Whether it’s for business or a babymoon, women don’t stop travelling when they're expecting. (Just look at Beyoncé!) So Skyscanner Australia gathered top tips from our favourite travel bloggers and frequent flyers to help pregnant women travel safely and stress-free.
Before You Go
Many women need to travel for work whilst pregnant and the concept of babymoons (where mothers-to-be head off with their partner or girlfriends for some R&R before the birth) are becoming so popular that many holiday companies are tailoring packages specifically for this market.
Planning to travel while pregnant, though, takes more confidence than usual. “Don’t be put off by naysayers”, says Char Taylor, blogger at Taylor Hearts Travel. She and her bump travelled to The Netherlands, Nice, Cannes, Orlando, Gozo and Barcelona despite many people she spoke to assuming she would stop travelling while expecting.
Hetal Vasavada, mother and business owner from San Francisco, agrees, “You only have a few more months with you and your partner so why not spend it making travel memories?”
When To Go
Every pregnancy is different but generally women are advised to book travel during their second trimester as many experience sickness and nausea in the first 12 weeks.
After week 28 of pregnancy some airlines require a letter from your doctor or midwife confirming your due date, and that you are safe to fly. Generally it’s best to seek medical advice before travelling at any stage of pregnancy but Frankie from As The Bird Flies says to listen to yourself too.
“I was first guided by my medical professionals and secondly by my own gut instinct and it has worked well for me. All being well, it’s your choice if, when and how you travel.”
On The Plane
Flying can be stressful at the best of times so being extra prepared can help prevent any unnecessary pressure.
Monica Stott, founder of The Travel Hack, is a mother of two who went on 13 trips whilst expecting her first child. She advises giving yourself more time at the airport than you usually would.
“I used to always run late for flights or trains I’d get in a massive stress and panic but I always give myself plenty of time now so I don’t have that feeling of having a heart attack while sitting in traffic half an hour before my plane departs!”
(Monica from The Travel Hack in Saint-Cast-le-Guildo France while 7 months pregnant. She’s holding her eldest son George, aged 16 months old)
It helps to be smart about what you pack in your hand luggage too. Women can be extra sensitive to smells so considering packing essentials oils or a lotion that can mask some of the more unpleasant smells on a plane. Catherine Harrington Miller, who is currently expecting her third child, advises packing a heavy duty plastic bag too, just in case sickness strikes and you can’t make it to the bathroom. She also advises letting your fellow passengers know you are expecting. “Hopefully they won’t give you evils when you get up to use the bathroom every 2 seconds!”
Whether you’re dashing to the loo or not it is a good idea to get up and walk around the plane often. Pregnancy can make you more susceptible to thrombosis and varicose veins so the Baby Centre recommend you keep the blood circulating by strolling the aisle every hour and doing some simple stretches every half hour.
You’ll also need to stay hydrated so pack a refillable water bottle to avoid buzzing crew for a drink every 5 minutes. Monica from the Travel Hack swears by the Vapur Water Bottle as its flexible casing means it rolls up when empty and can fit into plane pockets where plastic bottles can’t. (Read Monica’s packing guide for travelling while pregnant.)
On The Trip
(Abigail King from Inside The Travel Lab in Rome)
Depending on where you go there’s no need to change your travel style completely just because you’re expecting. Monica says, “I didn’t really change my travel style too much other than skipping the wine and cocktails in the evenings. I was disappointed I couldn’t scuba dive in Egypt but that’s the only thing I’ve felt like I missed out on.”
The key thing is to listen to your body. “Don’t push yourself too far, your body will hate you for it!” says Hetal Vasavada, a mother of one from San Francisco.
Don’t be too shy (or proud) to ask for help if you need it. This was something that Abigail King, travel blogger and writer at Inside The Travel Lab, had to adjust to.
“For all these years, I’ve prided myself on getting on with life and getting things done. On showing strength and pulling my weight. Travelling while pregnant laid all of that bare. I had to ask for help with my luggage. For a seat in the heat when I thought I’d pass out, and for water when that seemed even more likely. I had to ask for extra toilet stops, for a front seat view to avoid travel sickness, for a slower pace on a mountainside of stairs, for forgiveness for going to bed early and even for someone to switch seats with me at dinner.”
It’s wise not to get caught without snacks. “Go to a grocery store to buy healthy snacks. Think: dried fruit, crackers, nuts. Nothing that squashes too badly, melts or otherwise makes a mess,” says Abigail.
Abigail, who was an ER doctor before turning to travel writing, advises having some back up plans too.
“Unfortunately, complications don’t just happen to other people. I would suggest booking last minute travel plans to avoid losing out on a whole load of money – and always be upfront with your travel insurance company too.”
Catherine Harrington Miller also recommends some prior research.
“It doesn’t hurt to have copies of your OB records (just in case) and research hospitals with maternity wards in your destination too."
Travelling while pregnant is definitely different but it doesn’t have to be difficult.