Babymoon: A romantic or relaxing vacation taken in anticipation of a baby’s arrival. (Once you get over the ridiculousness of the term, think of it as uninterrupted couple-time, seasoned with preemptive pampering before the stork delivers your baby.)
Sitting poolside in Bali at 18 weeks pregnant I noticed a gal, about six months pregnant, submerged in the resort’s infinity pool, peering over the edge. Her glowing serene smile, and easy-going disposition inspired me to redefine my less-than-stellar impression of the babymoon.
Like everyone else at the beachfront hotel, she and her partner would go for sunrise and sunset beach walks, savor sundowner bevvies (hers of the non-alcoholic variety, bedazzled with an umbrella), and take dips in the pool to ward off the midday heat.
Nearing the halfway mark of my pregnancy at the time, I became fascinated by my fellow baby-toter as if she was my older sister. Was she having fun? Could she enjoy her beach vacation despite the limited diet and drink restrictions doctors suggest for women with babies on the way? All things considered, was it worth traveling at six months pregnant? Not surprisingly, she proved “yes” to all my burning babymoon questions.
“Babymoon it is,” I announced to my husband, who was unaware I’d become enamored with the expectant couple four lounge chairs over. “Let’s do a trip before Baby Styler (our baby’s nickname) arrives,” I proclaimed.
Half asleep and sweating under the equatorial sun, he agreed to my plan.
A month and a half later, we headed to Mexico’s Riviera Maya for our official babymoon, where we spent three days splurging at the all-villa Banyan Tree Mayakoba—hello, personal plunge pool!—and five days glamping budget-style in Tulum.
Having placed more than 20 pins on the map in destinations as far as Indonesia and as close as local weekend getaways over the course of my pregnancy (I’m a travel writer; the world is my office), here are some tried-and-tested babymoon hints I gleaned while venturing near and far with a baby in my belly.
Viewfinder Tip: Start thinking about a babymoon at the beginning of your second trimester so there’s ample to time book some pre-kiddo peace.
1. Babymoon participants
While it’s common for the babymoon to be a low-key version of the honeymoon, that’s not to say you can’t break the rules and do a girls-only or guys-only pre-baby getaway. I’m going to coin this trip type: Babylorette! (You read it here first!)
2. Best timing
I traveled throughout most of my pregnancy—with OKs from my doctor every time—but according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the safest time to travel is between 18 to 24 weeks. If you miss this window, don’t rule out a local weekend away earlier in the third trimester (again, with your doctor’s approval). Mr. Trip Styler and I took our final pre-baby “minimoon” near our delivery hospital at 37 weeks, and brought our “baby” overnight bags with us in case I went into labor.
3. Near or far
As a frequent flier, I leaned toward taking my before-baby R+R abroad, but many parents I talk to favor local getaways. One couple I know is so obsessed with hotels and room service that they booked the Four Seasons Resort Whistler for a night, ordered in, and didn’t leave the room!
Consider your health, access to medical care, and cultural comfort level when deciding where to sojourn when you have a baby on the way. While a trek along the Urubamba River to Machu Picchu, or an African safari might not be the best babymoon ideas, domestic destinations and international locales such as Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean (with frequent flight routes back to the United States and modern medical infrastructures) are good options.
Exploring Oregon’s beaches
4. Travel protection
If you go anywhere out-of-state or abroad, triple check how your travel insurance treats pregnancy, and inquire if you need to get an extra policy to cover you in case of complications or early labor.
5. Flight rules
If your babymoon involves a flight, look into your airline of choice’s policy on expectant mothers to see if they have any bans or exclusions, or if they require a doctor’s note (some actually do).
6. Fun in the sun
While I was in Tulum in my second trimester, I slathered 70 SPF sunscreen over every inch of my body and planted myself under a hefty canvas umbrella, knowing I was more susceptible to sun exposure while pregnant. Three hours later I was a lobster. Doh! (And I was SO careful.) Word to the wise: Choose your shaded beach or poolside perch carefully, and reapply baby-safe sunscreen like it’s going out of style.
7. When nature calls
As funny as this sounds, adding toilet access to your trip plan is paramount because your need “to go” will morph from casual bathroom user to frequent visitor during your child’s gestation. Practically, this means choosing an aisle seat on the airplane, sitting near a bathroom in restaurants, and stopping frequently on road trips! (Thank you to the State of California for placing a rest stop every 30 miles.)
8. Getting some ZZZs
If you suffer from significant bouts of pregnancy-related fatigue or don’t deal well with jet lag, think about a trip in the same time zone.
9. Choose your trip type
Have fun with your babymoon; just because you’re carrying a child doesn’t mean your preparenthood getaway has to be bland. In fact, a number of trip styles—foodie, urban, beach, spa, or glamping—can be modified for babymooning. While I was pregnant I managed to do each of these trip types, tweaking them slightly to fit my needs. I traded my love of raw fish in Tokyo for a vegetarian sushi menu at one of the best restaurants in the city; my love of the sun for a palm tree-shaded perch in Mexico; my love of fancy spa treatments for prenatal massages and basic facials in Thailand; and my love of hard-to-reach locations for major cities.
10. Stay put
Whether you plan on doing a weekend trip or a week-long last hurrah to coupledom, try to stick with a simple, flexible trip itinerary at one hotel. Based on my experience, packing and unpacking multiple times and rushing through your destination is a surefire babymoon buzz kill.
Mr. Trip Styler and I practiced this simple approach to “babycationing” while we were in Kuala Lumpur. Instead of trying out a few of the slicker tower hotels downtown, we booked a villa hotel centered around an oasis-like pool in a lush area just outside the city. This stay, combined with a flexible we’ll-see-how-we’re-feeling approach to eating out and sightseeing, made for a zen retreat in one of Southeast Asia’s most bustling cities.
Prior to my pregnancy I was skeptical about the extent to which a couple could actually enjoy a babymoon with the sometimes no-fun food and drink restrictions, and bodily changes associated with carrying a child. In the end, however, with a few slight adjustments to what we did, how we ate, and where we traveled, our nine-month flight alongside the stork was well worth the adventure.
What are your pre-baby vacation tips?