Tips for Traveling in Your First Trimester

Now that the cat is out of the bag with most of our friends and family, I feel comfortable sharing on the blog that we're expecting twins! No, we were not expecting twins, and yes, this pregnancy was planned. I'm looking forward to sharing our travels while pregnant. So far, I've managed a trip to Hawaii and a winter weekend camping trip in Yosemite. 

1. Choose your destination wisely

Our trip was already planned before I got pregnant, so it was either throw away almost $800 in flights or go through with the trip. Thankfully, we were traveling to a place within the United States, a relatively short flight away (approximately 5 hours), and was covered by my insurance. There was even a Kaiser clinic within a half-hour drive of our vacation rental. 

People are anxious during these early weeks and with good reason. Miscarriage is a reality and far more likely in the early months than at any other time. We had our first ultrasound before the trip and heard the babies' heartbeats. Our OB gave us the go-ahead for the trip, so I was relatively comfortable with the risk. However, this didn't stop me from having fears about a miscarriage thousands of feet over the blank Pacific. 

You want to choose a destination you feel comfortable dealing with a medical emergency in. That is the reality of being pregnant. You never know what you're going to be dealing with, and you need to be prepared. Personally, I don't think I would have gone to a place where I was not trusting of their medical care or my ability to communicate clearly with people. However, everyone has a different comfort level and a different pregnancy.

2. Choose an aisle seat if you're flying

Even if you are not peeing constantly or experiencing nausea (lucky you!), you may experience these symptoms when you fly. We selected an aisle seat for me on both lengths of the trip and an emergency aisle seat on our way back (it was our only choice for two seats next to each other). I'm so glad I did because I almost had a panic attack on our return flight when I needed to pee and throw up at the same time. Thankfully, the flight attendant noticed and gave me the green light to go to the bathroom even though we were experiencing turbulence and the fasten seatbelt sign was on. 

3. Put your meds in your carry-on

This is just common sense for any traveler who needs to take daily medication or may need in-flight medication. 

4. Carry extra plastic bags with you at all times

Sometimes a bathroom may not be available, or you're not feeling well enough to get to the bathroom, like when you have extreme morning sickness and are stuck in a Target parking lot. Not one of my finer moments, but my vomiting accuracy into a Ziploc bag is on point. 

5. Spend as little time in the car as possible

Each minute I spent in the car increased my nausea, even the road was straight (a rarity on the big island of Hawaii). Plus, it's no fun for others when you have to stop every ten minutes to puke. 

6. Know your limits and be okay with them

My friends went snorkeling with manta rays. Would I have loved to go snorkeling with manta rays? Hell yes. Did I want to spend four hours in a car round trip and an hour in a boat? No. That sounded like the worst thing ever. My energy levels had been really low, and I likely would have been miserable. The boyfriend and I stayed back at the house and watched movies instead. 

Remember this is your vacation, your travel experience, and if you're not feeling up for something, it's absolutely okay to say no. 

7. Choose a destination with a comfortable climate

Hawaii is gorgeous, a true tropical paradise, but on the Kona side of the island where we spent the majority of our trip, it is hot and sunny. Heat exacerbated my nausea and increased chances of dehydration and sunburn. I was much more comfortable on the wetter Hilo side of the island. I would recommend finding a destination and time of the year where you will feel comfortable with the weather. 

8. Be prepared to compromise with food

I probably ate things I shouldn't have on this trip: raw local honey, salami on the plane, SPAM, a not completely well done steak, but I didn't eat large amounts and am willing to take some risks. I also unhealthy things (oh no!) like onion rings, fried fish, a donut, and French fries. I was just so excited to eat after several weeks of rice cereal and oatmeal. If you're particularly concerned about food options, then travel to a destination where you are comfortable with the choices, stay at a place with a kitchen, or purchase your own food at the grocery store. Oh, and stay away from the hotel buffet. Food is one of the most important aspects of travel for me, and it made me a little sad that I couldn't eat poke or drink awesome tiki drinks. 

9. Be aware of high altitude, diseases, and environmental factors

There were places I could not go on our trip due to altitude constraints. It's recommended that pregnant women stay below 8,500 feet; this is obviously different for people who are used to living at high altitude. 

The national park service recommended that pregnant women not to go on the sulfur vent hike, so instead of hiking with my friends I stayed behind and watched an informational film on the history of Hawaii's volcanoes. I didn't all that much as it was raining and cold outside. Pay attention to these types of warnings and choose your risks accordingly. 

Lastly, check the CDC website for outbreaks of diseases like Zika and malaria. Remember if your destination requires vaccinations, you cannot get live vaccinations while pregnant. If you're going somewhere with endemic malaria or other mosquito-borne diseases, wear bug spray (DEET is safe during pregnancy, cancer risks aside) and cover yourself as much as possible. 

10. Learn how to communicate about your pregnancy in the local language, if necessary

In your first trimester, you will not be visibly pregnant. If you are in gastrointestinal distress, you may come off as a hungover tourist or someone with a stomach bug. You may not even be public about your pregnancy at this point. However, it may be necessary to communicate about it in certain situations while you're traveling, i.e. if you're having a medical emergency or you want to refuse alcohol and not feel like you're refusing hospitality.

Lastly, keep yourself safe and comfortable. Travel during your first trimester is possible and can be done in a fun and responsible manner. Remember every pregnancy is different and you should do what you feel comfortable with.