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Is It Safe to Fly During the First Trimester?

With the proper precautions, flying during the first trimester of pregnancy is safe. Here’s what you should know about air travel during early pregnancy.

If you’re currently pregnant, planning to be, or just curious, it’s possible you’ve wondered about whether or not it’s safe to fly during the first trimester. After all, the first three months of pregnancy are crucial, and most instances of pregnancy loss occur during the first trimester, so it’s understandable to have questions or concerns about air travel during that time.

However, the good news is that air travel during the first trimester is generally considered safe. Ahead, learn more about flying during early pregnancy, what experts have to say about precautions, and tips for having a safe flight during the first trimester.

Common Myths About Pregnancy and Air Travel

The first trimester is actually an especially low-risk time to travel during pregnancy. Contrary to popular belief, noise vibration, cosmic radiation, and cabin pressure create no increased risks for the pregnant air traveler. And if you were concerned that security equipment could radiate or somehow hurt your baby, set those fears aside. “Metal detectors are not a risk to the baby,” says Raul Artal, M.D., vice chairman of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) committee on obstetric practice.

That being said, it’s still a good idea to chat with an OB-GYN or health care provider before you schedule your babymoon or any work trips during the first trimester. A health care professional can give you specific, individualized advice, based on your needs and unique pregnancy journey.

Tips for Flying During Early Pregnancy

Check your health before you go

Travel isn’t recommended for those with high-risk pregnancy conditions (hypertension, sickle-cell disease, history of premature labor, placental abnormalities such as placenta previa, etc.) Pregnant people with preexisting medical conditions (like heart disease) should also check with a health care provider before flying.

Move around

One issue of concern for all air passengers—pregnant or not—is the formation of blood clots, or thrombosis, especially during long flights. Pregnant travelers should take special precautions to minimize risks, like wearing support stockings and/or moving your lower extremities every half-hour or so. “Wiggle your toes,” Dr. Artal suggests, “Move your legs around, and take a stroll up the cabin every once in a while.”

Book a comfortable seat

The aisle seat will make it easier to get up frequently for restroom trips or walking through the cabin. The bulkhead seats, which are located right behind a dividing wall between cabins, tend to have the most legroom. If you’re concerned about a bumpy ride, try choosing a seat over a wing, which will give you the smoothest flight.

Buckle up

Make sure you buckle up, keeping the seatbelt low on the hips and under the belly. Flying can be unpredictable when it comes to severe turbulence, which can cause injury. Therefore, it is wise to buckle up and remain buckled while seated throughout the entire flight.

Stay hydrated

The cabin of an aircraft has low humidity, which can cause anyone to have a dry nose and throat. Make sure to drink water throughout the flight to avoid dehydration.

Prevent air sickness

Morning sickness and fatigue often kick in around seven to eight weeks of pregnancy. Ask a health care provider for tips to help with nausea, and inquire about safe anti-nausea medication to take with you, just in case.

Don’t drink or eat gas-producing items

Try to avoid consuming food and drinks that are known to cause gas (such as beans, cruciferous vegetables, and carbonated beverages) before or during your flight. Entrapped gas expands at higher altitudes and can give you a stomachache.

Prepare for digestion problems

You may want to ask a health care provider about diarrhea medications or remedies that are safe to use during pregnancy, especially if you are traveling internationally, which can elevate the risk of exposure to bacteria that can cause diarrhea.

Consider updating your vaccinations

Depending on where your final destination is, you may be required to be vaccinated against certain diseases, especially if you’re traveling internationally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a travel vaccine and medication guide that covers travel-related diseases you can be inoculated against from food-borne illnesses to influenza.

Plan ahead

Always tell a health care provider about your plans before booking your trip. Depending on your travel plans, you may need to pre-book a prenatal appointment at your destination. Educate yourself on hospitals located near where you will be staying while traveling, and purchase travel insurance.

Check on travel advisories

Before flying anywhere, it is worth checking for any health or travel advisories that could pose a risk to pregnant travelers. The CDC compiles up-to-date data on travel health advisories as well as other safety information for countries around the globe. You can easily look up your destination and check to make sure that there are not any health alerts that could put you or your pregnancy at risk.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, flying during the first trimester of pregnancy is considered safe for many people. However, those with pre-existing medical conditions or high-risk pregnancies might be advised to skip air travel during those early weeks. When in doubt, be sure to consult with an OB-GYN or health care provider. Together, you can determine the right course of action and travel plans for you.

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Eight Tips to Be an Extraordinary Travel Advisor

The most successful advisors are those who are “extra ordinary,” media personality and author Claire Newell told some 300 travel advisors attending the Travel Market Place West conference, which wrapped up on March 6. Newell, who is also president of host agency Travel Best Bets, was a featured speaker on day one of the two-day conference that featured dozens of panels, workshops, and hot seats, along with a packed trade show.

“Be that advisor that does something over and above what is expected of you, doing the extras that make them come back to you as a long term repeat client, and also share with their friends and family about what I great job you did,” she said.

To achieve extra ordinary status, Newell offered eight actionable tips for advisors.

1. Get organized
“In this industry, especially when you have a big book of clients, it is hard to stay on top of everything,” Newell said.

Whether it’s reminding a client about final payment or checking back in with client that just returned from a vacation, each little thing is important to remember.

Find the organizational system that works for you. It can be writing a list down on paper, creating digital to-do lists, or using your phone’s calendar app. The system you use doesn’t matter so long as it works for you and you use it every day.

Additionally, prioritize the tasks that are most important. Even if something more important comes up, “it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t not get to what is on your list. It can be dropped down in priority but don’t take it away. If you’ve written it down, it’s important.”

“Once you get good at it, then you’ll get fast,” she added.

2. Use social media
Social media has one of the best, if not the best, return on investments a travel advisor can take advantage of, Newell told the audience.

“There’s no real trick to it, other than you need to be consistent about it and you need to be professional about it… I encourage every single person to have a timeline for what it is they want to do and do it consistently, if that’s once a week, if that’s every other day, if that’s twice a day…”

She recommended using the social media resources that suppliers and consortia/hosts offer, which can include fully written social media posts or just photos and videos that you want to feature.

She also said it shouldn’t take longer than five or 10 minutes to do.

3. Show your passion
Passion and excitement are contagious and the way advisors speak to their clients, particularly new clients, can make a huge difference.

“A person makes a decision, if they’re speaking to more than one travel advisor, it’s the passion that makes the difference,” Newell said. “Your enthusiasm will translate into more bookings and more deals closed. There is no question about that.”

4. Ask questions the right way
Newell emphasized asking open-ended questions, adding that the most important piece of asking questions is listening to the answers.

“Let them talk. You’ll get what hotel it was or what cruise line it was, whether they had a balcony, whether they had a gym or an ocean view. All of those things are their gift to you, because they are telling you what you need to put in front of them to make them happy.”

Questions she said she likes are: what is the best vacation you’ve ever taken and what made it special; what lasting memories do you want from this particular trip; and what are the top three things that are on your wish list for this trip.

Newell also suggested advisors tend to ask one particular question wrong, that question being: what is your budget?

“I like to ask ‘what are you comfortable spending?’ That one little word lets them know that you’re prioritizing their comfort,” she said.

5. Do what you say you’re going to do & be patient
Doing what you say you’re going to do is a tenet that Newell said she built her business around.

“Most of you in this room have been told that someone would do something by a certain time and they didn’t. We kind of get cranky waiting,” she reminded the audience.

Just as important is giving your clients the time to think over your proposals.

“Patience is a skill that a lot of people miss when it comes to sales. You need to trust yourself that you’re putting together a proper proposal, that is includes everything they need to make an informed decision, and then give them time.”

6. Upsell like a pro
Upselling is important, but Newell believes many advisors go about it wrong by focusing on the cost of the upgrade without emphasizing the value proposition that the upgrade provides.

“Be descriptive about what they’re going to be getting for paying the upgrade cost,” she said, whether that’s an ocean view instead of a parking lot or the swim-up suite that includes butler service.

Additionally, keep in mind that many clients don’t even know that these upgrades are available. Advisors are doing their clients a favor but letting them know.

“They can always say no, but they might just take that upgrade to take whatever it is you’re describing to them. Your words matter, your description matters to them.”

She also reminded advisors that every single part of the trip has a possible upsell, whether it’s air, cruise, private transfers, or something else.

7. Never stop learning
Another core tenant, Newall said she built her business around was continuous learning.

“I think we could learn something in the travel industry every single day and you’d be learning until you’re 100,” she joked.

Take advantage of supplier and consortia/host training, and then let your clients know you’ve done the work.

“When I go into my doctor’s office or my dentist’s office and I see the credentials on the wall, it matters. It shows that you’re investing in yourself and they trust you more,” she said.

8. Take pride in your profession
Newell equates charging a booking fee with having pride in yourself and your professionalism as a travel advisor.

“You are a professional and because of that you should be charging a fee,” she said, adding she believes the minimum for a fee is no less than $50.

Similarly, Newell told the audience never assume that they have to price match what a potential client has found on their own.

“Ask the question, what was it that piqued their interest in that package. And if it’s just price, thank you very much, you might not want them as your client and that’s okay.”

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6 Tips for Better Sleep When You Travel

Nothing can upset your sleep schedule quite like stepping on an airplane and jetting off to a foreign land — even if it’s for fun.

“All of us have an optimal period when our bodies want to sleep — typically around 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. This is called your ‘circadian window,’” says Charlene Gamaldo, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep . “And any time you travel, particularly across two or more time zones, it ends up wreaking havoc on your circadian window,” she says.

Whether you’re traveling for work or for play, here are a few tips to keep sleep disruption to a minimum.

Sleep strategically.

Three days before you’re scheduled to travel, begin moving your bedtime an hour earlier (or later, as appropriate) than you normally would. Add another hour the second evening, and a third hour on the third day. Gamaldo notes that it takes one day per time zone for your body to adjust, so planning ahead can help ease the transition.

Go with the local flow (usually).

After you land, try to sync up with the local schedule. “If you’re landing when people are awake in the middle of the day, that’s what you want to do, too. Sleep as much as you can on the plane,” she says. “If you’re going to be landing at night, do your best to stay awake on the plane and sleep at your destination.”

Abide by the two-day rule.

“If you’re going to be staying somewhere fewer than two days, try and keep to your own schedule. By the time your body adapts, it’ll be time to come home,” she says. In these cases, she suggests requesting that any obligations or meetings happen during the equivalent of your peak waking hours at home whenever possible.

Let there be light.

If your flight touches down first thing in the morning as you travel east, bring along a pair of sunglasses to minimize light exposure, Gamaldo suggests. It’s preferable to get maximal light exposure in the late morning and early afternoon, which shifts your rhythms closer to your destination’s time zone.

“The goal is to recalibrate the clock so that it’s closer to bedtime at your destination,” she says. If you’re traveling westward, which is less disruptive, aim for light exposure in the early evening. Eat outdoors or go for a walk to push your rhythm a bit later.

Move your body.

When you’re ready to begin the day, Gamaldo recommends taking a warm shower and heading outside for exercise to signal your body that it’s time to get going. “Increasing core body temperature is a trigger for your circadian rhythm,” she says.

Take melatonin.

Natural levels of the hormone melatonin typically rise about two hours before bedtime, preparing your body for rest. If you’re traveling, your body might need a little nudge. Melatonin is available as a nonprescription sleep aid in doses of up to 10 milligrams.

It helps your body produce natural melatonin at the appropriate time when your schedule is off-kilter. Gamaldo cautions that melatonin is not a cure-all for jet lag, however. Studies indicate that light exposure during the day is more effective for resetting your internal clock.

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The Best, Worst, and Most Affordable Times to Visit Japan

Whether you want to see the cherry blossoms or avoid the crowds, these are the best times to visit Japan.

A snowy getaway in Hokkaido, a beach vacation in Okinawa, or a photography trip to capture cherry blossoms in Tokyo — the best time to visit Japan depends entirely on what you want to do when you arrive.

As a country with a seemingly endless amount of activities and festivals on offer throughout the year, there really isn’t a bad time to visit. But if you’re interested in shrine-hopping in Kyoto, seeing the pink hues of cherry blossoms, or gazing at fall foliage, you’ll want to carefully time your visit. Here are the tourist seasons to be aware of when planning your trip.

  • High Season: March to May and September to November
  • Shoulder Seasons: June to August and December
  • Low Season: January to March

Use this guide to find the perfect time for your dream trip to Japan.

Best Times to Visit Japan for Smaller Crowds

Travelers from all over the world come to Japan to admire the cherry blossoms, so it should come as no surprise that sakura season (late March to April) marks the busiest time for tourism. Domestic travelers also take advantage of Golden Week (a series of four national holidays in Japan) from the end of April to the beginning of May. You’ll want to avoid visiting during that time, unless you meticulously plan ahead, since trains, hotels, and sightseeing spots can often be overcrowded or booked out entirely. Stunning foliage tends to draw crowds in the autumn, especially when the leaves reach their colorful peak between mid-October and early November.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, plan your visit during the rainy season, which typically begins in June and lasts until mid-July. Though this period tends to be humid and drizzly, it’s one of the best times to enjoy the popular tourist spots without the crowds. Japan is also quieter between January and March, making it a perfect time to pair sightseeing with snow sports and onsen visits.

Best Times to Visit Japan for Good Weather

Japan, while not especially large, is surprisingly varied when it comes to weather. Frigid winters at the northernmost tip of Hokkaido make the subtropical islands of southern Okinawa seem worlds away. The rainy season typically runs from early June to mid-July throughout most of the country — Tokyo included — except in Okinawa where showers begin in early May. Meanwhile, in Hokkaido, summertime brings mild temperatures and blue skies.

If you aren’t hitting the ski slopes, March to May and September to November are generally considered the best times to visit the country for pleasant weather. That’s when travelers can find the iconic cherry blossoms that seem straight out of a postcard, or, on the other hand, vivid autumnal leaves. During these seasons, rainfall is minimal, skies are clear, and temperatures are mild, ranging from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit most days.

For those not averse to heat and humidity, summer brings a different tempo to Japan. It’s a time of year perfect for exploring nature — ideally, somewhere cool up a mountain or as far north as possible. The lusciously cooler climes of Hokkaido are heaven in the summer, with rainbow-bright flower fields and countless outdoor activities, from hiking to horseback riding.

In the winter, the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido is undeniably the best place to ski or snowboard, but areas outside of Tokyo, such as Niigata, are only a Shinkansen ride away and boast great alpine resorts. Those who prefer the warmth would do best to fly south to Okinawa during the winter for a more subtropical climate.

Best Times to Visit Japan for Lower Prices

Japan has a reputation for being a pricey destination, but there are times of year when it’s less expensive to visit. During the low season, between January and March, you may be able to find deals on airfare and hotel rooms. Prices tend to spike during the holiday season, especially around the New Year, so it’s best to avoid the beginning of January if you’re trying to save money.

Costs rise again in late March and April for the peak cherry blossom season and remain high throughout the spring and summer. For your best bet of scoring reasonably priced accommodations while also enjoying mild weather, aim to visit in September or October.

Best Times to Visit Tokyo Disneyland

Spring and autumn are generally the best, most temperate times of year to visit Tokyo Disneyland. It’s worth avoiding weekends and national holidays — particularly Golden Week, which is one of the busiest periods at the theme park. The extreme heat in July and August can make it difficult to enjoy outdoor attractions. On the other hand, the temperatures rarely exceed 50 degrees in January and February, making those months less popular.

The period from mid-September through the beginning of December offers a combination of pleasant weather, thinner crowds, and seasonal entertainment. Spooky decorations and fall-themed events can be enjoyed in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Starting in November, the theme park celebrates the holiday season with its Christmas at Tokyo Disney Resort programming, which includes magical parades, characters in festive costumes, and heart-warming decorations that help offset the chill in the air.

Best Time to Visit Japan for Cherry Blossoms

If you’re hoping to time your visit to Japan with the peak cherry blossom season, bear in mind that the bloom dates vary depending on the weather. The cherry blossom front — meticulously studied and broadcasted across the country — edges its way up, starting at the southernmost tip of Japan as early as January. The best times for cherry blossoms in Kyoto, Tokyo, and the surrounding regions are often from the last week of March to the first week of April. And for more northerly cities such as Sapporo? Don’t expect to see any pink at least until May.

Best Times to Visit Japan for Food Lovers

Japan is a great destination for food lovers year-round — but it’s also seasonal. So, if you have a favorite Japanese cuisine or ingredient, it’s worth finding out when to visit to avoid missing out completely. Summertime treats include light, cool sōmen noodles, kakigōri shaved ice, and delicious unagi (eel); autumn is heaven for matsutake mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and sanma (Pacific saury); winter is all about warming nabe hot pots, citrus fruits, and kaki (persimmon); and spring goes hand in hand with sea bream, takenoko (bamboo shoots), and sakura mochi rice cakes.

Worst Times to Visit Japan

While there’s no bad time to visit Japan, some months are worse than others, depending on your goals. If pleasant weather is a priority, avoid the rainy season, which typically runs from early June to mid-July throughout Japan (except in Okinawa, where it begins in May). This period is often preceded by extreme heat and humidity, with cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto being especially unbearable during the peak summer months of July and August.

Those looking to save money and avoid crowds should steer clear of Golden Week, which runs from the end of April to the beginning of May. This is when many domestic travelers take their holidays, so expect higher prices, less availability at hotels, and larger crowds.

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