Babymoon. Ba・by・moon. Noun. “A trip or vacation taken by a couple shortly before the birth of a child.” If you’ve never heard of this concept, you’d be forgiven: it’s a relatively new notion, like gender reveal parties. And when I found out that I was pregnant in mid-December (I was about ten weeks along at this point), I just knew that we had to celebrate by booking a babymoon. After all, we’d been in lockdown for most of 2020 and 2021, and I was aching to return to Italy.
First thing’s first: why travel to Europe in winter?
It didn’t matter that Europe was just beginning her winter: in fact, it thought it might be a nice change to travel when the weather was much milder (on our honeymoon in 2018, Europe was experiencing an unusual heatwave and temperatures soared to 40℃. Needless to say, I don’t do well in summer.) Why did we decide to book our babymoon in winter? Here’s a few reasons:
- It’s recommended that the best time to travel long-distance whilst pregnant is during the second trimester. Why? Well, in the first trimester, you’re most likely battling exhaustion, morning sickness, and changing hormones. In the third trimester, you’ll be needing a toilet every 30 minutes and there’s all kinds of body aches
- After 28 weeks of pregnancy, airlines may ask for a doctor’s letter confirming that you’re not at risk of complications before you can board a flight.
- We had to go sooner rather than later as I was starting to show a slight bump at work, and I didn’t want to tell anyone the news just yet. In fact, I had an epic announcement planned that involved the backdrop of the Pantheon.
You might want to keep the first two considerations in mind if/when you’re planning your babymoon.
Hot tip: Before travelling out of the country, check your expiry date on your passport so you don’t end up paying $500+ for an expedited renewal – oops!
So, it was settled: I decided I was returning to Italy in February 2022 for three weeks. February turned out to be the perfect month, as it would coincide with our wedding anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and Carnevale (something I’ve wanted to do since forever). I just had to convince my husband to come along. He had his reservations, of course, because it’s far easier said than done to plan an international escape amid a plandemic. For one, our Premier was happy to announce a lockdown at the slightest sniffle. What if we booked our flights and accommodation, only to be told we couldn’t leave our country, and worse still – not even get a refund? Secondly, there was the pesky issue of needing to be vaccinated to travel… or did you? If you did your research well (and I certainly did), you could leave the country without needing to be vaccinated or have an exemption – yes, really. You just may need to spend some time in quarantine. For example, at the time we booked our babymoon, Italy required a 5-day quarantine period, while Greece asked for 3 days. (Why the different amount of days? Shh don’t question ‘science!’)
Anyway, I digress. At the end of the day, my husband relented. Believe me, it took a long time to convince him, but I wore him down. He agreed to come along but didn’t want to know any details except what time he had to be at the airport on the day of departure (this is typical Steven energy – if you know, you know).
Planning the babymoon
Once I settled on the dates (2 February to 21 February), I waited just two weeks before the departure date to actually lock in the flights and accommodation. We didn’t tell anyone about our plans, except for immediate family (you never know who’s putting malocchio on you.) We also requested our annual leave at our respective workplaces with the caveat being “only if we don’t get locked down.”
Planning a trip can already be quite stressful, but I had the added weight of the restrictions on my shoulders (“Will we get locked down? Will Italy get locked down?“). Every day for two weeks, I religiously checked the weather in Italy (“Please please PLEASE let there be no rain“), and had Italy: SmartTraveller in my browser to notify me of any new restrictions that were taking place. I was also closely monitoring the data from Regions and Autonomous Provinces, waiting with bated breath on whether anything would change from Italy’s Minister of Health. Before we left, most of Italy was coded a yellow zone (lower-risk), with a few areas that were orange (medium-risk). These zones had specific restrictions, another hurdle that we felt like we had to overcome. I mean, what was the point of flying 23 hours to Italy if museums, points of interest, and restaurants were closed?
Miraculously, Italy relaxed its COVID restrictions for most regions, coming into effect from 1 February 2022. Talk about divine timing!