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Black Travel Experts on Their Experiences Solo Traveling While Pregnant

Travel experts Nneya Richards and Sandra McLemore share how they travel while pregnant.

Oerseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) reports women travel solo more than men, and in the past few years, we’ve seen solo traveling become mainstream. More people, especially women of color, are realizing its unique advantage and ability to access something different. So, what it’s like for Black women to travel solo while pregnant? And what can other pregnant travelers learn from their experience?

I spoke with Nneya Richards and Sandra McLemore, who both have had a lifetime of interesting experiences in travel. Richards is a travel writer and content creator who has documented her solo travel experiences across publications and social media platforms in the hope of empowering people to travel. Likewise, McLemore has traveled her entire life for her job. She’s the host of Travel Market Report TV, the travel industry’s leading trade publisher, and a travel expert who has worked with different companies such as the Travel Channel, Food Network, and Scripps Network Interactive.

Richards fell in love with solo traveling on her trip to Mexico. “Mexico was really it for me. It was the place I let my guard down,” she says. “I’m not a ‘backpacker girl,’ but…I literally packed a backpack.”

Richards learned that she really travels for people. “I travel with my husband a lot, and we have amazing trips together, but I don’t have as many takeaways with the people that we meet as much as when I solo travel,” she adds.

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Similarly, McLemore agrees with this sentiment. “There’s something really magical about being able to step away from the world that you live in and step into a different world when you solo travel,” she explains. “It’s about having the need to explore the world in a different way. Just as cruising is a style of travel, so is solo travel.”

Related: The Best Tips for Traveling Alone With Small Kids, According to Experts

Traveling Solo and Pregnant

Richards, who is currently pregnant, has visited Grenada and Jordan. These two countries stood out to her for different reasons. Grenada has a large hospital, which served as an added layer of comfort for her in case she had any medical emergencies. Presently, these kinds of factors tip the scale when she’s choosing travel destinations.

“I would like to go back to the Caribbean before I give birth,” says Richards. “And one of the reasons that I want to go back to that island, in particular, is because of the hospital, and that is not something that I would have ever considered before.”

As for Jordan, she was fascinated with their non-drinking culture as a tourist and pregnant woman. “While solo traveling, I often strike up a conversation with people at the bar, but I was now in a non-drinking majority Muslim country where not a lot of alcohol is being served,” Richards explains. “That was really cool and interesting to me because of the strong café culture it created and how easy that was for me being pregnant.”

Generally, pregnancy has made Richards slow down during her trips. She can’t move as fast as she used to. “When I’m traveling, I have days where I’m just chilling, and then I have days where I’m booked out. Now I can’t do that as much anymore,” she adds.

McLemore—who continued to travel and film while pregnant—also made it a point to solo travel to Canada during her pregnancy. “I had a difficult pregnancy, and it had a negative impact on my mental health,” says McLemore. “Being able to go away for a couple of nights was a huge relief for me. It was amazing for my mental health. It’s really easy when you’re pregnant, especially if, like me, you had an uncomfortable pregnancy, to fall into a depression and to feel overwhelmed by your emotions. The quiet time and traveling by myself was very powerful for my mental health.”

Being Pregnant in Different Countries

Pregnancy can evoke different reactions from people. Richards found that people are a lot kinder to pregnant women, especially in majority-Black and Brown countries she explored, such as Grenada and Jordan.

“It’s been lovely being a Black pregnant woman,” she says. “There’s a lot of care and nurturing that happens when someone finds out you’re pregnant. And because I happen to be going to a lot of Black and Brown countries, a lot of care and nurturing and positivity has come from other Black and Brown people.”

Similarly, McLemore found the Canadian community to have different and wonderful ways of approaching pregnancy.

“I remember women telling me that they eat a lot of cheese or that they still have a small glass of red wine,” remembers McLemore. “I learned about pregnancy traditions in some countries, like how they’ll rub your belly even if they don’t know you. At first, I thought it was strange to let someone touch my belly, but when traveling to a new country, especially when pregnant, you have to be aware that people have various ways of interacting with you.”

Safety Tips for Traveling While Pregnant

Implementing safety measures is integral to proper travel, but there are some extra precautions specific to pregnant women. McLemore made sure to take several precautions; one included making her hotel reservation with two names.

“I always make the reservation with myself and a second guest, even if there is no second guest, I always have a second guest with the same last name,” she says.

Additionally, she makes sure to get an obstetrician’s phone number, address, and opening hours. She called ahead to her destination to get these details, especially when it was towards the third trimester.

Richards, on the other hand, takes precautions when eating out. “Whether traveling or at home, I always tell the waiter or waitress that I’m pregnant,” she says. “I am a person that orders exactly like it is on the menu. I had to take that extra precaution as pregnant women can’t consume certain foods. At the end of the day, I can Google a hundred things I should do, but it’s better for all parties to be aware [that I’m pregnant] as I wouldn’t want to be a liability for anyone.”

Moreover, she started to tell people on the airplane to help her with her carry-on. “I usually struggle until someone comes to help me, or I do it myself,” says Richards. “Now, I ask for help.”

Solo travel can be a very insightful and introspective experience, and this was true for these women. Richards really cherished learning about the kindness of people in the Grenada community.

While McLemore rediscovered her true potential. “I just felt really comfortable and confident,” says McLemore. “The biggest lesson that I learned was how capable I am.”