By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
I don’t know if it is Facebook reading my mind or just a coincidence but I have been seeing more and more posts in travel healthcare groups addressing the issue of children and traveling. Questions range from having babies and taking maternity leave while traveling to how to travel with older children while homeschooling.
I am currently pregnant with baby number one and can tell you that working as a travel nurse did not deter our decision to start a family–in fact, it made the idea a little less daunting and exciting! We are looking forward to traveling with a baby and continuing to save for a home, a new car and retirement even with the added expense of a little one. While we haven’t had to actually deal with childcare or homeschool just yet, I do have several friends who travel with older children and will share some of the tips I have learned from them about those stages of parenting on the road.
Before baby: have a plan for where you want to deliver
Ultimately you can receive prenatal care anywhere you can find an obstetrician or midwife. My husband and I decided to deliver at home, so we saw a midwife for the first 20 weeks and then transferred care to my physician back home. All it took was a few medical release forms and some phone calls to coordinate the switch, and my medical care picked right up where it had left off.
For insurance: decide if you want to use COBRA or private insurance
As a female I will obviously not be working a contract right when I deliver, so my company insurance would lapse in that time frame. Our family’s option was to put me on my spouse’s insurance and figure out a way to coordinate him getting time off when the baby arrives, or to have both of our jobs finish up before baby and opt to use COBRA during the lapse in insurance. COBRA is more expensive than insurance through a company, so you just have to plan for this expense ahead of time.
Another option is to carry private insurance. Depending on your state costs will vary, and you may not be eligible to sign up for private coverage if it isn’t open enrollment. If you are in the early stages of planning a family you may have more time to coordinate this and get benefits in place before conceiving if that is what you prefer.
Coordinate your contracts, or take a permanent job temporarily.
I have talked to some parents who chose to simply end their last contract around the 37 or 38-week mark and then travel to their chosen delivery spot and take some time off before the baby arrives. We personally decided to take permanent jobs close to home so we could have steady insurance and some time to adjust to life as parents before hitting the road again. We didn’t necessarily tell our employers our plans, but we both took jobs we knew we could be happy at for six months to a year and we will reassess at that point.
The benefit of working a contract is you can then take as much time off as you would like to bond with the baby. If you are a new employee it may be trickier to coordinate leave depending on your state laws governing maternity leave. I have learned a lot about federal regulations in this area, and unfortunately, it is up to the state to determine if you get more than the medically necessary six weeks off guaranteed.
After baby: childcare options.
One of the most daunting tasks as a soon to be a parent is deciding how to find care for your baby if you decide to work full time once they arrive. As travelers, this can get even trickier because you are moving frequently so you can’t use the same caregiver the entire time.
While we haven’t faced this issue yet, if we both decide to work contracts at the same time we would most likely look into hiring a private nanny. My friends Steve and Ellen over at PTAdventures travel with their toddler and elected to take positions in areas where they could work for a year or longer to help create more normalcy for their little one. This is a great option that we will probably look into when we get to that point.
Deciding to take the leap into parenthood (or being surprised by it) can be a scary time full of unknowns for any person. So many people talk about having babies in regards to how limiting it is which makes traveling with a baby seem impossible. Like anything else, however, I truly believe your attitude towards the situation is what will determine how successful you can be. There is a newly added level of flexibility that comes into play, but having a baby and then traveling with a baby can be a great way to show your child all that our beautiful country has to offer while setting your family up for financial success long term.
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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