We’ve been keeping a little secret during this most recent trip around the world.
There’s been a stowaway onboard with us during the past five months.
It comes with great joy and happiness to formally announce that we have a new addition joining the Roaming Around the World team! Yes, we are expecting.
Our unborn child has been roaming around the world with us ever since departing Guadalajara, Mexico, way back in the end of August. In fact, she’s already been to 21 countries while hiding out in the womb, no passport required.
This trip entirely around the globe evolved into a much different journey than usual. With impending deadlines, we traveled way faster than our preferred pace. There were also challenges and surprises along the way. Lots of additional planning and precautions were necessary to help ensure a healthy pregnancy when moving from one country to the next. Meanwhile, we were secretly celebrating small developmental victories all throughout the entire trip, amidst international check-ups along the way.
What began as another trip around the world had transformed into the ultimate babymoon!
We wrote this post to share our pregnancy tales while traveling the world and to now chronicle this secret we’ve been carrying throughout the journey.
This is our travel pregnancy story.
Traveling the World Before Children and the Journey to Pregnancy
This tale has actually been a few years in the making.
When we first became nomadic and began this life of travel back in 2014, it was supposed to be a one-year trip around the world. Part of the motivation for that trip was to be able to live out adventures that could prove difficult with children. Backpacking South America, overlanding across Africa, trekking through the Borneo jungle, and camel riding across the Sierra Desert were just a few bucketlist experiences that would certainly be more challenging with a toddler in tow.
Somehow that one-year trip turned into two years, then three years, then four years, etc. Yet as each of those subsequent years of travel progressed, so did our age. We woke up one day and realized we had traveled well into our late 30s.
Upon completing a prior round the world trip, we slowed down in Mexico for the latter half of 2018, with plans to make a baby.
We didn’t want to stray too far from the US, knowing a pregnancy requires regular doctors visits and such. So slow travel through Mexico sounded like the perfect course of action. The plan was to explore some new places in Mexico while housesitting, working online, and saving for this upcoming arrival.
But sometimes things take a little longer than expected in the world of baby-making. The calendar soon changed to 2019. And we likewise changed our location to check out some of the best places to visit in Ecuador. But alas, there was still no baby on the way.
We ultimately returned to Mexico for yet another half-year stay, where “operation conception” persisted. Still, nada.
So after slowing down in Latin America for well over a year, our patience began to grow thinner than the air in the high Ecuadorian Andes.
And despite becoming increasingly comfortable in Mexico, our wanderlust for more worldly roaming was growing stronger than a shot of tequila straight from the barrel. Meanwhile, the sixth-month tourist visa Mexico granted us was running out.
It was time to make a move.
We couldn’t continue to put life on hold for something that may not be in the cards.
We began plotting a third trip around the world. And maybe that’s just what we needed.
By the time this trip was kicked into motion by crossing the land border from Tijuana into the United States, the pregnancy was already underway. We just didn’t know it yet.
The Trip Around the World Began …and So Did a Pregnancy
Our first stop was San Diego, California. It was literally the day after crossing the border, when we took a home pregnancy test. This had become a monthly routine that consistently led to disappointment.
But this time, something was different. There were two VERY solid lines. We were absolutely ecstatic.
Yet this positive test also came with a bit of concern. While our pregnancy dreams had finally come true, we were set to embark on a ship across the Pacific Ocean in just a few days, with onward travel plans throughout Asia & Europe.
Would a trip around the world even be possible while pregnant? What about morning sickness? Where can we get prenatal vitamins? When would we need to see a doctor? And where!?
It was all still very early. Yet amidst growing excitement, a million questions swirled through our heads. We now had a growing to-do list while sightseeing in San Diego. And we would have to figure out the rest along the way. Because in just a few days, we had a ship to catch!
Obviously, we proceeded forward with our ambitious travel plans. This newly realized pregnancy simply helped to shape the trip. Rather than halting travel plans, we instead made a conscious decision to embrace this trip to the fullest!
It would likely be our last grand tour without kids. We were all in. So let’s celebrate and make it special!
Hence, the idea of a babymoon around the world came to fruition! I mean, what else would you expect these two roamers to do?
Setting Sail on the Voyage of Pregnancy
We arrived in Vancouver to catch a repositioning cruise entirely across the Pacific Ocean to Japan. Amidst exploring Canada’s third largest city, we had about 30 hours on the ground to make any last-minute pregnancy preparations before setting sail to distant lands.
One such task was to simply get a proper lab test to confirm the pregnancy, which proved far more difficult than we ever expected. With home pregnancy test being what they are, false positives are not entirely uncommon. So a blood test can be a good idea to achieve more accurate test results.
So off we went! But Canada’s public healthcare system is largely closed off to visitors and tourists. We contemplated going to a lab while porting in Sitka, Alaska, since this would be easier for us back on US soil. But we soon realized that all of Sitka’s labs were closed due to our arrival scheduled for a Sunday. The need for this pregnancy test became our first of many little international snafus during this trip around the world while pregnant.
Ultimately, we found a practice in Vancouver that provides assistance to foreigners. The consultation turned out to be a costly move, requiring two separate appointments just to get a local requisition that Canadian labs require for foreigners.
But we got it. And it was a good lesson to learn early on in the pregnancy. We would go on to plan subsequent appointments based upon our pregnancy timeline and the healthcare systems we’d be traveling through.
And within hours of getting that lab work completed, we then boarded the ship and said bon voyage Canada!
Crossing the Pacific and into Pregnancy Symptoms
After stopping into Alaska for a day, we received an email from LabCorp Vancouver with positive news about the pregnancy.
Cheers to that!
Embarking from the North American continent, concerns grew about crossing the world’s largest ocean at the exact same timeframe when morning sickness tends to set in. Motion sickness can worsen morning sickness.
Meanwhile, storms that churn up the northern Pacific waters can create rough seas on this route. That’s exactly what happened during the midst of our 17-day transpacific crossing.
But we really lucked out in the morning sickness department. Not all women experience morning sickness. Maybe our developing baby liked all the rocking. Because there thankfully wasn’t a single prayer made to the porcelain god during this cruise!
The transpacific voyage did not go without some mild nausea. And pregnancy books suggest that eating small meals often can ease pregnancy nausea. So what better place to accomplish that than on a cruise with free room service and a seemingly endless buffet? Yes, please!
The nearly two weeks out at sea had provided such a comfortable way to get into the swing of new bodily changes as the pregnancy progressed. Eventually the seas calmed as we approached Russian waters. We completed the crossing well-rested and it was time to go roaming around Japan!
No Sushi & Sake in Japan – But Praying to Monsters Helps Breast Milk Production
Traveling Japan early in this pregnancy brings about some of our best memories of this grand trip. Japan remains one of our favorite countries to travel and this visit only strengthened those sentiments.
Yet arriving to Japan was also a stark reminder of dietary restrictions while pregnant. It’s often advised to avoid raw fish during pregnancy due to a tiny, but serious, risk of bacteria and parasites. Plus, an abundance of mercury from certain fish, like tuna, is also a no-no.
So it was tuna donburi for one!
Thankfully there is so much yummy Japanese food that is entirely safe during pregnancy. No one should ever go hungry in what we tout as one of the top foodie countries in the world. Ramen was a daily occurrence. But we left plenty of room for shabu shabu, tonkatsu, okonomiyaki, and other Japanese favorites.
But, of course, alcohol is another no-no. Our weekly #ThirstyThursday tradition quickly became a solo activity. Sake was definitely out. Yet Japan taught us that non-alcoholic beers can be a fun option. A visit to the Sapporo brewery introduced us to a particularly tasty 0% rendition of their namesake brew.
Our travels throughout Japan centered around the lesser-visited Tōhoku region, where we were able to pursue some interesting adventures in far-flung areas. Yet perhaps the most unusual of all, was our deliberate trek way out to the middle of nowhere in attempts to achieve good fortune for producing breast milk.
We had read about natural pools that form in a stream, known to be a place where folkloric kappa creatures hangout. These turtle-looking imps are devious little monsters that are known to eat children.
Despite their mischievous reputation, kappas are also said to possess magical powers that give pregnant women the ability to produce an abundance of breast milk. Local women come to pray at a kappa shrine located outside a small farming town of, Tono, in attempts to be granted with this milk-producing capability. We had to go.
So after two hours by train into the countryside, then a 60-minute bike ride, we found the mythical pools and asked kappa for some post-natal milk! We’ll have to wait a few more months to see if it worked.
Thailand Brought Doc Appointments, Changing Tastes, and a Little Pampering
Our arrival to Thailand coincided with being about halfway through the first trimester. It was a blessing to be on the road with minimal pregnancy symptoms so far. But that also made us anxious about whether everything was going okay in there. So, it was during a brief layover in Phuket, Thailand, where we scheduled our first prenatal visit.
Over the years, we’ve grown very comfortable with the quality (and cost) of healthcare in Thailand. We have regularly made Thailand a stop for our vision and dental needs. So, it felt fitting to begin our prenatal care in this country we’ve often relied on for medical care.
Thailand also holds a special place in our hearts. It’s where we got engaged a decade ago. Yet another milestone was now reached in Thailand during this babymoon trip around the world.
Thailand is now where we first heard our baby’s heartbeat! It was a magical moment.
The doc said everything looked great. We were so relieved. Time to celebrate!
And we knew just the place. After traveling at a furious pace throughout Japan, we needed to rest up and add some more luxury into this babymoon trip around the world. Arriving to southern Thailand during the offseason afforded us the opportunity for a little pampering.
The affordable indulgences continued in Railaly, our favorite Thai paradise, where we tried to enjoy all of the best things to do in Railay Beach!
It was a blissful setting to unwind amidst those tall limestone cliffs. But a few of our favorite pastimes in Railay weren’t possible. Rock climbing was a no-go for obvious reasons. But there would also be no gorging on all the delicious Thai food, nor indulging in daily massages.
Apparently tastes change when you’re pregnant. Sometimes you crave food you’ve never liked. Or you suddenly hate food you once loved. Unfortunately, Thai food had the latter effect.
We even took a private Thai cooking course, where a chef taught us how to make the most delicious dishes. But the pungent smells encountered while learning to cook this six-course feast was enough to send this preggo out of the kitchen.
Spicy curries were out. Bland rice was in. That six-course feast we posted about on Facebook turned into yet another meal-for-one.
Thailand also taught us that massages can be advised against for pregnant women. We asked a masseuse if it was okay to get a foot massage while pregnant and was surprised that she warned against it.
Apparently, it has to do with the reflexology aspect. There is some argument to this. But after reading enough conflicting accounts, we concluded it was best to play it safe. Foot massages were traded out for a pedicure instead.
Despite a lack of tom kha gai and $5 foot massages, Thailand still proved to be a wonderful stop during this babymoon around the world. The relaxation was much needed in advance of our more aggressive Europe travel plans.
Babymooning Across Europe
When we met with our Thai doctor, she gave us the green light to continue this babymoon trip around the world. But the doc also advised that we return home to establish a regular prenatal doctor by Week 18 of the pregnancy. Up until this point, we didn’t have a firm endgame for this trip.
Not knowing what challenges we might face traveling while pregnant, we kept plans flexible. But the doc provided with a stop date. That gave us exactly 2½ months to wrap-up this trip by December. And with everything going well so far, we were determined to pack in as much as possible!
A big part of this babymoon around the world was returning to some of our favorite destinations. Japan and Thailand scratched that itch. Yet there are still many places across the globe we’ve been longing to get to.
The Baltic countries and Russia were all high on our to-do list. So when we noticed the cheapest connection between Asia and Europe was a flight into Stockholm, it was a no-brainer to make our next move.
Yet one of the few things concerning our Thai doctor was that upcoming long-haul flight. Pregnant women become more susceptible to blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. The doc prepped us with printouts illustrating a slew of exercises to complete during the 12-hour flight as a measure to prevent DVT. Everything went well in the air. And we ultimately arrived to Stockholm ready to get on another ship!
Our time in Europe would be short. So an economical ferry/cruise spanning four Baltic countries over six days was a very appealing proposition. And that’s exactly what we did. It was an exciting whirlwind traveling to Finland, Russia, Estonia, and back to Sweden.
The three-day stop into St. Petersburg, Russia, was the top draw for us. No vodka, of course. Just lots of yummy Russian food and plenty of sightseeing throughout what quickly became one of our favorite cities in Europe.
The entire Baltic cruise/ferry culminated in yet another major highlight of this babymoon trip around the world. (We definitely plan to write about that voyage in much more detail soon!)
We passed through the Baltic Sea in a flash. But our propensity to travel by sea was only beginning.
There was a third, and final, ocean-going voyage to pursue. And that ship was about to depart from another one of our favorite countries to travel through.
So, it was off to Italy to make the most of our time there. Fortunately, Italian food really agreed with this pregnancy. We ate all the pizza and pasta we could find during the few days that we hid out in the quaint Italian town of Bergamo.
But another change in taste that came about during this pregnancy has been an increased propensity for sweets. So when we discovered that Bergamo was the birthplace for Stracciatella (kinda like chocolate chip) gelato, it was a daily occurrence to fill up while we had the chance. Sometimes twice a day! (Don’t judge.)
Cruising While Pregnant:
The 30-Day Voyage to Africa Aboard the Snooze Cruise
We departed Italy for our longest cruise yet. It was a 30-day voyage spanning from Italy all the way down to South Africa!
While crossing from the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean, we also crossed from the first trimester into the second. And there’s a lot we learned about cruising while pregnant during this monthlong cruise.
Prior to this voyage, we discovered that most cruise lines have pregnancy policies forbidding passage beyond the 24th week of pregnancy. Most cruise lines further bar infants from cruising until they’re at least six months old.
These are both very sensible policies to have in place. But this also meant that we would not be able to board a ship throughout nearly all of 2020 – eek! The time to cruise was now. And the 30-day repositioning cruise deal we scored from Italy to South Africa was the perfect ticket to satiate our lust for the high seas, all while being effortlessly transported to far-flung ports of call that would have otherwise been to costly and/or difficult to get to.It began as a pleasant voyage with smooth seas and stops throughout the Mediterranean and Red Sea that included Rome, Crete, the Suez Canal, Israel, Jordan, and Oman.
The day trip to Petra was the most prominent highlight during the first half of this lengthy cruise. Trekking across the ancient city while pregnant, we had to be careful to not overexert in the desert landscape.
Meanwhile the ship itself proved to be a pretty perfect environment to be pregnant. The buffet on this particular cruise was open 21-hours a day! But that was another place we had to be careful in not over-doing it.
Developing this affinity for sweats was becoming dangerous when perusing the desserts. The whole “eating-for-two” thing is a misnomer. Instead it’s suggested to only slightly increase calories, with healthy selections.
And while cruise food can be notoriously gluttonous, we found healthy choices to be just as accessible. The well-stocked salad bar was often a savior that we got to know quite well during this month of babymooning from Italy to Africa. While traveling around the world, it wasn’t always easy to maintain a recommended pregnancy diet, rich in veggies, legumes, nuts, lean proteins, and whole grains. But the options available throughout the cruise made this a cinch!
Meanwhile, not drinking during the 30-day voyage was a huge money-saver, given the inflated bar prices. Saunas and hot tubs were another part of the ship that pregnant cruisers can’t participate in. But it wasn’t missed. There were other activities to pursue. Like sleeping!
Resting was never a problem. The oversized accessible stateroom we were assigned to was almost too comfortable. It was sometimes tough to leave the cabin. Fatigue and sleepiness was a symptom that hit hard during this stage of the pregnancy.
Sea days became sleep days. So much sleep! We’re usually very active on ships during the sea days. But this cruise was all about the resting in between our ports of call. Napping became the activity of choice aboard this snooze cruise.
Thankfully, the ports did indeed inject much excitement into the trip, which got us exploring and moving. The latter half of the itinerary was most intriguing, visiting distant Indian Ocean islands, including the Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Reunion Island.
It’s during this part of the voyage, when the pregnancy transitioned into the second trimester. That meant it was time for another check-up and it was the most important one yet. But how can you have a prenatal check-up during the middle of an exotic Indian Ocean cruise?
We had a rare two-day stop into the Seychelles. So it was while on this gorgeous island nation where we had strategically planned another prenatal checkup and ultrasound. During the cruise we were so anxious to get to the Seychelles for this appointment, counting down the days. And as our baby had now grown to the size of a lemon, we could now get another peek at her to be reassured everything was okay.
This visit in the Seychelles was yet another very special moment during this babymoon around the world. It’s partly because at this point, the major risks to pregnancies drop significantly. Hence most people wait until this point to tell anyone.
We could now finally start sharing our little secret! So as we sailed away from these beautiful islands, the sun set, and we made a few phone calls to relay the good news to a few people that were close to us.
Then… back to sleep!
An African Safari While Pregnant
It’s often touted that the second trimester is the best time to travel. Nausea and fatigue from the first trimester tends to subside. Yet it’s also before carrying around the extra weight that’s inevitable later in pregnancy. So what better time to wind down this round-the-world babymoon, than with an African safari during this time!
One of our favorite travel memories from years’ past has been doing self-drive safaris across South Africa. So we were thrilled to incorporate this into the end of our grand babymoon trip around the world. But there were a few added hurdles to overcome in planning this self-drive safari while pregnant.
For one, we had to be very strategic in planning potty breaks out in the African savannah and road-tripping across vast stretches of South Africa. As the baby grows, it can put pressure on the bladder. And being in the middle of lion territory, with no toilet for miles, can bring about obvious challenges.
Snacks were also a must. Fortunately, South Africa has a love affair with road trip snacks. They even have a word for this. Padkos is the word for food packed when traveling long distances. And there was lots padkos throughout our nearly 3-week long road trip across the scenic countryside.
We also had to take malaria into consideration. Thankfully, much of South Africa is malaria-free. But there are high-risk malaria zones within the country that we would need to take an abundance of caution. South Africa’s Health Network publishes malaria advisories and risk maps that we intimately studied while planning this segment of our babymoon.
Hence, we largely avoided high-risk malaria zones. But we did dip into a malaria zone for a single day. And we took extreme measures that are almost laughable. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitos. The goal: don’t get bit. And we didn’t.
We remained in our car with the windows up. Still, it was head-to-toe clothing, just in case. Long pants, long shirt, long socks, bandana, no exposed skin. Our bodies were armored tanks and mosquitos weren’t sneaking in.
In addition to all that, malaria mosquitos bite between dusk and dawn. So we planned our very brief foray into the danger zone during the mid-day, when it’s virtually impossible to contract. And even more impossible when covered up to a ridiculous extent while being trapped in a sealed-up car. Safety first!
In the past, we’ve really enjoyed staying in some of South Africa’s camps. But with mosquitos buzzing in the open air, we stuck to hotels during this trip.
We also made it a point to linger in malaria-free national parks, where we could be carefree of malaria risk altogether. And that’s where we ended up seeing some of the best wildlife.
It was all an amazing trip. The southern-hemisphere’s Spring coincided with many baby animal sightings throughout our self-drive safari. Watching the new parents interact with their offspring was heartwarming foreshadowing of what’s in store for us.
Concluding this Babymoon Trip Around the World
Mid-December brought a pressing need to conclude this babymoon around the world. We couldn’t continue popping in to see random doctors from Canada to Thailand to Seychelles. This pregnancy was well underway!
Our challenge was returning to the US from Africa, while sticking to our budget travel tendencies and attempting to limit long periods of immobility on a plane. The solution: breaking up the long flight to the US with a free stopover in Abu Dhabi.
As a result, the UAE became the 21st country our unborn child joined us in roaming around. We sure hope she enjoys traveling as much as we do.
From conception until now, she’s already:
- been to four continents,
- traveled through 22 of the world’s 24 time zones,
- crossed two oceans,
- three seas,
- the equator, and
- the international date line!
It’s pretty astonishing to think about, at least for these two proud expecting parents.
So What Now? Where to Next?
We’re now getting so excited to finally meet our baby in May, when we can resume traveling with her in person. Until then, we’ll be a bit more stationary as we prepare for this life change.
South Florida is becoming our temporary base for the short-term. We’re looking forward to re-discovering our old backyard while showing you some of the awesome places around this popular US vacation destination.
This slowdown will also give us time to finally write in detail about our travel tips and recommendations in many of these travel destinations we’ve been roaming around. We never have time to publish posts while actively on the road. So now we’ll finally have a chance to get writing the backlog of articles we’ve been meaning to compose.
But you know we can’t sit still for too long. So we’re already planning a little road-trip across the US South next month! Other escapes aren’t entirely out of the question either.
But after March, it’ll be wise to stick close to “home” for a little while, as we expect our new arrival. We’ll then need to figure out this parenting thing. We’ve become pretty adept at international travel. But roaming the world with a baby is a whole new ballgame for us. We welcome any tips that you parents out there may have!
And we do indeed plan to eventually continue traveling after this baby arrives. We’re sure our roaming ways will evolve into a different travel style than we’ve maintained over the past six years of nomadism. So we’ll have to figure that out in the months and years to come.
Right now we simply couldn’t be any more excited to embark on what feels like the biggest adventure of our lives: parenthood.