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What You Need to Know About Pregnancy Travel
Is pregnancy travel safe? How about airplane travel or long-distance travel? Should I stop traveling at a certain point in my pregnancy? Get answers to these questions and learn about the risks of COVID-19 during pregnancy travel below.
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Pregnancy Travel Guide
Have you been wondering if pregnancy travel is safe? Maybe you’ve googled “Is it safe to travel during pregnancy first trimester?” or “pregnancy travel third trimester.” Traveling while pregnant is not uncommon – there are just some additional factors to consider as a pregnant person. We are going to break down some of these factors that all pregnant people should consider before planning a trip.
You’ll want to consider how far along you are in your pregnancy, the length of the trip, the uncertainty of what’s going on with COVID-19 and its variants, and many other factors first.
Just keep in mind that speaking to your OB/GYN before you start making hotel reservations or purchasing airline tickets is always a good idea. They are best suited for giving you personalized advice for traveling safely (and concrete reasons not to travel while pregnant if it’s warranted). They will also give you a general idea of when to stop traveling while pregnant.
Why Might Your OB/GYN Advise You Not to Travel?
These are some of the reasons:
- Preterm labor
- Over 36 weeks into the pregnancy
- Third-trimester complications
- Likelihood of exposure to illness (like zika virus, malaria, and COVID-19)
- History of miscarriage
- High altitude locations
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends only traveling up to the end of the second trimester, which is 14 to 28 weeks. You might want to schedule an appointment with your doctor before your trip just to make sure it is safe for you to travel.
Air Travel During Pregnancy
Some trips, especially cross-country or international trips, may require getting on a plane to explore a new city or return home for the holidays. Keep in mind, most airlines will not allow pregnant travelers to fly after 36 weeks.
Most airlines also require pregnant people to provide a medical certificate certifying that the passenger is fit for air travel during the final months of pregnancy. Check your airline’s requirements before booking your flight.
When considering your travel plans, air travel during pregnancy in the first trimester can be risky if you are experiencing symptoms like nausea, fatigue, or motion sickness. This can make flying uncomfortable.
If you are cleared for travel by your OB/GYN, use preventative measures, like:
- Plan to keep your circulation going whenever you can. That means flexing your legs and feet, getting up and walking in the aisle, and wearing loose clothing.
- Keep hydrated by drinking water and other liquids.
- Wear your seatbelt when instructed.
- Watch the types of foods you eat prior to the flight. Certain foods can create a buildup of gas. Avoiding these foods and drinks can alleviate any discomfort that may result.
- Consider wearing decompression socks to help blood flow since you’ll be sitting for an extended period.
If you start experiencing symptoms, like excessive vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or problems with your vision prior to or during air travel, contact your doctor or attending physician as soon as possible.
Preparing for the trip should also be a priority. Most air travel is at least an hour and a half or longer depending on where you are going.
Prior to your flight:
- Pack crackers in your carry-on bag to help sooth nausea.
- Drink peppermint tea and lots of water before the flight.
- Prioritize getting a good night’s sleep prior to traveling.
- Always have the name of a recommended physician at your destination for those “just in case” moments or if you will need prenatal care.
Flying Internationally While Pregnant
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises pregnant people to prioritize pretravel care when preparing for an international trip. Consider these steps when preparing for international air travel during pregnancy:
- Schedule a visit with a healthcare provider who specializes in travel medicine. Schedule this appointment at least 4-6 weeks before you depart so they can review your itinerary and make recommendations based on your destination.
- Consider vaccine requirements. Some countries require specific vaccines to enter the country. Visit the U.S. Department of State’s travel site for information on vaccine requirements for different countries and review this information with your doctor.
- Consider purchasing supplemental travel insurance with medical and cancellation benefits. Since many primary insurance plans provide limited or no coverage once you leave your home country, the CDC advises pregnant international travelers to purchase insurance that will provide coverage for unexpected medical expenses incurred while traveling. Even if your regular health insurance does provide adequate coverage abroad, you may wish to purchase trip cancellation coverage to protect your trip investment in case of cancellation.
If you’re a U.S. citizen or resident traveling domestically, you can purchase travel insurance to supplement your regular health insurance and/or protect the cost of your trip with trip cancellation coverage. Learn more about why you may need travel insurance or keep reading to see what kinds of pregnancy-related expenses travel insurance can cover.
What Kinds of Pregnancy-Related Expenses Can Travel Insurance Cover?
Unexpected Medical Expenses
First of all, it’s important to understand that travel insurance is not designed to cover regular pregnancy-related expenses, such as routine prenatal care, childbirth, or postnatal care. But some plans do cover unexpected complications of pregnancy, which typically refer to illnesses that are distinct from your pregnancy but are adversely affected by your pregnancy or caused by your pregnancy (and not associated with a normal pregnancy).
For example, all three of our Atlas Journey plans provide coverage for complications of pregnancy, which include conditions such as acute nephritis, nephrosis, cardiac decompensation, missed abortion, non-elective cesarean section, ectopic pregnancy which is terminated, and similar medical and surgical conditions of comparable severity.
If you’re traveling in a remote area, the CDC encourages you to look for an insurance policy that covers medical evacuation. A Medical Evacuation benefit can pay for your transportation to the nearest adequate health facility in situations where your life depends on your ability to get sufficient medical care quickly. Atlas Journey plans include a Medical Evacuation & Repatriation of Remains benefit.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption
Many travel insurance plans, like Atlas Journey, include Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption benefits. These benefits can reimburse you for prepaid, nonrefundable expenses if you cancel your trip—or your trip is delayed or interrupted—due to a covered reason, such as an injury or illness that prevents you from traveling.
Both Atlas Journey Premier and Atlas Journey Preferred include pregnancy as a covered reason for cancellation or interruption, as long as the pregnancy occurs after your coverage is in effect.
Let’s say you find out you’re pregnant after planning your trip and purchasing your travel insurance. Due to concerns about traveling while pregnant, you no longer feel comfortable traveling on your departure date. You follow the correct procedures to cancel your trip and file your claim, so your plan will reimburse you for your covered trip expenses.
Note that Atlas Journey Economy, Atlas Journey Preferred, and Atlas Journey Premier also include complications of pregnancy as covered reasons for cancellation or interruption, as long as the complications of pregnancy occur after your coverage goes into effect.
Read the policy documents for any plan you’re considering carefully and make sure you understand the general exclusions as well as what is and isn’t covered regarding pregnancy. Learn more about our Atlas Journey travel insurance plan here. You can see policy documents under the “Policy Documentation” tab above the benefit chart.
Is It Safe to Travel During Pregnancy by Car?
You may be wondering “Is it safe to travel by car during pregnancy in the first trimester?” or “Is it safe to travel long distance by car during pregnancy?” If you’re planning a trip by car while pregnant, there are a few things to consider.
Travel during pregnancy in the first trimester by car can be complicated due to all the motion. Car sickness can mean nausea, diarrhea, or both. Long-distance travel in the first trimester may exacerbate nausea or cause extreme fatigue.
Combat these issues by ensuring there is plenty of room and space for you to be comfortable and relaxed and that you’re well rested before you depart on your trip. Pack anti-nausea meds if they’ve been approved for use during pregnancy by your doctor. If you’re not driving, bring a comfortable pillow, a blanket, ear plugs, and an eye mask in case you need to get some rest.
When traveling during pregnancy in your first trimester by car (and during the second and third), always wear your lap belt across your pelvis under your belly.
Be aware that there is a risk of developing blood clots throughout a pregnancy—especially when sitting for long periods of time. You can lessen the chance of experiencing blood clots by staying hydrated and planning frequent stops to allow for walking around, stretching, going to the bathroom, and filling up your water bottle.
Also plan for emergencies. Assess your planned route on a GPS app like Waze and note the rest stops, restrooms, and hospitals along the way. You may need to change your route to avoid long stretches that take you through the middle of nowhere.
Prior to long-distance travel during pregnancy, talk to your OB/GYN for additional tips on what to do and what not to do and potential complications to watch out for.
When Should You Stop Traveling by Car When Pregnant?
Most physicians recommend stopping travel at 36 weeks (or sooner if there are other complications at work). Your OB/GYN will be able to provide the best suggestions for when to stop traveling by car while pregnant, and what you should be doing while traveling long distances by car.
COVID Pregnancy Travel
COVID pregnancy travel can be done but is not typically recommended. It is best to avoid traveling to areas with high COVID-19 rates.
According to the CDC, “People who are pregnant are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with people who are not pregnant.” If you are traveling while pregnant during COVID, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 travel restrictions map to see the level of risk for travel around the world.
The CDC also recommends that those who are pregnant get a COVID-19 vaccination if they are not already vaccinated, as well as a booster shot. “Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19, and a healthy [parent] is important for a healthy baby,” the CDC says. Consider the added risks of COVID-19 and pregnancy and talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated.
Visit the CDC’s COVID-19: Pregnancy or Breastfeeding page for more information regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and pregnancy.
If you are pregnant and have COVID, you should avoid traveling at all costs or isolate if you have already left for your trip. If you contract COVID while traveling abroad and must be admitted to the hospital, your travel insurance plan may help cover your unexpected medical costs. A plan with travel assistance services, like Atlas Journey, can also be helpful when you need assistance in another country.
Does Travel Insurance Cover Expenses Related to COVID-19?
Whether or not travel insurance provides coverage for expenses related to COVID-19 depends on the plan you choose.
The Trip Cancellation benefit included with many travel insurance plans will reimburse you for prepaid, nonrefundable expenses if you cancel your trip due to a covered reason. Covered reasons could include finding out you’re pregnant after your coverage is in effect or an injury or illness—like COVID-19—that prevents you from traveling.
Your plan will probably not reimburse you if you cancel a trip solely due to growing fears about COVID-19 in your destination. However, some plans, like Atlas Journey, allow you to add a Trip Cancellation for Any Reason (CFAR) benefit if you purchase your plan within 21 days of the date you made your first payment toward your trip, and no later than 48 hours before departure. A CFAR benefit provides coverage (often 50% or 75% of your trip cost) if you cancel for a reason that is not otherwise covered under your Trip Cancellation benefit, like a fear of catching COVID while pregnant. Just make sure you follow cancellation procedures, like cancelling at least two days prior to your departure.
In case you fall ill with COVID-19 during your trip, look for a plan that includes coverage for unexpected medical expenses resulting from COVID-19. Our Atlas Journey plans cover eligible medical expenses related to COVID-19 the same as any other illness (up to the Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expense maximum benefit for the plan you choose). They also provide coverage for complications of pregnancy, which you can learn more about above.
What about quarantine? Some plans include some coverage if you are quarantined during your trip dates. For example, Atlas Journey includes a Travel Delay benefit that will reimburse you up to $150 per day (up to a $2,000 maximum) under Atlas Journey Preferred or up to $200 per day (up to a $2,000 maximum) under Atlas Journey Premier if you are delayed for 5 or more hours due to a covered reason—such as quarantine—while en route to your trip, during your trip, or while returning from your trip.
Be Sure to Explore These Related Resources:
- 11-Step Guide to Planning for International Travel
- How to Fly with Kids
- 21 Tips for Staying Safe While Traveling
- How to Safely Travel Abroad with Young Children (According to the Top 21 Family Travel Bloggers)
- Staying Healthy While You Travel
- The Ultimate Guide to Safe and Healthy Family Travel
- Is Travel Insurance Really Worth It?
- Atlas Journey Travel Insurance
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WorldTrips is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies.
WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel Series and StudentSecure international travel medical insurance products are underwritten by Lloyd's. WorldTrips has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by HCC Underwriting Agency, Ltd.
WorldTrips' Atlas Journey, Atlas Cruiser, and Atlas On-The-Go trip protection insurance products are underwritten by Tokio Marine HCC's U.S. Specialty Insurance Company (USSIC). USSIC is a Texas-domiciled insurance company operating on an admitted basis throughout the United States. Coverage is available to U.S. residents of the U.S. states and District of Columbia only. This plan provides insurance coverage that only applies during the covered trip. You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home, and automobile insurance policies. Coverage may not be available in all states.
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