Surviving Pregnancy Travel

“Word to the wise, I might vomit,” I said to my coworker, Amy, as she picked me up for the beginning of our three-hour road trip to Edmonton.

“Why, are you pregnant?”

I narrowed my eyes, knowing this was a distinct possibility, even though at this stage, back in April, I’d only have been 3 weeks pregnant. Too soon to tell, right? But I’m not the one that gets car sick often.

pregnancy travel

8 weeks pregnant in Scotland!

Turns out, yep, Baby Smith was probably the size of a chia seed at that point. What was this going to mean for the girl who adores to travel? Well, I learned some pregnancy travel tips along the way that I wanted to share with you, or for you to share with those in your life who plan to travel at any stage of their pregnancy.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor! I’m merely speaking from my personal experience, so please consult your physician before undertaking any cool adventures while pregnant. 

First Trimester Travel Tips

First trimester is a tricky time. You’re tired, grouchy or maybe you’re tossing your cookies. Add to it that you probably haven’t publicly announced your pregnancy, and you’re in a tricky situation.

Battling Nausea

Hello pregnancy and the joys of nausea. And, oh wait, you can’t actually take anything over the counter beyond Tylenol. Drat. When traveling, it’s best to be prepared with your own natural remedies. Vitamin B6 seems to work well for most women, so you can either take supplements, or include B6-rich foods in your diet like bananas and avocados.

Stay hydrated, drink lots of water (slowly!), sip on ginger or peppermint tea, and make sure to get plenty of rest. Being tired does not help if you’ve got a squishy belly.

pregnancy travel

Fresh air helps to battle nausea

Aisle Seat, Please!

We chose to take a one-week, spur of the moment trip to the U.K. to announce our pregnancy to David’s family. I made sure to book an aisle seat, knowing that my nausea required regular bathroom breaks. We boarded the plane, looked at our seats, and I nearly started crying. Turns out KLM had to change planes last minute, so my aisle seat had become a middle. David and I were both in middle seats. The flight was full, so there was no moving us, despite the miserable pregnant girl in front of them. Always double check your seat configuration at check in and let the staff know that you’re pregnant, even if it’s early days. There’s little they can do about it once you’re on board.

Get Some Rest

Between weeks 4 and 7 of my pregnancy I had a few long road trips for work travel to Northern Alberta. Long, emotional meetings plus extensive car travel is not a great recipe for rest, but I had no shame in going to bed immediately after dinner each night. Like… 8 p.m. kind of bed times. While rambling down country roads, I’d be snoozing in the backseat.

When we visited the U.K. in weeks 8/9 of pregnancy, again, I prioritized naps and we made sure we booked accommodation that was convenient. We could have stayed with family for free, but it would not have been restful sleeping on their couch! This gal needed a comfy bed that she could access at any time of day.

pregnancy travel

Breakfast food… it was my best friend while pregnant.

Eat What You Can Stomach

This isn’t really the time to beat yourself up over getting all your greens. For many pregnant women, in the first trimester you’re barely eating, or you can’t stomach certain foods, particularly fruit, veggies and dairy. What does that leave? Carbs, for the most part. Honestly, just do what you can, and eat only what appeals to you. Your body does a pretty good job of telling you what nutrients it is lacking, if you listen closely for it.

Second Trimester Travel Tips

Lots of women feel a huge energy surge in the second trimester. If you’re that person, good for you, capitalize on it. I think the second trimester I was more exhausted than the first, so I’d second the tips around rest. Frankly, rest as much as you need to throughout your entire pregnancy. As someone who is dreading the lack of sleep that is about to come my way, albeit with a cute baby to show for it, I don’t regret a single day time nap.

Go Easy on the Exercise

At the beginning of our second trimester, David and I took a long weekend in Vancouver. Normally we are quite the adventurous bunch and love a good zipline, but this time we took it easy. We were active, most certainly, but we didn’t push my limits. We walked everywhere, and I mean everywhere, and we took a leisurely cycle around Stanley Park (approx. 1 hour).

Unless you were ridiculously fit before you got pregnant, this is not the time to have high expectations of yourself. Walk. Swim. Yoga. Light cycling. These were my go-to exercise options while traveling. Walking tours are your new best friend… bladder-dependent.

Return of the Appetite

After three months of eating… next to nothing, my appetite returned right around the time we visited Vancouver. I couldn’t have been happier and we made some great foodie finds in this city.

pregnancy travel

Get Your Flights In

Fact, most commercial airlines will allow you to travel until 36 weeks pregnant, but let’s be honest, who in their right mind wants to do that? Most women will try to do their flying before the end of their second trimester. You’re more comfortable, you’re not waddling all over the place and you don’t (necessarily) have to pee every five seconds. Heck, if you’re spending the money to fly internationally, might as well ENJOY the trip! Check in with your doctor first, and it’s always good to get a printed copy of your prenatal chart to take with you, even if you’re traveling domestically.

Third Trimester Travel Tips

Local Babymoon

Ah, the babymoon. The last trip as a couple before you become a family of three (or more!). I highly recommend the time to travel with your partner. Pregnancy is stressful, so taking a few days to relax, connect and talk about the incredible adventure you’re both embarking on is a really special time. It doesn’t need to be huge and grand, you can make it local.

pregnancy travel

David and I chose to stay a couple of nights in Canmore, just an hour and change drive from our front door. I recommend hotel rooms where the bedroom and living area are separate. You might be back to being super tired, so might as well let your partner enjoy some T.V. while you hit the hay early (if that’s how you roll… I did).

Travel Insurance!

Guys, if you don’t already buy travel insurance… please do. You will need to disclose your pregnancy in advance, but it’s worth it. My Mum and I had a trip to Toronto planned at the end of my second trimester on the cusp of the third. Yeah, a lovely bout of shingles prevented us from making it, but with a small change fee, we’re able to use those flights again. Technically you should get travel insurance throughout all stages of pregnancy, but even more so for the third if you’re braving the open road.

pregnancy travel

Second trimester… and I still traveled!

General Pregnancy Travel Tips

  • Clear travel with your doctor or midwife. They’ll want to make sure your vitals like blood pressure and baby’s heart rate are in good condition before you head off anywhere.
  • Plan travel around your appointments or vice versa. Certain tests and ultrasounds are time sensitive, so try not to plan your downtime around them.
  • Tylenol. Bring it everywhere. Yeah, so it’s really the only over-the-counter medication that you can take, so make sure you always have some in your purse. Nothing worse than scouring a new city in search of a pharmacy.
  • Bring a copy of your medical record. If you’re traveling out of province/state/country it’s a good idea to have a printed copy of your maternal health record with you. Just put it in an envelope in your purse in case of emergencies.
  • Stay cool. The heat is a killer whether you’re in your first or third trimester. Stay cool with a hat, a fan or just keep to the shade. Nobody wants a fainting pregnant girl on their hands.
  • Not the time for solo travel. I believe in independent travel, but perhaps while you’re carrying another inside of you, it’s best to have a travel companion in case you suddenly feel unwell.
  • Pat down vs. scanners – up to you. Scanners are meant to be perfectly safe for pregnant women… but I’m one of those people that still gets nervous. Just tell airport security that you’re pregnant and they’ll have a female agent pat you down. They totally understand.

In a nutshell, there’s no reason NOT to travel while pregnant, unless you’re extremely high risk. Always consult your doctor, but hopefully these tips will help you and your partner to continue your travel lifestyle while waiting for two to become three. 

Any pregnancy travel tips that you’d add?

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