When I booked my summer holiday I knew there was a possibility that by the time it came to board the plane I might be carrying more than just a suitcase. For many people travel is the unknown, but for me it was pregnancy that was the unknown. Should I fly before my 12 week scan? Will my holiday be ruined by morning sickness and fatigue? Will I be covered by my travel insurance? Will I have outgrown my bikini by the time I return home?
For those of you who follow my travels you will know that my holidays are far from relaxing. I like to climb mountains, trek through jungles and cycle across the beach front. I organise my itinerary so that it is jam-packed, with barely a minute to spare. This year however I was in a bit of a dilemma, I wasn’t pregnant when I booked the trip back in April, but I knew (and hoped!) that by the summer I might be.
As if there wasn’t enough to consider when planning my trip to Greece. First there was BREXIT and the fall in the value of the Pound, then there were work commitments and I was under no illusion that there were still thousands of refugees in various parts of the country. But not only did I have these things to consider, I also had to think about my possible unborn child. To begin, I had to choose a destination without the Zika virus, and believe me this reduced my travel options SIGNIFICANTLY. This is why I decided to stick to Europe this year and this is why I left it so late to book my holiday-because earlier on in the year I had read that there was a risk of the virus spreading to Europe when the weather became warmer, thankfully this hasn’t happened. I also had to think about my itinerary- if I’m not pregnant I don’t want to be bored, but if I am pregnant I don’t want to be exhausted!
All this hypothetical thinking was hard work.
In the end I planned my trip with the intentions of coming up with something in the middle. I decided to start the trip with a couple of beach days in Halkidiki, then a week of sightseeing and driving from Thessaloniki down to Athens with stops at Meteora and Delphi, followed by a bit of R and R on Santorini and Crete. I made sure we wouldn’t spend any one day driving for too long and that my accommodation would be comfortable (I couldn’t think of anything worse than morning sickness when staying somewhere sub-standard!). I also hired a car during our time in Crete so that we had the option to go out and explore if we got bored of all the relaxation time.
Thankfully my trip fell at the end of the summer break and by this time I was coming to the end of the first trimester. Unfortunately I hit the big 12 week milestone during the trip which was terribly inconvenient as it meant I had to wait until my return to get the all clear from the hospital and to share our happy news with my friends and family. Fortunately I was feeling a little more alive during the trip than I had done the previous eight weeks as the sickness and constant exhaustion has begun to subside. Don’t get me wrong, I would have gone on the trip regardless of which week of pregnancy I was in, but I am really glad that it wasn’t earlier in the first trimester.
Every women’s pregnancy is different, some people get severe morning sickness and others have no symptoms at all. For me, I had around two weeks of nausea and around six weeks of severe food aversions. I’m not a huge fan of Greek food at the best of times, but I was really glad that food started to taste less repulsive when I was away, because that would have made finding places to eat rather difficult! I was also extremely tired for the first eight weeks or so and most days I had a mid-afternoon nap for one-two hours. This wouldn’t have been practical in my itinerary and I would have missed out on a lot of things, not to mention I would have forced my poor husband to wait around during nap time each day! I continued to have early nights during the trip, but I wasn’t exactly going to go out partying anyway, was I!? What I did find frustrating was how quickly I got tired during physical activity, climbing up to the monasteries in Meteora (which often had 1000+ steps!) and the return climb from the Balos beach were EXTREMELY challenging, I even burst into tears a couple of times (but hey, I’m pregnant so it’s allowed!) because I was finding it so difficult to do something that normally wouldn’t be a difficult challenge. My biggest problem however was the heat…as somebody who has slept in the Sahara in the middle of August and taught in a Thai school in 98% humidity with no air conditioning this was a significant source of frustration for me!
So would I recommend travelling in the first trimester? Whilst every person will experience pregnancy symptoms differently, my answer is no. If your trip is booked then by all means go and make the most of it. But don’t plan to have an action-packed adventure while away, because your body (and that little bundle of joy growing inside you) might not allow it. I spent most of my first trimester before flying to Greece curled up in front of the sofa watching box sets and having lots of naps (thank Goodness for the school holidays!) and while this did get boring after a while, I was glad that I had the opportunity to put my feet up and rest. Remember that your body is going through an awful lot in these first few weeks, not only are you growing a baby but you are also growing an entire new organ-the placenta. This is really hard work. So my advice is to wait until the second trimester if possible, but if your holiday plans don’t work out that way make sure that you take care of yourself and if you enjoy an action packed itinerary like I do, it might be a good idea to slow down the pace a little.