Traveling during pregnancy can be an amazing way to relax and enjoy some time as a couple before baby arrives. Despite everything that you read online, traveling while pregnant doesn’t need to be stressful as long as you are well prepared for your trip. Matt and I took a trip to The Seychelles during the first trimester, then travelled to London, France and Italy during the second. While we made some adjustments to our usual traveling style, we had an amazing time on all of our trips and everything went without a hitch. Based on my experience, I’ve rounded up 30 tips to travel during pregnancy to help you feel completely ready for your trip.
Travel During Pregnancy: Tips To Plan The Perfect Trip
1. Choose a pregnancy friendly destination
When it comes to choosing a destination for your trip, there is a lot to consider. Let me break it all down for you to help you choose the perfect spot for you.
The Zika Virus and other potentially dangerous diseases
Checking the CDC website (or other equivalent in your country) the first thing to do when planning to travel during pregnancy. Cross off any country with even a low risk of Zika and focus on destinations where the Zika virus is non existent. Check with your OB before booking a trip to any destination requiring extra vaccinations or medications as some of then may not be safe for pregnancy. If you decide to travel to a warm exotic destinations, chances are there will be mosquitos (and as a result certain mosquito-borne diseases). If you take extra precautions to protect yourself against bites and use bug spray (always check that it is safe for pregnancy), you should be in the clear especially if you are staying in a resort where they usually treat the grounds regularly. We had a trip booked to the Seychelles a few week after we found out we were expecting and got the go ahead from our OB to travel as planned – we just took some extra precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes! When it comes to health and safety, every case is different so always check with your doctor.
The Climate and Altitude Level
What you are and are not comfortable with while pregnant will really depend on how you are feeling. Are you having heat flashes? Are your extremities swollen? Personally, I was lucky to have a pretty easy pregnancy so I was able to travel to hot and tropical climates without being too bothered. Unfortunately this is not the case for all of us. Take plenty of time to get to know yourself during pregnancy and how your body reacts to different situations and temperatures before choosing a destination. If you are going anywhere hot, definitely make sure that your hotel room or Airbnb has A/C so you can adjust the temperature to what feels comfortable to you (and also keep your windows closed to keep mosquitos out).
Don’t forget to consider the altitude level at your destination as well. Traveling to high altitude during pregnancy can put you and your baby at higher risk for pregnancy complications. Always check with your OB before traveling to high altitude – If you have a high-risk pregnancy condition, high altitudes may make your condition worse.
The Flight Duration
As you get further along in your pregnancy, you may not want to deal with an extremely long flight or multiple layovers. Consider choosing a destination with a flight no longer than 6/8 hours and ideally fly direct.
The Food & Water Safety
When you travel during pregnancy, choose a destination where your chances of contracting a food- and water-borne disease are minimal.
The Proximity To A Hospital
If you are traveling very early in your pregnancy, this may not be as important. However, if you are traveling during your second trimester you will need to make sure that you have easy access to a hospital or clinic in case you need to see a doctor urgently. I was only a few weeks pregnant when we traveled to the island of La Digue in the Seychelles, which was very remote from the mainland and barely had any medical facilities. I felt comfortable traveling there at that time because anything that can go wrong within those first few weeks can’t really be prevented by consulting a doctor. However, we would have definitely changed our plans if our trip had been later into the pregnancy.
2. Choose Your Timing Wisely
Most places will tell you that the second trimester (week 14 to 27) is the best time to travel: the nausea and exhaustion of the first trimester have subsided, but you’re not feeling sore and dragged down by your growing belly quite yet. That said, we traveled quite a bit during our first trimester and most of the time I felt totally fine! So this depends greatly on how your pregnancy is going. While technically you are allowed to fly until 36 weeks, I personally wouldn’t recommend going anywhere far in your third trimester unless absolutely necessary. As you get further into your third trimester, I’d recommend staying pretty close to home should you go into labor early and your pre-term baby require a stay in the NICU. At this point, it’s usually not worth the risk!
3. Be Prepared in Case of a Medical Emergency
Get Travel Insurance
Having a good travel insurance is a great tip for anyone traveling abroad, but it’s even more important if you travel when pregnant. Medical complications can require you to change your travel plans at the last minute. Make sure to call your insurance before your trip to get an idea of what is covered. Finally, find out what number should be called should you need emergency medical care abroad.
Have Medical Backup
Ask your OB for a copy of your pregnancy file – in the unlikely event that you needed to see a doctor abroad, they will know how your pregnancy has been going. If possible, get the name of a local ob-gyn at your destination and the address of the closest hospital. You can contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers, which can provide you with a directory of English-speaking physicians.
4. Plan A Chill and Relaxing Trip
If you are anything like us, you are used to planning jam-packed itineraries full of adventures. As much as it is tempting to try and stay true to your traveling style, it is really important to use that vacation time to relax and recharge. That doesn’t mean you can’t walk around and explore (we did plenty that when we traveled to Venice!). But allow plenty of time to relax by the pool, take a nap or sleep in, and let your pregnant body set the pace.
Travel During Pregnancy: Tips for Flying When Pregnant
1. Pick your Seat on the Plane Strategically
When booking your tickets, do your best to select your seat and choose an aisle. It will be a lot easier to make frequent bathroom trips without having to ask anyone to move, especially on long red eye flights. If you weren’t able to reserve a seat, mention your pregnancy at check in and chances are they will do your best to accommodate you. If the lines are long to check in, clear security or board the plane, don’t hesitate to ask if they will let you skip.
2. Avoid Packing a Heavy Carry On
I am usually all for bringing only a carry on and a large purse on the plane but not when you travel during pregnancy. Pack as much as you can in your checked bag and avoid lugging around too much stuff. Always ask for help to get your bag off the luggage belt or to put your carry on in the overhead compartment.
3. Stand up, Stretch and Walk around
When you travel during pregnancy, you are at higher risk for developing blood clots. Avoid sitting still for long periods of time. Make sure you get up and stretch your legs at least once or twice every hour, especially if you have a long flight. Always take advantage of those times when the seat belt sign is off to walk around and hit up the bathroom. If the flight is really bumpy, stretch your legs, roll your ankles and point your toes as often as you can to get the blood flowing.
4. Wear comfortable and loose clothing
This goes without saying but wear really comfortable clothes for flying. Make sure to wear hoes that are really easy to take off and put back on as you’ll be getting up a lot during your flight. If you have a connection, it doesn’t hurt to bring a change of clothes so you can feel refreshed for your next flight.
5. Wear Compression Socks
I was always very skeptical about compression socks as they looked like they would be really uncomfortable on a long flight. But after I found a pair that really fit me, I actually ended up loving them! Wearing compression/support stockings will help keep the blood from pooling in your lower legs and minimize swelling in your extremities.
6. Pack Approved Medication
As your OB for a list of medication that are safe for pregnancy and take them with you on the flight. Be prepared to treat stomach issues, UTIs, a fever, nausea and the common cold. A lot of OTC medications are not safe for pregnancy so it’s best to have everything with you with your OB’s approval. Make sure you take enough prenatal vitamins to last the trip and take them with you on the flight if you have a long trip. You can also take a few sea-bands if you get motion sick and a medication for traveler’s diarrhea recommended by your practitioner. Don’t assume you will find things at your destination.
7. Bring Your Own Water Bottle & Drink A Lot of Water
When you travel during pregnancy, it is very easy to get dehydrated during the flight. Flight attendants usually serve you only a small glass of water at a time so it is best to bring your own refillable water bottle. Staying hydrated is really important as it can help prevent swelling and blood clots. I usually took advantage of my frequent trips to the bathroom to ask the flight crew to refill my water bottle.
8. Pack Healthy Snacks For the Flight
Airplane food is usually not the tastiest and can have a pretty low nutritional value. Don’t forget to pack some healthy snacks in your carry on and eat small amounts frequently throughout the flight. I usually bring some protein bars (my favorite are Oatmega bars), dried fruit and almonds. Avoid snacking on sugary treats while you’re in the air.
9. Keep your seatbelt fastened
Buckle up even if you feel more comfortable without your seatbelt. Turbulence can hit at any moment on a plane and keeping your seatbelt on is important to keep you (and your precious cargo!) safe during the flight. If the seatbelt doesn’t fit right, ask a light attendant for a seat-belt extender.
Travel During Pregnancy: Tips for Enjoying Your Destination
1. Research the country’s food options
Eating can be challenging when you travel during pregnancy, especially if you’re not familiar with the country’s local cuisine. To make things simpler, do your research before you leave! Heading to an island with a lot of seafood? Print the list of fish safe for pregnancy. Heading to Italy? Check out which gelato doesn’t contain raw eggs in advance. Learn how to ask a few useful phrases in the local language:
- Does this contain raw eggs?
- Is this cheese pasteurized?
- What is this fish?
- is this cooked through?
- Please cook my meat well
Being pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t try any of the local cuisine! But always make sure to pick restaurants with glowing reviews and avoid eating street food. When in doubt about a dish or a restaurant, stay away.
2. Use Bottled Water If Tap Water Is Not Totally Safe
If you are traveling to a country where tap water isn’t entirely safe, stick to bottled water. Don’t forget to use it also to brush your teeth. When traveling during pregnancy, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
3. Stay Hydrated
Whenever you are out exploring, always bring a water bottle with you so you can drink plenty of water. If you are hiking or walking a lot, plan to bring more water than you normally would.
4. Hit Up Every Bathroom You Find
It’s no secret that you frequently have to pee when you’re pregnant. So don’t miss an opportunity to stop and use the bathroom whenever you can. You’ll thank me later!
5. Book a Room With A/C
If you are traveling to a warm destination during pregnancy, always book a room with A/C so you can control the temperature to whatever feels comfortable to you. Your body reacts to changes in temperatures differently so you don’t want to be overheating in the middle of the night.
6. Take Frequent Breaks
Do you have any additional tips to travel during pregnancy? Please share them in comments!