Using a Menstrual Cup on Vacation

The title says everything, doesn’t it? If you don’t want to read about how successful I was in using a menstrual cup on vacation, feel free to skip over this article. If you are intrigued, however, read on.

using menstrual cup on vacation

Almost a year ago now, a dear friend messaged me on Facebook and said something like, “Sorry if this is TMI, but have you ever tried a menstrual cup?” It was just the thing I needed to hear. I am allergic to every kind of disposable pad here, and I pass out from tampons (since the very first time I wore one, and yes I have tried again at least twice a year since that first, fateful day when I was 13). So about two years ago, I made the decision to switch to cloth pads. Cloth pads are not bad. They were ok but I still got a rash. I think it was from the detergent, even though I tried every kind. Apparently I have extremely sensitive nether regions. The doctor gave me a cream, but it always took at least seven days to work, and I was really depressed every time my period arrived, knowing it would take two weeks to complete this tedious routine I somehow found myself in. As you can imagine, my friend’s message was an answer to prayer.

A Diva Cup for Christmas

When my father-in-law came to visit in December, he brought me my first Diva Cup. It might seem weird that I asked my FIL to bring me something so, well, private, but I was desperate! I honestly didn’t care if he thought it was weird or not. The timing worked out that he headed back to the States just before my period started.

Diva Cup Dilemmas

Every crazy thing you read about Diva Cups happened to me, minus it getting “lost.” I pinched my cervix trying to put it in too many times to count. About once a period I accidentally pressed on my bladder and felt like I had to pee for an hour. There were innumerable leaks. The first month was the worst, but I noticed that each month, things seemed to be getting better, and the leaks were almost nonexistent. Just for the record, I use the “C” method, where you fold the cup in half so it resembles the shape of the letter this method is named for.

Then it came time to plan for our family vacation. I knew my period would occupy one of the two weeks we were away. I had used the cup for four periods, but was that enough practice? What about washing it in between emptying it out? What would it look like to use it in various bathroom in different countries?

Going For It

I decided not to pack any cloth pads because then I would have to carry them around with me dirty as we backpacked. Gross. I thought, “Hey, if I fail halfway through, I can buy disposables and use my trusty seven-day cream.” I packed several small packs of pads, figuring I could just wipe the cup out when I was in a strange bathroom where the sink wasn’t close, and then wash it thoroughly with warm water and soap when we got back to our Airbnb.

Success!

I didn’t even need wipes. Toilet paper worked great for wiping out the cup, and wiping off the outside, after I emptied it into the toilet. The only problem was that I was often accompanying my girls to the restroom, so a few times I had to take them in, walk them back to my husband when they were finished, and go back into the bathroom alone. Trust me when I say, you do NOT want your kids to see you emptying your menstrual cup. They will think you are dying or something. However, in all of the countries we visited, you could flush toilet paper, so it wasn’t a big deal. If I had tried to that in Greece, the trash bin in the stall would have looked like a murder scene. Just saying. When my period was over, I put the cup into it’s handy draw string bag, and threw it into our toiletry bag, ready to be cleaned with hot water and hydrogen peroxide when I got home. Ta-da!

Ok, I won’t go into any more detail, but if you have questions, please feel free to ask.

Happy travels,

Kristin

Backpacking With Kids: 5 Backpacks – 5 People

Hey everyone! The last two weeks have been a little crazy, but I think it proved that our family has moved into the next stage of traveling; backpacking. We went to London, Paris, Budapest, and a tiny village in Hungary called Vajta. Why Vajta? Some of the most amazing people in the world live there… but that’s for another post.

On our way from Paris back to London for our flight to Hungary. As you can see, one of the girls wasn't very happy...
On our way from Paris back to London for our flight to Hungary. As you can see, one of the girls wasn’t very happy…

Five Backpacks for Five People

That’s right, our family has been introduced to the world of backpacking with kids. We took two medium sized backpacking backpacks, one large school backpack, and two small school backpacks for our entire family of five. This was our first time traveling without any suitcases, and it was so much easier. The only catch was that we had to do laundry, but we had planned for that ahead of time. We knew there would be a washer at our Airbnb in London, and Travis found a laundromat in Paris where he went to do laundry while I read and the kids played on their Kindles. In Hungary, we stayed with friends and they let us do the remainder of our laundry. We also used vacuum bags to make everything in our packs more compact.

My New Purse Rocks

I got to test out my pickpocket proof purse (anti theft purse), which is a tutorial I’ll be doing in the coming months. It worked out just like I wanted it to.

A “Sprouts En Route” Book

We have realized that, as a couple, we are now on the tail end of traveling with small kids (since our youngest will be four this summer), and we want to compile everything we’ve learned into a book… I have no idea when I will be planning and writing that since I have a full writing schedule for the next few months, but it’s a goal.

Now that we are home we are all struggling with some kind of intestinal virus we probably caught on the plane (yay!), but once that is over, I should be posting on a regular basis again. I hope you are in the mood for many exciting posts about our trip, and traveling with kids in general. The timing seems perfect, as everyone is starting to plan for their summer vacations.

Happy travels,

Kristin

When To Go Home Early

If you are on vacation, various things can happen that make it impossible for your family to enjoy your time together. This year, we decided to go to Kalamata (yes like the olive) to visit a dear friend the day after Christmas. We were set to stay for two nights, but we quickly realized that we may have to cut our trip short.

Christmas night my son threw up all over his bed. He also had a high fever. He’s the little guy so he tends to catch everything. His immune system isn’t as built up as the girls. They have gone to school for years, so they have plenty of opportunities to get sick. It didn’t surprise me when only he got sick. It happens that way quite often. The next day he seemed better with no symptoms at all, so we decided not to cancel our trip.

On The Road

Everything was peaceful. My oldest didn’t even get car sick, which is a miracle. We arrived, checked in at our hotel, and went to meet our friend. They were having a bunch of free activities by the dock, so we went on a nice boat ride. We started to feel hungry so we went to a place we had gone to a previous time. It was fun. We ate burgers, talked to the owner who was also from the US (married to a Greek guy), and went back to the hotel for a nap. We had gotten up early to make the three hour drive.

Before she got sick, enjoying the balcony with her brother.
Before she got sick, enjoying the balcony with her brother.

The Beginning

During the nap, my oldest threw up. She made it to the toilet though, praise the Lord! So we rearranged our plans. My husband, his dad, and the two youngest would go hang out in the city center while my oldest and I watched “You’ve Got Mail,” on the hotel TV. There are mildly inappropriate parts for an 8 year old, just an fyi. She liked the movie. Then after the movie my husband appeared with the kids.

“She threw up on the way home from the park.” He pointed to my other daughter.

She probably got sick at least 8 times during the night, but each time she made it to the bathroom.

Fast Forward

Sometime during the middle of the night, my husband and I joined in on the fun. At least we didn’t need the one bathroom at the same time. I will confess something to you. In the morning, my oldest daughter found me asleep on the bathroom floor and helped me get to the bed. That has never happened to me before! I mean, never. No virus has conquered me so thoroughly as that one did. The next day went ok. We all had fevers, but at least the vomiting ceased. None of us were hungry, besides the three year old, who was starving. I had packed some food, so we let him eat all of it.

Our friend that we went to visit brought a bag of things to help from the pharmacy, which I really appreciated. Especially the club soda.

Dead Dreams

When we first checked into our hotel, I was so excited. The kids could sleep while my husband and I could hang out on the balcony which overlooked the ocean and mountainside. It was an amazing view. But after spending the night on the bathroom floor, I realized that everyone was miserable. When you are miserable, it’s better to be home. At home you can make peppermint tea and watch your favorite movie. It is not fun when you are sick and you don’t have any of the things that normally make your sickness more bearable. A hotel is NOT a fun place to be sick. This is especially true when your bored three-year-old is feeling fine and driving all of the sick family members crazy because he has no toys to play with or movies to watch.

Part of the view from our balcony. There was a mountain on the other side.
Part of the view from our balcony. There was a mountain on the other side.

I Just Want To Be Home

After thinking about our options for several hours, I finally told my husband I wanted to go home. I was willing to suffer and stay if everyone else was feeling better, but that wasn’t the case. We decided to go home early. He already had plans with his dad to see a movie with the girls, so they went. Our youngest girl fell asleep in the theater, poor thing. We left directly after at 11pm and drove for three hours. We had to carry each of the three kids into the flat and put them in bed, but I think it was the right decision. In the morning everyone was happy to be home.

How To Decide

Every situation will be different for each family. Maybe your family deals better with insane and evil viruses than mine does. You know you could have stayed and it would have been fine. Maybe you would have canceled the trip just in case. Then you wouldn’t have missed peppermint tea and toast like we did. Whatever you decide, make sure you communicate to your children why you did what you did. Kids want to know things like that. It helps them with disappointment if there is a “why.”

Hopefully our next trip will be virus free.

Happy travels,

Kristin

Warning for Pregnant Moms Traveling to South America

Since posting this article, the CDC has issued an official warning for all pregnant women traveling to areas where the Zika virus has been infecting people. You can read more about the current situation here and find specific information on updated travel destinations here. The only way to avoid catching the Zika virus is avoid mosquito bites! Updated March 1st, 2016

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Since this is a travel blog for mothers, I think it is really important to share with you a potential risk associated with traveling to certain regions of South America. Are you a pregnant mom traveling to South America? Do you know a pregnant mom that will be traveling to South America? Here is what you need to know.

warning for traveling pregnant women

According to this article on NBC News:

U.S. health officials are considering a travel warning about Zika virus, the once obscure virus rapidly spreading across Latin America and the Caribbean that experts fear may cause birth defects.

It’s not clear what the officials will tell people just yet, because so little is known about the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes. But evidence is growing that it may cause a catastrophic birth defect called microcephaly.

“We are in the process of developing a travel warning not only for pregnant women, but for everybody,” said Dr. Lyle Petersen, who heads the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s division on diseases carried by mosquitoes and other insects and animals.

Not An Official Warning

At this point, you will have to decide what to do about your future travel plans if you are pregnant and planning to head to any of the countries where the Zika virus has been found. At this point there isn’t an official warning that officially discourages you from traveling to specific regions while pregnant. So far, the most cases of infant linked Microcephaly have been found in Brazil. But according to this article by the New York Times, there are quite a few countries on the list of countries that potentially contain Zika infested areas:

Although the travel advice would most obviously apply to Brazil, which is struggling with an alarming surge in newborns with microcephaly, it could soon apply to much of tropical Latin America and the Caribbean.

Local transmission of Zika virus has been found in 14 Western Hemisphere countries and territories: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela.

I’m not saying that you should panic and cancel your plans, but I believe this story is worth further investigation and monitoring.

Safe travels,

Kristin

Wrapy Product Review & Guest Post

Hey everyone,

I’m so excited to feature a guest post from my amazing friend Sarah. She recently gave birth to one of the cutest babies I have ever seen, and she was kind enough to review the Wrapy on behalf of Sprouts En Route, since I don’t have any wrap sized children these days. Thanks Sar!! Happy reading to everyone else, and if you want to read about some other slings and things, check out this post after you read Sarah’s review.

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Sarah and her little cutie.

Since my daughter was born in October this year [2015], I’ve been experimenting with a couple different kinds of carriers of wraps, so when Kristin offered me the chance to try out the Wrapy, I was more than happy to do so. We have a Boba wrap and an Ergo carrier, both of which we use on a fairly regular basis. I generally use the Boba around the house and the Ergo when we’re out shopping or something.

When I opened the Wrapy, I noted that it was similar in style to the Boba wrap – a long piece of stretchy-ish fabric. I read through the instruction book that accompanied it and immediately noticed a few differences:

-Wrapy suggests one hold that is specifically for nursing, which I was pretty excited to try.

-Unlike the Boba, you fold Wrapy in half lengthwise before tying it on. (The reason for this is because it creates a pocket that you rest the baby in for some of the holds or gives you extra support in other holds.)

I have a Boba wrap as I noted above, so I’m familiar with how to put it on. If you’ve never used this type of wrap before, there’s a learning curve, but the instruction book is very clear. I tried a couple of the holds with my daughter [10 weeks, 11.5 pounds] and in the end, came to the following conclusions.

PROS:

-Wrapy fabric only stretches in one direction, which makes it a little more secure than my other wrap. With our other wrap, I often have one hand supporting my daughter (especially if I’m leaning over for anything) and have to tighten it if I want to put her back in after removing it. Wrapy stayed much tighter and I didn’t feel the need to keep a hand on my daughter.

-Offer multiple holds that facilitate nursing.

-Comfortable

-Secure

CONS:

-It’s kind of a pain to fold the fabric in half because it’s so long.

-The previously mentioned learning curve—but don’t be intimidated! With a little practice, you can put it on really quickly.

-The nursing hold—while freeing up one arm—presented me a dilemma when my daughter fell asleep because it only supports the bottom half of the baby and requires you support the baby’s head with your elbow. I wish there was a way to transition from that hold to another one without waking the baby… maybe there is, and I plan to explore a bit more, but nothing explicit that I saw in the directions.

-My daughter screamed when I tried a hold that places the baby in a pocket (the second hold that allows nursing), but I think that’s something that is more specific to her… she hates swaddling too and generally dislikes anything restricting. I think a newborn or a baby who enjoys swaddling might like this hold a bit more.

Overall, I was really happy with the wrap—and even my husband tried it out and thought the wrap was comfortable and convenient!

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Thanks again Sarah 🙂

Happy travels,

Kristin

The Wrapy was given to Sprouts En Route in exchange for the honest review you have read here.