TSA, you’re so smart!

August 13, 2013 - 14 Responses

A friend of mine (author of Confessions of a Coconut) is 6 months pregnant, and looks adorable and obviously pregnant. She also travels on a fairly regular basis. A few weeks ago, she was at the airport. In the security line, after she went through the scanner, the conversation went like this:

TSA lady: “Ma’am, we picked up something on your scan. Do you have something under your dress?”
Friend: “Um…. a baby?”
TSA lady: “I’m just going to check on that.”

Y’all, I am not making this up. They then proceeded to pat her down (where the agent got a little friendly with my friend’s posterior) and swab her hands for explosive material. Because, you know, she’s clearly smuggling something. And pregnant women as a rule are super dangerous. (Although I admit during my last month of being pregnant I may or may not have been considered dangerous if you got between me and the AC vent….Anyway.)

On the way home, my friend opted to go through the metal detector, hoping to avoid a repeat of her trip out. They did end up patting her down (in a much more courteous way) but decided her hands were probably clear of explosives without swabbing them.

I have heard some crazy TSA stories regarding pregnancy and motherhood (although usually referring to breastmilk, not the actual baby while it’s in utero) but this takes the cake!

Readers, have you had issues traveling while pregnant, or with a pregnant companion?

Also, don’t forget at 1pm ET/12pm CT I am co-hosting the National #GoLikeAPro chat with special guest Gary Leff. We will be discussing Travel and Technology, and it should be a good time. Join us!

Business Travel 101: Travel When You Don’t Feel Your Best (Revisited)

November 2, 2012 - One Response

Business Travel 101 is a series from a couple of years ago about making that first business trip as easy and successful as possible. I’ve re-tooled the series, and now it’s more comprehensive than ever! It covers everything a new business traveler needs to know for that initial trip, including essential tips for packing, security, safety, etiquette, and comfort.

When you spend a large part of your life on the road, it is inevitable that some of that time you will not feel that great. Whether it’s a headache, sinus infection, allergies, pregnancy, or something else, we all have to travel when we feel bad. I have flown with allergies, a sinus infection, headaches, ear infections, cramps, a broken foot, food poisoning, a reaction to a flu shot, and of course, throughout my pregnancy. While business travel is not always fun, it is even less fun when you’re not in top form. It is important to take care of yourself during these times so that you can work as efficiently as you are able, while not making yourself more miserable than you already are.

And a caveat: if you are contagious in any way, PLEASE DO NOT FLY!! I know that your meeting/convention/training/trial/whatever is very important, but getting a plane full of people as sick as you is not the answer.

  • Hydrate. Drinking sufficient water is even more important when you don’t feel good. My pharmacist told me when I’m feeling bad to drink enough ounces of water to equal half of my body weight. So for example, if you way 150lbs, you should drink no less than 75 oz of water.
  • Emergen-C, Emergen-C, Emergen-C. If I am feeling under the weather at all, in any way, I start taking the Emergen-C. Obviously if you have issues with Vitamin C then this is not for you. But for the rest of us, it could give you what you need to feel better. As a bonus, it also gives you energy. I take it every day anyway, but I will double up when I’m feeling bad.
  • OTC/prescription meds. Make sure you have whatever medicines you need with you. I always have ibuprofen and Pepto Bismol, and when I had my ear infection I also had Afrin and the antibiotics the doctor gave me. If you forget something you can purchase many things on-location, but not everything.
  • Be comfortable. Take anything that will make your flight more comfortable. Even though I don’t usually bring a pillow on domestic flights, when I’m not feeling my best I will bring my Bucky so I can rest more comfortably. I also bring a larger pashmina than normal to use as a blanket.
  • Wear/bring comfy clothing. All clothing that you travel in should be comfortable, and that is even more important when you feel bad. My super-comfort clothing is all very soft, with usually one layer being tunic length. For some reason wearing a longer shirt or sweater makes me feel cozy and taken care of.
  • Go easy on yourself. I know that I am usually the “Get out and see the city!” girl. But when you don’t feel good, feel free to stay in your room, order room service, and watch Grey’s Anatomy.
  • Give yourself extra time. When you are moving slowly, it gives you a little peace of mind to know that you have extra time to get places.  Just ten extra minutes at the airport, leaving five minutes early for the office, can give you the time you want to move as slowly as you need to.
  • Treat yourself, just a little. If you normally drink Diet Coke but getting a real Coke will make you feel a little bit indulgent, do it. For me, getting a big cup of Earl Gray while in the cold, cold airport comforts and warms me.

Readers, how do you handle traveling while feeling bad?

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Travel During Second Trimester

June 25, 2012 - 3 Responses

Ah, the second trimester. The supposed “golden time” of pregnancy. You are finally starting to show, so people know you’re pregnant instead of wondering if you ate too much for lunch. Maybe your energy is coming back, and you require fewer naps. For some, the second trimester is when you start feeling much better. (For others, it’s just three more months of sickness. I didn’t start feeling a lot better until about halfway through, and then I was like a whole new—hungry—person.) Regardless, traveling during this period of pregnancy does require a few adjustments. Here’s what helped me get through:

Eat often. Once I started feeling better, I was hungry All. The. Time. During one trip, I got to the office and not only was there no on-site eating option, there was no time built into the schedule for a lunch break. Not okay. Now I make sure the food situation is figured out before I arrive. Also, make sure before you fly that you have enough snacks to tide you over until landing. In fact, bring extra in case you’re stuck on the plane longer than expected.

Use the restroom every chance you get. One of the super fun parts of pregnancy—frequent trips to the loo. Make sure you take advantage of every opportunity you have. It’s no fun holding it on a flight where too much turbulence means no one can get up for two hours!

Sit in the aisle. Easy access to the lav plus a little extra room to stretch and move your legs are two good reasons to sit in the aisle. I’m sure there are others as well.

Get up and walk. Whether flying or on the ground, get up every hour or so to walk for a few minutes. During flights, this helps to avoid any potential blood clot issues. Also, walking will help you avoid getting stiff and make your back less likely to hurt later.

Ask for extra pillows. You will probably need more pillows than the hotel gives you. I usually need five—one for my head, two for my back, and two for my front. Of course, nothing is as good as my huge maternity pillow, which I have been taking with me on longer trips.

Don’t be afraid to preboard. On days where you feel especially slow, go ahead and preboard. It will give you that extra time to get settled without worrying about impatient people glaring at you for holding up the line.

Compression socks. I didn’t realize how badly I needed compression socks on every flight until it was too late. I was in Florida for two weeks, and my ankles puffed up on the flight there and never really deflated. Finally I stopped in a drugstore to get a new pair. Even on short flights your ankles can swell, so just wear the darned things so you don’t have to worry about your shoes not fitting when you arrive.

Go slowly. You’re not in a race! Move at the speed that is comfortable for you. Faster people will go around you. It helps to build a little extra time into your schedule so you don’t have to hurry.

Now that I’m in the middle of my final trimester (wow time passes quickly) I’m dealing with a whole new set of travel challenges. But that’s a story for another day! Look for that post sometime in the future….

(Newly pregnant? Click here for tricks to surviving travel during your first trimester.)

Readers, what are your best tricks for making travel easier during the second trimester?

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Traveling During the First Trimester

May 7, 2012 - 21 Responses

Traveling for work while you’re pregnant is tough. Oh, right. You might be wondering how I know. Well…..I have some news. The Home Warrior and I will welcome our little bundle of mini-warrior joy in August! We are very excited, and can’t wait to meet our baby. As you can imagine, being pregnant has meant a lot of adjustments travel-wise. Some women don’t have any issues in their first trimester of pregnancy, and I say more power to them! Unfortunately, I was not those women. I felt terrible my first tri, nauseous and exhausted virtually all the time. There were a few things I learned that made it easier, if not fun. Here are my tips:

Adjust your schedule as needed. One thing I learned early on is that day trips were just not going to work. It was too exhausting to only get 4-5 hours of sleep and then be gone for 18 hours. Flying in the night before meant I was well-rested, which meant an easier work day. I would still fly home in the evening after my meetings, which was tough, but doable. If you are really sick or exhausted, it may be better to fly home the next day. Also, if it’s available to you, think about spacing out your meetings more than you would otherwise. Again, it made me able to do quality work, instead of being a zombie.

Plan food ahead of time. During the first tri I had to be eating constantly, as often as every thirty minutes. I brought a lot of stuff from home (pretzels, crackers, fig Newtons, fruit), and some things I made sure I could get on the road. Sometimes I needed a certain food. For about six weeks, I had to munch constantly on Hot Tamales (the candy). For a while it was lemonade. Then it was sandwiches. The most important thing was to make sure I had food All. The. Time. This involved a lot of prep work, whether it was bringing food from home or knowing what the food options around the hotel and office were.

Stay hydrated. I preach about this a lot in general, but hydration is so important when you’re pregnant. If you can’t handle water, try Gatorade or juice. Just make sure that you are drinking at least 64 oz of fluid a day, and more if your doctor tells you more. For the first few weeks, water, normally my favorite beverage, tasted terrible to me, and I got so dehydrated I nearly passed out. I don’t recommend that!

Sit in the aisle. Whether it’s because you need to use the restroom, are feeling sick, or can’t handle being crowded in, I recommend sitting in the aisle if you can. It made me feel so much better when flying. Also, wear comfy clothes while flying. I actually started flying in dresses or yoga pants because it made me nauseous to have anything constrictive around my middle.

Check your bags. Again, this is something I don’t usually push, but it may be easier if you go ahead and check your bags. This way you won’t have to carry heavy things around the airport when you’re already feeling terrible.

Sea bands. They don’t work for everyone, but sea bands really helped me feel better and less nauseous. Of course it meant I had to wear long sleeves, since I was still hiding my pregnancy at that point…..

Be gentle with yourself. It’s okay that you can’t do everything the way you could before—your body is working really hard to build that baby! Give yourself extra time, since you may be moving more slowly than normal. Do whatever you have to do to feel better. The first trimester is all about survival!

One last note—there is a lot of different information out there about safe levels of caffeine intake. My doctor was perfectly fine with me having 200mg per day, which seems to be a common recommendation. There is only 35mg of caffeine in a can of Coke, and Coke made me feel SO much better when I felt sick. (Or had a headache. Or was tired. Okay it was kind of like the miracle beverage….) So if your doctor is cool with you having a limited amount of caffeine, don’t be afraid to drink a soda if it makes you feel better.

I am almost done with my second trimester, and I have to say I feel TONS better. I will post later about traveling during the middle of pregnancy, and once I have experience with it, traveling during the third tri. The most important thing to remember is that it’s okay to take longer to do stuff, it’s okay not to feel awesome, it’s okay to need naps. Just build time for that stuff into your schedule, do what you need to do to take care of yourself, and you will be just fine. And know that you WILL feel better!

Readers, have you had to travel while pregnant? What made it easier for you?

(Don’t forget about our awesome contest!! Win a vacation for two from Home2 Suites by Hilton!! Open for one more week.)