When Michael and I first started planning our wedding, my patented reply to any planning question was that the wedding was a necessary evil, but we were way more focused on the honeymoon. I had visions of a two-week-long vacation, exploring uncharted territories together. Cut to eighteen months later and we were so burned out by wedding planning (not to mention broke) that we didn’t even have the energy to think about a honeymoon for another full year. Whoops.
Take a Honeymoon (or a Mini-Moon)
Pro tip: Don’t be like me. Wedding planning is exhausting and stressful, followed by a huge emotional high. Going back to work after all that without any kind of decompression is a recipe for grumpiness. Plus, you and your partner deserve a few days to bask in the glow of being newlyweds—whether that’s with a formal honeymoon or two nights at the local Best Western (don’t knock it, the continental breakfast is legit).
If you are taking a more traditional honeymoon, aka leaving shortly after “I do,” the last thing you want to be thinking about in the lead-up to your wedding is what to pack in your honeymoon bags. Plus, if you’re like me, tired packing = forgetting to bring enough underwear. (Ask me about the time I remembered my passport had expired… the day before I was scheduled to take an international trip. Oy.) Which is why today we’ve partnered up with Flex, my favorite new menstrual product, to bring you a honeymoon packing list that is both practical and fun (because after planning a wedding, you deserve a few frivolous things. I said so).
Hope for the best, pack for the worst
I think I may have been a departure from the norm, but wedding planning really ramped up my sense of optimism. I think, for example, that because I couldn’t afford a tent for our reception, I just assumed it wouldn’t rain on our wedding day. (Luckily the weather behaved well that day, but optimism does not otherwise make for a great backup plan.) Which means that in my brain, a honeymoon is also time when you can’t get your period, you can’t get accidentally pregnant, you’ll never eat something that disagrees with you, and on and on. And while I pray all those things are true for you, let’s hope for the best and pack for the worst—meaning don’t forget some antacids, your preferred form of birth control, and a menstrual product that doesn’t drive you crazy.
Which brings me to Flex. For those of you who weren’t around when we first introduced you to Flex a few months ago, they are a new menstrual product that combines the best parts of a tampon and a menstrual cup. Except it’s neither. Instead, it’s a flat flexible disc-shaped contraption that collects menstrual fluid instead of absorbing it. I was excited to try Flex, because my periods have been extra annoying since having a baby, and I was constantly finding myself doing the ol’ toilet-paper-as-pad maneuver out of sheer desperation. And while it did take a few tries to figure out the right positioning (Flex sits at the base of your cervix, so you insert down, instead of up, then it warms and forms to the shape of your body to create a leak-resistant seal), once I got the hang of it, I found it to be much more comfortable than tampons and infinitely easier to use than my menstrual cup (which always feels like wrestling a small animal to insert and then only seals properly like 50 percent of the time). I only had one leak with Flex in that time frame, which is much better odds than my normal routine. And I think if you paired Flex with period underwear, it would be a dream solution. Tl;dr, after a year of post-baby period problems, it feels like a gift from the heavens.
But the real reason Flex is partnering with us on this honeymoon roundup is because they are the only menstrual product that promises mess-free period sex (which is on top of perks like the ability to be kept it in for up to 12 hours, as well as reduce cramps). So if you think you might get your period on your honeymoon, click here and use the code HONEYMOON at checkout to get $3 off your first box Flex (making it a cool $12), plus free shipping.
But let’s assume you plan on leaving the hotel room just a smidge during your honeymoon. In that case, here are our picks on what to pack for the rest of your trip, whether you’re embarking on a tropical vacation or a two-day romp at the Best Western.
Coordinated Travel Accessories: When I graduated high school, my mom got me a fancy leather passport holder as a gift, and it has become a treasured possession. I can’t be the only person who is less likely to lose or abuse their belongings if they are inside something nice, right? Matchy-match accessories are having a moment right now, so I say lean into it. I mean, it’s not like you don’t need a neck pillow for your flight, right? (Travel Phone Charger, $35; Travel Pillow, $24; Passport Holder, $24; and Luggage Tag, $10; all via Ban.do)
all the organizers: I don’t know about you, but I am a messy traveler. Give me twenty minutes alone in a hotel room and I will have it looking like your college dorm. Over the holidays, I started using ziplock bags to keep myself more organized, but packing cubes are much better quality and more appropriately sized for adult human clothing. You can get them on Amazon, though for a little more, these guys will probably stand up to more wear and tear. On the smaller end, I get so tired of all my cacharger cords getting tangled up in my purse, and a cord roll is the perfect solution for that. I also love this carry-all for all the randomly sized things that normally get thrown around and inevitably spill all over my toiletry bag. (Stitched Travel Cary-All, $68)
A cheesy t-shirt: When I got married, I worked very hard to play myself off as cool. I didn’t want anyone to think that I thought that getting married meant anything. It was just a thing we were doing, man. (Insert older and wiser eye roll here.) But the truth is, there is a kind of magic in getting married and going on your honeymoon, and as long as you don’t act like an asshole, people will treat you extra nicely because of it. So why not wear your celebration on your sleeve, as it were? Particularly because this version happens to be very cute. (Honeymooning T-Shirt, $24)
Not The Hotel Hair Dryer: I have very persnickety hair that does not respond well to hotel hair dryers (and frizzy hair on my honeymoon is not my favorite look), so I invested in a good hair dryer a few years ago and take it with me whenever I travel. We have NuMe products in the office, and they get super hot, meaning they work well on both my super fine hair and Meg’s ultra thick hair. And this set comes with a handy traveling case to keep all your stuff together. For my curly hair, I also invested in one of those collapsible hair diffusers and it was so worth the $15. (NuMe Dry + Straighten + Curl Travel Set, $159)
A Sturdy Backpack: I stopped using purses a few years ago because the weight displacement was killing my shoulders. I started using a backpack and have never looked back. Also, this backpack is sized to fit your laptop. Which you should definitely not bring on your honeymoon. But it totally justifies the expense if you’ll use it for work later, right? (Calpak Kaya Laptop Backpack, $89)
A Travel Blanket: Cold airplanes are the bane of my existence. So much so, in fact, that when I walk onto a redeye flight, the first thing I look for is whether or not my chosen airline is the kind that considers a blanket a luxury or a necessity. (H/t to Delta for keeping me warm when I’m sleeping. JetBlue, do better.) This blanket and eye mask set from Parachute Home is possibly the most luxury travel set I’ve ever seen. But on the more affordable side, this Snuggie-esque travel blanket folds up into a neat little pouch and has near-perfect reviews for only $30. (Parachute Home Merino Travel Kit, $169)
A cool fanny pack: Don’t at me. Fanny packs are cool again. (Though TopShop wants me to think we’re calling them bumbags, and if that helps you sleep at night, so be it.) Former APW intern turned Buzzfeed editor Rachel wrote a brilliant (if you ask me) op-ed about the wonders of the fanny pack, and she summed up the experience of traveling with one thusly:
When I step out in it, I feel insanely carefree. And I often find myself thinking, Is this how men feel every day? Because if so, holy shit. I will go on the record that this is the first time I’ve ever experienced penis envy.
Plus, what better way to start your journey toward old married couple status than un-ironically rocking a fanny pack? Trick question. There is none. (Black Studded
Bumbag Fanny Pack, $40)
Instant Photos: I got one of those Instax cameras shortly after college and started using it as my default memory keeping device. BFF’s going away party? Instax. Family reunion? Instax. Honeymoon memories? Instax. And you know what? Now I have an amazing pile of photos to sift through whenever I’m waxing nostalgic. (I always take photos on my phone too, but they are more likely to get buried and/or forgotten.) So for me, an instant camera is a travel must-have. There are a ton of different ways to print instant photos these days. This Polaroid printer connects to your phone via Bluetooth so you don’t even have to choose between digital or instant. Though the best bang for your buck is one of those colorful Instax Mini Cameras. I usually pack two to four packs of film with me when I travel, and that’s plenty to get me through a vacation. (Polaroid Zip Mini Printer, $99)
A Travel Journal: Or if your memory keeping lends itself to the paper and pen variety, grab yourself a cute travel journal. If your journeys are going to take you somewhere that involves water of any variety, Michael swears by these rain-proof journals. If not, this travel journal from Rifle Paper Co. is charming without being overly designed. You just write your destination and whatever flows from there. (Rifle Paper Co. Travel Journal, $15)
Your pack-for-the-worst supplies: Pro tip: I’m always afraid I’m going to get stranded on vacation without access to Advil or Tums, so I leave a travel size container of each in my suitcase, and it never leaves. My pack-for-the-worst kit also includes condoms, and now Flex. In addition to being able to have mess-free sex while you’re on your period (useful, because see: hotel sheets), Flex also has a longer wear time than most tampons (up to twelve hours depending on your cycle), which means you can spend a whole day doing activities without worrying about changing it. Plus there’s no string to worry about when you’re hanging out poolside or any of the weirdness of swimming with a tampon (have I mentioned how much I hate tampons?). But because Flex is disposable like a tampon, if you do need to change it while out and about, there’s no awkward and messy “I need to clean off my menstrual cup in a public restroom” moment. Not that I’ve been there. (Flex, $12 plus free shipping)
A suitcase you haven’t had since college: So, I have been using the same beat-up suitcase since my junior year of college (well, it wasn’t beat up then, but a few summers traipsing through New York and it has lived some lives). If I were getting married now, I would register for a nice new set of hard-side luggage just for my honeymoon. I am loving the new Oh Joy! for Calpak designs, because I refuse to use anything that is going to get lost on a baggage carousel. Also if you can find a practical use for me and this hat box, I am ready to hear it. (Oh Joy! Carry-On in Sunset for Calpak, $135)
This post was sponsored by The Flex Company. FLEX is a female-founded, female-led company (yay!) whose mission is to make periods less of a pain in the ass (and less painful) with their innovative menstrual disc. Unlike other period products, you can keep your FLEX in for twelve hours without worrying about leaks, and you can even keep FLEX in for mess-free period sex. You can get $3 off your first box of FLEX plus free shipping (that’s just $12!) when you use the code HONEYMOON at checkout.