My Ten Tips for Traveling while Pregnant

by - Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On Monday, I took my last flights as a pregnant lady at about 30 and a half weeks (I could probably still fly for another week or two, but it depends on what my doctor would say). I love traveling, pregnant or not, but there are a few things you have to keep in mind a little more when you are carrying your parasite inside of you.

Obviously, everyone's really different, and the experience of pregnancy differs hugely from prego to prego, so giving this kind of advice comes with the caveat that none of it will work for everyone, not to mention some people's doctors do put the kibosh on travel. Do what works for you, but this is what I have learned while traveling (we took one trip to Nashville, 3 trips to Pennsylvania, one trip to Baltimore, one to LA, one to New Orleans, and a few small road trips) during my own pregnancy.

1. When you are thinking about it, just do it- You aren't dying, you aren't diseased, you are just pregnant. If your doctor says it's fine, then it is, so go do something that will be harder once baby comes. There is always a reason not to travel, and this counts, but the person you are robbing is yourself. Take a roadtrip. Fly to see a family member you miss. Go on a completely pointless adventure. Plan a trip worth being excited about.

Travel can disrupt two emotional symptoms of being pregnant: first, it is easy to get in a planning holding pattern, where you are so focused on what is coming in weeks or months that you don't enjoy the present. This time is so great, so enjoy it! Also, being pregnant can become a myopic endeavor, because your body is constantly coming up with new, often gross, ways to keep it interesting. Between the constant tectonic shifts in your midsection and the fears, plans, and dreams attached to the future, it is all too easy to fixate. Plan other things, because it will give your brain a baby break.

2. When you plan, buy aisle seats and pick roads with rest stops- If you are planning ahead, you don't know for sure how much your body will be a peeing machine. It is the simplest switch, but aisle seats protect you from having to keep pushing annoyed seatmates out of their comfort zone. Nobody likes that person, and nobody wants to be that person. If you can count on one thing in pregnancy, it's peeing.

3. When you plan, give yourself a little extra time- On a related note, depending on where you are and how your pregnancy is treating you, more time is kinder. You may not be able to do the span of the US in 3 days like you could, and if you try, you will make yourself miserable. A lot of pregos also advocate for rest as a key part of pregnancy transit and visits- I have never found that I need a ton of down time, but it certainly can be nice. Longer layovers can be nice too, so you don't have to worry about long runs through airports (I think I did it twice while pregnant, and it wasn't so bad, but I bet I would have wanted to skip it in the moment if I could).

4. When you pack, keep your lifting limits in mind- A bunch of smaller things trumps 1 big thing when you have to carry it. By late in your second trimester, you are probably enough woman that carrying a big bag, even if it is light, can be a monumental task. For me, it also meant cutting down the weight I carried on my back over the course of the day. It's not something to obsess over, and honestly people will probably help, but if you can strategize to be kind to yourself, just do so.

5. When you get ready, wear whatever will make you comfy-Oh, your cute days in the airport might not be over, but your days wearing tight jeans to fly definitely are. My current theory is that about 70-80% of what you buy as a prego should be soft and stretchy. A maxi skirt, leggings, and a t-shirt worked well for me, but I would just encourage you to cut anything that is going to bug you after 5 hours in an uncomfortable seat (or puts pressure on your bladder. No one needs to help you pee). This works for car trips as well. Sitting too long is never good when you have a bowling ball up front, so anything you can do to make yourself comfortable, just do it.

6. When you get ready, pack an extra empty water bottle and a bottle of Purell- Just because you are having a travel day doesn't mean you should give up on drinking your weight in water. We have started bringing an old bottle with us and filling it up in airports so we have water on flights, not just the wimpy glass they give you. In the same way, you can refill your water bottle at reststops as you drive. Also, bring something to sanitize your hands, because public bathrooms come with so many quirks (and germs). If you have your ID, water, and purell, you have everything you need. The water may seem to encourage the peeing problem, but it's a good thing because...

7. When you are traveling, walk around whenever you have a chance and treat your body kindly- Walk. Get up and move around. This is the nicest thing you can do for yourself, so when you can, just move around a little.

8. When you are traveling (and you want a good laugh), drink a cold pop- I don't know if this works for everyone, but since I only let myself have a pop when I fly, Bumbo Baby is crazy impressed by the blast of cold sugar. Sometimes because we run around so much on travel days, it just feels good to have him dancing around to let me know he is in there, fine, and having quite the fanta-inspired partytime. If you need that little bit of encouragement that everybody is fine, I recommend this trick.

9. When you are traveling, buy snacks! Never go without them- By the end of a five hour flight or a long stretch of road, I am super hungry. I may even get a little hangry, which is way out of character for me. Don't risk the anger, just have pretzels or crackers or an apple or something. I won't judge you for what you pick, but I do think a little snack can take things to a much happier place.

10. When you are traveling, look around and notice all the babies traveling with their parents, and feel happy- Traveling is as much about making priorities as anything else. Just like with pregnancy, your ability to travel with baby is dependent on a bunch of factors you can't control, but it isn't entirely out of your hands either. If it is what you want to do, you probably can! So feel encouraged that other people are making it happen for their families, so you aren't stuck on Baby Island forever (and for that matter, neither is Baby).

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