How to Travel Safely During Pregnancy
For the text version of this pregnancy travel infographic, read on.
Safe Travel During Pregnancy
Can you travel while pregnant?
Most people can travel without any issues throughout the majority of pregnancy.
Usually, the best time to travel is during the second trimester, or weeks 14–28.
- You’re most likely to feel your best during midpregnancy.
- You’re also least likely to experience a pregnancy-related medical emergency during this time.
There are some things you can do to help ensure safe, comfortable travel while you’re pregnant.
Prepare for Any Trip
Check In with Your Doctor
Before you book, make sure your doctor approves of the type of travel you’re planning.
Ask for a note confirming your estimated due date and their consent for you to travel. Keep it handy during your trip, just in case.
Make Sure You’re Covered
Contact your health insurance provider to see whether you’re covered for medical care at your destination. If not, consider purchasing travel health insurance.
Research Your Destination
Know which healthcare providers, clinics, and/or hospitals are near where you’re staying. Consider calling in advance to ask whether they accept your health insurance.
Check on food and water safety at your destination. CDC.gov has a list of countries and health concerns to consider when traveling there. If you need help, call 800-CDC-INFO.
Pack the Essentials
Keep a copy of your health records with you throughout your travels. This should include records specifically about your pregnancy, a list of any medications you take, and your blood type.
Pack medications in your carry-on so they aren’t at risk of getting lost in checked luggage.
Plan to Stay Somewhere Relaxing
Be sure you’re sleeping in a comfortable, quiet, and stress-free place. This will help you get the rest and relaxation you need during pregnancy.
Travel Comfortably and Safely
Wear loose-fitting clothes to help you stay comfy during your trip. Dress in layers to avoid getting too cold or overheating.
Keep your seatbelt on at all times while traveling by car or plane. It should wrap snugly around your hip bone and under your belly, not over or around it.
Car Travel During Pregnancy
Make sure all airbags work and are on in case there’s an accident.
If you’re driving, move your seat back far enough to keep at least 10 inches between your breastbone and the steering wheel. Tilt the steering wheel toward your breastbone and not your head, if you can.
Avoid distractions like making phone calls, texting, using GPS navigation, or changing the music while actively driving.
Pack healthy snacks to help keep your energy levels up.
Keep a water bottle handy to help you stay hydrated.
Make frequent stops to get out, move around, stretch, and use the bathroom. Try to stop after every two hours or so in the car.
If you’re in a car accident while pregnant, seek immediate medical attention.
Air Travel During Pregnancy
Can you fly in a plane while pregnant?
For most pregnant people, air travel is considered safe during early and midpregnancy.
When can you not fly when pregnant?
Flying during pregnancy it isn’t advised:
- After 36 weeks for domestic flights
- Or after 28–35 weeks for international flights
Get the okay from your doctor before booking your flight. Certain complications may prevent you from flying safely. These include preeclampsia, premature rupture of membranes (PROM), and preterm labor.
Time your travel well. For example, if you tend to feel nausea in the mornings, book a flight that leaves later in the day.
Consider sitting in a row in the middle of the plane, over the wing. This location tends to offer the smoothest ride.
There’s no rule against sitting in an exit row while pregnant, but you may want to avoid it if you don’t feel able to help other passengers in case of an emergency. You also can’t sit there if you’re caring for a small child.
If you can, book an aisle seat. This will make it easier to move around the cabin.
Get up and move around every 30 minutes or so. Sitting for long periods can increase your risk of a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Ask your doctor whether you should wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots in your legs.
Stay hydrated with water, and avoid carbonated drinks to keep from getting a stomach ache.
If you feel unwell at any point during your flight, let a flight attendant know. Once you land, contact your doctor to keep them informed on how things are going.
Cruise Line Travel During Pregnancy
Seasickness can occur on a boat. If you’re not sure whether you get seasick, pregnancy might not be the best time to book a cruise.
Also, know that highly contagious illnesses like stomach viruses can spread quickly on a ship.
Some cruise lines won’t allow you on board after 24–28 weeks.
But if you tend to do well with boat travel, you may still be able to go on a cruise. Take a few steps to help stay as safe as possible:
Call the cruise line in advance.
- Ensure you’ll be allowed on board based on your estimated due date.
- Ask whether there will be a healthcare provider on board at all times.
- Confirm that the ship you’re traveling on has passed its health inspection.
Get your doctor’s approval.
- It may be extra important to get a doctor’s note confirming your due date and their written approval for you to travel by boat.
- Ask whether you can take medication to help prevent or treat seasickness on your trip.
Be careful about hygiene.
- While on board, wash your hands frequently to help prevent illness.
- Pack hand sanitizer and keep it with you in case hand-washing isn’t available somewhere.
- Wash any fruits and vegetables you get on the boat or at a port of call before eating them. Use bottled water if the tap water isn’t safe to drink.
While You’re Away
Wear insect repellent. In certain locations, mosquitos, ticks, fleas, and flies can spread diseases like malaria, Zika, or Lyme, which can pose health risks to you and your baby.
Apply sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen rated SPF 15 or higher to help prevent sunburn, even on cloudy or cold days.
Make safe food choices. Contaminated foods or drinks can lead to traveler’s diarrhea or even food poisoning. Most foods that are served hot are considered safe. Dry, packaged, bottled, and canned goods are also generally safe to eat.
Wash your hands regularly. This can help prevent you from picking up certain viruses or illnesses you may come into contact with on your trip.
Practice caution around animals. Whether it’s someone’s pets, local livestock, or wild animals, wash your hands before and after you touch them. This can prevent infection and certain viral diseases.
Take it easy. Remember not to overdo it, and schedule plenty of time for rest.
Know when to seek medical care. Educate yourself on any symptoms that would require medical care on your trip. These include:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Signs of preeclampsia, like persistent headache, blurry vision, or severe upper abdominal pain
- Signs of blood clots, like warmth, swelling, redness, or pain in the ankle, calf, or thigh
When Should You Not Travel When Pregnant?
If you have a pregnancy-related complication, your doctor may advise against travel during pregnancy. It’s important to stay close to home if they have.
You also may be advised against traveling to areas with:
- High altitudes
- Foodborne outbreaks
- Infectious disease outbreaks, like Zika or malaria
In some cases, plans may need to be altered. There could be a new travel advisory or your health may change, for example.
If at any point after booking your trip there’s a question about whether you can stay safe and healthy, it may be best to postpone or cancel your trip.
Consider buying a travel insurance policy that would refund some of the costs of a trip that was canceled because of pregnancy-related issues.
The safety of you and your baby should always come first.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Horsager-Boehrer, R. (2022) Pregnancy during the holidays: Tips on traveling, eating, and houseguests. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. Traveling While Pregnant or Breastfeeding. Accessed October 31, 2023.
- March of Dimes
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