BY LUCINDA ROANOKE
To close-out the wild, unstable year of 2020, I embarked a 10,000 mile road trip that spanned 14 states. I was the sole driver, accompanied by my boyfriend and our 60-lb dog, neither of whom know how to drive. At night, we stayed in an unpredictable mix of motels, airbnbs, and the back of my Subaru. We slept at rest stops, truck stops, parking lots, and occasionally neighborhood streets. We traveled for two months straight. Two months on the road meant exactly two periods– a potential challenge that I was ready to tackle.
I exclusively used a menstrual cup during my periods. I was hyper-aware of how much garbage we were creating via our fast food habit, and I didn’t want to create extra. I’m environmentally conscious, but I also really didn’t want to deal with bloody garbage. I had no desire to figure out how to remove and discreetly dispose of tampons in a Walmart parking lot, where garbage cans are few and far between. I usually didn’t have access to a private bathroom, and there were many nights when no restroom was available at all.
In the daytime, I’d empty the cup a few times a day in whatever bathroom was available to me– coffee shops and gas stations, mostly. I wasn’t comfortable washing the cup in public bathroom sinks, so I kept a spray bottle of diluted white vinegar in the car. Before bed, I’d empty the cup one last time, spray it off with the vinegar water, and wipe it dry with paper towels or napkins. I’d reinsert for the night and repeat my cleaning routine in the morning.
To keep myself tidy between showers, I would splash a napkin with water from one of the gallons we kept in the car and give myself a thorough wipedown while lying concealed in the back seat (DIY wet-wipes on demand!).
I am so grateful that my period didn’t get in the way of my grand, unconventional adventure. When I’m home, I have many more resources to take care of myself and ensure a comfortable period week. I can take luxurious baths, nap in my bed, and attend to any cravings within minutes. But despite a few awkward mornings spent rushing through a truck stop to get to the bathroom in time, my period wasn’t too hard to handle on the road– thanks to my trusty menstrual cup. Managing my period on this trip proved that my cycle will never prevent me from traveling, moving outside of my comfort zone, and having new experiences.