The five essentials for an ultimate last hurrah.
What’s a babymoon, anyway, and how exactly, does one partake? The simple definition: this is a getaway for expecting parents, typically first-timers. It’s their last trip as a twosome before they become a party of three, and their travel habits do a complete 180. Some of my friends had been to Hawaii, others to Cabo or Jamaica—so I was getting the idea that beach trips were popular. But my husband and I are both adventurous and avid travelers. So we figured hell, with a ton of vacation days banked and the very real prospect of being grounded for quite some time, why not take two babymoons, one that appealed to both our city-slash-foodie loving sides, and another that appealed to our beach-happy selves?
And that’s what we did. In March, during my fourth month, we traveled to Tokyo and Kyoto, walked everywhere, and ate ourselves silly. Some thought I was insane for taking a 13-hour flight to Japan, but as someone who is comfortable with long plane rides—and loves disconnecting and catching up on movies—I can tell you that kicking back in my economy plus seat on JAL was sheer bliss.
Then, later, in my seventh month, we went to St. Barts, sat on the beach, and went to bed by 10 with zero shame. We picked this Caribbean island because our visit would coincide with the slow season, which is less sceney (and more our speed); we’re Francophiles; and who isn’t up for chilling on the beach?
Now that both trips have come and gone, I thought I’d offer a little bit of travel and babymoon advice for parents-to-be. Full disclosure: my travel habits may not match yours, and if you’re a high-risk pregnancy or having multiples, traveling might not be in the cards for you, period. Always, always, check with your doctor about when you should stop flying (mine said at 32 weeks), and do what’s comfortable for you. Another interesting tidbit for those who want to take a cruise: carefully read the line’s policy. Most prohibit women from traveling once they enter their 24th week.
Don’t shy away from the exotic—or long plane rides.
I’m qualifying this by saying that every pregnant woman has a different comfort zone. By my fourth month, I was feeling great (I never had morning sickness), a brutal winter had set in, and I wanted to flee New York City. And go far. To me, flying for 10-plus hours with an infant seemed more daunting than flying 10-plus hours pregnant. Japan had been on our bucket list as a couple for years, and we literally jumped at the chance to do a trip that we knew, realistically, wouldn’t be in the cards for another several years. Why does Japan work for a babymoon? Well, first off, it’s a nation that embraces efficiency and orderliness—which translates every bathroom being spotless, even the public ones. Germaphobes can lie down on the subway floor and not get dirty. Another question I kept getting: what did you do about sushi? Well, Japanese cuisine involves a whole lot more than raw fish. There’s ramen, tempura, shabu shabu, sukiyaki, incredible pastries and sweets, and need I go on? Oh, the white rice, which I ate at every turn. Bottom line: a babymoon can also be a bucket list trip, if you let it.
An active trip just might keep you sane.
Again, this probably applies more to those in their second trimester, when some women (myself included) get a burst of energy. (This trimester is called the “honeymoon” period, and that’s all relative.) So walking Tokyo’s neighborhoods and through Kyoto’s charming temples felt great. Sure, lying on a beach would have been fun, too, but honestly, now that I’m in my third trimester, I look back on the second trimester, a time of non-swollen feet, a non-achy back, and a hearty appetite, and want to weep with joy. Walking kept me sane and healthy. If you exercise regularly, I also wouldn’t rule out a babymoon that involves fitness classes, too.
Go to a fancy restaurant or two.
We sat through 13 courses of fried yumminess at Tempura Kondo in Tokyo, and savored every last bite of Wagyu steak at the Park Hyatt’s New York Grill, a see-and-be-seen spot on the 52nd floor with views that I’ll never forget. In St. Barts, we sat at Jean Georges’ restaurant at the Eden Roc and unabashedly asked for three helpings of bread and butter, and our sweet waiter, seeing that I was pregnant, was kind enough to offer a fourth. (I politely declined.) Knowing that this part of our life would be put on pause—for a bit—made the food taste that much better.
Third trimester + beach = bliss.
This is the time when sitting on the sand and reading makes a whole lot of sense. You’re just too damn tired to do much else. Swimming makes a whole lot of sense too, because you feel weightless, and it’s fantastic. St. Barts was a dream destination because it still felt exotic. We chose two resorts—Le Guanahani and the Hotel Taïwana—to break up our week. Le Guanahani was sophisticated, quiet, and family-friendly. We started taking notes. Hotel Taïwana was younger, with a bit more of a Euro vibe. Not a horrible place to bring a small child, but we’re glad we stayed there now.
And lastly, ask to board early.
You are now one of those people who need special assistance. Why? Having flown two, four, five, and seven months pregnant, I can wholeheartedly say that all you really want to do is sit down as soon as possible, analyze how close the nearest bathroom is, and have your partner (or some other kind person) stow your carry-on bag in the overhead bin quickly without the next passenger breathing down your neck. I don’t care how pregnant you are (or how pregnant you look) early boarding is a gift that you must take advantage of, freely.
Jacqueline Gifford is a senior editor at Travel + Leisure.