Updated: Jan 9
We all love a proper vacation / road trip or even family / friend's visit but sometimes it can completely throw us off balance. Food & eating are just some of the routines that turn up side down when we are out of our environment but its also an important one - especially for us women - when it comes to menstrual cycle health (including physical and mental aspects).
I have been travelling most of my life - for work and for pleasure and I have learned many valuable lessons during that time - what feels healthy (letting go of strict or rigid structures or habits) and when does it start to effect my overall well-being.
It's also important to not compare yourself to "others" aka your partner, friends or family members that you are visiting or travelling with. Everyone has their own needs and comfort zone and it's important to honour and support yours.
In this article I will share a bit of my recent trips where I decided to plan and organise a few things beforehand in order to avoid heavy PMS symptoms, bloating or intense mood swings - especially when I don't have my own familiar, cosy and comfortable space to hibernate.
I will also give you some tips and hacks that hopefully help you on your next trip and adventure while staying in sync with your cycle.
I am currently in rural Morocco on a surf trip and it's definitely not my first get away where I am staying / living in a completely different environment. But since last year, my goal was to find ways where I can enjoy the unknown while still taking care of myself (as a menstruating woman). Meaning, I still want to enjoy the beauty and mystery of different cultures and religions, while maintaining a certain comfort and routine for my body and mind to feel save, connected and supported.
Most of the time, supermarkets and food options are limited to local ingredients (no organic, vegan, glutenfree options here in Morocco :-D) , kitchens consist of simple (and not always functioning) gas burners and basic utensils, daily life and exercise are out of my control
(life of a surfer :-) Every trip is an opportunity for self-reflection and growth - which is only possible when we are not suffering or in pain (hello PMS / menstrual phase).
Therefore I will share with you some travel essentials, snacks but also product recommendations for trips longer than 2 days.
WHAT TO BRING
Clothes: Always pack one clothing item that represents comfort and cosiness for you - even if its an old worn out jumper - you might have a moment of discomfort or overwhelm (especially during your Luteal Phase) where you want to slide into your cosy jumper or sweat pants and cocoon on the couch!
Supplements: Magnesium - especially when you are going to exercise a lot during your trip. If you have trouble falling asleep take one capsule in the morning and one in the evening. I highly recommend this one
If you have problems with your digestion also bring some probiotics to take before each meal - only take them during your trip and change back to whole foods probiotics (sauerkraut, kimchi, (raw) yoghurt or kefir, tempeh and miso) once you are back.
Omnibiotic even has a "Travel Edition"
Elecrolytes - super important especially when you are travelling somewhere hot!
Also in case you get diarrhoea (god forbid :-) make sure you take the powder daily!
I can recommend this one but really anything that doesn't have additional sugar / dextrose!
Snacks: Healthy snacks are life savers - especially when you are travelling during your luteal phase, meaning you will most likely get your period and might struggle with PMS symptoms. Make sure you pack some nuts & seeds: sunflower seeds, walnuts and Brazil nuts to snack on. They are all high in Lignans, Omega 3 and 6 and selenium so the perfect combo. Add a few dried dates, figs or apricots (rich in potassium) and if you are feeling fancy some chopped 85 - 90% dark chocolate. The combination is incredibly satiating, filling and easy to eat. If you are travelling during your follicular phase replace the sunflower for pumpkin seeds
Fruits: I always bring some apples on a trip - its the easiest fruit to store, eat and discard. Dont bring bananas, mandarines or soft fruits like peaches or nectarines. And if you need a longer lasting snack, combine your apple with some peanut- or almond butter (I fill them up at home in 100 g jars / containers so I can bring them on the plane).
Chocolate: I don't really think this is necessary :-) but its my favourite travel habit and I love to bring some fancy chocolate on trips. Perfect when you feel snackish on the plane - its a way better alternative to salty nuts or sugary candy. But especially when I am in my PMS phase I know I have something special to treat myself to (in bed, while watching YouTube videos) which is again more a mental comfort but something we all need during these days...
Other food essentials: if you know me, you know that I never travel without my matcha kit
I don't always bring a bowl but if there is space in my suitcase you bet I stuff it in :-)
These are maybe the only "high maintenance" accessories that I NEED and LOVE to have with me wherever I go. My Matcha Morning Ritual is definitely an act of self care but also mental health routine, its the time I am usually alone (always the first one to wake up :-) and I either journal or right now I am just staring outside the window watching the waves roll in.
No matter if it's 10 or 30 minutes, I try to be present and enjoy these moments to the fullest.
All you really need for a delicious Matcha Latte is boiling (filtered) water and some kind of plant milk. I try not to be too fussy with the milk alternatives as its already a miracle that there is almond milk in Morocco :-) It's sweetened and definitely not organic but I mix it with plain soy milk and froth it in a French Press or with my matcha whisk. Basic but still delicious, nourishing and satisfying. It has been my only fuel before our 3 hour surf sessions and although I was hungry afterwards, it felt so good to be optimally fuelled, nourished and caffeinated - although L-theanine gets absorbed way slower and is therefore a more sustainable caffeine source. It’s reported that L-theanine may help in maintaining a balanced immune response. Specifically, L-theanine may help equalize key immune cells in order to fight infection, without causing tissue damage.
Herbal teas: Besides matcha I also like to take some herbal / spice teas bags for digestion, cramp relief and overall warming effects (peppermint or other green / black tea are not recommended when you feel cold easily). Here are some of my favourites. They don't take much space and are easy to prepare - even on the plane you can ask for some hot water (directly in your thermo so it lasts longer!)
My Female Balance Elixir: when you know, you know :-) I can't live (or travel) without it anymore. It feels like a warm hug from the inside. Best PMS drink that also satisfies my sweet cravings...
I don't like to make it complicated therefore I also don't bring any superfoods or other special ingredients - I basically just let it go and let the travel life take me out of my routine and comfort zone. It's - like always - a fine line between consistency and freestyle. Not always easy especially when we are travelling in the second half of our cycle that naturally would need us to hibernate, socialise less and eat warming and nourishing meals. But life is not always like this and travelling shouldn't be an additional stressor but an experience to enjoy and savour - without forgetting about our health! It's important to be vocal about our needs especially when we travel somewhere foreign as uncomfortable feelings could arise and the last ting we want is to be hard on ourselves. It's not always easy but its a step towards more empathy for our bodies, needs as well as the mysteries of life!
I hope this article was helpful and you can find some inspiration for your next trip without worrying too much about "those days of the month".
And in case you can bring some homemade treats (in the car / train) - make a big batch of my PMS cookies and you will be optimally prepared for anything that comes your way :-D