motherhood | pregnant travel tips

Home Health Tips motherhood | pregnant travel tips

4th January, 2018, 5 mins read

I’ll be 22 weeks pregnant tomorrow. Life growing inside of you isn’t, in my experience, without its ambivalence. Some days I fear she’ll disappear, that I’ll wake up to a stillness. Other days, I feel the burden on my body, feel invaded or fear the day (the day coming soon) when my life is no longer my own. But most days, I just enjoy the quiet before the storm, this symbiotic time I get to spend with her. I feel lucky to be a woman—lowered immune system, round ligament pain, swollen ankles, and all. Traveling with her—Matt & I are currently two & half weeks into a month long trip through Japan—as she grows, feeling her kicks grow more urgent and frequent as our journey wears on, makes me feel closer to her. The metaphorical journey in tandem with a physical journey makes the metaphor come alive: with each step, each train, each bus I move closer to being a mother. Momentum.

I relish the fact that in her dark, watery world she’s experiencing the bumps and rumbles of the train, the flavors of each country I visit, her father’s voice as we talk over dinner. We’re already a family. That said, traveling pregnant is a different beast than all previous travel in my life—and I’m sure traveling with a baby will be even more so! But in the mean time I wanted to share my tips & advice that I’ve gathered along the way. There’s been a very real learning curve! If you’re like me and thought that being pregnant would be just like being you but larger, think again.

Depending on how long you’ll be gone, how far along you are, how far you’ll be traveling, and what location you’ll be traveling to you’ll need to consider a few different things. These are just the basics and what I’ve noticed thus far in my experience. I get the feeling that after I finish up all my international travel at around 32 weeks I might have some updates to add to this. But after working & traveling in France, Morocco, Italy, and the UK during my 1st trimester for about 6 weeks total and traveling in Japan during my 2nd for 4 weeks, this is what I’ve gleaned thus far at 5 months along. I’ll be in France, Spain, and Sweden during the end of the second trimester for another 6 weeks, and we’ll see how that goes!



Packing + Planning

1. Pack light.
I’m obsessive about packing light, and I intend to write an entire post on it (namely on fitting a month—and if it will do you for a month, it will do you for 6!—in a carry-on), but suffice to say pack only your essentials, make sure all your clothing can mix and match, limit bulky pieces, and remember that you can buy a lot of “what if” items on the road. Never pack for what if. Except for the following…

2. Emergency medicine.
If traveling somewhere very unfamiliar or with a big language barrier (hello, Japan!), bring an acetaminophen based pain killer like Tylenol or Pericetimol in case you need a pregnancy safe solution. I get migraines, and when traveling to a non-english speaking country the last thing I want is to be guessing & dancing around the language barrier in a foreign pharmacy trying to find something safe. Depending on where you’re planning to travel and for how long, your doctor might be willing to provide you with some emergency pregnancy safe antibiotics just in case. I’d also bring any other basic over the counter meds you & your doctor are comfortable with you taking pregnant—I’ve gotten bronchitis twice in in 4 months!

3. Doctor’s note.
After 28 weeks some airlines require a note from your doctor saying you’re fit to fly. It’s generally acknowledged that in non-complicated pregnancies it’s safe to fly up to and including the 36th week. Follow doctors orders on this to be safe. A copy of your chart also wouldn’t hurt, though I don’t carry one because mine has been 100% uncomplicated, and I started healthy.

4. Pack clothes to grow into.
If you’re going to be on the road for a long time, pack loose fitting clothes to “grow into”. Tunic tops, flowy dresses, and comfy pants with elastic waist bands that can sit below your growing belly are great options. My belly doubled in size our first two weeks in Japan! There comes a time when both your growth and the little’s will be exponential, and if you’re hitting the road for a month or two, things that fit in the beginning might not be so friendly by the end. Best to leave those bits at home and only pack the most versatile pieces. I’ve listed some of my favorite sources at the bottom of this post.

5. Fit your life in a carry-on that rolls on 4 wheels.
Do it. Go for a lightweight, hard-case, 4-wheel rolling bag that fits into an overhead compartment. Both my husband & I are carrying Away bags which have the added benefit of being able to charge your phone, pocket wifi, tablet (any USB powdered device) etc. multiple times. It can charge my iphone fully 5 times. Forget backpack pride (I had to). A four-wheel rolling bag (and a friend or partner to carry it up & down heinous flights of train station stairs should you encounter them!) will make your life so much easier. Sit your purse/camera bag/what have you on top, and roll through streets, stations, and terminals bearing no weight. Your body will thank you. I travel a ton and have my whole life, and I doubt I’ll ever do it any other way again unless I’m actually going backpacking. Like in the woods.

6. Bring the vitamins.
Pack your favorite prenatal vitamins. I travel with an organic catch all pre-natal and non-fish DHA as well as B12 and D3 (because I know I have low levels of those two). They take up room, but they’re worth it to know I’m getting the essential nutrition we need.

7. Comfy shoes only, please. 
Obvi. My comfy shoes of choice are Dansko clogs & boots, but I also like Birkenstocks for sandals. Sneakers are always a sure bet too. I like classic looking Nikes and vintage style Asics’ Onitsuka Tigers. Don’t bring more than 2 pairs of shoes and travel in the bulkiest pair to save space. I bring my clogs (my every day walking/travel shoe) and sandals or sneakers suitable for light hiking. If my trip is going to be on the more urbane side, I swap the hiking shoe for a pretty dinner shoe. A small pretty dinner shoe. I don’t do heels of any significant height and frankly 99% time my clogs do the trick day to night.

8. Travel with a partner or friend.
If you don’t have to, avoid travel alone. You can, of course you can, and if I didn’t have a friend or partner to go with me, I would brave it on my own. But this is a time in life when you need all the help you can get, and it’s a time when no one minds lending it. Take the support, and let them help. I tried to insist on carrying my bag up some ridiculous stairs and just about killed my ankles doing so. I now let Matt (not without an inner cringe) manage both our bags up and down stairs. I look at it as his on the road gym time. : ) To ease my mind I make sure to look extra pregnant (hips out, maternal holding of belly, the whole 9 yards) when he’s doing this so passers by will know I’m not useless, just pregnant. Because that damn pride.

9. See the doctor!
Try to see your doctor for a check up & ultrasound as close to when you leave as possible if you’re going to be gone a long time (two weeks or more). This will give you peace of mind. Check before booking to make sure you’re traveling to a pregnancy safe destination. Due to the Zika virus your doctor will likely recommend you not travel to affected countries because of its potentially dire effects on pregnancy. The CDC website has lots of information about Zika here. This goes for other diseases as well—malaria, dengue, etc. Talk to your doctor about vaccinations and prophylaxis safety if those are options you’re considering. I opted for the flu vaccine during flu season; I know not everyone is on board with vaccines but that was my choice. I usually research this when I’m researching what paperwork I’d need for any given country (namely is a passport enough or will I need a visa).

Planes + Trains + Automobiles

1. Hydrate when flying.
This one is a no brainer, and despite the fact that it will make you have to get up for the restroom more frequently than you could ever comprehend (seriously) it’s a must. I’m one of those weirdos that really dislikes drinking still, room temperature water. So I try to fill in my water gaps with coconut water (great for electrolytes), green tea, low sodium + sugar veggie juices, and sparkling water. I also travel (on short trips, not so much on long because of the added weight) with a copper water bottle from Spartan Shop. It deposits beneficial minerals into the water, purifies the water, and it’s pretty which makes me happier about drinking water. Whatever works.

2. Aisle seat + stretching on long flights.
Book an aisle seat (you’re going to be up & down a lot) at bare minimum and one with extra leg room if you can. Got miles to burn or can afford business or first class? Even better! Get up frequently and move around and stretch. Your body is basically a transformer right now, and your bones & internal organs are doing all kinds of crazy gymnastics. That means long stretches of sitting can cause some serious aches. Not to mention pregnant women are at an increased risk of blood clots (DVT). So walk around every hour. If you’re drinking water like you should, you’re not going to have a choice and it might be more like 2-3 times an hour. Do some yoga by the bathrooms. Whatever, you’re pregnant. A little public forward fold never killed anyone. I’d say go for downward dog (really relieves round ligament pain) but I don’t think I could bring myself to touch the floor.

3. Accept special treatment on public transportation.
Let people know you’re pregnant. Take the seat privilege on trains & buses and board early and seek upgrades on flights. Seriously, take it. I didn’t at first & lived to regret it. If you’re in a non-english speaking country you can just touch your belly in a maternal way and give them a pleading look if you need a seat. The message gets across. Willingness to give up seats to pregnant women is international. In Japan you can even get a badge in the train station to show you’re pregnant! I didn’t take them up on this, but hey, if it works. And if flying, take the opportunity to board early, get an upgrade, anything your airline is willing to do. This is not to take advantage of your condition and be lazy, but because being on your feet for very, very long stretches can (as I learned) cause some pretty intense pain especially from around 5 months on in my experience. Not so much during the first trimester.

4. Consider renting a car. 
I was one of those college kids floating from train station to hostel all over Europe on a dime with a copy of Lonely Planet in hand a decade ago, and I tend to be biased towards public transportation due to it being scenic, narrative, and frugal. But if you’re in a situation where car rental is an option, consider it. No more rushing from platform to platform, no more timetables, no more train or bus loos. No more bag wrangling. If you decide to go the car route, keep in mind that some countries require an international driver’s permit which you can get through AAA. Google it to find out what the requirements are at your destination.

5. Eff it. Get a cab. 
I can usually walk indefinitely, and metros & my own two feet are all I’ve ever needed to get around major cities. But if you get to the end of the day and can’t take it, just cut your losses and get a cab or Uber. It’s so worth it.

Food + Drink

1. Eat clean food from reputable, sanitary sources & wash thoroughly all raw food you prepare. 
I’m not a doctor and this is not medical advice, but it’s my personal choice to not subscribe to the standard American pregnancy food restrictions. I know that is controversial to some people. This is not something I recommend doing without talking to your doctor and doing your own research, but I decided that for me the risk of getting in a car and eating chicken (or fruit and vegetables for that matter) far out weighs the risk of sushi or a fresh slice of prosciutto.  I even eat raw oysters (from highly, highly reputable sources—there are about two restaurants and a handful of farms in the US I trust to this degree). I eat sushi (while limiting any high mercury fish and again from reputable sources). I ate raw, French cheese. I’ve eaten cured meats, freshly sliced. Never pre-packaged. The truth, according to my doctor, is that you really can’t know when or where listeria (a very dangerous to you & your baby bacteria) will come up because it’s in soil and water—any food can be contaminated. The last major outbreak was in ice cream, and one of the worst was in cantaloupes. The important thing is to only eat from clean, reputable sources that you trust and to wash your food. I’m more wary of salad than anything else. No dodgy sushi from a mall in the midwest. No grilled intestines in a dive bar (also learned the hard way). No rando queso fresco from a hole in the wall carneceria. But if you’re near a Japanese fishing village, you’re probably safe eating the raw fish. Really that’s true of Japan at large. Ultimately, do what makes you comfortable, err on the side of caution, consider what local moms & doctors have to say, and do some research to assess the risk yourself when it comes to food & drink. I, for one, made the decision to not be too precious about it while also not being foolish so that I could enjoy my travels & experience pregnancy without fear. Sushi in Japan is considered a perfectly acceptable part of a healthy pregnancy diet as are wine, raw cheese, and charcuterie in moderation in many European countries. That said, I did say no thanks to the (raw) chicken sashimi (I kid you not) I was offered the other day. Maybe clean, but I was skeeved out. One thing I don’t mess around with is water. Only bottled water if there’s any question, and in countries with less food sanitation, I avoid *all* raw things, especially salad. Food sanitation is the most important factor in deciding what to eat and what not to for me. If in doubt, cook the hell out of it. Heat kills listeria. Period.

2. Expect a bit of tummy trouble.
That said, I’ve found that an upset stomach is going to find me no matter what I eat, wherever I go. It finds me at home; it finds me abroad. Having an entire human being growing in the space previously devoted to digestion causes some trouble. This might be particular to me & my pregnancy, but I find that I’m much, much more susceptible to being ill. This may differ from person to person, but I find that every week or two I get a very upset stomach that keeps me up. It isn’t dangerous and is gone by morning, but my theory is that any and all foreign bacteria that my body might have just dealt with before is now making me icked out due to a lowered immune system & hobbled digestion during pregnancy.

3. Favor frequent smalls meals.
I’m hungry a lot. Yet due to the growing baby inside me, my stomach is smaller than ever. Any large meals also make me completely sick & miserable, so to avoid discomfort, eat frequent small amounts. For this reason I carry snacks, especially on long journeys. And don’t forget that (clean) water!


On the Go

1. Do less.
Cut what you think you can do in a day in half. Cut what you think you can do in a month by a quarter. This was and is still the hardest one for me. Walking all day around Tokyo I got to the point where I was in so much pain, I would have been afraid if I didn’t know it was round ligament pain. When you’re used to being able to go indefinitely and explore to your heart’s content, there’s a learning curve involved in deciding to see and do less. Everyone’s body is different, and you might have more pregnant stamina than I do, but I’m healthy and (relatively) young at 32, and it hasn’t been totally easy. Save yourself the discomfort, and accept ahead of time that your body is busy growing a person and therefore might not be able to do as much other stuff. That’s okay. Make lots of cafe stops, go to bed early, sleep late, and take down days. Seriously, if abroad for more than a week, take at least one “do nothing but hang around the room/neighborhood/bed” day.

2. There might be pain.
I didn’t count on this, but being on the road and traveling place to place frequently means my body has hurt. Feet, ankles, back, round ligaments. Since I’ve been traveling my ankles have swollen up like easter eggs once; I’ve almost collapsed due to round ligament pain (twice); my feet became sore/blistered because of swelling inside my normally ridiculously practical & comfy shoes; I’ve fractured a rib from bronchitis induced coughing; pinched a nerve in my neck; and my back feels about one wrong move away from being thrown out on any given day. Truth. Ouch. I didn’t expect any of that. I’ve never been particularly fragile. So, I sit at every opportunity. I rest. If you’re like me, this will all be really hard to wrap your mind around or even admit, and you’ll feel like an invalid. But you need to take care of your body. The fact is that when pregnant your immune system is lowered to stop your body from rejecting the baby hence you’re more susceptible to infections like coughs, colds, and the flu. Couple that with the transformer stuff your bones and organs are pulling and you have a body far more fragile than you’d dealt with before. At least that’s been my experience.

3. Exercise!
On the flip side, don’t be scared to do some walking & get plenty of exercise, but if the pain gets to be the bad sort, stop. Travel really is great prenatal exercise, and staying active while pregnant is associated with all sorts of benefits for mother, baby, and delivery. Just stop when your body says stop. No need to treat yourself like a sick person, just remember to be gentle.

4. Keep an eye out for restrooms, and use them every time you see one.
When wandering big cities, keep an eye out for fast food chains: they have guilt-free bathrooms with no purchase. I’ve never been so happy to see a Japanese McDonalds in my life. Just try to resist the fries…

5. No scuba, no ski.
Just in case you weren’t aware. Generally nothing that involves a likelihood of you taking a spill. Unless you’re like me and simply existing involves a likelihood of you taking a spill. In which case…fall on your side. Don’t ask me or my skinned elbows & knees how we know that one.

6. Keep up with your progress using a pregnancy tracking app.
It’s nice when you’re not having check-ups super regularly to be able to follow along with the growth of your little and find out what’s happening to your body along the way. I use Ovia. It tells me what symptoms are normal for where I’m at in the process, and it tells me what size she is in terms of French patisserie, which I’m a fan of. It says at 21 weeks she’s the size of a large brioche à tête.

7. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.
It’s no secret that I’m not a germaphobe. I’ll eat anything, touch anything, go anywhere. I just am not naturally inclined to worry about it. But remember that lowered immune system? I carry antibacterial gel in my bag, and try to keep my hands as clean as possible. If I were better at it, I might not be sick right now. Do as I say, not as I do.


1. Expect the unexpected.
If you’re a first time mom like me, you’re going to have no idea what to expect from your body. Don’t expect the worst, don’t expect the best. Just let go of expectations, take each day as it comes, and always keep your & the baby’s health priority number one. Even if you’ve had one or two or ten kids before, every pregnancy is different so I’d wager expectations aren’t much more useful in that scenario either. Just be committed to rolling with whatever happens with positivity and reason.

2. Don’t live in fear.
The reality is babies are born every  day in myriad different conditions; we’re tough critters. That isn’t to say things can’t or won’t go wrong and complications don’t arise—they do—but to say that there’s no point living in fear of them. I don’t pack for what ifs, and I don’t life for them either. I let passion and opportunity take me, and if it seems prudent that I should cancel, hold back, or change plans I simply do and enjoy that alternative.

3. Just go.
Unless your doctor said not to. Then stay. Don’t overthink it. It’s not rocket science; it’s totally worth it (says the girl with a fractured rib!); most anything can be dealt with in developed countries; and language barriers are surmountable. If you want to travel pregnant and have no medical reason not to, just go. As someone who has had what I think could be considered rather bad luck this go around (this rib situation is seriously weak), I still say it’s 100% worth it.

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5 Gadgets All Travelers Should Have for 2018

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7 Times Must See in Stockholm – Sweden

If you travel to Stockholm the first thing you will  notice are the beautiful old brigdes that connects the different parts of Stockholm. Stockholm has 14 islandsin totall and Gamal Stan (Old City) is the most famous one. My first nights in Stockholm I stayed on the island of Sodermalm at Zinkensdamm and saw all around me streetnames that I recognized from the famous book and movie Millennium Trilogy. You must know that one!!     Voor de Nederlandse versie van Wat je zeker moet zien in Stockholm Every time I went to the citycentre, from Slussen to Gamla Stan, I saw this important connection point of Stockholm. Most trains and metros will pass here because it is the biggest connection from the one side to the other. My first must see in Stockhom will bring you to this part of the city!! The panoramic view at Eriks Gondolen, wonderful spot!! Must See in Stockholm – Sweden Panoramic View from Eriks Gondolen It is a restaurant but when it’s time to see the sunset the terrace is filling up with people that want to see it from up here. I can totally understand why!! It is a great spot to look over the old city of Gamla Stan and the water next to the harbour of Soder Malarstrand.   You can’t miss this view over Stockholm!!   I even went for a second time and then I saw this balloon also, isn’t that a great way to see the sunset in Stockholm? I did liked the view with the balloon in it too!! Do you want to know how you get up there check this blog Gamla Stan – Old city One of the most beautiful islands of Stockholm The next thing I think you can not miss to see in Stockholm is the small island of Gamla Stan. If you don’t visit this you haven’t seen Stockholm!! The square is the most famous square of Stockholm and I think also the most photogenic. How do you like these colours?   I had dinner a coule of times here…  Just enjoying the colours and the vibrant life on the square!!   All the narrow streets of Gamla Stan are great for wanderig around. Around every corner you will be surprised again. I loved to explore this part of Stockholm! And go explore multiple times because everty visit you’ll see something different!!     Palaces, parlements and musea are also on Gamla Stan    Do go Explore Gamla Stan in the evening too! 7 Times Must See in Stockholm — Musea you have to visit in Stockholm Vasa Museum This museum has an unique ship. This ship originates from the 17th century and  is complete and almost undamaged!! The ship sank on her maiden voyage on auguts 10th of 1628 after 1300 metres. It is the only ship in the world on display from that time. I thought it was really impressive!!        ABBA museum I really love the music of ABBA and so I loved walking around in this museum. It was really interactive, you can sing along and do some karaoke!!     Skansen Open Air Museum On the island of Djurgarden are all these musea. The island is green and also this open air museum is on the island. It is all about the history of Sweden and next to that it is a zoo. I walked around for an afternoon. I do think that when you travel with kids this is a real nice daytrip and very educational.         As I said it is also a zoo. I don’t like those kind of places that much. I rather see animals in a wider environment. So just to give you an idea I’m sharing some pics I took of the zoo.       Stockholm – Sweden I had told you that the city is divided in 14 islands… So exploring the city by boat is just great!! Cruising around those island is just the best!! There is a Hop on Hop off boat that I took. I loved all the views you get from sitting on a boat and just letting the city pass by. Even though I didn’t got off on all those places especially picked out for you it is a great way to explore the city and get out of the crowd for a while. Must See in Stockholm – Sweden Stockholm as seen from the water! There are different companies that offer such tours on the waters of Stockholm. And I can imagine why!! I did the tour called Under the Brigdes Tour. This was has 7 stops and sails along the island of Sodermalm and you’ll pass Gamla Stan on both sides too!         And all of a sudden there was this beach! People were relaxing and enjoying the good weather almost in de middle of the busy city!! There are more beaches realised along the water in Stockholm. This one on the picture is called Langholmen Badet. I also too the Royal Canal Tour. This one has nog stops but gives you a great overview on this city. Looking to a city from a boat is totally different and ofcourse just being outside with a breeze through you hair just cruising is a great way to spend an hour or two. This tour goes along the palaces and gives you information about who lived there.           Something you can not miss in Stockholm is  The Tunnelbana The Tunnelbana – Stockholm metro (t-bana) I heard several people talking about it. They just went into the metro to go from station to station. It would be so worth it if I should believe them. When you search the internet soon you’ll get a list of station you should definitely see so I went too!! You can ofcourse combine this with visiting that part of the city too. I just went down into the Tunnelbana and after visiting many station I was really getting cold and went up again! I really loved all the colours and themes of the Tunnelbana. The Tunnelbana is also called World Largest Gallery.. I do think you get why it got that name after visiting the Tunnelbana!   Stadion station on the red route     T-centralen in Stokcholm Solna Station on the blue route   Tensta Station on the blue route   Tentsta This really is a Must See in Stockholm!! Everything is painted or has a style to it from top to bottom!!  Also a Must See in Stockholm Soder Malarstrand Walking along the boats at Soder Malarstrand When I came back to Stockholm after a small tour along Sweden I booked a couple of nights at botel Rygerfjord at Soder Malarstrand. It is situated outside the busy city but just 10 minutes walking away from the beautiful Gamla Stan. That is just perfect, isn’t it?    Along this harbour are a lot of ships that anchor for a visit to this great city. Also a lot of huge ships that serve as restaurants or hotel. Even boats to have big parties are there ? You can have your peace and quiet time here but if you are lookinig for a party you are welcome too!! I loved walking along those boats and the water!!       Soder Malarstrand is a must see in Stockholm   Great way to reflect on a beautiful day spend in Stokcholm! @ Soder Malarstrand   I went to Stockholm twice during my visit to Sweden. I loved the fact that when you come back to a city you know your way around. I spend some times exploring parts I hadn’t visit before but also went back to parts that I loved that first time!! Do you also visit a city more then once in a journey? And do you have that same feeling as if you are coming home while traveling? You know your way around…know at which restaurant you get your dinner.. I love that feeling!! — If you liked these tips would you share them too?  

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Airlines and wheelchair

Airline travel can be a challenge to people for all different reasons. Our experience has been that the airlines try to make it as easy as possible for a person/family with a wheelchair or person with a disability. Our son finds airline travel exciting for the first hour or so and then he is very keen for it to be over making it a real challenge. He is a wonderful traveller once he gets to his destination but let’s just say I’ve been nearly moved to kiss the ground on arrival! I also scoff at those that say “travel is about the whole journey not just the destination!” For us the sooner the flight is over the better. I am sure that we are the exception rather than the rule. Now with in flight movies, messaging facilities between the seats, games etc the old days of one or two movies and everyone craning their necks to see the screen at the front of the cabin are over. Our experiences (we’ve been to the US twice as a family) have only been with Qantas, on the A380 and the 747 400. We chose Qantas for 2 reasons, it was important for us to sit together (QF seat configuration on the A380 is 3/4/3) and on the A380 they had a toilet on board that was for people with a disability. On all four flights we only had positive things to say about the staff, both on the ground (from check in) and in the air (Qantas in no way sponsor me so this is purely based on our experiences). I am happy to give them a good rap as they were great! What I found out on our second trip is that some airlines (in my research I found both Qantas and Virgin have them) have an upper body torso harness available to people with a disability. It is basically an upper body seat belt which may be of some benefit to people with poor upper body control. It might just give a little more support. It can be viewed on Virgin’s website and I am including the photos Qantas supplied to us before we travelled.   This harness can only be used in certain seats on the aircraft due to it using an anchor point. The harness must be pre booked and I’d recommend doing it well in advance and at the time of booking. I have a friend who has used them on V Australia domestically so definitely worth checking if your airline has it available if you think it will benefit you. Airlines now require measurements of wheelchairs so make sure you have the height, width, and weight of your chair when you phone to make your booking it will save calling back again! Qantas had a very generous luggage allowance for people needing mobility equipment.  Check with your airline prior to travel if this is essential to you.  Qantas allowed 2 bags, 1 wheelchair and 1 other piece of mobility equipment.  This was the allowance to the US but please note this varies according to your destination.   Due to the liquid restrictions in the cabin of the aircraft you need to check with the airline regarding any foods or liquids if they are necessary for you to take on board. Our son has special drink containers he drinks from so I take that through the security check empty then fill it before getting on the aircraft. We have always used our own wheelchair to the door of the aircraft. Once again you need to mention this at the time of booking, again at check in and it should be possible if necessary. Our son can then walk assisted to his seat but they will provide an aisle chair to your seat if needed. At the door of the aircraft it is recommended that you do up the belt on your wheelchair to lessen the chance of damage and take any items from the wheelchair that are removable for example we always take the seat cushion and arm rests off our wheelchair and stow in the overhead lockers. The airlines encourage it as they prefer it is not their responsibility. Have an empty bag under the wheelchair or somewhere with you to put it all in to save juggling boarding passes, bags, armrests, seat cushions etc. You see people arrive with their one Versace bag looking very glam and there I am with boarding passes between my teeth, bags, juggling cushions, armrests etc while my husband walks our son up the aisle. Not quite the travel look I aspire to but having a bag to at least consolidate the wheelchair bits into makes it look a little more controlled! The airlines usually board a person with a disability and their family first to allow extra time to get organized. The downside is that at the end of a long flight you are last to leave the aircraft but usually the cabin crew are very helpful with bags. We prearrange to have our own wheelchair waiting for us on arrival at the aircraft door. We have only had this not work once and our son was most uncomfortable and unstable in the airport wheelchair that was nearly double the width of his usual chair and without a pelvic strap. Advise at check in and on boarding that you would like your wheelchair at the aircraft on arrival and we have also been encouraged to remind the cabin crew about a ½ hour before landing so they can contact the airport and ensure it all runs smoothly. These are all small things but at the end of a 15 hour flight it does make a difference. On arrival in the US we have always been fortunate enough to be taken to the shortest queue possible or let ahead of the crowd to get through customs quicker. This would always depend on the staff at the airport but our experience is that the staff are really considerate.

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