Traveling while pregnant

by Ashley on April 27, 2011

Those who know Aron and I from Hither and Thither know that we love to travel. We’ve actually been incredibly lucky to have taken three trips since the start of my pregnancy, and there’s one more to come. But I can’t say that choosing good destinations when you’re expecting is easy.

Even as I write that, however, I fear that this all will sound ridiculous–this is not a real problem. But it is a challenge. And it occurred to me that I’m probably not the only one out there who has Googled “traveling while pregnant” for destination ideas to find that the only links returned are articles on getting up and walking during long plane flights. In the end, I can only offer that (1) these are some of the factors you might consider, and (2) you’ll have a great time regardless.

Our first getaway was to Montreal to celebrate an anniversary. Aron worried about the long car ride, and I feared that a romantic getaway to the “Paris of the North” (in the winter) wouldn’t be the same without foie gras; stinky, unpasteurized cheeses; dips in a jacuzzi, or glasses of wine. Obviously we got over it and had a terrific time!

The next vacation we got to plan was for a February escape to warmer climes (and hopefully a sun-drenched beach). We’d taken a trip to India the previous April (with the push being that we should seize the opportunity to see a place I’d always dreamed of visiting before having a baby might keep us away for a while), and we actually considered a repeat trip while our visas were still valid. But it seemed unnecessarily risky: Aron had gotten sick briefly on our last visit, and the fear of food-borne illness–potentially devastating to a fetus–loomed large. We also thought about all of the bug repellent we had applied (instead of taking anti-malarials), and knowing that I would now neither feel comfortable using Deet nor taking anti-malarials placed the destination firmly in the no-go category. We had really hoped to go somewhere that could prove challenging with a baby or small child (as opposed to a kid-friendly spot like Florida), but found that most such places that are warm in February are in the tropics and posed similar problems.

I think it was around the time that I reminded Aron that I also couldn’t scuba dive that he was ready to give up on warm weather altogether, and suggested we instead head for snowy mountains to embrace the winter. But I quickly vetoed the thought of a non-skiing, non-hot-tubbing, non-hot-toddy drinking week in the snow.

We came to the conclusion that we should either look toward Argentina and forgo the tropical beach, or look to the Caribbean and ignore the fact that this might also be a good-with-kids destination. Luckily my  parents came to the rescue with a gift of a Caribbean cruise and we had an amazing time!

And now we’ve just returned from a family visit in California, during which we snuck off to Napa for a few days of couple-time and laughed at ourselves for booking a trip to the wine region at five months pregnant. (You can see that we didn’t let it us bother us too much though–we just posted a travelogue about a great 48 hours on Hither and Thither.)

What destinations have you found to be particularly pregnancy-friendly? Where would you go on a baby moon?

Our last getaway will be a car trip to Cape Cod (our friend’s mother is giving us the gift of a few nights’ stay at her cottage). I’m taking the risk that I feel comfortable in a bathing suit, and that I will be happy living vicariously while Aron indulges in oysters.


(Top image: photographer unknown, via; images below by Aron Bruhn, via Hither and Thither)


Joanna April 27, 2011 at 9:36 am

Hi Ashley,
I read both your blogs avidly and especially love the travelogues. I used to live in NYC, but now am back in my homeland, the U.K., with my husband and 2 year old boy. I read and enjoy your travelogues so much I think, because we haven’t done a lot of travelling to exotic places since the birth of our son, but this is really due to financial reasons (I’m trying to stay at home with him and not go back to work for as long as possible). I really don’t mind at all. Like you, we made the most of our time as a couple while we could and had some fabulous times abroad. I know we will again when our son is a bit older.
In my experience travelling with a new baby can be difficult because of all the stuff you may need to haul along with you. Travelling with a toddler can be difficult because you need to keep them occupied during long car / train / plane rides and you need to keep your wits about you at all times, so ‘relaxing’ doesn’t always come into the same sentence as ‘holiday’ anymore! That said, it doesn’t have to stop you going anywhere at all; I just think you need realistic expectations and a calm head, whatever happens…it can all be dealt with or wiped up!
We have done a 12 hour car journey to the north of Scotland to stay with my brother and our son was a superstar in the back of the car (we took our time, had lots and lots of breaks, lots of toys and books and set off at 4 a.m. in the morning so some of the journey could be done when he was naturally asleep).
We also few to Hamburg for the w/e to stay with friends (1.5 hour plane ride). We only took carry on luggage which earned us lots of praise from all sorts of people.
We have also spent a week at a cottage on the Cornish coast where we could spend lots of lazy days on the beach, eating ice-cream and walking.
Going on holiday and staying with family and friends has been wonderful. We also try to go places that are rewarding for all of us, but they’re not necessarily the places we would go to if it were just the two of us. Now we are thinking about camping trips (perhaps staying in a tent, or an old Gypsy caravan or US silverbullet). Also, we are thinking about my husband having a week off and then doing lots and lots of day trips from home to places we ignore because we live right here all year round!
We are having a wonderful time at home and away with our son and I’m sure you will with yours too. Congratulations and best wishes.

Ashley April 27, 2011 at 11:19 am

Thanks, Johanna! It’s super encouraging to hear from moms who are still traveling once the baby is born (even if in slightly different forms). We figure that the challenges of choosing a place to go while pregnant are just a small taste of what’s to come. Assuming Aron gets the time off, we’ve committed to flying back to California around the holidays–so I know we’ll be flying at least five/six hours with a five-month-old! Fingers crossed…
Anyway, I really appreciate the comment. Thank you again!

Deanna (Silly Goose Farm) April 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

I got married at Mohonk Mountain House ( and would highly recommend it any time of year! Time just stands still there, and pregnant or not, you can definitely find something to keep you entertained and well-fed. My husband and I try to go there once a year, and we went for a little baby-moon/baby-break when out 1st kid had just turned one and our 2nd was only a month or so away. Plus, it’s a quick trip from NYC and you could probably take the train there. I’m so envious of all your travel and adventures!

Ashley April 27, 2011 at 11:21 am

What a beautiful place to get married! And then to think that you get to return to that exact spot on little getaways. Lovely! We’ve only been to go cross-country skiing once around the property, but I’ve never been to the actual lodge. I’ve always wanted to go. Thanks for the suggestion!

C.l.e.o. April 27, 2011 at 11:50 am

My parents were big travellers before I was born, and though at first I think it fazed them a bit thinking about travelling with a little me, they went full steam ahead, and I have so many wonderful memories of travelling! That said, I am an only child so the finances and logistics were a bit easier.
When I was 4 months old, my parents decided to go to Prague (it had just become accessible from behind the iron curtain!) and because they couldn’t afford the plane, we went on a coach (we’re from London). Apparently I was very well behaved and since then we’ve gone to loads of amazing places together and it’s really inspired me to travel and learn new cultures and languages in a way I think other kids miss out on. I’ve just got back from Kerala and I’m currently planning a trip to Budapest this summer before moving away to university, I now really believe holidays (and the memories) are the thing to save up for, not material objects!
So basically, travel with your buba loads, it’ll do him the world of good 🙂

Ashley April 27, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Thanks for the encouragement and nice message, Cleo!

Cathel April 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Hi Ashley,

Love your blog! Because of you I’ve started tentatively planning a trip to Vietnam in March!

When I was pregnant with our son, who just turned three, we went to Guatemala/Belize/Mexico when I was 19-21 weeks pregnant (and a few local trips in New England). No bugs, no vaccinations I hadn’t had yet. I’m currently 21 weeks pregnant with our second baby, and we just arrived in New York from Munich (where we currently live) for a seven week work/travel trip in the US. I’m hoping I’ll be able to go hiking in Yosemite 5 weeks from now!

Our son has been to 20 countries (from Iceland to New Zealand to Montenegro, just to name a few) and 12 states. These are my tips, which I recently wrote down:

Things we weren’t able to do, even though we would have liked to do them:
1.) Go on a walking safari in Kruger National Park (apparently wild animals get extra wild around human young).
2.) Go kayaking in Algonquin State Park in Canada (it was bad enough when our paddle boat started sinking in a lake that had been frozen over just a week prior, and Rover had just turned one).
3.) Go snorkeling or diving off the Croatian coast (I guess we could have done this had we taken turns, but it’s just more fun doing it together).

Other than that: there’s very little we haven’t been able to, and we’ve traveled more in the last three years *with* Rover, than we did before he was born!

Our tips:

Ditch the stroller! Hopefully your vacation will either include narrow winding streets with cobblestones, or narrow winding hiking paths. Either way, a stroller will limit your choices. No need to worry if your stroller will fit into that cute neighborhood cafe, or if you feel safe leaving it outside when it doesn’t. No need to skip climbing those cathedral stairs because your baby just fell asleep in the stroller. When you’re wearing your baby, you can just get on with your day. Invest in an Ergo and a Moby (though a Moby is not as easy to snap on/off), and perhaps a Peekaru for a quick cover-up when it gets colder, no need to wake your baby to put on extra clothes when your baby/toddler has fallen asleep on your back/on your chest.

Speaking of chests: what really simplifies things is breastfeeding (find a good lactation consultant before you give birth, just in case you need the help)! Breastfeeding while babywearing is even more convenient! No need to worry that your child will be hungry, no need to worry about cleaning your bottles or getting drinking water. Fewer worries when your child gets sick. An easy distraction when your child gets bored at a museum. Perfect way to clear ears during take-off and landing. The list goes on and on.

Forty eight flights (ranging from one hour to 14 hours), and we’ve never had to use a Gameboy or iPhone or other electronic toy to keep Rover distracted. In fact, we’ve never really bought him a “special present” for on the plane. Stacking toys and books when he was a baby, a Magnadoodle and books when he was one, and a few Playmobil animals and books when he was two, have always done the trick. The only time he walked around during a flight was the one flight when he was sick, on all other flights there has been no walking, and he’s never asked to walk. We do let him watch movies on the airplane’s screen, when there is one. From a very young age he has felt completely at home at the airport, and knows the drill inside out. By now I think he’d be able to fly unaccompanied and do the check-in and security process all by himself. I think George Clooney wouldn’t mind standing in line behind us at security, given that we’re pretty efficient in the whole process now.

We used to plan our shorter flights around nap time or overnight, which got him used to sleeping on a plane. We usually bring his car seat now that we have to buy him a seat, which makes sleeping much easier for him (he’s too small to keep his head from falling on the armrest without). Even during the first two years we’d often get an empty seat from helpful flight attendants (Iceland Air, Air New Zealand and KLM are especially child friendly), or we would be able to buy an extra seat at the gate for very little (again, Air New Zealand offers this). We don’t trust the car seats at car rental agencies, and can simply buckle the (big) car seat to our bag-on-wheels, so it’s not a big inconvenience.

Rover sleeps in our bed. At home and on the road (which is about five months out of the year). The main reason is that we like it that way. We all like it that way. There’s nothing like getting a chubby arm around your neck at night, or breathing in sweet baby/toddler breath. Rover can sleep through any noise, and we even manage in a small queen sized bed. Luckily there are tons of extra reasons to share our bed, which have made life much simpler: His bed is where we are. That simple. No need to stress about sleeping in a different environment. No need to bring a cot either, or rely on a hotel cot to be safe and clean, or -god forbid- pay extra (try paying 25 Euros a night, 5 months of the year)! We now sometimes bring a King sized mattress cover so we can turn two single beds into one big bed when necessary (like in the South African safari tents).

Luckily a lot of our interests overlap. We all like watching animals, waterfalls, chocolate and Indian food. We all like hiking and visiting new cities. Almost anything can be interesting to a kid, besides perhaps, a long-winded guided tour, and seeing things through a kid’s eyes can make almost anything interesting to an adult! It’s much easier connecting with other travelers or locals. In some cultures people can be a little stand-offish to us, but absolutely dote on children. Rover was able to do the typical South African handshake with people we encountered, while we were usually ignored.

Rover has no problem with jetlag. He sometimes take an extra nap, or skips one, and before you know it Mark and I are be up at 4am in a hotel room in San Francisco, waiting for three hours for Rover to wake up. He doesn’t have a set bedtime, naptime, or schedule in general. We are what’s stable in his life, and that’s enough for him. For all three of us that means sometimes having to just roll with it.

When a resort advertises itself as “family-friendly”… well, let’s just say that’s not our cup of tea. Our travels include things especially for Rover only when we can enjoy them, too (staying on a sheep farm, visiting a chocolate factory, a rooftop swimming pool, etc.). We stop at the occasional playground, but that’s pretty much it. I think all three of us would be bored by nothing more than a swimming pool and sunny weather.

You’re traveling for your own memories, not for your child to remember a trip ten years from now. Seeing the world will hopefully broaden your child’s horizons, and you’ll have the memories.

Just do it! We don’t yet know if things have been so easy so far because we just dit it and did things this way, because Rover lives up to his name, or because of his personality. I guess we’ll find out when his baby sister is born! Besides Vietnam, we’re hoping to introduce her to Austin and Australia in her first six months.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Ashley April 27, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Wow–what an amazing list of suggestions! And what an incredibly lucky traveler your little one is already; Rover is clearly a perfectly appropriate name! I’ll definitely look forward to referring back to this in the months ahead.

Congratulations on your second child–hope you have a great time in Yosemite!
And thanks again!

Dee Stephens April 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Your blog/blogs rock! I just found you through another site and I adore both of them. We are currently trying to get pregnant and I loved your way of telling your rents, etc(I’ve been reading back).
Your travel is amazing too! We like to travel too but most of ours are weekend getaways and such.
Napa is one of our favorite places and I loved everything about your post. We’ve never done the bike riding there but that is next on our list when we’re out there again.

Ashley April 27, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Thank you so much, Dee! Your note is so sweet–I really appreciate it!

Lara Kasabian April 27, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Hi Ashely!
I dont have babies experience so I would like to ask you a question: why do you think it is not a safe thing to have baths in the jacuzzi while pregnant? I’ve asked mum and she knows the same rule but -it’s so curious!- she doesn’t know why … She just told me that her mums was really rigid with baths! I’m just curious!
Thank you in advance!
xxx Lara

Ashley April 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Hi, Lara–
I believe Rachael is right, but it also has to do with the rise in the mother’s core temperature. You generally don’t want to do things that cause you to overheat and thus raise your heart rate too high (reduces blood flow to your uterus) potentially putting your baby under stress or interfering with normal development. I’ve heard to keep the water temp under 100 degrees (hot tubs tend to be around 105). Thanks for the question!

Rachael Ringenberg April 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I love that top photo! It reminds me of when planes seemed like the best part of the trip. The worst and best part of traveling pregnant is having the security agents look you over suspiciously, or sympathetically, depending on the agent!
Lara–I think the jacuzzi thing is because babies can’t regulate their internal temp. by sweating like we can. So things that raise your body temp are considered dangerous, like mudwraps and saunas.

Meredith April 27, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I can’t tell you anything about traveling while pregnant, but I can tell you that I love the picture at the top of this post. I don’t know why I love it, but I do! Good seeing you last week!

Ashley April 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm

It’s a cool shot, right? I wish I could properly credit a photographer! Thanks!

Lara Kasabian April 28, 2011 at 7:13 am

Thank You Rachel and Ashley for your answers! I was totally wrong thinking that having baths is unsafe because of the probable infections you can get through the water… There Are so many important things you have to know while pregnant!

Annie from Montreal April 28, 2011 at 10:01 am

Hello Ashley!

I love to read both your blogs : they’re amazing!

I’m a big traveler myself and a total Foodie and your blog reminds me of all my trips (we’ve been to almost all the same places) plus it gives me ideas of new places to see. Like you, I’m pregnant now (25 weeks) and I had the same dilemma of where to go on our last “pre-baby” trip, which was so important for me to do.

We had a list of places we badly wanted to go, but after some research, a lot of them were eliminated… For example:

-Costa Rica : Not a good idea while pregnant because of the long drives on bad-condition roads (bumpy roads… not the best!) plus all the cool activities are not that safe (zip lining, etc.)
– Italy : We would have loved Italy but again, it’s a trip that includes so much long drives, I didn’t want to be in car the entire trip with a big belly.
-Fiji or any tropical island around Indonesia : Ideal to relax and go on long walks, but then it was the long plane ride that scared us.

We settled for the ideal place : Japan! I’ve been before but not my bf. It’s safe, clean, food is amazing, they have reliable hospital should anything happen, you travel mostly by bullet trains; it was just the perfect perfect pre-baby destination. After buying our plane tickets, Rail Pass and booking all of our hotels : the quake happened! So we had to cancel the hole trip (radiations + baby = big no no).

We settled for 8 days in Paris next week. I think Paris (or any big European city) is a great choice while being pregnant. You can enjoy the city on foot but still can stop in a little cafe when you’re tired. There’s also the FOOD (oh! the amazing food! foie gras, cheese, pastries, etc.) and great baby shopping. We’ve been to Paris before but who gets tired of it? No me!

Well, I hope you enjoy your last trip before the baby come!

There will be so much different trips to come when he/she arrives… We are considering renting a big camper-car at the end of my maternity-leave and do the Australian East Coast. From Sidney to Cairns in 6 weeks. We thought this type of trip will be an ideal way to go somewhere exotic and seeing many many different places, while still having our “house” with us at all times.


Olivia April 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Hi Ashley,
We moved to NYC about 3 yrs ago and since the birth of our little one we’ve visited. Nashville & Memphis (at 6mths), Mexico & Cuba (7mths), Bahamas (8mths) and more recently I flew solo with her to Indonesia, Perth and Melbourne in Oz to visit the family. at 9.5-10.5mths. So as you can see we started on short trips to ease her in to flying i.e. 3hrs away to about 32hrs away! IT CAN BE DONE. I feel we’ve perfected our packing abilities and travel very lightly.

I couldn’t breastfeed for longer than a month so sadly I had to bottle feed which requires bringing bottles, mine are from pura stainless steel and are light and sterilize only with hot water which made it super easy. Most places you can buy diapers etc etc except for Cuba which we took along and for clothing, I only brought 5 pieces and mix and match and handwashed.

With ours when she was younger she slept alot on flights and made it easy as she got older I would only bring some small books. so nothing fancy, she has learnt to preoccupy herself and travels well. We keep things easy for us and for her and it works. Recent flight to Oz she is more mobile and eager to walk etc so it made eating a bit difficult as she was on my lap but manageable. I was tired after the long haul flight but we coped and she’s even coped with the jetlag pretty well.

In terms of places that are kid friendly, we’ve been to costa rica and were amazed at how kid friendly it is and plan to take our little one wiht us back there at some point.

Cuba is great too, they love babies!!

In terms of “stuff” we love:

Baby sling. Even though she’s a bit big for it now we still use it where possible. She sleeps ever so well in it and loves being close to us.

Kidco peapod we used this ALOT.

Flybaby – this was handy when she was much smaller on the domestic flight. We used it on her at 6mths but she was already really too big for it..I recommend for much smaller babies but it was nice for us to be hands free and she was able to sleep nicely on the plane still.

sorry for the long comment, Enjoy and good luck

Ashley April 29, 2011 at 9:59 pm

How incredible, Olivia! Thank you so much for the comment and encouragement (and I’m sorry it got tagged as Spam at first–don’t know why that happened). I also really appreciate the links and will be going to check them out now. Sounds like your little one has racked up more frequent flyer miles than I have–or than most adults, for that matter! Amazing!

Olivia April 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm

no probs.
i’ only used the flybaby twice for that one trip when she was 6 mths, so if you think you’ll be flying in the first 3 mths after baby is born, let me know, you’re welcome to have it.

Ashley May 3, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Thanks, Olivia–so nice of you! I think our first flight will probably be around the holidays, though… 4-5 months…
But thanks again!

Ashley April 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Annie–that would be amazing! Have you read the blog Famille Summerbelle at all? They did some caravan-traveling with a young child and it’s really inspiring!

I’m sorry to hear that you had the same dilemma, but it sounds like you arrived at a great solution! Have a great time in Paris! I’m sure it will be fantastic.

Annie from Montreal April 29, 2011 at 9:55 am

Thanks for the reference about the blog : i’ll definitely check it out !

Jennifer May 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Hi Ashley,
Love your new blog. Having a baby is so exciting and there are lots of changes, but traveling is one thing that you can certainly still do! As for pregnancy trips, flying is fine as long as you’re not about to pop. I went to Hamburg when I was 6 months and that was a great trip; as someone else mentioned, European cities are good choices if you can manage the long flight comfortably (getting up to walk around and not taking an Ambient is a major drag, but you can console yourself with the fact that you’re going on a trip!). Also, eastern seaboard options like the Cape or Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Maine, Block Island, Fire Island would all be nice. It’s especially nice to be in the ocean when you’re really pregnant because the weightlessness is so refreshing! We also went to Jamaica for our last pre-baby hurrah at 8 months. A great trip, but no piña coladas was a bummer. 🙂

As for post-baby, I agree to start early. And breastfeeding is the best as I always had that as an option to soothe a crying baby (but we had a pretty good traveler from the get-go). Also, we made the decision to live abroad in Argentina for a year when our son was one. It was such a great decision and an amazing experience (even if he won’t remember most of it)! They love babies in Argentina — it’s a very family-focused culture. Some other baby-friendly destinations: Costa Rica, Turkey, Cuba, Spain, Greece…lots of other places too, I’m sure. Babies are a great ice breaker (unless you’re at a Full Moon Party, which hopefully you’ve already checked off your list). 🙂

Congrats! Babies do NOT mean the end of traveling…!

Ashley May 3, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Thanks, Jennifer! We’re definitely looking forward to our last trip to Cape Cod before the baby arrives. I’m hoping it will be warm enough to do some floating, but I’m sure it will be wonderful regardless. I do miss the Ambien, but Aron made sure I walked a lot on our flights. I also brought along (and wore) compression tights.
And thanks for the encouragement on the travel front–definitely inspiring!

nicole May 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm

You guys should check out Grumpy’s in Dennis, if you are in the area. They have a great breakfast.

Ashley May 3, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Thanks–as ever–for the tip!

Melissa May 28, 2011 at 11:58 am

What a great blog! Of course, I was googling “traveling while pregnant” when I came across it. I’m currently 11 weeks pregnant with my third child and about to head to Italy to meet up with my husband who’s already traveling for work. I’ve only traveled domestically while pregnant (and with children) but I don’t think its as hard as everyone thinks. Proper planning and logistics are required. My oldest daughter was the most difficult because for some reason she could never sleep away from home. She would literally scream herself to sleep if we were in a hotel or staying with family. It was nerve-wracking at the time. I felt terrible for other guests and our hosts. Eventually she’d fall asleep. Maybe we didn’t get her accustomed to traveling early enough? Maybe she fed off my anxiety? She was 4 months before I took her on a plane and stayed away from home. Now she’s 7 and a perfectly healthy avid traveler. My 5 year old never had a problem sleeping anywhere. ;o)
Well, now I feel comfortable traveling while pg and with babies. I’ll be disappointed not to partake in certain Italian foods/drinks but I think other experiences will more than make up for it!
I can recommend NOT going to FL/Orlando when pg. I went at 6 months and in June. Despite living in FL for many years, the heat and humidity were unbearable and I couldn’t ride most of the amusements. The parks require an enormous amount of walking (and even for a runner like me, it was too much). It was a free trip for us so we took advantage of it.
Happy and safe travels! Cape Cod is lovely, as is Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Enjoy!

Ashley May 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Thanks, Melissa! It’s true–I’m sure there is more than enough excitement to be had in Italy without eating raw meats/cheese or drinking wine. And thank you for the tip regarding Florida. It’s funny: I’m a total heat-seeker and usually thrive, but I can tell from this past weekend in NY (hot and humid) that heat while pregnant is a bit different…

Hannah October 17, 2011 at 2:15 pm


What a fantastic site this is….now I was wondering about taking my 1.5 yrs old to Costa Rica for a month? …..and also just found out I’m pregnant! 5 weeks. I’ll be leaving when I’m about 2 months. Is there any concerns I should know about….?

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