1967: Personal Products

Apologies for not posting lately, been a bit busy at work and with the social life. One of my recent activities has been planning my trip to Paris — I’m going for work but hopefully will have a little time to see the city. Already stressing about what to pack (I tend to overpack normally, but got a smaller suitcase this weekend so need to be good this time), I turned to a new book in my collection for help. There are plenty of packing tips in Frances Koltun’s Complete Book for the Intelligent Woman Traveler, published in 1967, but I thought this advice about “personal products” was more fun to share with you. After reading these, I bet you ladies will be glad times have changed just a bit since the 60s. I am, particularly when thinking about those sanitary towels.

Even women who are normally level-headed about snakes, how much to tip a mahout or what to do for impetigo, find themselves at a loss about how much to pack in the way of personal products, the beauty industry’s euphemism for sanitary napkins, et al. I still remember a traveling companion on a trip to Europe who filled one of her two suitcases with boxes of Kotex because she was sure she’d never find any abroad.

Her apprehension belonged to the era of steamer trunks, motoring veils, and 10-day ocean crossings. Today, American products such as Kotex and Tampax are found in nearly every major country of the world. You have only to walk into a large, centrally located drugstore to find them. . . .

There are some local variations you may want to know about: In England, sanitary napkins are called sanitary towels, and have loops at either end. As these are exported to several countries in the world, you may run into them from time to time. In French, they’re called garnitures périodiques; in Spanish, they’re toallas sanitarias or higiénicas; in German, damenbinden; in Italian, assorbenti igienici; in Swedish, sanitets bindan; in Japanese seiritai. With these languages at your command, you can manage anywhere should an “English-speaking” pharmacy be unavailable, or should the chambermaid in your hotel not speak English. (If a sudden need arises, she’s the one to ring for.) . . .

If you’d like to start out armed with some sort of protection, Kotex puts out a box of individually wrapped napkins — eight for 39 cents — that’s fine for traveling. Or break up a larger box, wrap each napkin in Kleenex and stuff it into corners of your suitcase or among the layers of your underwear. Don’t be embarrassed or have nightmares about going through customs (which does happen to young women going abroad for the first time) with Kotex or Tampax in your luggage. You can be sure that the officials are thoroughly familiar with these products and won’t even give them a passing glance.