Four Tips for Planning Travel While Planning a Pregnancy

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Since we are expecting our second tiny traveler this summer, I am writing a few posts about the realities of travel and pregnancy since it is a topic I am living every day right now.

I wrote about Tips While Traveling in the First Trimester here, and I expect to write a similar post about the second trimester very soon.  However, this particular post is actually about how travel can be impacted before you (or your partner) actually becomes pregnant.  I spent a good chunk of last year trying to continue to plan trips and live life pretty normally while also trying to plan a pregnancy.  I know this is something that many of you with families also experience, so I wanted to share a few tips about how we made it work and hear your stories, too!

Of course as most of you know “planning a pregnancy” is a bit of an oxymoron as all the planning in the world does not ensure much of anything.  It can take weeks, months, or years from the time you decide you want a baby to the time it happens (or doesn’t), and that uncertain time-frame is what makes planning trips while trying to plan a pregnancy especially tricky.  If you are one of the lucky rabbits that is pregnant within weeks of deciding that is what your family desires then you won’t have much of a trip planning problem, but if it starts to take months or longer for the stork to pay your family a visit, it can get tricky to continue to effectively plan travel given the uncertainty of the future.

Take Big Trips Before Trying to Get Pregnant:

If you know that family expansion is likely on your horizon then the easiest way to address travel planning is simply to take your big trips before you start trying to get pregnant.  This way you won’t have any travel restrictions due to potential medical issues, not feeling well, or being too far along in your pregnancy, and you will be free to take full advantage of the food, drinks, and activities in the destinations you visit.

Skiing in Norway before we were expecting

Skiing in Norway before we were expecting

Knowing we hoped to expand our family in the near term I went on a travel binge in early 2014 heading to Norway for skiing, Paris with my daughter and mom, literally around the world with my husband, then on an Alaskan family adventure.  That was a bit more travel in a short period of time than I would normally plan, but it was the best way to ensure that those trips could go off as planned.

Some people take “baby-moons” a few months before the baby arrives, but I would strongly argue that the best “baby-moon” is actually the one you take before you are pregnant when you can go where you like and do what you wish while feeling your best.  Travel can certainly be very enjoyable once you are pregnant, but not in the same carefree and unrestricted way as before you are expecting.

Staying on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean before a baby was on the way

Staying on a remote island in the middle of the Indian Ocean before a baby was on the way

Book Refundable Hotels and Flights When Possible:

In our case the plan was to not book any big future trips once we decided we were really ready for a new baby to come along.  That plan worked pretty well for several months, but then I started to get a bit impatient.  I decided I didn’t want to indefinitely hold off on booking future travel when we had no clue if/when I would be expecting baby #2, so after a while I started to book future travel that could be impacted if I were to become pregnant using airline miles that were refundable for low or no fees.  This way if we were fortunate enough to be expecting or caring for a newborn and unable to take those future trips then we wouldn’t suffer a big financial loss.

For example, we used British Airways Avios to book flights to Europe for next summer and when we ultimately had to cancel our only loss was $55 per ticket.  I have elite status with United that allows for free mileage redeposits, so I booked our winter 2015 ski trips using United miles that we redeposited when it became clear I wouldn’t be able to ski this year.   Southwest points would also have been very useful for booking future travel we were unsure of since anyone can redeposit those points for no fee.

Hotel reservations made with points are typically refundable until pretty close in to the travel date, so that portion of the travel planning was pretty easy to manage.  We did have to be sure to cancel the ski hotel reservations well in advance as their cancellation windows can be pretty large.

Book Your Trips Only 3-6 Months in Advance:

Another strategy you can use for booking travel while trying to get pregnant is to avoid booking travel 9-12 months in advance (as we often do), and instead keep your booking window a bit closer in.  Barring any unexpected medical issues you should be pretty safe booking most trips that are set to happen within 3-6 months even if you don’t know whether a baby will be on the way.  That way even if you found out you were pregnant the day after booking the trip you would still likely be able to go on the journey pretty easily.

Of course if you are booking a trip that is based around an activity you probably wouldn’t be able to do pregnant like skiing or diving then you will need to take that into account and be sure the trip is refundable as mentioned above.  However, trips such as exploring Europe, relaxing on a beach, etc. should usually be pretty safe to book out just 3-6 months in advance or less.

Exploring Spain 5 1/2 months pregnant

Exploring Spain 5 1/2 months pregnant

Purchase Travel Insurance that Covers Pregnancy:

In the event that you want to book a trip while trying to get pregnant that is not refundable, and that would likely be in jeopardy if you were to become pregnant, then I would recommend purchasing travel insurance that covers pregnancy.  We booked one trip that would be very questionable depending on when I got pregnant that was not refundable through traditional means, so we bought travel insurance through USAA immediately after booking the trip that has pregnancy as a covered reason to cancel (providing you discover the pregnancy after booking the trip and purchasing the insurance).

In the end we were able to go on the trip even though I was pregnant at the time of travel, but at the time we booked the trip it was far enough out that we didn’t want to risk that I would be 8 or 9 months pregnant by the time the travel actually occurred.

If you do decide to continue booking new trips while trying to expand your family you should be pretty successful with managing those bookings if you follow those four tips.  What tips did your family utilize while continuing to plan travel while trying to plan your own family expansion project?



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  1. thanks for the great tips! My wife and I are “planning” to start a family after our trip to Europe later this year.

    I’ll keep these in mind for trips after that!

  2. We had been trying to get pregnant with my first child for months with no success, doing the whole charting thing and trying to coordinate that with my work travel schedule. I was in Edmonton, Alberta on a business trip in March 2011 when my wife called and said “I need you to come home NOW”. Alaska airlines was kind enough to let me change my return to a couple of days earlier, and her intuition was clearly right as that was the time that lead to my son. We just had our 2nd child, a daughter born St. Patricks day. It’s a lot harder to keep this work travel up leaving my wife at home with two kids than it was with one.

  3. Not that it is any of my business, but I had been wondering why you planned the big Ireland trip while trying to get pregnant. Totally never entered my mind that it isn’t exactly instant! Now your strategy makes sense to me.

  4. We played a trip to the Grand Cayman before we found out I was pregnant. Luckily it was the very last day I was allowed to travel out of the country so my doctor gave me her blessing and told me to relax while I was there. Before the trip I had looked into travel insurance in case I needed to head to a hospital, but I couldn’t find anything that would cover pregnancy once you knew you were expecting. It sounds like that’s how the USAA plans works as well, but let me know if you discover anything later in your journey! My healthcare plan did have a partner hospital whose information I took with me just in case something happened.

  5. Dustin, awesome!
    Corey, I totally believe that two kids is a whole new ballgame. Thankfully mine are 5.5 years apart, so I won’t have two little ones at the same time, but it will still be different. Glad you were able to catch that flight home!
    Lisa, ha ha. Indeed. After a few months of booking nothing and waiting it becomes a situation where you don’t want to just be waiting impatiently sitting around your house not traveling, so….you just book cautiously knowing plans may have to change.
    Rachel, nice! I have my own earlier limits on when I won’t leave the country and my trip to Spain literally fell the last week I would have gone so I totally understand.

  6. I’d say while it’s someone counterintuitive for our hobby, once you find out you’re pregnant seriously cut back on travel and keep it to long weekends and short trips and save the PTO if you have a 9 to 5. You’ll need it later when the baby and medical expenses and not working for a while starts piling up.

  7. Your blog posts with being pregnant and planning a pregnancy are super helpful and I can totally relate! I’m still in the trying phase (since late 2013). My husband and I went on quite a few int’l trips before that but held off in 2014 thinking I could be pregnant any month. Looking back, I wished I didn’t held off everything. I started this points hobby in early 2014 to plan a trip to Maldives for our future “babymoon”. Except it is 2015 and that’s not happening yet so I decided it’s not worth waiting for that moment and to just go. I recently booked the award travel to go to Maldives next month. Your post definitely reassured my decision. 🙂

  8. Summer, thanks for posting this! My husband and I are currently trying to conceive, though we’ve only been at it for a couple of months. We have two big (for us) trips planned—to San Francisco (from Tampa) for my sister’s wedding in August (US Airways Companion Certificate/Southwest points/Hyatt free night certificates) and to Jamaica to stay at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in November. Even if I got pregnant tomorrow I’d be fine for San Francisco (though buying a bridesmaid’s dress while trying to plan a pregnancy is tough!) but Jamaica would be a little iffy. We have return certificates to the Zilara from when it didn’t open it time, though, and they will expire if we don’t use them by November, so we are making the best of it, and hopefully I’ll be sipping my virgin strawberry daiquiri on the beach by then 🙂

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