Have you heard of a babymoon? It's a getaway for parents-to-be where the expecting couple goes on a "last hurrah!" vacation. It's a time to reconnect before baby comes, as well as relax and soak in some rest -- something you will be in short supply of soon.
Consider the timing
One of the challenges of traveling while pregnant is knowing when to go. Although there are different restrictions placed on pregnant woman (for instance, cruise lines generally don't allow pregnant women to embark beyond 24 weeks), there are other factors to consider as well. Where are you going? How long will you be there? How will you be getting there? Will there be adequate medical care?
Be sure to discuss your plans with your doctor to ensure that your timing makes sense for your pregnancy. Also, generally speaking, pregnant women are more uncomfortable in the last few weeks of pregnancy (and that's not a great time to travel), so try to plan for the second trimester or every early third trimester.
In addition, if the baby's father is planning time off when the baby arrives, there may be some difficulty getting time away for a babymoon. However, moms who've been there say to plan anyway.
"My mate was working major hours through my whole pregnancy. This is our first baby and I knew it was going to be important to take one last trip before he or she came. My mate kept saying he couldn't take time away from his business. I decided we were going no matter what! On my wishlist of places to go for 2008 was Steamboat Springs, CO. That was it. We'd kill two birds with one stone," says mom Jeanna Gabellini.
Consider the location
Gabellini's notion of combining a life-goal with the babymoon is a great way to usher out the you of old. But make sure you think about all the implications of the location you choose. For instance, Gabellini headed to Colorado in the winter, which left open the possibility of flight delays or cancellations in the snowy mountainous area. "When we arrived to Denver late Wednesday, our connecting flight to steamboat had been cancelled with no flights until the next day. Bummer! So we hustled to get a car and drive to Steamboat. We ended up getting a cheaper rental fare than we would have in Steamboat by over $100 and we were refunded the fare for the cancelled flight," Gabellini said.
While Gabellini's experience was good, that isn't always the case.
For Korina Lopez, assistant editor of USA Today's life section, her economical road trip was dotted with drop-ins to mechanics between Washington D.C. and New York. And she and her husband never actually made it to their planned destination of Boston. "I made my first of many pee stops in Baltimore, where we decided to get lunch and then get back on the road. The car wouldn't start. So my husband pushed the car, I popped the clutch and we were back on the road. Hoping it was just a fluke we kept driving, thinking we'd just get the battery replaced in NYC, where there was bound to be mechanics open on Thanksgiving. We had to jump the car 4 more times before finally getting to NYC at 11 p.m., and having missed all the T-Day festivities and too tired to care, we had burgers at a bar on the Upper West Side near the apartment where we were staying," said Lopez. The rest of the trip followed suit, and also included a minor accident in the couple's loaner car back in Washington. "On the way, we got into a car accident, with the rental car. Just a fender bender, but enough to convince us that there's no place like home, and we spent the rest of the day at home, laughing about our disastrous babymoon and feasting on Chinese delivery food," Lopez said.
Be sure that there is medical care available, and you can even check with your doctor for a referral to a local doctor while you are there, just in case.
Be mindful of what you eat (and drink)
If you are heading outside the country, be sure that you are aware of any local health concerns. For instance, in Mexico, the water contains bacteria that American stomachs aren't accustomed to. As a result, drinking it can lead to severe sickness from consuming tap water, ice made from tap water, and even fresh, raw vegetables.
When Elaine Schoch went to Cabo for a babymoon, she experienced what can happen if you do consume the contaminated water. "The next day I had ice in my Coke on the beach (duh!) ended up getting sick and that was that. I was sick for a month before the doctor thought it was something to be concerned with," says Schoch, Director of Emerging Media for 104 West (104West.com).
To avoid the contamination, don't drink the water or use ice, only eat cooked vegetables and use bottled water to brush your teeth.
Plan for rest, relaxation and reconnecting
A babymoon is a great time to put your feet up and forget all the stresses of work and life. Planning a spa day or trip is a great way to incorporate these elements into your babymoon. Many spas offer packages for parents-to-be with tailored itineraries ideal for pregnant women and their partners.
Another option is to head to somewhere lush to while away a few days before baby comes. Peggy Murriner, president of BabysitEase (BabysitEase.com), and her husband traveled to a ski lodge in Snowshoe, West Virginia, in the off-season during her third trimester. "It was warm and green and beautiful and peaceful. We went with another couple for a weekend. It was so good to get away. Three weeks before we became parents we were out to dinner & talked about moments we have had over the years we had together. It was incredibly romantic and very sweet to share with each other moments we would never forget," says Murriner.
That said, choose things that allow you to reconnect with your partner, rather than extreme sport vacations that will leave you waiting and waiting while your partner has all the fun.
If you don't have a partner, don't fret. You can still plan a great getaway. Head off to the spa alone and clear your head before baby comes. Or, enlist several friends to go with you on a girls getaway.
Wherever you go and whoever you go with, just be sure to enjoy it. Challenges may arise, but if you work through them and keep having a good time on your babymoon, you can still make some great, positive, lasting memories.