Four Tips for Planning Travel While Planning a Pregnancy
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.
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.
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.
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?