There seems to be a common myth that once you fall pregnant, life-as-you-know-it seizes to exist. Things change, sacrifices need to be made and you have to ‘play’ it safe. I’m here to let you know that traveling while pregnant does not HAVE to be one of those sacrifices! Yes, you might have to travel in a safer and more responsible manner, but travelling pregnant is definitely possible!
Already a mother of two, I guess my first-born had been a traveller right from the first few weeks of growth in my belly! We actually happened to be on a trip overseas to South Africa when I found out that I was pregnant. So there was no thinking or consulting with a doctor before I flew. There was no weighing up the risks versus the benefits, it was just how it was. I had to make the 20+ hour flight back home to Australia in my first trimester, and whilst it was not fun feeling nauseous most of the time, both me and bub survived the journey with no issue at all.
With baby number 3 on the way, we already had a trip booked to Tasmania before we conceived. As our trip was just a domestic 2.5 hour flight away, it didn’t even cross my mind that I ‘shouldn’t’ do it. If you are feeling a bit sceptical about whether you can fly in first trimester, domestic is a great way to go about it!
I have a secret though …. shhhhhhh!! The trip, even though it was Tasmania and close to home, was probably one of my least enjoyable ever. Why? Because the trip did not ‘allow’ for a pregnant, tired and sick lady. It wasn't due to the destination though, but more because of the itinerary (that I was responsible for designing). So I have some valuable tips to share, so you can make the right choice of travel destination for you and your body and your baby.
Traveling while Pregnant | First Trimester Tips
Common First Trimester Symptoms & How They Affect Your Pregnancy Travels
The fact of the matter is, each person experiences their first trimester of pregnancy very different to the next. You can’t really predict how you will feel, and as a result, if it is at all possible, it will probably be best to wait until you are actually pregnant before you decide to go travelling in your first trimester.
See how you experience the first trimester symptoms …. if you are going to vomit throughout most of the day, maybe staying home with regular trips to the toilet, might be the only ‘trip’ you get. So below, for those new to the pregnancy game is your typical pregnancy symptoms and tips I can give you in regards to traveling with them.
Nausea, with or without vomiting, is a common complaint for first trimester pregnant ladies. My nausea levels were constant 24/7 but I was pretty fortunate that I was never a ‘vomiter’ with any of my pregnancies. Whilst I was not vomiting, being constantly nauseous for approximately 13 weeks on end can leave you feeling pretty drained and miserable.
My Travelling when Pregnant Tips for dealing with nausea:
- Clothes: I found that wearing loose-fitting clothes was a more comfortable way to go. Nothing like tight clothes around a belly that isn’t feeling totally right!
- On a plane: Make sure you sit in an aisle seat, just for in case you need to bolt for the bathroom.
- In a car: Make sure you are comfortable, take a little pillow if you want and make sure you have snacks and plenty of water on hand. Smaller meals and regular snacks will generally ‘sit’ better with your nausea than your normal big meals.
- Natural nausea-ease: Ginger will be your friend to help tackle the nausea in a natural way. I’m not a fan of ginger at all, but had a few packets of the crystalized ginger on hand to munch away on!
Further Reading: A Survival Guide to Flying and Morning Sickness by Wandermust Family
I think fatigue was my arch-enemy on our trip to Tasmania. Because our holiday was designed as a road trip, I thought I would be able to relax in the car and all would be okay. Boy was I wrong! Driving for 4 hours every day truly drained me beyond coping levels.
My Travel during Pregnant Tips for dealing with Fatigue are:
- Go at a Slow Pace: Make sure you design a holiday where you can rest and relax! Having a bed close by to disappear to for a midday nap might come in very handy. I sure wished I had one close by on our road trip!
- Ask for a Quiet Room: Make sure to ask your hotel for the quiet room. Sometimes this means being in the ‘back’ of the hotel, usually it means going for a room on a higher level if you are staying in a multi-storey resort. Getting quality sleep is a pretty hard task to master whilst pregnant in your first and last trimester. You will most likely wake up frequently to pee. You will probably roll around a lot. So ensuring you are in the right spot for the best sleep you can muster will be important!
- Take some really comfy flats to travel with: Leave the uncomfy shoes behind, you want to take shoes that will allow you to be comfortable whilst you explore. You can read our guide to the most comfy women's flats here.
Heightened Sense of Smell
Another change in your body that I know has affected plenty of pregnant traveling ladies is the fact that your senses will go on fire! Touch on your body, that is undergoing constant change, might feel different! Taste buds change and you might find yourself struggling to stomach foods that you used to love before! The one though that I have heard affect travel experiences the most is your sense of smell!
My Travel while Pregnant Tips for dealing with sensitive smell:
Think about your destination, and if it is one that you know will have a smell very different to where you live, think twice about whether it is the right destination for first trimester travel. Some cities simply don’t smell that great, and if your smell is on superpower strength, plus you are trying to deal with nausea, the combination might have a very negative effect on your experience of your destination.
10 Things to Take into Consideration when Traveling while Pregnant
1. It is important to check in with your doctor or obstetrician before booking your holiday. Listen to their concerns, because they will most likely have some. Do remember though that it is their job to caution you against travelling when pregnant in order to forego any possible legal actions against them if something goes wrong. Remember you are an adult, and while it is important to take their recommendations seriously, you are free to choose what is best for you and your baby.
2. If your destination requires you to have vaccinations, you might not be able to go as live-vaccines are not allowed during pregnancy. If possible before trying to conceive, get your vaccines up to date!
3. Going to destinations where Malaria is a major risk might not be advisable. As far as I’ve been told by my doctor, none of the anti-malaria tablets are ‘A’ grade safe for pregnant ladies. Of course you can take other precautions such as DEET and staying indoors at dusk and dawn, but if you love to have the precaution factor of a prophylaxis, this is something to be aware of.
4. If you are travelling to a country other than your own, do ensure you take out travel insurance that covers pregnancies.
5. Again, if you are flying during your first trimester, I recommend you make a list of some great hospitals that you will feel comfortable with if anything does happen on your travels. Best to be prepared I say!
6. It is recommended that pregnant women avoid altitudes above 3,658 metres; so leave those destinations located at high altitude for another day.
7. Travellers’ diarrhoea can cause miscarriages in the early stages of your pregnancy when the embryo is still developing. Now is not the time to try all the local specialities. Play it safe and stay away from street food and food that has a reputation of causing upset traveller’s bellies. Or best yet, pick a destination that you know your stomach can deal with.
8. Stay away from activities that are too adventurous, you know the ones. If ever a thought crosses your mind whether what you are about to do is safe for the baby, best to skip the activity and go relax next to the pool or go for a hike instead.
9. Take a medical kit, your doctor can help subscribe pregnancy-safe medication that you can take along as precaution.
10. If hiking is on the agenda, take a good supportive bra! You will most likely find that even in the first trimester you will need to upgrade your bra size. Your breasts will most likely be aching and be super sensitive, so having good support will go a long way through keeping you comfortable with some travel related activities.
They say that travelling in second trimester is the best time to travel. I have two trips planned for my second trimester of pregnancy, one local and one international. So I will check back in with you all to let you know how I go!
Life ‘as you know it’ does not have to come to an end just because you are ‘cooking' new life inside of you! But if you are worried, best to plan some sort of little escapes close to home or take the domestic option. Go slow!! And choose holiday destinations that are relaxing. Best of luck to you all! If you do happen to go travelling while pregnant, please let us know where you went and what tips you might have for other pregnant ladies? Thanks!!
- Further Reading: Get a head start and read our Travel with Baby posts.
All content here should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.