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You’re pregnant and you want to travel but are full of worries and questions? Don’t worry, there is no reason you can’t travel with a healthy pregnancy. In fact, it can be a great time to travel before you start the craziness of having a new baby in the house.
I feel like a pregnancy travel expert at the moment – I have travelled in all three of my pregnancies and spent the first half of my current pregnancy in Europe and Asia. In fact, we didn’t get back to Australia until I was 20 weeks to the day. From these experiences, I have learned a fair bit about what works for me in regards to travelling while pregnant and what doesn’t.
I hope the tips below help you figure out what works best for you! But remember, that all these experiences are personal. I do not have high risk pregnancies or any issues that prevent me from travelling from a medical standpoint. However, I do not have pleasant pregnancies. I was sick until about 18 weeks this time, and pretty much could not even get out of bed until 12 weeks. Pelvic girdle pain started at 14 weeks so that caused issues with my movement. All of this did colour my experiences and if you are someone who has super easy pregnancies, you will probably have a different experience.
This is my number 1, biggest piece of advice. My best travel experiences in pregnancy have been when I have travelled around 20 weeks. I have found this is when I have the most energy and do not feel sick anymore.
I personally find travelling in the first trimester horrible and not enjoyable at all. I am just too sick. I would rather stay in bed at home and that’s saying a lot given how addicted to travel I am.
I would not want to travel in the third trimester – I am already dreading the fact that I will be doing this soon even though it’s just a one hour flight to see family. I am too uncomfortable, sore and in pain and again, I’m better off at home taking it easy.
I am also personally hesitant to travel past 24 weeks. I chose this number because it’s when the baby becomes viable. That’s a bad way to say that a baby born at this point can survive and the medical teams, at least in Australia, will do what they can to ensure this.
This sounds horrible, but the fact is that if you have a big problem earlier on in pregnancy, there is often little that can be done. I would hate to have a premature baby overseas. Even if the medical care is great and things go as well as possible that would be a long and stressful time to be stuck somewhere.
This is related to my first point about timing.
The problem with pregnancy is that you never know how you are going to feel in advance, even if you have been pregnant before. All my pregnancies have been different and harder each time, so it’s not a good idea to just rely on how you felt last time (although it’s as good an indicator as any).
In an ideal world, book your trip as close to the date as you want to travel as possible so you can make the best guess as to whether you feel up to it and if your health is good enough to go,
If you are having a problem free pregnancy, this isn’t strictly necessary but I find it’s a great way to calm nerves. Ask for any advice or tips or any of the questions you have on your mind.
You should also check with your airline if they need any documentation for your to fly with them especially once you are clearly showing. Different airlines have different rules about this, so it’s important to look it up for every airline and every pregnancy. For example, for our next trip, I will be coming back at 30 weeks pregnant. I am flying Tiger Airlines who require a letter from my doctor to say I am ok to travel at this gestation.
If you are at all worried or later on in your pregnancy, then I would recommend looking up hospital care in your destination. Writing down a good hospital to head to if there is a problem has been a good way for me to feel more comfortable about travelling.
Also related to this is that you may want to pick your destinations based on places that have a quality of healthcare that you feel comfortable with. Pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester, is probably not the best time to be getting off the beaten track.
Another current concern that was high on my mind this pregnancy is the Zika virus. I would personally avoid anywhere where that virus is an issue and the Australian Government (and many others) are issuing the same advice. Although not everything is known about this virus yet, why take the risk if you have the choice?
I have also been extra concerned about dengue fever and malaria while travelling. I try to avoid these hotspots and at least cover up well and try to avoid bites. There seems to be mixed advice on whether and how much DEET is safe in pregnancy (active ingredient in many repellents), so I try to avoid it and use natural repellents, covering up and staying indoors at dusk.
If you are like me and get pregnant on the road, there are plenty of good options for care along the way. In Malaysia, anyway, I did not have problems finding a good obstetrician with the added bonus that it was a lot cheaper than visiting at home.
Most travel insurance companies do not cover pregnancy. And those that do, do not generally cover it very well.
The only travel insurance I have come across with decent coverage is Columbus Direct Travel Insurance. They also cover your baby if you go into labour early which is very important or you could be up for a lot of money. I wrote more about it here, but you should check the fine details of the coverage yourself and ensure you are comfortable with the level of cover,
Since I became pregnant while travelling with my latest pregnancy, I did not have pregnancy cover and the only way to get it would have been to fly home and buy a new policy. Given the price of healthcare where we were in SE Asia, this did not seem worth it. Although had I been further along in my pregnancy, I would have rethought this.
The obstetric appointments I had in Penang came with ultrasound and medication for only about AUD$30 a visit, so I wouldn’t have bothered claiming that even if it had been an option!
Pregnancy is not the time to be on a strict, lower end budget if you can help it. You will appreciate every dollar you spend on quality accommodation. I spend so much more time in my room when I’m pregnant resting and I need a comfortable bed and ideally a kitchen as I seem to need to snack all the time and I like having easy options for the kids. I also like to keep things as easy as possible and great accommodation helps with this.
The best time I have had while travelling when pregnant is when we stayed in some beautiful pool villas in Bali. They came complete with cleaning staff and we could chose to have a chef cook in our kitchen for us. The kids were very happy with their own pool and so was I as I am self conscious about my pregnant body. You can find some great options on the Top Villas website.
Although one of the things that drive me crazy about pregnancy is all the rules about eating, I am definitely extra picky about where I eat out when travelling.
I always recommend looking for popular places with high turnover (meaning fresher food). Many locals at a place is also a good sign and if you can see some pregnant locals or ones with young kids eating there then that’s a bonus. I tend to stick to cooked food.
Although there is no need to go to expensive restaurants (and these tend to fail the high turnover, full of locals test anyway), I would not eat the cheapest food either. Not because I am extra concerned about food poisoning but because there is often a lack of nutritious ingredients, like vegetables. In Asia anyway, the cheapest dishes are usually just about all rice or noodles.
After tip 1, this is my next most important tip – take it easy! You are pregnant! This is not the time to climb Mt Kilimanjaro or get your diving certification. Try to put the least pressure as possible on yourself to do much at all.
This doesn’t mean that you have to spend all your time sitting in a hotel room – I didn’t – but it does mean that when you feel like you need to rest, you should rest. If you are travelling with kids, let your partner take them out alone to some of the activities so you can rest or do less strenuous activities and have a well deserved break.
This also comes into play when planning your transportation. As much as I love local transport, depending on your destination, you might want to reconsider. I can tell you it’s not fun at all to be stuck in an overloaded van when you feel so ill that you are going to vomit at any second and you have two kids you have to keep happy. Don’t do it to yourself!!
For me, one of the biggest pluses of being pregnant is that you have the perfect excuse to treat yourself so do it – get lovely accommodation, eat out well and get private transfers. Whatever you need to do to be healthy and comfortable.
What are your concerns about travelling when pregnant? What are your best tips?