Photo by Meaghan Konopaki
I spent the majority of 2018 pregnant and went on a few shorter and one longer road trip during that time. To be honest, traveling as an expectant mama was often not easy or comfortable, but as a travel-lover I’ve found that a road trip in your home country can be a simpler alternative to long-haul flights or distant vacations.
So if you or a loved one is expecting and contemplating going away for a weekend or a week-long road trip, listed below you’ll find some of my observations about how to make road tripping while pregnant a little bit easier and enjoyable too!
#1. Stay hydrated
If you’re pregnant and already drinking a lot, keep it up especially on a road trip! It might seem like you don’t need the extra fluids since you’re mostly sitting stationary in a car, but it’s important for both you and baby to have lots of fluids. By drinking enough water, you’ll help avoid headaches, dizziness, leg cramps, and swelling. So throw a cooler in the trunk filled with water or natural fruit juice, and don’t forget to bring an eco-friendly, reusable water bottle.
#2. Account for lots of breaks
Pee breaks, snack stops, time to stretch your back and legs - make sure you take the time to get out of the car to have a break from staring down the highway. It’s especially important for pregnant women to maintain a healthy blood flow so try to get out of the car every hour or two for at least 15 minutes.
#3. Splurge a little on accommodation
If you’re the kind of traveler who doesn’t mind staying in hostels to save a bit of money, this is probably not the time. I’ve had no issue with staying in hostels throughout my travels in the past, but while I was pregnant they were just a little too basic and I craved a hotel with a tad more luxury. It doesn’t need to be expensive or over the top, but simply making sure you have a clean room with a private bathroom or air conditioning or king size bed or whatever need is most important to you, can make all the difference when you’ll likely be in need of relaxation after sitting in the car for much of the day.
#4. Eat well
Road trips and junk food often go hand in hand (as does pregnancy and junk food - HELLO cravings!), but it’s important to take the time to stake out some healthier options if you can. Load up on dried fruits, nut mixes, and power bars before you go so that you’ll always have a healthy option on hand when the cravings strike. If you’ve got the time and energy pre-trip, you could also make some sandwiches or salad bowls to bring along to eat for lunch on the first day of your trip.
#5. Bring a pillow
You probably won’t need it if you’re in the first trimester, but for any road trip beyond the second trimester bring a pillow that can be tucked behind your back or under your hips for extra support. Even the most comfortable of cars can start to be unbearable by late afternoon after several hours of driving.
And should you sleep with a body pillow at home, definitely bring that along too (albeit to the cursing of your partner who exclaims he/she’s already packed the whole house into the trunk of your car). Pssst - traveling as a pregnant woman is basically a gentle precursor to the amount of gear you’ll need to bring with you everywhere you go once baby arrives.
#6. Give yourself plenty of time
Expect to have lots of stops along the way so give yourself plenty of time to get from point A to point B without feeling rushed. You may not be able to put as many kilometers behind you as you usually would, so have a chat with your travel companions before leaving to express your needs in this regard.
#7. Pack your prenatal vitamins
Instead of lugging the whole bottle with you, simply count out the amount you’ll need for the days you’ll be on the road and pack your vitamins in a small reusable container or jar which you’ll bring back home empty.
#8. Don’t travel to remote areas
This might be a no brainer, but a road trip along a quiet highway where there’s little to no cell service probably isn’t the best idea, especially if you’re well into your third trimester. Stick close to populated areas where you’ll know that you’ll have access to medical facilities, just in case.
#9. Wear your stretchiest of maternity clothes
For long road trips, put on the softest, stretchiest, and coziest of maternity clothes you own (a review of some of my favorite maternity wear for travelers right this way). That goes for shoes too, and take into account that your feet might swell after a few hours in the car so you may want to wear something that can easily be slipped on and off.
#10. Set out with a full tank
This is true for any road trip, but pay special attention when you have an expectant mama on board. When I was 36 weeks pregnant, my husband and I made the unfortunate and unforgettable experience of not paying attention to the “next fuel service” sign on a short two-day road trip and we sweated out the last several kilometers before the next gas station appeared while our tank was quite literally running on empty. We laugh about it now, but I’m still surprised and thankful the stress of it all didn’t kick-start labor then and there.
#11. Allow yourself some grace
My experience has shown me that growing a baby is no easy feat and can often be tiresome and overwhelming. Add in the stress that can go along with traveling and it can make a road trip downright miserable. Things might not go exactly as planned, and they likely never will again once baby arrives, but that’s okay. Give yourself grace.
P.S. Although I’m happy to share my experience and tips with you here, in no way should this article replace medical advice. If you have any queries about traveling while pregnant, please speak with a medical professional.
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