Do you have clients who just became pregnant? Send them on a babymoon, which is becoming increasingly popular among expecting couples. The added variable of a pregnancy can make planning a vacation significantly more complicated, however, making the role of an advisor even more important. Here is some info on the best times to travel, where to travel and everything else you will need to know to create that perfect babymoon vacation.
Perhaps the most important thing for a couple traveling while pregnant is when they travel. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the safest time for a pregnant woman to travel is during the second trimester (18 through 24 weeks). After 28 weeks, most airlines will require a note from a doctor, but restrictions and requirements vary among airlines (so check for specifics). Note: Once a woman reaches 37 weeks, she will not be allowed to fly (as approximately 4 percent of women give birth on the predicted due date, according to the Perinatal Institute).
Many airlines do not allow women carrying twins to travel after 32 weeks.
Similarly, many cruises don’t allow pregnant couples to travel past 24 to 27 weeks. Good to know: Neither Viking River Cruises nor AmaWaterways have cut-off dates, but doctor’s notes would be required.
According to the British Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, there is no evidence that the changes in air pressure and /
or the decreased humidity have harmful effects on pregnant women or their baby. There is also no evidence that flying will result in miscarriage, early labor or cause the water to break. Anyone who flies is exposed to a slight increase in radiation, so occasional flights are not considered to present a risk to travelers.
Some tips to keep in mind while traveling during pregnancy, according to BabyMoon Travel, are to: get a list of hospitals from the tourist board and keep a list of emergency contacts; reserve an aisle seat on flights for quicker access to restrooms; wear high-factor sunscreen and stick to bottled water; and avoid mosquitos and countries with health concerns.
Note: The CDC has issued a Level 2 Travel Alert, meaning “practice enhanced precautions” for countries with Zika. There are currently over 50 countries containing the disease.
“Zika concern is absolutely not on a decrease and it certainly did affect pregnant travelers,” says Ilonka Molijn - van Ginkel of BabyMoon Travel. “At this time, we still do not actively promote [any] Zika destinations except for Singapore.”
There is, however, some good news as well. Several travel industry experts have reported that despite the Zika scare there has been an increase in babymoon travel overall.
Andaz 5th Avenue is popular for its closeness to iconic attractions, including the New York City Library, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, Times Square and 5th Avenue shopping.
Taylor Methfessel of SmartFlyer confirms. “I have seen an increase in babymoon travelers in the past couple of years,” she says. “I believe this is because young people are placing greater value on experiences versus material goods. It’s a wiser investment, as the memories will stick with you and your family forever.”
Ker & Downey, which focuses on experiential travel, agrees that babymoon travel is on the rise, saying “couples value that time together before their family grows, and we work hard to make it hassle-free and magical.” Dissimilar to other companies or advisors, however, Ker & Downey has said that among its clients, the fear of Zika appears to be on the decrease, although it continues to monitor the risk level closely with its partners.
Despite this, there are still plenty of destinations to consider for babymoon travel.
“Don’t feel that you have to travel far to truly get away,” says Methfessel. “There are some incredible resorts within the U.S. From glamping in Moab, UT, to driving an airstream down the Californian coast, there is a lot to choose from.
“Travel doesn’t have to be complicated and exotic,” she continues. “In fact, it’s often when we stay close that it’s most rewarding. We realize how much our home has to offer and we feel comfortable and relaxed while doing so.”
For couples looking to stay state-bound, popular destinations appear to be based outdoors. Ker & Downey notes Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in Montana all offer comfortable weather and local experiential travel. Both Ker & Downey and Methfessel suggest Amangiri in Canyon Point, UT, as an excellent babymoon destination.
Each of Amangiri’s 34 private suites has private courtyard access, king-sized beds, dressing rooms, twin rain showers and soaking tubs, and private lounges with a fireplace and resting mattress for a night under the desert stars. For VIPs, the Girijaala Suite and Amangiri Suite present more spacious accommodations with their own private pools and a sky terrace. Sister property Amangani, located in the Grand Tetons, is popular in the winter for skiing and in the summer for hiking and fishing.
Other destinations that Methfessel has been sending her clients to are Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, and Four Seasons Resort Lanai in Hawaii. Good to know: Hawaii is very popular among babymooners, as it’s a tropical destination that’s safe and free from the Zika virus.
Four Seasons Lanai is situated on the southeastern shore of Hawaii, which is deemed safe for babymooners as its free from Zika virus.
Rancho Valencia, in 2013, underwent a $30 million renovation, which included the remodeling of its guest casitas, The Spa and fitness center, and a brand-new restaurant and bar. The resort has 49 casitas with private patios, an assortment of spa treatments and several fitness programs, including yoga and Pilates. The Valencia Suite is the top of the one-bedroom suites, however guests might consider the Private Guesthouse, which has three suites with king-size beds, a garden patio, wood-burning fireplace, deluxe bath, a full kitchen and dining space, a separate living room with fireplace, a private heated pool and whirlpool spa, an outdoor dining cabana with grill, fireplace and table, and manicured gardens.
BabyMoon Travel has created a package with luxury boutique lodge Grey Cliffs Ranch in Madison Valley, MT, to offer moms-to-be a relaxing vacation before their bundle of joy arrives. For those who would prefer a city destination, BabyMoon Travel also has a package with Andaz 5th Avenue in New York City.
The former package includes a pottery class, a massage for mom, and a chef-served dinner and gourmet breakfast, while the latter comprises in-room spa treatments, a Cravings Voucher to spend at The Shop Retail and mocktails.
Grey Cliffs Ranch is suitable for couples that don’t mind sharing space. The Lodge is composed of four one-bedroom guest suites and one two-room suite. Each has its own private bath, and all of the one-room suites have French doors opening out to an outdoor patio. And even though the living room and kitchen are open to all guests, the 8,000-square-foot Lodge allows for plenty of privacy.
While it’s recommended that couples stay relatively close to home (within four hours), further destinations shouldn’t be out of question.
South Africa and Namibia offer malaria-free game reserves and safe safari experiences; and Cape Town has plenty of arts and culture. Just off the coast, the Seychelles is another tropical destination that’s free of Zika and is generally not as crowded as other similar destinations. Continuing across the Indian Ocean, the Maldives (which has reported cases of Zika) and Bali both focus on fresh and holistic menus to nourish body and mind at their resorts — perfect for a relaxing vacation before the potential sleepless nights become commonplace.
Amangiri in Canyon Point, UT, has 34 private suites with views of dunes, plateaus and mountain ridges. Seen here is the resort’s swimming pool.
In South America, Chile and Uruguay have had zero cases of Zika. The Lakes District in Chile is known for its incredible beauty and quiet, while José Ignacio in Uruguay is a hip, laid-back beach town, according to Ker & Downey. Playa Vik José Ignacio is their hotel of choice. It has a collection of modern art, and the cottages have adobe fireplaces, hand-painted floors, wine cellars, outdoor living, dining, and cooking spaces, fitness centers and small spas.
Europe is also a popular destination, with Portugal, Italy and Greece as the best destinations for babymooners. Molijn - van Ginkel notes, specifically, that the Amalfi Coast in Italy seems to be “an extraordinary babymoon destination for expecting couples in America.”
The best time of the year to travel obviously varies by destination. However, it’s moderately agreed that shoulder seasons are a better time to go — not only will travelers find better rates, but the weather will also be less intense. For instance, spring and fall are an excellent time for a vacation to the Caribbean. And for couples that have done beach and experiential travel, Molijn – van Ginkel says that spring and fall (or any time that doesn’t align with a holiday) are excellent for city travel.
Note: There isn’t any reason to prevent a couple from traveling during the summer on a babymoon. Molijn –van Ginkel says that couples looking for a beach babymoon should consider summer (just keep the sun tan lotion handy!).
Before booking any international babymoon vacations, however, have your clients contact their doctor, and make sure they carry their doctor’s certificate on their pregnancy and confirmation of the due date with them at all times.