I was 10-weeks pregnant and craving pizza while on vacation in Germany. We picked a well-reviewed restaurant, only to be told that no tables would be available that night. My husband, who meant well, suggested we try our luck at a different restaurant a few doors down. But it didn’t serve pizza, and for me at that moment, nothing but pizza would do.
So, naturally, I burst into tears.
Thankfully, we swiftly found another option and my highly specific food craving was satisfied. But traveling while pregnant is tricky, assuming it’s safe for you to do so (always talk to your doctor or midwife first). Not only might you be dealing with nausea, fatigue, food cravings you may not be able to accommodate in other countries, and other maladies, but also some travel activities can be unsafe during pregnancy.
I traveled a few times while pregnant, both for work and leisure, leaning on a few helpful credit card perks to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Your card’s benefits could smooth the way to a less chaotic, and more enjoyable, travel experience.
WHEN BOOKING TRAVEL: INSURANCE AND SEAT UPGRADES
Travel protections like trip cancellation insurance can come in handy if you need to back out of your trip due to a covered reason, like illness. Note that what counts as a “covered reason” can vary by card, and some situations related to pregnancy may not be covered. This can include travel after a certain week in your pregnancy, or if you become pregnant with multiples before booking travel . Review what your card does and doesn’t cover, and consider additional travel insurance if needed.
Thanks to big sign-up bonuses, airline credit cards speed up the time it takes to earn a substantial number of miles. Booking flights directly through airlines with those miles can give you an out if you need to cancel your trip. Some airlines will refund your miles with no fees if you back out, even close to your travel date.
If you’re accustomed to toughing it out in the back of the plane, this might be a good time to cash in miles earned from airline cards on a seat upgrade. A dangerous health issue to avoid is deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot that can travel to your lungs. Your risk of DVT increases in pregnancy. “More spacious seating with increased mobility could decrease lower extremity swelling and venous stasis, which can increase the risk of DVT,” Dr. Meghan Zysik said in an email. Zysik is an attending obstetrician and gynecologist at Albany Medical Center, part of the Albany Med Health System in Albany, New York.
AT THE AIRPORT: DITCH THE LUGGAGE AND LINES, EMBRACE THE LOUNGES
The times I traveled alone, I didn’t want to hoist my carry-on bag into the overhead compartment, and there’s never a guarantee a kind stranger will offer to help (especially if you aren’t visibly pregnant yet). With airline cards, you typically get a free checked bag, saving you $60 in bag fees per round trip flight. “Everybody has to pay attention to their body,” says P. Fadwah Halaby, a certified nurse midwife in West Palm Beach, Florida. “Don’t lift it if it feels like it’s going to hurt.” Halaby recommends limiting lifting any bags weighing more than 25 pounds.
Now that you can move through the security line unencumbered by baggage, don’t let that statement credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry go unused. Not only is this benefit worth at least $78 in value , but it’ll also get you out of line, and off of your feet, faster. “Prolonged standing can lead to physical discomfort and worsen lower extremity swelling,” Zysik said. “Take the time saved with PreCheck to eat a meal, sit, and rest or doing calming routines such as meditation.”
A perfect place to do all those things is an airport lounge, which some travel cards grant you free access to.
DURING THE TRIP: HOTEL FREEBIES AND AWAY-FROM-HOME MEDICAL CARE
Your credit card company may offer referrals to local medical providers if you need assistance during your trip. This can include providing names of English-speaking doctors and hospitals, and even helping you stay in contact with your family . You’d have to pay any out-of-pocket costs for these services, but you’ll get help during a stressful time.
Hotel credit cards come packed with extras to make your stay more relaxing. One of my cards earned me status, granting free access to a lounge at our hotel in Berlin that provided breakfast, happy hour and all-day snacks . You can also get a few more hours of rest with late checkout, another benefit of cards that give you automatic status at hotel brands.
TAKE REASONABLE PRECAUTIONS
Before heading out of town, talk with your doctor or midwife because some medical conditions during pregnancy may increase your risk of health complications. Certain activities are off limits, like scuba diving . Your medical provider can also recommend medications that can ease pregnancy symptoms.
And, of course, they may insist you refrain from travel entirely. “You have to use common sense. It really needs to be said,” Halaby says. “Do you have a diagnosis? Are you being treated for something in particular that may or may not be good for traveling?” If any of that is the case for you, a relaxing staycation may be the more medically sound option.
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Sara Rathner is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @SaraKRathner.