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30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 20: Health and Hygiene Packing Considerations

Day 20: Consider your travel hygiene options.

Welcome to Day 20 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

When assembling your packing list, you must also think about your health and hygiene. Much of this factors into your destination, as you may not find certain lady products in many parts of the world or might not have access to clean drinking water.

Some of these items have been discussed in previous posts, but we’re mentioning again for good measure.

Feminine Hygiene

“That time of the month” will inevitably strike at some point while you’re traveling, so take it into consideration before you leave rather than when you arrive. You don’t want to run around town, panicking to find tampons or pads or trying to find somewhere to dispose of them. You have a few options when it comes to feminine hygiene.

Menstrual Cup– We love the Diva Cup here at Her Packing List because it saves space, money and is environmentally responsible. One menstrual cup may cost you around $40, but can last for several years without being replaced. The downside is that there is a bit of a learning curve to using them. If you go with this option, try it out before you leave for your trip.

Sea Sponge– While less common, sea sponge tampons are also more environmentally responsible than pads and tampons. This is a better option for those who don’t like the fit of a menstrual cup but don’t want to be constantly throwing away tampons. They are all natural and don’t contain chemicals or plastics. Each sponge lasts six to eighteen months and can be washed with water.

Pads and Tampons– If you prefer pads or tampons, you can either bring them with you in your bag, taking up precious space, or risk not finding a brand you like while abroad. Tampons are difficult to find in Asia and are usually sold without applicators in Australia. However, tampons without applicators take up less space. If space is an issues, stock-piling 6 months of tampons is not a great tactic.

tampons and diva cup comparison

P Mates– There are a few brands of female urination funnels, including P Mates and Go Girl, which may sound odd, but will be useful for when you’re using a squat toilet or going camping. These products keep you from having to take off too much clothing and are small enough to pack easily.

First Aid and Sanitation

Another thing to think about is first aid essentials and items to keep you clean and safe from infections.

First Aid Kit– Assemble a basic first aid kit for your trip, which should include bandages, aspirin, antibiotic ointment, burn cream and anti-diahhreal medication. Also include any prescriptions you will need on your trip.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps– The liquid and solid soaps can be used for body wash, shampoo or conditioner, detergent and nearly anything else.

Toilet Paper– Pack your own roll of toilet paper if you’re concerned about staying places that won’t have it, like on camping or trekking trips. You can purchase mini rolls from most stores. An alternative is to always have a pack or two of mini-tissues with you at at all times. Tissues are a life saver!

Water Purifier– Not all trips require a water purifier to ensure that you don’t get sick from drinking water, but if you do, try iodine tablets or a water bottle with a built in filter.

Baby Wipes– Whether you prefer baby wipes or wet wipes, packing some sort of cleaning cloth is a good item to stash in your purse or carry on.

Hand Sanitizer– A small bottle of hand sanitizer is another addition to your purse for when you’re walking around and don’t have access to soap and water.

Washing Materials

Laundry soap– Many laundry detergents make travel sized packets that you can throw into a sink of water to hand wash your clothing.

Sea to Summit Wash– This company’s Wilderness Wash is a concentrated soap that can be used for shampoo, body wash and laundry detergent.

Travel clothesline– Once you’ve washed your clothing, you’ll need to dry them. A travel clothesline is easy to hang up in your hostel or hotel room.

Sink plug– If you’re washing clothes in the sink, you’ll need something to block the drain with. Try a universal sink plug or even place a bandana as an impromptu plug.

Other Essentials

Dry shampoo– When your hair is looking dirty or if you’re in between showers, toss some dry shampoo into it to soak up the oils.

Travel deodorant– Keep yourself smelling fresh, particularly in hotter climates.

Vitamins– If you take vitamins at home, you should bring them with you to keep up your immunities.

Sleep sheet– Some travelers pack sleep sheets to protect them against bed bugs at their accommodation. They’re also great for protecting yourself from questionable blankets and bed sheets.

Pack towel– Travel sized towels are a must-have for backpackers as they don’t take up much space and are great if staying in hostels that charge for towel usage.

Take Action: Plan Out Health and Hygiene Extras
We’ve covered several of these items in previous posts, but our main concern here is your feminine hygiene routine. Plan it out. Where are you traveling to, and for how long? Will you be able to get your feminine hygiene product of choice in your destination, or should you pack enough in advance? Think about luggage space in the process.

Let us know what sort of health and hygiene products you have questions about packing in the comments below.

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jessica Crees says

    I’m heading to Tanzania for 10 weeks and rather than worry about my period I’m just taking my birth control pills back to back without leaving the week break for a period to start. I don’t know if this would be an option for everyone but I know that it’s safe to miss three periods in a row with my pills. I am taking a few of the compact tampons just in case, they have applicators but they’re half the size of regular tampons which could be an option if they sell them in your country. I’m in the UK so I’m not sure what’s available elsewhere.

    • Brooke says

      Yes that’s a good tip, but always make sure you’re type of pill works like that. I used to be on a pill that allowed me to skip, and then I switched to something different and found I just had a very long, light period instead of it actually skipping! Fail! Haha. But yes, this is definitely a great option.

    • Ellie says

      Hi Jessica, funny, i’m going to Tanzania now for 10 weeks too! Did you have a good time? You didn’t happen to go with ISC did you?
      I was thinking about the same option although i’ve never been on the pill before, but i usually end up vomiting on my period so i really could do with out that in Tanzania!
      I will probably live the hard way though and use no pill, not sure what to do! I would prefer to just use pads but i can tell they are not too hygienic, plus where do they be disposed off in rural tanzania where the toilet will be a hole in the ground and no water!
      If you could help me out on your experience i would be so grateful!! Thankss

  2. Julia says

    I swear by the Diva Cup (called the Mooncup in the UK) and even when I stop travelling, I’ll probably carry on using it. It’s so much more convenient, cheaper and takes up less room than any other option.

  3. Emma says

    For girls who are looking for tampons with applicators in Australia: Libra Applicator Tampons. They’re available in regular and super from Woolworths. (You might be able to find them at Coles, but it can be touch and go with them…)

    Have fun on your travels ladies (and gentlemen if you’re reading)!

    • Hayden says

      As an Aussie female who regularly uses tampons without applicators, get over it! The applicators are a waste of plastic with only a one-time use.

  4. Xenia says

    I get the whole “not wanting to get close to the ground when it’s dark and hygeine conditions are questionable”, but for modern places like HK and Japan, that still have squat toilets but also decent cleanliness, just learn to use a squat toilet. It’s not difficult, the locals have managed for ages, and going number 2 in that position is actually much healthier for your system. Look it up. Plus once you have the confidence to at least use it for number 1, no more waiting longer for the single sit-down when there’s a row of squats available. Travel confidence!

  5. Parker says

    Hey, just a heads up, sea sponge options are widely discouraged by gynecologists as they often contain excess dirt and bacteria like a regular sponge. It’s not really safe for your body, unlike something like tampons or Divacups, which can be washed and don’t encourage the same level of bacteria growth. The other advice was really good though!

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