Travel Tips for Pregnant Women
You may feel like sitting on the couch eating bonbons and watching TV, or you might be the type who can't shake the travel bug even with your watermelon-sized (and growing) belly, but either way, chances are you'll find yourself traveling some time during your pregnancy.
Traveling is perfectly safe for most pregnant women, unless your doctor has explicitly told you otherwise. Still, traveling when you're pregnant requires a bit more advanced planning than when you're not. With a little savvy and our best tips, you'll be on your way:
1. Bring healthy food.
Whether you're going on a car trip, a boat ride, or an airplane, you need to tote along your own food. It's important for pregnant women to eat often and nutritiously and most airlines these days are not offering particulary healthy options. And fast food and pregnancy don't go well together, so even for car trips, you should plan to stock up. Make sure you have a stash of the healthy foods you tend to crave -- carrot sticks, green beans, bananas, apples, nuts, dried fruit, and organic cheese all travel well -- before you set off.
2. Pack comfortable shoes.
"It's tempting to offset your new girth with a little extra height, but foolish," says Jamie Pearson, a mother of two and founder of the popular website TravelSavvyMom.com. Pearson advises pregnant travelers to prioritize comfort over fashion in footwear and clothing. "I traveled to Santa Fe in my second trimester with nothing but heels in my suitcase. After two days on the hills and cobblestones, I had to borrow my husband's running shoes. I felt like a clown!"
Travel expert Anne McAlpin offers a helpful packing tip: Slide a pair of women's shoes into a pair of men's shoes to save space in your suitcase.
3. Pack light.
Speaking of packing, you know you should pack light to save your tired self from having too much to lug. Since many airlines have started charging for even one checked bag, packing light helps both your pregnant back and your bottom line.
4. Pillows are your best friend.
When you're traveling after you start to show, throw your pregnancy body pillow in the car with you if you have space. You'll be so grateful to have it. If you're flying, these pillows are impractically bulky, so leave them at home, but don't be shy about asking for extra pillows on the plane, at your hotel, or at your friend's house. Wedging one or two pillows under your legs, another under your burgeoning belly, and a couple behind your back will go a long way to getting you those much needed ZZZ's.
5. Take it slow(er).
We Type-A personalities have trouble slowing down, even through bouts of morning sickness and backaches; but when you're pregnant and traveling you really have to plan down time and forgive yourself if it takes longer to adjust to jetlag and different cuisine.
6. Check the fine print.
Although pregnancy isn't an illness and you can probably keep up on most adventures, there are some outfitters that don't allow pregnant women to participate. Call ahead to ask about a tour's pregnancy policy before you splurge on that ziplining tour on Kauai.
7. Take the trip.
"It's easier to travel pregnant than with kids," says adventure traveler Debbie Abrams Kaplan, a family travel writer with two of her own who blogs about San Francisco area kid travel. Kaplan took a four-night canoeing and camping trip in Florida's Everglades with her husband during her first pregnancy and a guided kayaking trip in Mexico's Sea of Cortez during her second. "I say go on the trip and enjoy it!"
"Definitely go," Jamie Pearson agrees, "but stay within your comfort zone. You won't enjoy yourself if you're worrying about safe drinking water and access to quality medical care. Spoil yourself a little. It could be the last time for a long time."
8. But remember: Your due date is just a "guestimate."
Even if you're a bona fide and intrepid globe trotter, it's a good idea not to jump in the car for that last minute trip to Las Vegas two weeks before your due date, unless you want the baby to be born en route. Your nesting instincts will start kicking in towards the end of your last trimester so it's best to avoid any unnecessary travel during the last weeks of pregnancy.