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!
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
Through trial and woozy-error, I learned the following tips:
Happy travels during pregnancy!
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
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.
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
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.
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!
Don’t be too scared!
Travel tips for travel during pregnancy from an Amsterdam-based blogger.
But don’t be foolhardy!
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?!
Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.
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