. I struggle and am sucked in, swirled around, pulled down by the next wave. Frustration. I'm angry and sad and want to give up. I can't stand myself at all right now. Why should anyone else like me if I don't? I keep fighting, the waves grab me, I grab them, I surf. My head is stronger. I am stubborn.

I need sleep, but I sleep very poorly and too little. It feels a bit like homesickness. I miss my boyfriend, who usually just hugs me on days like this. Soon my days will come, soon the relief will come. Then things start to look up again and that gives me hope.

Click here for part 2!

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