I have been through pregnancy three times and have had the experience of traveling while pregnant each time.
Of course, your health and safety (and the health and safe well being of your baby) need to come first when traveling during pregnancy.
Be sure to discuss your travel plans with your doctor to ensure you are okay to make your trip and to so in as healthy a way as possible!
It is never a bad idea to invest in travel insurance, but it’s especially wise as a pregnant woman as you never know what may happen and what travel plans may need to change. I think we’ve ALL learned that lesson during the crazy pandemic days of having to rearrange travel plans.
Here are my tips for traveling while pregnant!
Disclaimer: post contains affiliate links.
1. Plan, if you can
If you are able to plan when you will travel then obviously before you get pregnant is the ideal time.
Heck, traveling with your hubby while trying to conceive would be ideal 😉
However, if given the option of planning a trip either while pregnant or after the baby is born, I’d always recommend you choose traveling while pregnant.
While I’ve never traveled with a new baby, I have traveled when leaving a new baby at home…and pumping is NOT fun.
Even further along in pregnancy is easier than not being pregnant and having to revolve all the travel plans around pumping. (As I learned during my pumping experience in Paris!)
I’m sure it’s also easier to be pregnant than to have a newborn traveling with you as well 🙂
It is very important to be in touch with your health care provider while making your travel plans. I like to bring along my medical records, just in case, as you never know what may happen. Even though I’ve never had a higher risk pregnancy just having that doctor’s note helps me feel at ease if myself or my unborn baby were to need urgent medical attention.
2. Go the 2nd Trimester
Again, this is if you are able to plan your dates.
Most of our trips we go on we haven’t chosen the travel dates so I’ve just had to go whenever the trip was planned.
I have gone on trips that require flying as early as seven weeks pregnant and as late as 33 weeks (yes, I flew to HAWAII in my third trimester!).
There are advantages and disadvantages to any stage of pregnancy when you travel. However I personally believe the second trimester is best as it’s the time period when pregnant women are less likely to have pregnancy complications, preterm labor, or require any medical care rather than traveling in the earlier weeks of pregnancy or closer to delivery date.
Earlier on no one can tell you’re pregnant so you don’t get any perks and you’re also experiencing morning sickness/exhaustion etc.
Later in pregnancy it’s OBVIOUS you are pregnant but your body is also worn out, achy, and you are more limited in what you are able to do.
If I could plan the perfect time to travel while pregnant I’d say 17-20 weeks. The second trimester is the best time to travel if possible. Plenty far away from your due date, less likely to have morning sickness or the typical exhaustion felt during the first trimester, and your healthcare provider is more likely to approve you for air travel.
You’re far enough into the second trimester to have some energy back, you’re showing a little bit so if you wear tight clothes people can probably tell, and you feel GOOD.
No aches and pains yet and just more comfortable overall! Plus far enough along where the flight attendants will dote on you a bit and that never hurts 😉
As you’ll notice at the end of this post I’ve never been fortunate enough to actually fly during this window of pregnancy haha but I have done Disney World during it and it was FABULOUS!
3. Pick Your Seat
Most airlines allow you to go online and pick your seats once you have your flight booked.
Pick an aisle seat. Preferably not too far from the bathroom.
If you can afford the upcharge and are facing a longer flight then it’s a good idea to upgrade to the emergency exit seats or even first-class (a luxury I myself have never enjoyed!).
You need to be able to get up and down easily!
If for some reason you aren’t able to choose your seat in advance then as soon as you get to your gate go up to the check-in desk and request a change.
Even if it means splitting up from your husband or travel partner, it’s worth it for you to have the most comfortable seat possible.
I have flown on a flight from Atlanta to Paris with a window seat and the woman on the aisle wasn’t nice about me getting up to walk…it was NOT a good situation (my blood was boiling!) and it was a lesson I learned and will never allow my pregnant self to be put in again!
I personally tend to get motion sickness very easily so tend to choose a window seat for that reason but I’ve found that while pregnant it’s better for me to have that aisle as the walking is more important than the view. I have also found that higher altitudes combined with sitting in a seat for a long time can lead to lots of discomfort so having the ability to get up and down easily helps me from being uncomfortable.
4. Dress for Comfort
Even if not expecting I’m a believer in wearing comfortable clothes while traveling… but it’s essential when traveling while pregnant.
I recommend a sports bra or nursing tank (these are my fav!) as any other bra will get uncomfortable quickly.
Also, wear something tight fighting that shows your bump.
People are so much friendlier and accommodating when it’s obvious you are pregnant.
I’ve gotten in the habit of rubbing my belly a LOT to make it very, very obvious to people 🙂
Always wear layers because plane temperatures vary a lot…and so do your hormones. Even with a total healthy pregnancy you’ll have moments where you’re overwhelmed with hormones!
I like to wear a maternity ribbed tank under a light zip jacket.
5. Compression Stockings are a Must!
Buy some compression stockings. Wear them. Love them.
They are your best travel companion (other than your husband who will carry those heavy suitcases for you!).
Make sure you buy the proper size as if they are too small they will become painful once you swell some (another hard learned lesson I’ve experienced!).
I wait to put the support stockings on until the flight takes off and then I take them back off after landing.
I loved mine so much during one pregnancy that I actually wore them at home a lot too (these are awesome!)
The stocking will help you avoid swelling while flying and will help you stay comfortable!
I just recently learned this trick and wish I’d known it sooner.
When they call for anyone with special needs, children, etc and offer pre-boarding for them…jump in line.
Getting on the plane and having your luggage near you is essential.
You don’t need to board the plane last and then have your carry on at the front of the plane while your seat is in the back because all the overhead bins are full.
This is also a good tip if you are traveling and pumping.
Preboard and go ahead and hop in the bathroom to pump before takeoff!
Preboarding while pregnant allows you to make sure your seat will be okay for you for the flight, use the bathroom, and chat it up with the staff.
The nicer and friendlier you are to everyone who works on the flight, the more perks you will receive!
7. Water and Walk
Two main things to remember on a flight: drink water and WALK. While it’s always important to hydrate and to drink plenty of water all throughout pregnancy, traveling while pregnant makes hydration even more crucial.
I bring my own water bottle and refill it while at the airport.
Then on the flight, I always ask for TWO glasses of water when they come by and offer drinks.
I get up and walk roughly every hour (see why you want an aisle seat?!?!).
The more you walk, the less you will cramp, and the better you will feel.
I have both the experience of international travel while pregnant as well as I have literally flown across the entire United States and long-distance travel and long-haul flights require a LOT of intentionality in mapping out my walking and drinking schedule. It’s easy to get distracted while watching a good movie or fall asleep while traveling long distances but staying on top of frequent walks and water drinking is the best way to avoid any potential problems!
If it’s a through the night flight then I will sleep when I can and walk whenever I wake.
Usually every 2-3 hours. I don’t recommend drinking ANYTHING other than WATER the entire day of your flight.
Prior to flying and during the flight you just want to stay as hydrated as you possibly can.
If you have an emergency row seat or are sitting in an area that does have a lot of room around it, then do some exercises as well.
I will even do them while waiting for the bathroom. Squat, go up on your tip toes, stretch.
This is where the obvious pregnant belly comes in handy b/c you get a lot of smiles and nice comments rather than strange looks 😉
I have personally experienced the impact from not doing enough hydration or walking while flying and sitting for a long period of time caused me to have abdominal pain and cramping. Even as someone who experienced normal pregnancy symptoms like spotting from time to time or the occasional cramping or Braxton hicks, having ANY pain or discomfort is alarming when you are so far from home. It was a lesson well learned and it made me very hardcore in the future to be sure to stay hydrated and not to sit for a long time.
8. Bring Snacks
Meals on flights can be few and far between now.
It’s important to have snacks and such to eat in case you aren’t given food on a flight or have a delay or short lay over or any other reason why you wouldn’t be able to eat!
I usually bring quite a few snacks and will also spend my time during a long layover stocking up on things to eat at the airport.
Most flights will give you the information in advance regarding any meals that may be served so be sure to check that out before traveling and plan accordingly.
If your flight only has the pretzels or peanut option, don’t be afraid to request two 🙂 My husband always does and he’s not even pregnant haha!
9. Location, Location, Location
Where are you traveling? Ideally being pregnant is a fabulous time to take a romantic tropical vacation.
You can relax. You can sleep in. You can enjoy the sun.
Whether it’s your first baby or your fourth…you want to savor some relaxing time while you still can!
Pregnancy is not the ideal time to take a touring packed trip.
You need to plan to get plenty of sleep and be mindful not to overbook your schedule.
Several times when traveling while pregnant (both during third trimester travel but especially first trimester!) I’m completely worn out exhausted by the last day of our trip and end up not even enjoying myself because I’m just too miserable and tired.
Usually, we end up spending that last day in the hotel room resting!
Sleep is important at any stage in pregnancy and overdoing it will cause you to have negative memories about a vacation that should be fun.
10. Adjust for Time Change
When changing time zones give your body what it needs to adjust.
I’ve heard from many people to force yourself to get to the new time by arriving and either not sleeping if it’s daytime or going straight to bed if it’s night.
Whatever time it is in the new time zone, go with it right away.
I went to both Hawaii and to Vegas while pregnant and for both trips, I slept a solid 12 hours the first night.
Plan for that! Your body HAS to get adjusted!
If you don’t allow yourself the sleep you need, you will be starting off your trip too tired to even function.
My husband and I have learned that if we are traveling to a place with a significant time difference then it’s best for us to add a day to our vacation.
That extra day gives us a day to adjust and rest without feeling like we’re missing out on anything!
Traveling While Pregnant: Final Thoughts
Traveling while pregnant takes some planning and preparation but it can be done very easily and can be a wonderful experience!
I love all the attention I receive about my pregnancy while traveling. It’s such a great conversation starter and it’s always nice to be able to share your joy about your new baby with others 🙂
Here are all the trips that required flying that I’ve taken while pregnant:
San Diego (6 months pregnant)
Hawaii (32 weeks pregnant)
Las Vegas (28 weeks pregnant)
Bermuda (9 weeks pregnant)
NYC (7 weeks pregnant)
Ireland (26 weeks pregnant)