23 Essential Pregnancy Travel Tips – How to Fly with a Bump

By Abi King | Family Travel

Jul 21

Pregnancy Travel Tips from a seasoned traveller

Pregnancy travel tips based on flying to Italy, Croatia, Spain and the Middle East as a doctor during a fairly tricky pregnancy. This isn’t a “go everywhere!” guide nor one encouraging you to stay at home. But (hopefully) a thoughtful, helpful look at the realities of travelling while pregnant. I spoke with many other women who travel for their work and asked for their pregnancy travel tips too. So, this is a collaborative effort. However, as ever, check things out with your own doctor first and learn to manage risk well!

Useful Pregnancy Travel Tips

Travel during pregnancy, like many other motherhood related things, seems to be a topic on which many have an opinion. And many utterly don’t care. It’s a marmite-esque, love hate, panic or plunge affair and I’m ready to enter the fray.

From my research, I found lots of simple to implement pregnancy travel tips. But also, three main areas that require a little soul searching and which opened my eyes about the rest of the world.

For many of us, pregnancy is the first time we have to seriously watch what we eat. The first time since childhood we have to learn to ask for help. And for some or us,  grapple with the realisation that uncertainty is the new certainty.

It’s not a side note to realise that this is the daily reality for many with chronic diseases and disabilities and perhaps for all of us as we grow old. But it is quite profound. And so, until you find yourself in this situation, it’s easy to wonder just how people manage to spend so much time talking about it. Well, now I know.

But enough pleasantries and introductions.

Let’s get to it!

The next stage: Travel Tips for Flying with a Baby

 

Top Tips for Travel During Pregnancy

Through trial and woozy-error, I learned the following tips:

  • Always carry a snack with you. Dried fruit, crackers, nuts. Nothing that squashes too badly, melts or otherwise makes a mess.
  • Remind yourself you eat something every couple of hours, even if you’re not too hungry. Don’t wait to be hungry when travelling – you never know how long it will take to find something you can actually eat.
  • Learn the phrase for “I’m sorry, but I’m pregnant so I can’t eat…” in whichever language you’ll need. You can ditch the “I’m sorry” part if you’re neither British nor Canadian.
  • Make your peace with the fact that many people will take a perverse delight in trying to talk you out of the medical advice or corner you into discussions you never imagined you’d have about what constitutes a soft cheese. Laugh about this. On the inside.
  • Make your peace with the fact that “what’s safe to eat in pregnancy” advice varies across the world. And across the minds of people you’ll meet. Shrug it off and stick to what you’ll be happy living with. Other people won’t have to live with what happens: you will.
  • It’s probably not worth heading to a gorgeous Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain. Their menus delight in jamon, raw egg and uncooked fish and everyone will just end up feeling bad about the whole thing.
  • Ask for an aisle seat when you fly. You’ll need to move around more to avoid blood clots, plus you’ll likely need more trips to the toilet.
  • Always carry water with you.
  • Expect your feet to swell more than usual. Pack forgiving shoes.
  • Anticipate being slower than usual. Allow extra time to get to the gate – and, well, everywhere really. Create a forgiving itinerary.
  • Factor in more rest stops when driving. You need to get the circulation in your legs moving. And, well, toilet stops again.
  • Invest, if you can call it that, in a pair of sexy anti-DVT stockings for flights.

Happy travels during pregnancy!

 

Travel During Pregnancy: The Food Situation

Travel when you can’t eat everything that lands up on your plate is much, much harder than I ever gave it credit for.

For starters, you can’t just be polite and agree to enjoy whatever your host prepares. You can’t just shrug your shoulders and say “I’m easy” when asked, as though it’s a character strength rather than blind biological luck.

And, strangest of all, you can’t expect people to accept it.

Many people take dietary restrictions as a grave personal insult or marker of severe psychological damage.

It’s bizarre. And let’s not even get started on how many people don’t seem to know that eggs don’t have milk or seafood in them…

My, oh my, how my eyes were opened to the meal by meal trials and tribulations that people with diabetes, coeliac and all the rest must face.

I felt truly ashamed how difficult some people had it before.

With pregnancy, things are slightly different. On the one hand, you rarely risk damage to yourself (hooray!) On the other hand, you risk damaging someone else, a far more sticky situation.

And more to the point, it’s harder than ever to skip meals without running into morning sickness or passing out head-first into the alcohol-soaked brie and liver pate that’s just been served up with raw eggs and arsenic.

So, you have to stand up for yourself and be “that awkward one.”

The stage after that: The No Stress Solution to Flying with a Toddler

Pregnancy Travel Tip Number One: Accept and Learn How to Ask for Help

That I need to ask for help – and accept it. This, dear readers, does not come naturally to me. 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 was a humbling experience. In the words of Jerry Maguire, it was an “up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about, ok?”

But it was all so very worth it. And most people are happy to help. Really. The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing. An amazing force to behold.

And Not Feeling Guilty or Ashamed

Not being 100% fit, young and able is not a good enough reason to stop living in this world. There is value in doing the work you are able to do when you can do it. And in relishing the little things in life.

What next? The Best Places to Travel with a Baby

The Road Ahead

When all is said and done, many of the things that apply to travel during pregnancy reflect the fact that you’re not as strong and resilient as once you were.

Sure, the elderly can probably eat their weight in brie with careless abandon. But they also have to be careful about lifting things, they need to pace themselves, they move more slowly, have more trouble with insurance, can’t always hop on the back of a moped, are more likely to be taking medication that needs careful timing and so on and so on.

Pregnancy, with or without travel, is a powerful preview of the road that lies ahead.

Pregnancy Travel Tip Number Two: Every pregnancy is different. You Need to Plan Accordingly

Medical school had gently clued me up on this, but only in a pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes kind of way.

was – and continue to be – staggered by the difference in symptoms different women experience. Some sail right on through to six months, without even realising they’re pregnant or work night shifts until they’re ready to pop.

Others suffer debilitating physical symptoms for every single one of those 37-42 weeks.

Me? I was somewhere in the middle. Unable to travel for the first trimester, and grounded just a month or so into the second.

It’s inspiring to read the “you go get ’em” advice from women who have been lucky but you’ll notice that every respectable piece of advice has the words “unless there are complications” lurking not too far away.

Unfortunately, complications don’t just happen to other people. It’s never a good idea to plan your whole life upon what could go wrong, but a sensible approach to things helps too.

What do I mean by this?

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.

Also, for some reason, I think I imagined that the extent of the symptoms would match the size of the bump. That’s just not true and it’s an important reminder of the many, many illnesses people have to deal with that have no outward signs at all.

Let’s show more kindness and understanding in the world, folk!

 


More Advice about Travel During Pregnancy

Don’t be too scared!

Travel tips for travel during pregnancy from an Amsterdam-based blogger.

But don’t be foolhardy!

Travel in Pregnancy – the stock issue UK NHS Advice

 

And it goes without saying: check with your own doctor or midwife first. Rather than relying on something you read on the internet. But you were savvy enough to know that already, right? Right?!


 

How about you? What tips have you learned about travel during pregnancy?

 

15 Things Travel During Pregnancy Taught Me

 

More travel tips for pregancy via @insidetravellab

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About the Author

Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!

  • Nancy says:

    Congrats Abi! You have started an amazing journey.
    I traveled quite a bit while pregnant and discovered that as much as I love New Zealand, Rotorua is not the best choice if you have morning/all-day sickness.
    I agree that last minute travel and excellent travel insurance are key. You just never know when you will be grounded!

    • Abi King says:

      Ah, thank you Nancy! I love the thought of parenthood being an adventure. And yes. Morning/all day sickness. More than just words! Ah, to be able to travel back in time and show a LOT more understanding to other people!!!

  • Jayne says:

    Argh the soft cheese conundrum. It was truly eye-opening to travel with an expectant mother and I definitely have more respect and understanding for those that globe-trot with a baby on board. I love this post though, it’s a wonderful reminder that it is possible with courage and forward-planning!

    • Abi King says:

      Ah. The soft cheese moment. Some thing are just special :-) Thanks so much for your help – and the tips along the way. I think one of the lessons I definitely learned was that there is courage in…admitting defeat! Well, asking for help anyway. It’s no good to anyone if you run yourself into the ground. Look forward to reading about your travels with bump one day!

  • Frankie says:

    Thank you for linking to my post and what a wonderful collection of experiences you’ve already collected on this journey. I hope you can enjoy these grounded months relaxing and resting. I definitely look back on my own pregnancy with rose-tinted glasses because I was so lucky in having such a smooth journey, but I do remember how confusing all the information is, how easy it was to feel uncertain and anxious, so I hope this and my own post reassures women that as you long as you follow your medical professional/midwife’s advice whatever you decide to do regarding travel (or not travelling!) is the right decision.

    • Abi King says:

      Thanks for writing your post! I spent quite a while reading it (and others) for practical tips before going public with my own news. It’s certainly a change of pace to stay in one place – and earlier than expected – but, yes, medics/midwives should be listened to! And, well, for me, staying in one place is something of a new adventure anyway I suppose…!

  • Very nice post ! I had two really easy pregnancies, so I can’t complain. I only had some problems in the car with bumping roads in the 8th month, but otherwise, no morning sickness, no sleeping problems – nothing !!

    • Abi King says:

      Oh, I wish I could explain the amount of longing I have to switch bodies with you right now! I’m awake every 2-3 hours and I’m only 25 weeks! And still feeling sick! Ah well. I’m sure I read somewhere that difficult pregnancy = easy birth and while I’m pretty sure there’s no evidence to support that I’m going to cling to it for now anyway! Love Peru – cheers!

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