5 Things Every Female Traveler Should ALWAYS Pack

Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
With more than 15 years under my belt as a travel writer and solo adventurer, I’ve learned it’s always a good idea to overpack with regard to certain items. Things we take for granted — like access to feminine-hygiene products, basic prescriptions, and (relative) bureaucratic efficiency — are often unavailable or prohibitively expensive in other countries, even if they’re industrialized. For me, all it took was one agonizing 14-hour bus ride along the rutted backroads of rural Mexico while suffering from a raging bladder infection to change my pre-trip planning and packing strategy.

Whether you’re a business traveler, backpacker, or bon vivant, here are are five indispensables you should always carry with you on the road, regardless of your relationship status or budget.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Scanned Copies Of Important Documents
In addition to stashing photocopies of your passport and medical-insurance card in your luggage and on your person (separate from the originals), scan copies of important info such as your itinerary, flight details, emergency contacts (including banks and credit-card companies), and travel insurance (if applicable). Email them to yourself and a few trusted family members and friends. If you’re visiting a place prone to natural disasters or general sketchiness, be sure to register with the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). They’ll provide emergency evacuation in the event of a natural disaster or civil disturbance.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Tampons
Whether due to remoteness of region, poverty, or religious or cultural mores, many countries don’t have adequate or readily accessible supplies of feminine-hygiene products in general, and that includes tampons. In my many years of traveling all over South America, I’ve seen them only once in a store (I’ve even given tampons to bummed-out female travelers in Bolivia and Chile). Conversely, I just returned from Cambodia and Laos and was shocked to find tampons were sold just about everywhere. Regardless, it’s best to be prepared, so overstock for your trip, because travel can throw off your cycle. Besides, if we learned one thing from Sex and the City, it’s that she who carries the tampons is the most powerful female in the room.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Condoms
It is never a good idea to trust generic condoms, especially if you’re in a developing nation. Novelty and off-brand prophylactics aren’t necessarily approved by the FDA or designed to meet the same safety and testing regulations, particularly if they’re produced overseas. Add to that factors that include improper storage and exposure to tropical heat or extreme cold, and you’re not doing yourself or your partner any favors by relying on sheaths purchased while traveling (that said, a generic condom is still better than none at all, obvs). Pack protection, always.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Plan B
Was one of those condoms that you had enough foresight to pack a total fail? It happens. Plan B can prevent pregnancy if taken as prescribed within 72 hours of unprotected sex or a contraceptive mishap. Because not every trip necessitates a souvenir, if you know what we're saying.
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Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
Bladder & Yeast Infection Meds
Uninhibited vacay sex, tropical climates, or a dearth of laundry/shower opportunities can wreak havoc on your nether regions. Even if you’re usually fine with an OTC, it’s never a bad idea to ask your OB/GYN for prescription yeast meds like Diflucan or Teraconazol, as some strains won’t respond to your regular treatment (trust me on this). Be sure to carry all of your prescriptions, including the Pill, in their original packaging, and keep hard copies on you.
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