Some thoughts for women on the Desert Spirit Journeys.
Last Spirit journey, we (the four women in the group) had a conversation and talked about all the awkward questions we hadn’t quite know who to ask before we came on the journey and what did and didn’t work for us when it came to personal hygiene. Here are some of our thoughts:
Ask for a toilet stop when you need one. It is okay! We found each of us tried different things and worked out what worked for us. Some of these included going the bush wee option, ie don’t use toilet paper and shake and air dry instead. It’s a bit “blokey” perhaps but saves on toilet paper and the hassle of digging a hole. It can reduce irritation but you may need to change undies more frequently. You may also want to take the toilet bag with you anyway so people know what you are up to. There is also apparently a plethora of personal items you can buy to assist in this but we find that kinda hilarious and would definitely encourage a try at home first! (www.shewee.com.au)
Baby wipes are great! Unscented, hypoallergenic are all options and are super useful.
Each car will have a toilet bag – which includes toilet paper, hand sanitiser and a small shovel. If you get your period is it pretty easy to pop in your own small bag of tampons etc in the bag when you head off to find a tree.
In our experience the group have always been pretty good regarding privacy etc – we did decide however there is more truth than you think in facing towards where you are afraid someone might approach you – it is actually much easier than looking over your shoulder when you squat and easier to cover yourself!
If you want some privacy to get changed, behind a tree or in a car are options or you can ask Rich to borrow his tent. Some women find this is a good reason to bring a tent of their own but others found the swags simpler than having to put up a tent each day.
Some of us found we preferred minimal underwear changes and using frequent panty liners. Others (especially if prone to irritation) preferred changing underwear more frequently. Also feel free to get some water and take yourself off for a wash down when you need to. Another option is to take a chair with you when you go to make it easier to wash and get changed.
How many undies? The recommendation to bring two changes of clothes for the week doesn’t need to include underwear. Bring what you think will need to keep you comfortable. Bring layers, minimal external clothes and plenty of underwear. It will be highly unlikely that you will have a chance to wash and dry clothes including underwear so bring what you need. Merino and other “moisture-wicking” options are available and can be worth exploring but probably not necessary and can be quite expensive.
Tampons and pads do come under the category of take in/take out waste so it is best not to bury them or leave them behind, even if they are marketed as biodegradable or organic. Our suggestion is to bring a large ziplock bag and some paper bags – put used items in a paper bag and store in the ziplock bag in your luggage. These can be added to the general waste along the way or kept discreetly in your bag until the end of the trip. Keep in mind the general waste is not always accessible during the day and is often in a more public location such as the kitchen area so we felt more comfortable keeping it ourselves. Ziplock bags are great!! It was suggested that some bicarb soda in the bottom of the ziplock bag could reduce any smells if this was a concern… This also goes for incontinence pads.
Getting your period on the trip: don’t panic – plenty of us have survived it. Be prepared, bring supplies just in case, and hopefully it won’t be as bad as you think…
Moon cups (menstrual cups) are often suggested online – but only if you are comfortable and experienced using them at home first! And keep in mind you will need to think through washing and hygiene issues if you do use them.
Overall our experience was that our nervousness was more in the anticipation rather than reality. The leadership team were approachable and helpful and there were always other women in the group to chat to. Don’t let it stop you from having a wonderful experience.