Justin planned an awesome birthday trip for me this year — Aspen, Colorado! In the past, we have gone to Spain, Italy, and Mendocino and this was yet again an awesome trip. The big difference is that this time, I was eight weeks pregnant and in the height of my morning sickness.
So this trip summary is a recap of the amazing parts of Aspen in the summer, and some tips for surviving traveling while pregnant.
Surviving the flights with morning (all day) sickness
The key to traveling for me was plenty of snacks — and I brought tons. The most comforting were apple slices, but I had cheese sandwiches and wheat thins at all times. These were life savers! We flew SFO-Denver-Aspen and arrived in the most adorable little mountain town of Aspen. The lush-covered mountains were stunning and we couldn’t wait to explore!
The best part of Aspen — Maroon Bells
By far, the most incredible part of Aspen was visiting the Maroon Bells, the stunning mountains with a crystal lake at the base. Sunrise is the best time to see the Maroon Bells and although the wake up time is crazy early, it is beyond worth it to arrive in the dark, and watch the sun start to stream through onto the mountain peaks, and to see the reflection in the lake. The colors change by the minute as the sun emerges so have your camera ready. It is absolutely stunning. Again, morning sickness was at a high, so once again I was armed with lots of snacks — and very warm clothes, since even in the summer, it is quite chilly before the sun comes up. It was so gorgeous here that we went two mornings just to take in the grandeur of it all.
There is some great hiking around and beyond the lake. We did a short, pretty flat hike due to the intense elevation and my weaker state, but walking through the forest and going around each bend was spectacular. The start of the path is just at the back end of the lake and easy to find.
First time fly fishing
Justin surprised me and booked a private fly fishing trip for us. It was SO fun! We got outfitted in full gear and waded out into the river to try to snag some fish. Fly fishing is hard and much more involved than the fishing I was used to (dropping a line in the water and waiting). We both got several bites but Justin actually got a fish! We had so much fun — and don’t we look like pros?!?
Aspen in the summer
Downtown Aspen is incredibly cute. It is a very ritzy town but adorable to walk around in. We were there over July 4th so took in a very local 4th of July parade, picnic lunches in the park and leisurely strolls through the cobblestone streets.
If you go, it’s also worth getting the gondola up to the top of the mountain. In the winter there is great skiing here but the summer still boasts incredible views and hiking. The gondola ride made me surprisingly nauseous (why was I surprised) but I tried to smile in between the bumps and jolts. If you’re pregnant and nauseous, don’t do this more than once 🙂
We had a great birthday dinner at the Wild Fig and even went back a second night. For some reason, steamed mussels (and frites) were calling my name and I ate them twice there. The food was super delicious.
A great stay at the Limelight hotel
Justin negotiated an awesome rate at the Limelight Hotel, a great spot right in the middle of town. It was so wonderful being so close to everything in town and to the mountains. They had welcome birthday treats for me and Justin decorated the room with birthday banners and balloons.
Crazy adventure to fly back to SF
There were terrible fires in the Aspen area the week we were there, so all flights out of Aspen airport were cancelled. That meant we had to drive to Denver and fly from there. I was absolutely dreading the five hour drive through the rolling mountains and intense elevation while feeling so lousy. Thankfully, we had some epic views, stopped at the continental divide and even decided to get McDonald’s chicken McNuggets on the way home, which definitely helped. I forgot those are pretty good!
After a long, hard drive, we finally arrived in Denver and I was so relieved to get on the flight home. Justin held my boarding pass through security so it wasn’t until we got to the gate that I found out about the last surprise. Turns out he called the American Airlines and given the cancelled flight and rebooking, got us upgraded to business class seats. It was SO comfortable and the best way to relax and cap off a great birthday trip.
If you go to Aspen in the summer:
- Go to see the Maroon Bells at sunrise. It feels early and maybe not worth it, but it is totally worth it. Prioritize this over anything else.
- Tip for parking at Maroon Bells. It can be confusing how to get up there and where to park. You have to get through the gates by 8:00am otherwise they are closed and you’ll have to take the bus. If you arrive before 8:00am, you can leave your car there all day. We left the hotel around 5:00am to get up for sunrise.
- Stay downtown. It is great to be able to walk to everything in town.
- Prices are high in the summer (and likely the winter also). Don’t be surprised and plan accordingly.
If you travel while pregnant:
- Know that elevation makes nausea worse. I had no idea until we got there.
- Pack lots of snacks and water. Have them on you at all time.
- Bring a few ice packs to keep your snacks cold. You don’t want perishables sitting at room temperature for too long.
- Take it easy. I found I was more winded than I used to be and had to slow down and rest more often. I wasn’t used to a reduced pace but it helped and is important to listen to your body.