Archive | July, 2018

Tips for Traveling and Packing while Pregnant

5 Jul

I first started googling this subject when I was three to four months pregnant and traveling to California for vacation and London for work, but have often found myself referring back to these tips. What should I wear on the plane? What do I need to pack? Can I go through the metal detector? (The answer is yes by the way). With so many questions, and multiple websites and blogs to comb through, I spent a lot of time honing in on the right options, without overloading my suitcase. Hopefully this post can help bring all of them together.

*Disclosure: I do not have any affiliation to the company’s or products in the links I post. These are purely based on my personal purchases.*

What to wear? 

One of the hardest things you may struggle with when you find out your pregnant is what to wear. My favorite pants for travel and overall maternity wear are Spanx Mama Look at Me Now Leggings. These were incredibly supportive and seem to have some compression to them. For work, I also heavily relied on the Spanx Mama mid-thigh shaping tights and sheers. These are surprisingly really strong and although pricey, have lasted with no snags or runs.

Going into the third trimester and being active was getting tougher and tougher. I thought about buying a belly band, but really liked the BLANQI Women’s Maternity BodyStyler, High-Performance Belly Support Tank Top. If they were not sold out at the time I would have considered buying their maternity leggings as well. This top provided support and while some people have complained that the underarms are tight, I did not have this issue and will likely buy a postpartum option as well. This company is a bit pricey, but it has held up in multiple washes and is well made.  In addition, I bought a couple of Ingrid & Isabel tanks and cami’s which can be found at Target and can be worn post-pregnancy as well.

For compression socks/stockings, I bought this pair on Amazon from the company TOFLY. I recommend sizing up as they were tight and I wore these on flights to and from NY and London. Since I bought the stocking and not the sock, my ankles held up well, but most of the fluid went to my feet so I would recommend getting a full sock. I would have really liked to try these Comrad compression socks, which seem to be a great option as well.

For shoes, I found these AllBirds to be my new favorite and comfortable slip-ons as well as Sperry’s with memory foam. When I was doing my research initially I found all the shoes on blogs to be incredibly ugly, outside of the Vans  and Toms sneakers and slip-ons. The Allbirds are machine washable and super light. They literally feel like walking on clouds.  When it came to boots, the options were even more ugly! Instead of spending money on a new pair of boots, I invested in a gel insole for my existing tall black boots. Uggs are great, but can be slippery on ice and therefore not the best for later in pregnancy. Instead I would suggest a duck boot with good grip, such as a pair of Sorel’s. While not super fashionable, they are reliable and have generous give if your feet are swollen. I always pack a pair of havaianas in case I need to shower at the airport or the hotel floor is gross, but these are also great for swollen pregnancy feet.

What else to pack?

I was really fortunate to not really be nauseous, physically ill, or suffer from heartburn (with the exception of one or two times), but I always carried Tums as well as ginger flavored Tummy Drops just in case.

I also traveled with and applied twice daily, Bio Oil, to avoid stretch marks. They make a small 2oz. bottle that is therefore TSA approved.

Don’t forget to take your prenatals! I was buying these in bulk from Amazon but traveling with multiple pill bottles takes up unnecessary space and putting pills in baggies may lead to some unnecessary TSA searches. Like an elderly person, I bought a pill organizer, and sorted my prenatal, Vitamin D3, Vitamin C and a stool softener (because constipation is always a bad idea).

Staying hydrated is also incredibly important. I personally swear by S’well bottles and recently discovered EcoVessel, (I own this one and this one) thanks to my doula. These bottles keep drinks ridiculously cold (or hot) for hours, even in extreme hot weather. If you don’t want the extra weight of carrying a water bottle, I suggest buying a bottle at the airport after security to carry with you and/or coconut water, which is incredibly hydrating.

It goes without saying that you should always carry snacks. Preferably something that will keep you full, but isn’t a salty bag of chips or pretzels that will mess create more swelling. I stuck to protein granola bars, preferably with peanut butter. Nature Valley, Kind, and RXbars, have been my favorite. As a pick me up, I also really love these Sugarfina green juice gummy bears.

I used this Betabrand travel tote as my work bag and carry on which doubles as a backpack to ease shoulder pain and has lots of convenient pockets.

Just in case

A note from your doctor authorizing you to fly. I did not get one of these until I was 26 weeks, but depending on how much you are showing it might be a good idea to get one earlier, and later of course. Most airlines will not let you fly past 34 or 36 weeks, not like you will want to anyway. Also, my doctor pretty said no to any long haul flights over 8 hours in the third trimester (28+ weeks).

I did not need these until the last month or so, but panty liners can come in handy and are easy to throw into a purse or suitcase. I did not splurge on any special maternity underwear, but rather just sized up on some breathable cotton pairs.

During the winter, I also carried a large Alpine Plaid Wrap Scarf which doubled as a blanket due its generous size.

A travel pillow. I used an inflatable neck pillow to and from Europe that i could easily inflate and deflate, but otherwise I do not try and add unnecessary weight or bulk.

While traveling (In the air/car/train)

I have a smart watch and fully leveraged the “stand” feature as much as possible. I also practiced prenatal yoga, which helped with stretches and posture. Additionally, remembering to do the following really helped while traveling from one place to the next:

  • Calf and hamstring stretches, potentially while waiting for an airplane bathroom
  • Rolling and wiggling ankles and toes while seated
  • Standing and/or walking at least once an hour
  • Elevating feet and ankles, and potentially bending over to reach said feet and ankles (if possible)
  • Frequent bathroom breaks and sitting in an aisle seat

If standing is getting uncomfortable, due to the extra weight in your front, turning your toes in slightly to stand a bit bow-legged can really help take the pressure off your upper butt and lower back. My doula and yoga instructor teaches this regularly and I was surprised by how much it really works and that it was never mentioned in anything I read.

I also experienced the following:

  • leg cramping, almost like a charlie horse but not as intense. A remedy is to make sure you are staying hydrated, getting enough potassium and magnesium and staying mobile, which includes stretching.
  • sore fingers, mostly first thing in the morning. For this I have upped my Vitamin D3 intake as well as calcium as much as possible which includes having organic milk and yogurt daily. (Even lactose milk will work)

Bumping Through Airport Security and Radiation 

I definitely felt somewhat targeted and discriminated against while traveling through airport security. This occurred not just in the US, but in Europe as well. It is incredibly shocking how rude and completely senseless airport security agents can be. Although I have TSA pre-check, I was “randomly selected” for additional screening at 14 weeks and asked to go through the Advanced Imaging Scanner. I requested a pat down instead, given I had not asked my doctor and wanted to be on the safe side. After waiting for 20 minutes and watching a female TSA agent have zero regard for the elderly or pregnant, I went through the scanner in order to avoid missing my flight. While some articles warn against these detectors, they have fairly low radiation compared to say the actual tin metal can called an airplane that you are about to fly in.

That being said, if you fly very often, and especially on long haul flights, now is the time to speak up to your employer or consider changing your plans. The longer the flight and therefore higher the altitude, the more radiation you are exposed to. Taking multiple long haul flights within a short time frame is not recommended, but always check with your doctor.

I hope you found these tips helpful, but please remember to check with your doctor or healthcare provider to let them know of your travel plans while pregnant.

Other helpful references:

The Bump

Baby Center

Baby Center #2

MomAboard

The Travel Hack

 

 

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Portugal

4 Jul

Back in June 2014 my friend Tracy and I met up in Lisbon for a girls weekend while we were both working in Europe. Fast forward to September 2017 and now it was time to return to Portugal for another friends wedding in Estoril. Planning this trip was exciting because not only had an old friend of mine recently moved to Portugal from Brazil, but this would also double as a one year anniversary vacation.

TAP Portugal is not the most glamorous airline, but they have great direct flights from Newark (EWR) to Portugal. And by great I also mean reasonable because lets be honest no one wants to pay $1200 for a 5-6 hour flight to Europe. TAP also lets you bid on a business class seat. This was incredibly appealing to me because going to Europe on a red eye is miserable, but coming home and gaining 6 hours of time is more tolerable. Check out their bidding rules. Relaxing before the excitement!

We flew into Lisbon the day after US Labor Day 2017 and stayed (once again) at the Sheraton Lisboa. My husband was not interested in doing anything but sleeping and relaxing, so I went with my parents, who were also in town for the wedding, to Belem Tower.

Ah the line! We took an Uber since it was the three of us, it was hot and we didn’t want to spend the extra time taking public transit. There was still a long line to get in as we did not buy tickets in advance, but it was totally worth it. There were waves crashing up on us from the changing tide which kept us cool! and the UNESCO Heritage site did not disappoint. Just down the way there is a monument called Padrao dos Descobrimentos which commemorates Portugal’s explorers.

We did not pay to go into the monument, instead we took an Uber back to the hotel pool to relax before dinner with family and friends. Dinner was at 100 Maneiras in Bario Alto. It was recommended to us by friends and while it did not disappoint, my father and husband were not exactly singing its praises.  It is a tasting menu with potential for wine pairings, and while reasonable compared to other Michelin guide restaurants, there were some unusual items and my dad was not a fan. Otherwise, the rest of us loved it regardless!

The next day we went to the Gulbenkian museum, which was fascinating and huge! We mostly went to see the founders collection which has pieces dating back ~5000 years. They have exhibitions there as well, but we are not really modern art fans and didn’t really care to pay the extra money to see the current exhibit. Thanks to Yelp and FourSquare we stumbled across an amazing restaurant close by called Laurentina O Rei do Bacalhau. Bacalhau is cod fish which is the most popular fish in Portugal , although strangely enough most of the cod actually comes from the Nordics, but its prepared a number of different ways. We definitely ate too much, but our waiter and the food were amazing. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at Pingo Doce, a local grocery store. We like to pick up some wine and waters at the grocery store rather than pay 7Euro for an extra bottle at the bar (which my husband def did btw!). For dinner we went to a traditional Fado show at O Faia (again) in the Bario Alto district. The octopus was outstanding, and while we couldn’t understand what the Fado singers where singing about, their voices and the experience were well worth it.

Since we had really liked Yellow Cab Tours 3 years prior, we decided to go with a private tour to Sintra, Cabo da Roca, and Caiscais, which ended with them dropping us off at the Palacio Estoril Hotel for the wedding weekend. We had lunch a great seafood restaurant called Nortada. Some highlights from Sintra:

After the wedding, we rented a car and headed north to the Douro valley for a relaxing wine and port vacation! Driving in Portugal (aka. not Lisbon) was not very complicated and was incredibly scenic. We stayed at the Wine House Hotel at Quinta Da Pacheca. This was probably one of the best places we have ever stayed. I mean how can you beat sleeping in a vineyard with a gourmet restaurant?! The hotel/vineyard provided bikes which we took to nearby five star Five Senses resort and back again. We took the tour of the Quinta da Pacheca vineyard as well as a tasting at another nearby vineyard, Quinta do Tedo.

The wine house hotel restaurant

For dinner, we went to Rui Paula’s DOC which was one of the best tasting menus we have ever had. Rui Paula has a sister restaurant, DOP, in Porto, but we did not attempt to go there.

We ended our northern Portugese adventure in Porto. Due to having the rental car we decided to stay at the Sheraton Porto, which is in a more residential location not really close to the center, but has parking. We took an Uber from the hotel to a free City Lovers Tour of Porto which started in the center of Porto at Praca da Liberdade. This tour was well worth it and all we had to do was tip the tour guide at the end. It stopped at the following historic sites, train station, the Cathedral, and the monument Torre dos Clerigos.

For dinner, we went to our last fancy restaurant of the trip at The Yeatman two star Michelin restaurant which is in the Yeatman hotel. The view from this hotel and restaurant is spectacular overlooking Porto. Even if you don’t want to spend the money to eat here, I would highly recommend coming for a drink and the view.

For our last days in Portugal, we stayed at an Airbnb in Lisbon, right on one of the worlds most photographed streets in a 1 bed loft in the Chiado area of Lisbon. Although it was a huge pain to lug our suitcases up the stairs, and there was a ton of noise at night from the bar below, it was totally worth it to be right in the center of Lisbon for our last couple days.

We were able to meet up with a friend who had recently moved from Brazil who took us to a great trendy bar called Park, which is literally at the very top of what seems like a regular parking garage. I honestly don’t know if we could find it again if we tried, but the sunset view over Lisbon was fantastic as well as the views from Pharmacia which is across from Miradouro de Santa Catarina.

Our very last day in Lisbon was spent on a food tour called Lisbon’s Best Flavors booked through Airbnb experiences. Ruthy and her husband were our tour guide and took us to fabulous small and unique restaurants and bars in Alfama. It was a great way to end our trip and we were sad that our foodie vacation had come to an end.

When we go back to Portugal some day I would love to do the Algarve region as well as the Azores Islands. These are two places we could not fit into our 2 week trip.