We love traveling. We believe you can continue traveling even after having kids.
So, we’ve put together this guide to help you do it too!
Traveling in Pregnancy
Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Traveling while pregnant is definitely possible. Of course you’ll want to talk with your doctor and make your own decisions about travel based on your personal situation. But traveling while pregnant shouldn’t be a problem for most. Here are the questions and answers I had while traveling pregnant:
What do I do now? Where do I start?
Folic acid. This isn’t really just for travelers, but for moms-to-be in general. The folic acid helps to prevent neural tube defects as your baby’s spine and brain develop. Depending on the country you’re in you may be able to get free supplements or find them pretty cheap at drugstores/supermarkets/pharmacies.
As traveling parents-to-be you’ll have to decide which appointments are most important. It can vary from country to country on what they consider a necessary or routine checkup. You’ll likely want to get your first ultrasound scan around 8-10 weeks. The sonographer/doctor can check your baby’s progress and give you your estimated due date.
How do I make doctor appointments in other countries?
In many places around the world you can find English-speaking doctors. They are generally easier to find in larger cities. Do an online search for “English speaking doctor in [insert city]”. After finding a few doctors names, you can search for reviews about the doctors online. You can also search for expats in the area as many have online discussion boards or Facebook groups. Then you can email or call the doctor’s office to schedule an appointment. We’ve found that outside of the US, doctors are able to quote you an exact price so you can also know how much to budget for your visits. We made doctor appointments while traveling in Edinburgh, Brussels, Cape Town, and Bangkok. Check to see if your health insurance or travel insurance covers visits, and how payment works. When you go to your appointment, remember to get copies of any scans, tests, and results of your visit for your own records. The next doctor you see will want to see the paperwork you have from any previous visits to other doctors/medical professionals.
How do I travel with morning sickness?
Stay hydrated. Try to eat crackers or whatever your stomach can handle so it isn’t completely empty as an empty stomach can make you feel more nauseated. Do your best to avoid buses, boats, and other modes of transportation that cause motion sickness. If certain scents trigger nausea, carry an essential oil, lotion, or something with a scent that calms you. Personally, I was not able to eat any meat during my first trimester because it would cause morning sickness. Keep track of what you’re eating and see if anything may be the main trigger. If your morning sickness is severe, make sure to talk with your doctor about it so you can treat it accordingly.
I’m so tired. How can I walk/hike/explore?
Schedule more rest/relax days. While you might feel like you want to sleep all day or at least take constant naps, getting out and being active are important for staying healthy. You may need to take more breaks while walking or hiking especially when going uphill, but just take your time and go at your own pace. You also might want to take shorter excursions and try to plan out restroom breaks. We considered doing a 6-hour island excursion in Ireland, but decided against it when we found out there would be no restrooms available during those 6 hours. Most women find they have more energy during the second trimester, so consider planning any long hikes or adventures during that time.
What about safety? Do I need to change my travel plans?
Most places are going to be the same level of safety whether you’re pregnant or not. A couple of important things to consider are areas with Zika, and the food safety quality. Since I, Jenny, am a mosquito magnet, we made sure to stay away from areas known to have Zika and Malaria. There are pregnant ladies who live in those areas or even those who travel there, but we decided that for us the risk of harm to our developing baby was too high.
Foods considered risky to eat during pregnancy varies from country to country so you’ll have to decide how strictly you want to watch your diet. Generally you’ll want to make sure raw fruits and vegetables are washed thoroughly before eating and in some areas you may need to use bottled water to wash them instead of tap water. We took a tour during our babymoon in Egypt. While we were very cautious about the food and water safety, we took precautions and were able to have a wonderful time.
What to pack
If you find out you’re pregnant and already traveling, then you’ll probably need to get some things on the road. If you’re planning to travel when pregnant then you can prepare by getting things together before you leave. Here are some things to consider packing when pregnant:
prenatal vitamins/supplements - It’s recommended to take folic acid supplements through your first trimester. Your doctor may have you take a prenatal supplement throughout pregnancy that already includes folic acid. The prenatal vitamins I took also came with an omega-3 supplement, and towards the end of my third trimester I was also taking an additional iron supplement. Talk with your doctor about what would be best for you.
water bottle - It’s always important to stay hydrated, but you’ll likely need to drink even more water than you needed before becoming pregnant. Drinking plenty of water also helps to keep your amniotic fluid level up. You can get a collapsible one that is lightweight and easy to pack. There are even ones with filters so you can just fill up your water bottle with tap water instead of having to keep buying more plastic bottled water.
belly band/shield - You can use the band to wear your jeans or trousers a little longer as your belly expands. If you get a belly band from belly armor, it can also help to shield your belly from radiation.
maternity bras - Pregnancy causes various body changes and maternity/nursing bras can help give you more support and comfort. Get the ones with soft, stretchy material that can grow with you through pregnancy and when your milk comes in if you’re planning to breastfeed.
mints/mouthwash - morning sickness can happen at any time of the day so it’s best to be prepared. The travel-sized containers of mouthwash are small enough to throw in your purse, or put in your liquids bag for flights.
lotion/body butter - Even before you notice any belly growth, your skin may become dry and itchy as it prepares to stretch. Applying lotion/body butter will help keep your skin hydrated and less itchy. Stretch marks tend to be hereditary so you may not be able to prevent them by applying any lotions or creams. But hydrating your skin will help to keep the itchiness at bay.
When you’re traveling it can be hard enough to remember which day it is – how are you supposed to remember if you’ve taken your prenatal vitamin already or not? There are so many useful apps now to help you out during your pregnancy, and they don’t take up extra room in your luggage! Here are the ones I’ve tried:
Glow Nurture - I had already been using the Glow app to track my periods so it was easy to transition to this app once I became pregnant. You can enter your due date and it will give you weekly updates about the size of your baby as well as information to help you during pregnancy. You can set up reminders to take your prenatal vitamin, and it will send you notifications if you haven’t logged for the day. I like that it’s easy to log info like how much water you drank, how many hours of sleep you got, and your symptoms and moods. Plus, you can pick and choose which info you want to keep track of. There’s are also community boards where you can connect with other moms and moms-to-be. Your husband/partner can also download the app and you can share your info if you’d like.
What to Expect - This app has a lot of articles and information about pregnancy. You can keep a photo journal, create an amazon baby registry, and join a community. There’s also information about when to schedule your doctor appointments and what they entail. The app doesn’t keep track of you personally as much, but it’s a great resource of information for soon-to-be parents.
Pregnancy Checklist - I downloaded this app for the 3rd trimester checklist. It provides a checklist of all the things you need or might need to bring with you to the hospital when you’re ready to give birth. The app also has some information for the 1st and 2nd trimesters, but its strong point is the comprehensive packing checklist.
Fitbit - This isn’t really a pregnancy app but it is important to stay active and healthy during pregnancy. You don’t need a Fitbit to use the app although not all features will be available. Without a Fitbit, you can still track your steps and log your water and food intake. You can also manually enter your sleep hours. I have a Charge 2 so it updates that info automatically when I sync the device to the app and it’s been useful to keep track of my sleep quality and active minutes.
Baby Story - You’ll probably want to take photos of your baby bump while traveling, and this app has free stickers you can add to those photos. We also used the stickers in our pregnancy announcement. Some of the (cuter) stickers are only available for purchase, but many of the stickers are free if you watch a short video ad.
Traveling with Babies and Toddlers
Yes, it’s true that sometimes just getting out of the house to run to the supermarket with a baby or toddler can be challenging. Let alone trying to manage traveling to another city or country. Rest assured that you’re not the first parent to travel with a baby or toddler, and although each child is different – it can be done! Here are some tips and additional resources to make it travel easier for you as a parent of young children!
How will you get to your destination? How long will it take?
By plane – If your child is under two, you can decide whether to carry them as a lap baby, or pay for their own seat and keep them in a car seat. After booking your tickets, you can also call the airline to request the seats with a bassinet. Even if your baby doesn’t sleep in it, it’s nice to have the option to place your baby down for a bit. Remember to bring a warm baby blanket as the air can get quite cold. Also, it’s always a good idea to bring along a copy of your child’s birth certificate – some countries like South Africa require original or certified copies of your child’s birth certificate just for entry and exit. For newborns you don’t really need to bring any toys, but for older babies and toddlers it’s good to bring along a couple especially for longer flights! Tip: Bring one new toy for them to open on the plane when you need a distraction!
By car – If you’re renting a car at your destination, many car rental companies have car seats available for an additional cost. You can also arrange to rent one from a baby supply company, or bring your own. If you rent a car seat, you can get a car seat insert to use for your baby so the smell of the seat remains the same no matter where you go. Remember to factor in a bit of extra time at pit stops to let your baby/toddler move around out of their car seat. Also, if you’re breastfeeding you’ll need to allow for time to feed.
By taxi/bus/train – Depending on your destination, you may be able to request taxis with car seats but you’ll probably have to wait a bit longer or schedule them in advance. Buses and trains generally don’t require car seats. Be aware that there are countries such as Thailand which have lax laws on car seats and you’ll see babies and toddlers riding in taxis and tuk tuks without any safety restraint.
Many hotels and Airbnbs are able to provide cribs or pack-n-plays if requested. Contact your hotel or host in advance to see what they include. If your child is a light sleeper, consider packing a white noise machine. Some parents set up the crib in the bathroom to let their child have a dark, noise-free sleeping environment and use the lobby restroom to avoid disturbing their child. Count your blessings as a traveler if you have a child who can sleep anywhere through anything! If you co-sleep, you can also bring a portable sleeper cot to place on your bed and give your baby a safer place to sleep. There are basic models with just the cot and deluxe ones with sound and vibration devices to help your little one sleep.
Consider paying a little more for closer accommodations to the attractions you’re planning on visiting. For example, if you’re going to a theme park, having a hotel room nearby to take a mid-day nap can be a lifesaver. You can also use the filters on the search consoles when looking for accommodation to show places with a washer and/or dryer. Hand washing works in a pinch, but having a washer available is nice for those days filled with diaper blow-outs and endless spit ups.
Traveling while your child is a baby or toddler can have its perks too. Often times admission to museums, amusement parks, cultural sites, etc. are free for children under 2 or 3. Sometimes even older! True, they likely won’t remember going at that age later, but you can show them all their adorable photos and the fun stories that go with all the memories you’ll be making. Additionally, even if they may not remember specific trips or outings, they are learning about traveling, interacting with other people and cultures, and having quality bonding time with you as a family.
Do your research to make the day go as smoothly as possible. As parents, you know that things don’t always go as planned but it always helps to be prepared. Look up where restrooms are located, as well as whether baby-changing and nursing facilities are available or not.
Pay attention to the weather and daily temperatures. Babies and small children find it especially challenging to regulate body temperature so it’s important to take breaks in air conditioned buildings if you’re in a hot and humid area, or warm up in a heated place in cold areas. Remember to keep you and your child hydrated throughout the day as well!
Some restaurants are more family-friendly than others. We once made dining reservations for our wedding anniversary and then asked to update the reservation to include an infant since our son was going to be born. The restaurant then apologized and informed us that they don’t allow children under 12 in their restaurant. So you may need to adjust your dining styles for special occasions if you want to include your child, or you can look into hiring a babysitter. Some hotels offer childcare services or activity centers as well.
Parents usually remember to bring an extra outfit for their baby/toddler in case of accidents or blowouts, but sometimes forget to pack one for themselves! Bring an extra shirt for you too on the plane, or when you’re out and about adventuring.
For most travel destinations – finding diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, etc. is not difficult. If you’re set on a particular brand or if your child has allergies or sensitive skin you may need to pack enough for your whole trip. Otherwise you can pack for your travel day and maybe for a couple other days until you can get to the store. Some places may even allow you to order supplies online and have it delivered to your hotel/travel home!
Strollers and carriers can also be helpful while traveling. But it can be challenging to bring your day-to-day stroller or travel system with you. They are often heavy and bulky. Instead, you may want to get a travel stroller that can fold up to fit in overhead airplane compartment, or you can look into renting a stroller at your destination. For baby carriers, you can probably just bring your favorite one unless you are traveling somewhere much colder or hotter than where you live. There are carriers made with moisture-wicking materials to keep you cooler in hot and humid weather and ones made with more insulation for cooler weather.
Traveling with Children
Should you travel with children? Yes! Can you travel with kids? Yes! You’ll have more things to pack, and will need to make some adjustments if you’re used to carry-on travel only, but it’s definitely doable. What about school? Clothes? Friends? Keep reading for tips on how to make it work.
Since children are still growing, we don’t recommend investing in expensive, high-tech clothing/gear for them. As they get big enough to carry their own backpacks, you can invest in bags that will last for years. Try to keep their bags as light as possible though as there may be times when you’ll need to carry those bags for them (i.e. they fall ill, get over exhausted). You don’t need to bring tons of toys and games. You’ll be collecting experience memories with your children as you travel together rather than collecting things. Instead of bringing a multitude of books which can get heavy, invest in a lightweight kindle which can hold hundreds of digital books and/or audiobooks. They even have a waterproof version now that you can bring with you to the beach or pool without worry.
Bring along a first-aid kit for emergencies. Most places have pharmacies with first-aid items available, but in a true emergency you’ll want to have those items on hand. It’s also a good idea to bring along sanitizing wipes for spills or sticky, dirty hands, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.
As your child gets older, you can let them help plan outings and activities during your travels. Some activities may have age restrictions or guidelines but do your research to see if it will be appropriate for your child. Some family-friendly travel activity ideas include amusement parks, local cooking lessons, and themed city tours (i.e. Harry Potter, Star Wars, GoT, etc.). We use tourradar.com when booking tours as we’ve found they usually have the best prices for value.
Costs can add up quickly when traveling as a family, so remember to look into free things to do as well. Also check out our page on how to save money on entertainment. Some museums have free Sundays once a month, and there may be local festivals with free children’s activities. If you’re traveling long-term and your children are wanting to play with others their own age, check out family travel facebook groups and ask if any other traveling, expat, or even local families want to meet up for a day.
For longer trips, remember to schedule in downtime and rest days. Most children need some time to rest and process all the new places and things that they have seen and done.
Of course you’ll need to consider the length of your trip and most parents will need to stay within budget constraints when thinking about where to stay. Don’t want to think about picking up after your kids and cooking every night? Hotels are a great option. If you need more space than just one room, there are options such as booking rooms with connecting doors, or suites with living areas and sofa beds. On hotel search engines like booking.com, you can set filters to place price parameters and find must-need amenities for your family.
There are additional options such as Airbnb, VRBO, lovehomeswap, homeexchange, etc. if you’d like to stay in a home or apartment during your trip instead. Remember to look for accommodations that have multiple bed options if you have children that don’t enjoy sharing a bed with their sibling(s). Pro tip: extra pillows or blankets in the middle of the bed can act as a barrier if sharing a bed is inevitable. Click here for information on how to save money on hotels and other accommodation.
What to do about school?
You can utilize holidays and school breaks to go on longer trips. Try to book early to get the best deals on flights and accommodation, as popular destinations and attractions can fill up and prices can skyrocket. If you decide to travel during the school year, talk with your child’s school and teacher(s) about how they can keep up with the curriculum. Your child may be given schoolwork to do while traveling, or be asked to give a report on their travels when they return.
For long-term/nomad travelers, then you’ll need to look into continuing your child’s education as you travel. You’ll want to decide what’s best for your situation.
Worldschooling/unschooling has the most flexibility as you’re generally not following a set curriculum laid out by any government. Your child can learn at their own pace and focus more in-depth on subjects they are interested in. You’ll be setting their schedule and not be stuck to rigid guidelines.
Homeschooling has many different options with the parent being the teacher for all subjects, or if you are in a co-op with other parents you can share the teaching responsibilities. There are various homeschool curricula available and they will vary depending on the country you are registered with.
Distance education is easier on the parents regarding lessons. The lessons are sent to you every few weeks and your child can correspond with the teacher via email, skype, or online portals. But it can be difficult to receive the lessons or stay on schedule if you are moving destinations frequently.
International school is another option if you decide to become expats and have a home base while traveling. Some expat families enroll their children in public schools to fully immerse them in the culture.
As you can see, there are many options for families that want to travel long-term but still have school-age children. Every child is different and you’'ll need to decide what works best for your family. But if you need some inspiration from parents that are already traveling with their children while dealing with school and education, check out ytravelblog and worldtravelfamily.
Parents’ Travel Packing Essentials
As parents, we need to pack for ourselves AND our children. Here are all the absolute essentials that you’ll need (and maybe a few extras)!
Travel insurance – Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but definitely get it! We haven’t had to make any medical claims, but we did use part of our travel insurance when our flights were delayed for two days and were happy with the response time.
Hand Sanitizer gel and wipes – Being able to wash your hands is not always readily available while traveling and you’ll want to keep yourself and your little ones healthy during your trip.
First aid kit – A ready-assembled kit is convenient, but you can also put together your own to suit your family’s needs. We carry antiseptic, bandages, anti-itch cream, cold/flu medicine, antihistamine, and upset stomach medicine.
Child’s birth certificate – Some airlines may require you to show proof of your child’s age if they are flying as a lap child. Also if flying internationally, you may need to show their birth certificate with your name on the document as their parent(s) when going through immigration.
Packing list – Create a packing list for each person in your family and keep copies for the end of your trip. It’ll make things easier when you’re packing to go home and (hopefully) ensure that you won’t leave anything behind in your hotel room!
Entertainment options – This will vary depending on your child’s age but pack a few books/toys/games for flights, road-trips, or maybe when you just need some parental downtime. We have a Nintendo Switch which is relatively compact and got an adapter to be able to plug it in to a TV and use it as a display.
Luggage identifiers/tags – You and your children will be able to easily identify your bags at baggage pickup with unique tags/identifiers. Also, if you all have matching or identical bags, you can get identifiers in various colors or shapes to avoid bag mix-up within your family as well.
Power bank – A spare battery that can charge your electronics on-the-go is a must for most modern travelers. Taking photos and video with your phone’s camera can drain the battery, and you’ll be thankful for the power bank when you need to use GPS to get back to your hotel! Power bank’s and chargers can be found on All-Battery.
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