I have been blessed with an especially easy and symptom-free pregnancy so far (knocking on wood), so when we found out we were expecting and decided to extend our previously planned 2 week trip to Ecuador to 2 months (Ecuador and Peru), I wasn’t too worried. I am however, a little more of a cautious traveler now. Here are a couple things I make sure to do to make the trip as enjoyable as possible, (for me and Ryan).
1. Pack snacks…always!
I was always a pretty snacky person prior to pregnancy and needed to eat something small every 2 hours or so. While being pregnant, this has been magnified (ask Ryan), and I need to be even more vigilant about packing a snack and having a plan for food. When I get hungry, it’s not a pretty scene, which can be even worse when traveling and having to deal with lots of unknowns already. And to add to the food issue, it can also be slightly sketchy from time to time (anyone who’s traveled in a developing country knows). We are adventurous travel eaters and would usually tend to eat at a roadside stop or buy food from a cart, but I am being a little more picky now knowing that I am not only harming myself if I get sick. This means lots of ‘safe’ snacks. I brought a huge bag of unsalted cashews from Canada which are great in a crunch (pun intended), as well as a massive box of granola bars and drink powders to add to water. One of my go-to snacks is banana peanut butter sandwiches, which is super safe and filling. Bananas are probably the best, safest fruits to eat here, and also ridiculously cheap! Another safe food is soup. The soup they serve is so piping hot, that it had to have killed any bacteria present in the fish or meat. In Ecuador, my favorite meal was Encebollado, a fish, onion and yucca soup (with hot sauce and lime).
2. Stay hydrated
One risk of being in a tropical climate, especially when pregnant is staying hydrated. I carry a water bottle everywhere and try to drink as much as possible. Which is annoying because that also means I have to pee a lot, which is why I also carry a roll of toilet paper with me everywhere (even if I can find a toilet, there is rarely toilet paper). I’ve also been taking advantage of all the fresh ‘agua de coco’ in these countries, which is filling, refreshing and safe (since they hack the coconut open in front of you and there’s no chance of contamination). The area we are in in Peru is quite dry and desert like, so I always make sure to drink water, juice, Gatorade, or a smoothie frequently, and I always carry a water bottle with me in case I can’t buy anything cold.
3. Exercise regularly
This one is important anywhere when you’re pregnant, but I find now I am benefiting from it more than ever. There are more physical challenges when backpacking, even just walking a few blocks (or up a massive hill) from the bus to the hostel with the extra load on my back, but I look at it as the best preparation for carrying extra weight later in the pregnancy.
I always imagined pregnancy to be a free for all of eating whatever I want, whenever I want and just ‘letting go’ since I’d be gaining baby weight anyways. But I’ve realized that this little thing called labor is going to require some endurance, and getting back in shape after giving birth will be a heck of a lot easier if I don’t just sit on my butt and eat donuts for 9 months strait. So, while I’m away, I try to exercise regularly. This is never an extreme workout, but I like to challenge myself and sweat a little bit, and I feel stronger and more confident about my changing body because of it. I will try to do yoga a few times a week, and alternate that with a brisk beach walk and/or body weight exercises. Whatever it is, I try to do it for at least 30 minutes most days. This is not as easy as it once was because I get tired much more quickly and I am still getting used to different feelings in my belly and distinguishing whether or not I should stop if something doesn’t feel right. It has definitely been a learning experience and am still so amazed at my bodies outstanding abilities. This also means knowing when to rest which has been hard but I’m proud of my progress. I used to have work-out expectations that I wanted to meet everyday and would feel disappointed in myself if I didn’t follow through. Now, I trust that when I’m too tired to exercise its because I need rest. This has been a great personal breakthrough!
4. Sleep…as much as possible.
This is another one that is important anytime, but is a little more challenging when we’re constantly changing locations and hostels. While moving from town to town, I am now more inclined to do research and find and book a hostel before arriving in town. This is especially helpful when arriving in a new town at 5am after 9 hours on a night bus. We lucked out big time with Peru’s luxury buses, but its still nice to have a bed and the last thing we want to do is walk around the town with our bags looking for a good place to stay. I also nap… A lot. I have no shame anymore, if I’m feeling tired, I grab my book, turn on the fan and take a little snooze. I know that this will result in my/our happiness.
Really all of these factors seriously make or break my happiness levels which directly affect our abilities to fully enjoy our travels and all these new awesome places we are experiencing and people we’re meeting. And in turn will affect the health and growth of this little growing baby inside of me.
Hope you enjoyed reading!