Tips for Traveling Abroad While Pregnant: Part II - Timing + Essentials
With a little bit of planning, it’s easier than you think to successfully travel abroad while pregnant! In Part I of this post, I talked about some of the attire that made it easier for me to comfortably dress my bump for my girlfriends’ trip + cruise to Europe when I was expecting. Below you’ll find a few of the things that were absolute travel essentials for me, and some things I learned about timing on a trip like this.
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Build in extra travel time for everywhere you go. You’re carrying extra weight on your person that you’re not used to having; it might be more awkward carrying your luggage with your belly in the way which might cause you to shuffle your bags around a lot, and slow you down; you will very likely have to pee, several times, in the course of getting to any destination; and your feet will very likely be swollen, especially if you’re at the end of a long day of travel or sightseeing—it might even be a little painful to walk by the end of the day. Building in extra time to get to where you’re going will help you to save yourself the frustration of rushing and worrying about slowing down your travel companions or making them late.
You’ll also want to plan for extra time getting through security, and be prepared to potentially be flagged. Maybe you’ll be lucky, and this will not be your life, but I literally got flagged at every. single. international. security. checkpoint. Every one! When my girlfriend and I who flew out of the states together got through security to board our first flight, there was a TSA agent standing in the hall who stopped me and asked a bunch of questions that seemed casual enough about where I was headed, and who I was with, but then he started asking about what type of work I do, and I think he maybe didn’t believe I was even traveling with someone until my friend, who had been behind me in the line at the gate, finally caught up with me. When he asked what she does for work I blurted out that she works for a government agency (which apparently I wasn’t supposed to say, but I didn’t know!), and I’m glad I did because suddenly I had the cache I needed to get let go. I’m pretty sure he thought I was a drug mule though! And so it went for the rest of our trip.
We went on a cruise and every time we got back from an excursion, I got flagged at security trying to get back onto the ship. After a long day of excursions, back hurting, feet swollen, and starving, I got pulled aside for further pat down each and every time. They would even want me to take my shoes off, which was IMPOSSIBLE given the size my feet would swell to after a day of walking. It got so bad that at one point I just wanted to pull up my dress and expose my belly, like “See! It’s real!” LOL. Instead though, I complained to the ship’s customer service and the flagging finally stopped. I don’t know if there was some sort of increase in international fake pregnancy crime rings in the fall of 2016, or if this was all just a fluke, but it became such a huge part of my travel experience, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it.
You will be hungry. All day. Every day. You just will be. Trust me. I didn’t go by the old “eating for two” adage, but I definitely grazed quite often throughout the day to help keep my energy up and stave off any impending nausea. My friends wouldn’t always be ready to sit down for a meal when I wanted to eat, so purse snacks were the name of the game! Dried fruit, pringles, trail mix, bars like Kind bars, Larabars, etc were my staples.
Drink water until you feel like you’re floating. It didn’t completely prevent me from having swollen hands and feet, but it definitely helped. I might not have been able to be as active if I hadn’t kept a water bottle with me at all times.
Plan ahead for the fight against nausea. Amazon is your friend. I ordered everything from the aforementioned Adidas slides (see Part I) to sea bands, Dramamine and more, and Prime shipping was so clutch when it got down to the wire and I needed last minute things.
Know who you’re traveling with, what their strengths are, and whether they will be compassionate about your being pregnant on the trip. If at all possible, roll with folks you’ve hit the road with before and who you know you’re already aware of each other’s quirks. The girlfriends I traveled with were absolutely understanding, helpful and nurturing throughout the entire trip, and as much as I didn’t want special treatment or to be a burden, there were so many times I was grateful for their looking out for me.
Most importantly of all the tips that I’ve shared, both here and in Part I of this post, is to talk to your doctor in advance about any traveling you’ll be doing, and get his or her advice. My trip was already planned and paid for when we found out we were expecting, so it was one of the first things I brought up in my early appointments. Because my trip fell within my second trimester, I was really lucky that it was actually the safest time for me to travel and my doctors didn’t have any worries about my going. I also made sure there was a doctor on the ship we were cruising on, and I got a letter on my doctor’s office letterhead that confirmed I was cleared to travel, and of course had all their contact information in case anyone I was traveling with needed to reach out.
Safety first! Always. Happy travels! -xxkb