It’s true, camping on your period isn’t necessarily the easiest (or most exciting) of tasks. Whilst I've been travelling the world for the past two years using a menstrual cup, I would say the biggest challenge I experienced was living in a van for six weeks in New Zealand - simply because having access to a clean toilet was verging on impossible.
You might be wondering why anyone would go to all that hassle of using a menstrual cup when they’re camping, so let me sum up the benefits:
I could swim in hot pools, climb mountains, hike up volcanoes, and party all night without worrying that I would leak through my clothing. My Zero Cup gave me the utmost confidence to live life free of any inhibitions.
With up to 4x as much capacity as a tampon, you’ll go for longer with fewer trips to the bathroom. Less time in the bog is a win all around, if you ask me!
A good night of sleep is crucial to keep you energised for the day ahead. Overnighters on my period were a doddle when using a menstrual cup because it offers me up to 12 hours of leak-free protection. This alone allowed me to rest easy.
When I’m packing for a trip, I do not want to waste space in my bag with pointless crap. I consider filling my bag with singe-use tampons/pads to be pointless crap. One Zero Cup is all I need for my whole period (and it can be reused for up to 10 years!)
I also am not keen on wasting time shopping for tampons and pads. I get to focus on the experiences and adventures, instead.
Keeping zero waste (or as close as possible) is very important to me, so I wasn't going to start using disposables just because it might be more "convenient". Frankly, having switched to a menstrual cup seven years ago, I wasn't willing to put toxic chemicals inside of me again -this article highlights the dangers of pads & tampons.
I’ll be honest, it’s not always ideal to be squatting over a dirty drop-loo to empty out the contents of your menstrual cup. There are times when you do not have access to clean running water and have no where to boil your menstrual cup at the end of your period. Whilst it’s no picnic, don’t panic!
Follow these tips to make camping with a menstrual cup a breeze:
First and foremost, always make sure your hands are clean before touching your vagina and emptying your cup. Infections are not cute. Wash thoroughly with soap and rinse with water. Or use alcohol hand santiser, wait for it to dry, and then rinse THOROUGHLY (and I mean thoroughly, lest you wish to burn your bits).
When possible, use public toilets to empty & rinse out your cup. I would tie in a toilet trip to when I would go for lunch or a cafe. It’s definitely more convenient when I have access to a tap to rinse out my cup before reinsertion.
If there are no taps or potable water accessible, carry a bottle of drinking water with you to the toilet to rinse out your menstrual cup. It’s easy and simple enough to do, though I am sure I did get some odd looks for bringing a water bottle into a smelly long-drop toilet in the mountains of NZ. *shrug*
If you can't access any water, you can wipe down your cup with some tissue and give it a proper clean at the next available opportunity.
Drop-loos are only supposed to have human waste and toilet paper in it. That’s it. So chucking in a used tampon or pad would undo all the good work the composting toilet is doing. Don’t be that guy.
Sometimes boiling your cup to sterilise it at the beginning and end of your cycle isn’t possible. I would either order a cup of boiling water and let my menstrual cup sit for 10 minutes or I would use some baby bottle cleaner (Milton sterilising fluid has been a lifesaver) to thoroughly clean my cup at the end of a cycle.
Camping with a menstrual cup is a no-brainer for me.
Pads & tampons cannot fully biodegrade and the plastic waste is damaging to the environment irreparably. Zero waste periods are SO easy to achieve - with the average menstruator using 11,000 tampons/pads in their lifetime, switching to a menstrual cup makes for a more sustainable future. Read more here.
If you're camping somewhere remote, then you might find yourself needing to take your rubbish with you. Following "Leave No Trace" principles means that you must take your waste out with you and dispose accordingly, so using a menstrual cup meant I wasn’t lugging around a zip-loc bag filled with bloody tampons/pads. Click here if you wish to read more about feminine hygiene in the backcountry.
I was pleased that using a menstrual cup made me more environmentally conscious and that I was saving a bunch of cash in the process. If you’re interested in trying out a menstrual cup of your own, Zero Cup offer free worldwide postage.
Rebecca Da Silva is a small business owner (seriously, she’s very tiny) and freelance writer. She is the founder of Zero menstrual cups and spends her time breaking the taboo around menstruation. Visit www.zerocup.co.uk to learn more about sustainable period products. Rebecca enjoys living out of a tiny backpack, calling new places “home” - for a short while, at least - and slow, long-term travel. You can follow her journey on Instagram @_becular or stop by her blog becular.wordpress.com.