Early this year, Albert surprised me with a babymoon trip to Japan before we have our 3rd baby. At the time he bought our plane tickets, I was already a few weeks pregnant. I was very thankful and excited for the trip since I never travelled during my two previous pregnancies.
Fast forward a few months, however, so many complications came up that we didn’t expect. A shortened cervix, early contractions, two rounds of antibiotics, bed rest orders, and tons of new medicines. By God’s grace, tests results came out better and I was given a go signal to travel by my doctor in time for the trip.
If you’re considering traveling while pregnant, I highly recommend it! It’s a great experience and a morale booster before a major life change.
1. Consider Destination Carefully
While most people go to the beach for their babymoons, we chose a balance of relaxation and a bit of adventure. For our Japan trip, we enjoyed traveling to the more laidback cities in Japan, Shimonoseki and Iwakuni.
Novelty & Familiarity
I’ve been to Tokyo and Osaka many times before, but this was my first time to the more “rural” parts of Japan. I’m always excited to go to new places, a fresh change of scenery from the daily routine of mom life. It also helped that Albert had been to Fukuoka 3x before, so he was my guide during the trip.
Proximity & Climate
The flight to Fukuoka is only a quick 4 hours away, meaning that if anything happened to the kids (or me!) while we were abroad, we could easily book a flight back home. The timezone was only an hour ahead, so we could also Facetime with our kids conveniently.
Temperature during this time was a comfy 24 degrees, ideal for pregnant women like me. *Chuckling* I just remembered whenever I’m pregnant Albert sleeps with two blankets while I’m complaining why is the air-conditioning not working hehe.
Crowd & Cleanliness
Since Fukuoka isn’t a bustling metropolis like Tokyo, I wouldn’t have to be worry about being elbowed in the midst of a busy pedestrian crowd. Japan in itself is already clean, but being in smallers cities takes it to a whole new level!
Zero pollution, no touristy crowds (only a handful of locals), and their bathrooms are the BEST in the world! This is such a big plus for anyone in their third trimester who has the urge to pee every 30 minutes!
Fun fact: contrary to Philippine custom that discourage throwing toilet paper inside the bowl, all the signs in Japanese bathrooms point to the oppposite. Logic: The toilet paper isn’t the lush 3-ply kind, but it’s designed to eventually dissolve, thus not clogging up the drain pipes.
2. Get a WRITTEN clearance from your OB.
This was my mistake, I forgot to ask for a signed clearance from my doctor to present to the airline. I wasn’t questioned during our China business trip, so I didn’t think of it at all.
It wasn’t much of a problem when we were departing Manila. The staff just asked how many weeks along I was and asked me to sign their forms. I waited for a while, and they handed me a form afterwards with the airline doctor’s signature (who I didn’t see at all!).
On our flight headed home, the Japanese staff at the checkin counter was more concerned. It took some explanation to detail why we didn’t have an OB’s certificate. A group of supervisors discussed amongst themselves if they should let me board, eventually allowing me to.
3. It’s ok to overpack.
To be on the safe side, I packed all my medicines and vitamins in my handcarry. Then I packed a duplicate set of medicines and vitamins inside my checkin luggage. Just in case either would get lost, I wouldn’t have to worry about filling up prescriptions in a foreign country. Clothes, underwear and shoes are easy to buy, but replacing medicines is a hassle I’d rather not go through.
4. Consider booking through a travel agent.
We planned a leisurely-paced 4 day trip through Nippon Travel Agency, considered the#1 travel agency in Japan.
Though we usually plan our own travels, Albert felt that for this case it would be more relaxing and enjoyable to book through a travel agency. Instead of hauling our luggage from train stations and figuring out maps (which can be fun), we were like a happy retired couple just enjoying the premium service of our tour coordinator.
I haven’t booked with a travel operator in a long time, but Nippon Travel Agency deserves a 5-star rating easily. They speak English well, and easily adjusted and accommodated our concerns. We had a wheelchair on hand for long walks (I used it twice during the entire trip).
During a night at a traditional Japanese hotel, our travel coordinator also quickly arranged for an elevated bed instead of a traditional tatami floor bed so that I didn’t need to exert much effort getting up. Albert and I thoroughly enjoyed the extra level of service because it was one thing off our minds to coordinate the logistics, etc., that we could enjoy the sites and each other’s company more.
4. Enjoy BUT still Exercise Caution
Albert was shocked (but also pleased) that I tamed down from my usual non-pregnant travel pace of “Go, go go!” We knew that it was a blessing for us to enjoy the trip, but also not to push our limits.
One of my favorite spots during the entire tour was the Motonosumi-inari Shrine. Even if it was listed on CNN Travel’s 36 Most Beautiful Places in Japan, there were only local tourists.
The shrine had 123 Torli gates, and it was quite a walk down. Despite really, really wanting to go all the way down to the bottom and see the cliff over the sea, we just settled on enjoying the view from above. In my case, it was too risky climbing up and down all those stairs (even if there were 70 year old seniors doing it!)
Onsens Are A No-No
During our trip, we stayed in two hotels that had authentic onsens. Definitely NOT safe for pregnant women. Albert was very supportive, even if I told him he could go on his own, he just spent time with me taking photos wearing our yukatas along the coastline.
For food, I really liked how healthy Japanese cuisine is. Out of a huge bento with all sorts of treats, there would only be one small deep-fried dish. It’s very subjective whether you can eat sushi or not when pregnant, but I did! 🙂 As a precaution, I took probiotics before meals. I drew the line at eating fresh chicken sushi at an organic chicken restaurant though.
5. Travel Insurance is NOT not an option.
It’s a MUST. We are super advocates of insurance, since it’s something you can actually buy to hedge against risk. Travel insurance covers all your up-front costs (flights, hotels, activities) up to around P500,000 (depends on the package plan) in case you need to cancel or cut your trip short. Albert and I have separately used travel insurance before and were able to redeem all our expenses.
I have a suki insurance agency we buy travel insurance from, and she makes it as hassle free as possbile. We just forward our airplane tickets. She sends us the policy via e-mail, and we pay her via bank deposit. The advantage of booking through an actual agent instead of buying it in the airline’s website that not only is it cheaper, but it’s also easier to claim. You have someone to follow up on your behalf instead of calling a “hotline” everyday and explaning the situtation to a different person each time.
I’m very thankful that nothing untoward happened during our trip, but we did have a companion who had to go visit a doctor. They just kept the prescriptions and receipts for reimbursement when they got home.
6. Trust and Enjoy!
Whatever we do, we can’t control every single situation and outcome. Having trust in God and prayer for peace with our decision helped us be confident to pursue this trip.
We had so many worries – would the kids be ok while we’re away (my mom stayed at our place the entire time we were gone), would I relapse back to my old symptoms? So many questions and nothing is 100% certain. The only thing we can certain about is to ask God to put us at the center of His will and trust in His goodness that everything will be ok.
It was a great time to pause and take a break from our routine and focus on our marriage and be excited for our 3rd bundle of joy! Hope you enjoy your own babymoon!