I’ve taken 12+ hour road trips while pregnant, and flown on a cross-country flight while pregnant.
I wouldn’t recommend doing either, but traveling while pregnant is not always avoidable, and sometimes can be a nice break if you do it right. With a few extra preparations and manageable expectations, you can travel (somewhat) comfortably while pregnant.
Here are 16 tips for traveling by car or plane during pregnancy.
- Factor in several stops. Your bladder isn’t going to slow down for your road trip, so add some time to your ETA to factor in a few bathroom and stretching breaks.
- Wear very loose, comfortable clothing. Tight clothing is your enemy on a road trip (for any person, but especially those who are pregnant). Wear loose pants with a loose waist band (I personally would opt for draw-string rather than elastic so you can loosen it up if you want).
- Leave space for stretching out. Make sure you sit in the car as you pack to make sure you have plenty of leg room and reclining room. Consolidate and leave gear behind if you must, because you won’t last very long if you’re cramped and uncomfortable.
- Pack craving snacks. Bring a cooler stocked with your favorite snacks and drinks. Try to avoid too much caffeine so that you can rest and avoid unnecessary bathroom stops.
- Bring your body pillow. Yes, it will take up a lot of room, but you will be so glad you did when you don’t have to rest your head against the window to sleep.
- Anticipate car sickness. Even if you don’t have morning (afternoon, evening, night, etc.) sickness, you could still become nauseous from the motion of the car. Pack some nausea meds that are safe during pregnancy just in case.
- Drink a lot of water. Cars can get hot and stuffy, and it’s easy to skip the water in favor of sugary and caffeinated drinks on road trips. But during pregnancy your body requires a lot of water, so make this a priority.
- Wear your seatbelt. As uncomfortable as it may be, you must keep your seatbelt on and worn appropriately at all times.
- Look into an easy security check option. Many airports have express security lines that don’t require the same protocol as standard security, making it much easier for passengers to get through quickly and comfortably.
- Check as much luggage as possible. While it may sound like a good idea to take as much as you can in carry-ons and personal items to avoid baggage fees, that extra $25 is a small price to pay to avoid lugging a lot of heavy bags around while pregnant.
- Wear slip on shoes. If going through security in an express lane is not an option, wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, as bending over isn’t exactly easy when you’re in your third trimester.
- If your seats aren’t assigned, talk to someone at the gate immediately to try to get a comfortable seat on an empty row or next to an empty seat. You will want the extra room and vacancy in case you need to make frequent trips to the bathroom.
- Stock up on snacks beforehand. You are allowed to bring food through security, so pack your favorite snacks before you get to the airport so you can avoid airport food prices and not have to rely on airplane pretzels for nourishment.
- Bring a sleep mask for long flights. Sleeping on flights is not easy, but if you bring a sleep mask you are better able to block out your neighbors reading light or iPad screen.
- Bring your own pillow (or two). Many airplanes only have small lumpy pillows, so bring your own. They make these awesome new pillow wedges that strap on to the seat in front of you so you can lean forward into the pillow and avoid neck-flopping, so I’d consider one of those.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Much like the road trip situation, airplanes require a lot of sitting and waiting in a tight space. Loose clothing is your friend on airplanes, but I would suggest wearing layers because airplanes can be very stuffy, but my feet always seem to be cold on airplanes. Be prepared for both.