For avid travelers, a babymoon is an ideal way to toast to a new, and profoundly different, chapter of life. When expecting a child, what better way to celebrate (and talk through your feelings of existential dread) than by taking one final, pre-parenthood jaunt. Before I get into all the reasons why you absolutely should take your partner on a babymoon and walk you through how to plan one, let me be loud and clear about one thing — when it comes to travel, the old ways of doing things aren’t going to cut it anymore. The good news is that your forthcoming parenthood doesn’t have to change why you travel, or even how. The biggest change you’ll face is physiological. Let’s dive into how to plan a babymoon, with a few anecdotes mixed in to illustrate how we eased the anxiety.
1. Take the babymoon during the second trimester
When planning a babymoon, take into account how you and your partner traveled in the past — including comfort level, desired amenities, and targeted activities — and toss those experiences into a folder labeled “the past.” You’re now in a new realm of travel. It’s called “the future,” and your babymoon is going to provide a slight glimpse into how your travel experience is going to pan out from here on. A babymoon doesn’t have to be a “new” kind of travel. But it should be a new take on how you plan the type of travel that you and your partner enjoy doing.
Being born Coloradans, my partner, Alisha, and I are both outdoorsy and tend to plan most of our trips around activities including hiking, biking, or camping. We also like to work in some nice meals and perhaps a cultural experience or two. Our babymoon was no different. The trip consisted of four hotel nights — two in Seattle and two in Portland — and four nights in a Wandervans campervan cruising the Pacific Northwest coast. We traveled while my partner was between 19 and 21 weeks pregnant, and were able to enjoy a few hikes in the mountains and long walks on the shores of Washington and Oregon.
A babymoon in your case might be a week at a resort or a visit to the place where you and your partner first met each other. No matter what your destination, timing is key. Plan your babymoon during the second trimester. Primarily, because morning sickness is most common during the first trimester. The two of you could subsist for a week on smoothies and vacuum-sealed ice cream, but it’s far more enjoyable — especially for your partner — to not have to spend the entire vacation afraid to eat a full meal for fear of sending it right back out.
My partner and I found the period between 14 and 26 weeks to be the most “normal,” where she felt good (most of the time) and could participate in activities like hiking and dining out without being incredibly uncomfortable or self-conscious. Once past the 30-week mark, the thought of walking eight blocks at a hurried pace in order to not miss that dinner reservation or trudge up a beach dune to catch the sunset over the ocean sounds increasingly unappealing, if not outright undoable.
In terms of overall experience, you’re going to get the most out of each day during the second trimester. While intermittent bouts of napping are common, in general, your partner’s sleep schedule and energy level are likely to be more optimal for travel during this time than at any other point during pregnancy. It’s also the safest trimester during which to fly, so if your babymoon takes you cross-country as ours did, this is absolutely the time to do it. We also had the unforgettable experience of feeling our daughter’s first big “kicks” while on a ferry between Bainbridge Island and Seattle, a story certain to be part of my toast at her wedding, if and when that day comes.
2. Do your research, but leave plenty of time for relaxation
Choose a location that appeals to you both and over-plan on the key details. For us, we booked hotels in Seattle and Portland and a campervan to shuttle us in between in advance. We’d always wanted to see the Pacific Northwest coast, and wanted to visit friends in Portland en route. Whereas in the past we may have chosen to stay with our friends or booked an Airbnb near them, we instead opted for a suite at the historic Heathman Hotel downtown. The goal was two-fold — the first being to position ourselves close to at least one legendary brunch, within walking distance of the famed Powell’s City of Books, and nearby to a place where I could treat her to a nice dinner. The second reason we selected the Heathman was due to the hotel’s boutique, high-end vibe.
Any pregnant traveler, even the most seasoned outdoors person out there, deserves to be spoiled on a babymoon. There was no better property at which to do this than the Heathman. While we had originally planned to ride the gondola, check out a museum or two, and rent a kayak for a day on the river, relaxing and doing little more than eating and reading proved to be the call of the weekend. The hotel’s ambience actually encouraged us to hang out at the hotel. We had a soft, comfortable bed with a view out over the city, and the hotel’s library — lined with thousands of books — proved the perfect place to relax and turn some pages. Two books and one food truck pod later, we were relaxed and ready to spend a few nights camping.
For the camping portion of our babymoon, we opted for a reasonably decked-out van rental that included a comfortable bed, a camp stove, and a mini-fridge. All we had to do was swing by the grocery store and stock up on food and we were set for the beaches of Oregon and the hiking trails of Olympic National Park. She slept relatively well in the camper van, though we did have to swap bed positions from how we normally sleep at home because we determined one side to be more firm and thus better for her to sleep on her side. Where in our pre-pregnancy travels we would likely have searched for dispersed campsites as we needed them, we booked all of our campsites in advance using recreation.gov and Hipcamp. This proved ideal as we knew where we’d be sleeping each night and could pace our driving and daily activities to accommodate.
Having the hard details set proved key throughout the trip. Our hotels and campsites booked, we were free to hit a hike or sleep in and head to a late brunch without having to worry about where we were headed next. We left days open to adventure only as aggressively as we felt in the moment. This proved key — minimizing stress is the most important factor to a successful babymoon.
3. Sneak a surprise in there somewhere
After four nights of camping, we checked into the Hotel Monaco in Seattle ready to chill for two nights before flying home to Colorado. This hotel was also not chosen by accident — the famous Pike Place Market is a five-minute walk away. Because we’d been on the go for nearly a week, we left most of a day open to exploring the market. The late afternoon and evening were reserved for the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. The hotel staff left a welcome basket for us in the room upon check-in, a nice complement to its impressive offering of in-room spa services — a hint to you, discerning partner of the impregnated. Not to toot my own horn here, but even a few minutes of research (and an advance booking) can ensure your partner concludes their babymoon being as relaxed as possible.
On our last evening, I ordered Indian food — Alisha’s favorite — to be delivered to the hotel shortly after we arrived back at the room. We lounged on the couch, ate dinner, and relaxed over a movie. It was a fitting end to a week that saw us cover some 600 miles, sleep in six different places, and complete a six-mile hike in the pouring rain inside Olympic National Park. It was still too early to instill a love of travel in our daughter, but we’d proven to ourselves that adventure can still be a part of our lives as we move into parenthood. For us, that was the ultimate babymoon win.