Contraceptives while Backpacking the World

A pregnancy would put a bump in the road – literally.  Babies can be great, but they don’t really fit our nomadic lifestyle.  I’ve always had difficulty in finding the best way to stay baby free while traveling.  As a woman, there is more to birth control than just preventing pregnancy.  I also want to regulate my period, and eliminate cramps.

Travelers also have to worry how their insurance will cover their contraceptives, and how will they choose a method for a long trip abroad. Another hindrance is the shelf life of certain forms and the packability in their bags.

You already have your whole trip and many other things to plan and worry about.  This is important, but you do not want to think about it. I get it!

Here are some options for contraceptives while backpacking that may be best for you, your partner and your long-term travel plans.

Thankfully, because of recent changes in US health care, most insurances will cover these contraceptives completely.  If you are without insurance, Planned Parenthood offers low-cost options.

On safari in the serengeti

Options for Contraceptives while Backpacking the World


The IUD is a small T-shaped device inserted into the uterus. It’s almost as effective as having your tubes tied but is 100% reversible. There are two options in the US – copper and hormonal.  

  • Paraguard is a copper IUD and lasts from 10-12 years. But as it contains no hormones you may still get your period regularly.
  • Mirena is a hormonal IUD that last 5 years. Because progestin is released every month your period may diminish over time.  


  • IUD’s can have a very hefty initially pricetag ($0-$1200).
  • You may like to get a period every month for reassurance. The Mirena may eliminate them.
  • Some women report a very painful insertion. Personally, I chose a day of agony for 5 years of being worry free.

Implant Rod

This is a small rod that is inserted under your skin into the inner part of your upper arm.  It’s extremely effective and last 3 years.  Like the Mirena, the Rod releases progestin into your body.  Once it is inserted, there is no maintenance for the 3 years.


  • This can also be a very expensive upfront option ($0-$800).
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Some women report having undesirable hormonal side effects.

The Pill

The pill is always a safe reliable method as long as you trust yourself to stay on top of your pills while traveling.  You know exactly when you will be getting your period, and this method is pretty cost effective.  Options like Seasonique let you have your period every three months which may be a great option for an extended trip


  • It may be tough to get an abundant number of packs before you leave home.  So this could be a problem if you are on an extended trip.   
  • Constantly worrying about taking your pill, may mess up menstrual flow while country and time zone hopping


Old Fashion. Cheap. Accessible in most countries. 


  • If you don’t know this blog post is not for you.

Personally, I went with the Mirena. I do not have to worry about pregnancy for five years, and the thought of eliminating my period while traveling was music to my ear.  We all know what an inconvenience our monthly visitor is, and getting my period at the top of Everest is something I do not want to deal with.

I am not a health expert and every woman’s body is different.  These options are what I did my research on before I picked a method that worked for me for contraceptives while backpacking!  Consult with your gynecologist about long term travel plans and birth control.

Think you may need some health coverage on the road? Check out Heymondo Travel Insurance to help keep you safe when you’re abroad! 

About Natasha

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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