Life

We’re Pregnant! My First Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms

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11 weeks ultrasound photoWhen you’re pregnant for the first time, every little twinge of pain – and even no pain – can become nerve-racking to a new mom. These days online, it seems like pregnancy is as simple as an announcement and a bump photo. That’s it!? No symptoms?! No abdomen pain?! No random mood swings followed by a river of tears?! No acne so bad that you’ve perfected your Home Alone face in the mirror every morning?! Throughout this process, I wish I had more advice, more stories, better expectations. And that’s what I hope to do for any of you preggy or hope-to-be-preggy moms out there who seem just as lost as me.  You’re not alone like you might sometimes feel!

If you’re a new momma, congratulations! The worry that you feel right now is all too familiar to me. I’ve made this post for the simple reason that like you, I was that first-trimester-scared-pregnant-mom sifting through hundreds of baby forums a day to compare symptoms just hoping that I could relate to someone going through the same things as me. Hey – you may not relate to my symptoms. Every mom is different. I know moms out there who had NO nausea and NO cramping and gave birth to a healthy baby. I also know moms out there who vomited their brains out for weeks and went on to have healthy babies. If I can help ease the mind of one mom-to-be out there, I have officially done what I came here to do! Here are my first trimester symptoms:


Week 4: I have a menstrual cycle that functions like a clock, so when my period was 1 day late, I knew that I was pregnant. My husband was so surprised at how keen my intuition was. He was absolutely shocked when I took the test and it was positive (not to mention that the results happened in a matter of seconds, and I don’t think he was prepared for that!) We decided to share the news with our best friends, Ashley and Jordan, and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Since she recently had her baby, it was helpful to text her with any questions or concerns knowing she’s been there before. Even more, having them to share in our excitement with us was so memorable!

My week 4 symptoms included crazy bloating (it looked like I was 3 months pregnant, and I had trouble buttoning my jeans), gas, a lot of abdomen pressure and period-like abdominal cramping, frequent urination (also because I started drinking 3 liters of water a day), constipation, breathlessness, fatigue, sleepless nights and really painful lower back ache. My back hurt so bad at times I would have to sit down in small intervals throughout the day. Sleep is nonexistent for me right now. I’m just so uncomfortable! No nausea symptoms for me yet.

Note: I prefer the First Response pregnancy tests that have the pink lines. I have used Clear Blue, and I don’t have the patience to wait 3 minutes for a blinking icon to tell me the results that First Response can tell me in 15 seconds. I felt that First Response was extremely accurate and easy to read. It’s simple: two pink lines means “pregnant”, regardless if one of the lines is faded (the left pregnancy line was bold and the right line was faded).


Week 5: My symptoms during week 5 seemed to come and go, which worried me. One day I would feel like the littlest of tasks took so much energy, and the next day I would feel completely normal with ZERO symptoms (not even sore breasts). My week 5 symptoms included terrible, terrible, terrible cramping (implementation – more painful than my regular periods), bloating, blue veins in breasts, hard breasts, sore nipples, frequent urination, constipation, spots of acne on my forehead, breathlessness, fatigue and lower back ache (though the backache was not as bad as week 4). I have finally started to get some sleep! No nausea symptoms!


Week 6: I think I jinxed myself when I said no nausea yet at week 4 and week 5. I was in the middle of grocery shopping at exactly 6 weeks and had a bad wave of nausea come over me. Thankfully, my husband was there and we were in the middle of checking out so I tried to mind-over-matter the whole situation, but i’d be lying if I said I wasn’t eyeing the closest grocery bag for safety precautions! That’s the only bout of nausea that i’ve had yet.

Can I say how hard it is to grocery shop when pregnant? At 6 weeks, I have more food aversions than I do cravings, and everything looks so GROSS. I can barely browse Pinterest without wanting to vomit at every food recipe I see! Other week 6 symptoms include tight pressure in my abdomen, frequent urination, sore breasts, blue veins in breasts, “alert” nipples (I am not a nipper and I’ve been nipping constantly), hard breasts, a stinging twinge in my right ovary (though not constant), constipation, fatigue, throbbing headaches and breathlessness. When I say “breathlessness”, I mean that I sound like I sprinted a mile just from the parking lot to the grocery store. It’s absolutely insane.

I have to say, the coolest part about this week for me is watching the changes in my breasts. Though they’re not terribly sore, they grow more blue veins every day, and I can see my areolas darkening and expanding (which I think is so interesting!) Right now, it’s the only thing making me feel pregnant, so I’m running with it!

Oh, and acne. So annoying. So present, all over my forehead.

Still no morning sickness for me!


Week 7: The headaches. Oh, the headaches! If I’m ever sitting down and I stand on my feet, I immediately feel throbbing in my head. And every morning, it’s a guarantee that I’ll wake up with a headache, so I’ve been putting popsicles on my neck! No vomiting or nausea, so I think i’ll take the headaches as a sign of how my body is responding to the extra hormones.

My sense of smell is absolutely ridiculous. We went to the movie theater the other day, and upon entering the theater I was immediately hit by a wave of smell – the strongest, butteriest, mustiest popcorn odor that I’ve ever smelled. And when I say “wave”, I actually mean that I jumped back because the smell was so strong. I almost couldn’t bare it. I also take photos for a local boutique that sells candles, and the scent almost knocked me down. I take photos for them on a weekly basis, and i’ve never noticed the smell before until now!

The breathlessness struggle is real! I’ll go on walks around the neighborhood with my husband, and even though I walked pre-pregnancy (thinking my body would be used to the walking), i’m still completely out of breath due to my increased blood volume. On the days I don’t feel like drowning in my own sweat outside, I like to do YouTube workouts. I read that a normal increase in blood flow and the hormone progesterone causes you to breathe more often, so if you’re feeling short of breath, it’s completely normal!

Have you heard of the ‘ole wives tale that icy feet mean your having a boy? Regardless of the baby’s sex (since we aren’t at that point yet) my feet have been ICE cold. And I don’t mean a little “chilly” – it feels like ice straight down to my foot bone. I wear socks all day long, and that doesn’t even help! I have my heating pad on standby, but I praise the day when my feet aren’t in pain anymore.

Other week 7 symptoms include frequent urination – I probably pee 15 times in a 24 hour period; fatigue – the fatigue is in full force this week, and I take naps every day. I feel extremely lazy and have no motivation to do anything at all. On my last 2 days of this week, I’ve been feeling a lot of constant abdomen pressure, day and night. I wake up with it and go to bed with it. It’s not that i’m not tired, but the pressure keeps me awake. No morning sickness!


Week 8: My worst pregnancy symptom thus far has been migraines/hormone headaches. Though i’ve always struggled with motion sickness, I just recently found out that these headaches i’ve been getting are even worse in the car. On day 1 of week 8, I came down with the worst headache since i’ve been pregnant – the kind where you want complete darkness, cold temperatures and no food. It was bad.

On day 5 of week 8, we were traveling 6 hours to Jackson, MS (where our family lives) and I got so sick from the stop-and-go traffic that the closest thing near me was a cardboard box, so I threw up in it. The rest of the car ride was spent gagging into said box, and I chose to ride with it in my lap throughout the entire trip because I didn’t want to stop the car. Worst car ride of my ENTIRE life!

I’ve had a lot of abdominal pressure lately, and I feel it most when i’m laying down at night. I’ve also been waking up at 4 AM with hunger pains (the kind where it feels like there’s a hole in your stomach). I can’t decide if I should get up and eat, or ride it out until morning. Either way, it’s hard to fall back to sleep.

I know some of you will have your first prenatal appointment this week! Hooray! Ours has been pushed back since we’ll be traveling out of state during the next two weeks. Before you go to your appointment, make sure your OBGYN is in “Network” and your insurance plan is eligible. There are thousands of insurance plans out there and not all plans are accepted by your OB. Trust me, you don’t want to be stuck with self-pay. So expensive! To make sure your OB is in Network, visit your insurance site or call your insurance agent and ask (there should be a number on your card). For example, i’m with Aetna insurance. I can go to their website, find my OBGYN and sift through the plans that are in network. If it has a green checkmark by it, I know that they accept my specific plan!

Insurance

If your OB is NOT in Network with your insurance, you will pay LOADS of money, FYI. I didn’t know that until researching and talking with my parents.


Week 9: You are the devil, week 9!

This week, we spent 8 days in San Francisco (plus a few extra days of travel time + spending time in our hometown with family). We’ve been planning this trip for 7 months, so it’s all we’ve been talking about and saving for. Little did I know, I would wind up pregnant two months before our trip. Not knowing what I was in for (and also having almost everything booked like flight, hotel and concert tickets) we decided to move forward with our trip. If I could give you one piece of advice through this whole experience, it’s to avoid traveling during your first trimester. Don’t do it if you can help it! I mean this with every fiber in my body.

On average, I had 3-5 headaches per day during this trip. Part of the headaches were triggered by eating late, and the other part was caused by hormones.

All I wanted to do was sleep. I’d be in the middle of a ferry boat ride struggling to stay awake, not to mention my husband had me biking, hiking and sight seeing! Ha!

I was so hungry that by the time we ate lunch and dinner, I didn’t even care what was on the menu. Just bring me food. And the craziest part? As hungry as I was, I would get full easily. I had an amazing meal one night (crab macaroni and cheese). I could only take 4 bites before I was done, and I was literally so embarrassed to hand my plate back to the waiter because it looked like I didn’t even touch it (and we didn’t have a mini fridge in our hotel room)!

And the Hwy 1 roads? Stop and go traffic? Hills? HEADACHE CITY.

We truly had a great time in San Francisco and made some wonderful memories. I wouldn’t take it back for the whole world, but it was a serious struggle to get through each day, and I just wish it could’ve been during a time when my symptoms tapered off (or when I wasn’t pregnant). Tyler’s aunt and uncle ironically went to San Francisco during their first trimester and from what they’ve told us, she was miserable, too!

Since our families live in another state, this is the week we told them we were pregnant!


Week 10: THE TEARS. My mood is like a switch, and I can cry on command. I’ve never experienced anything like it. If something makes me upset, tears just come out. It’s literally uncontrollable! My poor husband!

I actually have a small bump already!! It starts right under my belly button down to my uterus. I can still wear my same jeans (uncomfortably), but I have to unbutton them anytime I sit down. I also have skirts that already fit tighter in the waist (that were large on me last year – boo hoo!)

Hubby actually found a large, blue vein on my stomach today. More blue veins!

My abdomen is tight, tight, tight. It’s hard to get comfortable when I sleep because of this. I’d say that week 10 has been my worst sleeping week yet. Throughout this pregnancy, I haven’t had any insomnia or trouble getting into my REM stage of sleep, but this week it’s been hard because there’s so much pressure in my stomach, and no matter what side I sleep on, it’s uncomfortable!

Also, my nipples. So tender.


Week 11: On day 1 of 11 weeks, we had our very first ultrasound! We had to push our ultrasound back because we were out-of-state for almost 2 whole weeks. I was super anxious about my first appointment. I hate needles (my mom says, “you better get used to it!”) and I also didn’t know what would be the outcome of all of the testing. I have to say that having Tyler there made it so fun for me. He was really calm (when is he not??) and so helpful when my mind went blank filling out the 100 forms they give you. I actually think I looked at him when the form asked me my race. He gave me a puzzled look and said, “Caucasian”….Oh, right. Baby brain.

I can’t explain what it feels like to see your baby on an ultrasound screen. Ours was wiggling, waving, kicking, shaking! I wasn’t expecting to see it move. I was so in awe by this that I asked the technician if she was moving him with the ultrasound wand. She said, “Nope, that’s your baby!” …You guys! It was a complete wiggle worm! It’s insane to think about how much they move and you can’t even feel it yet. Tyler told me he almost fainted. Ha!!

We also heard the heartbeat. It was so fast! My OBGYN said, “Your baby’s heart rate was 173 BPM, fast and just how we like it at this stage” which gave me much relief. She also said figuring out gender based on heartbeat is a complete myth and to not believe what anyone says, FYI. I had never heard that wives tale before so it was news to me!

Lucky me, I got to skip my labs this week since I wanted the Panorama testing that reveals your baby’s risk for genetic disorders as well as tells you the gender early (and that can only be done on week 12.) So next week, week 12, I go back for all of my blood work and maybe by week 13, we’ll know the gender! So glad to almost be out of my first trimester.

Other than our first OB visit, this week we’ve been deciding on the best insurance plan for me as well as how much we’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for birth. It’s been extremely stressful. I’ve shed a few tears over it. So far, it’s looking like we’ll need an extra $8,000 come April. Keep in mind that I am self-employed and pay for my own benefits which is why it’s so expensive on my end. If you’re lucky, yours will be half of that! This is the not-so-fun part of working for yourself, but I remind myself that after the baby is born, some moms will pay upwards of $800/month for daycare, and we don’t have that expense since I work from home (and take client photos on the weekend when Tyler is home). You win some, you lose some. Still, it’s a nerve-wracking thought having to save up that much money in 6 months while also forking out money for a nursery, maternity clothes, and hello – I don’t even have my own car! Lots to do. This week is a great time to sit down together and figure out your finances!

A huge thanks to my parents for helping us figure out our insurance/finances, spreadsheet and all!


Week 12: Back to the OB’s office. I’ve already learned everyone’s names around here, and it’s fun to come in and catch up with staff at every visit. This visit was super quick – a 15 minute blood draw, and I was done! Of course, I panicked and Tyler held my hand the entire time. I don’t know what it is about blood, but I can’t watch it going into the tube, so I stared at the bacon calendar on the wall – yes, an entire calendar dedicated to bacon.

The nurse who drew my blood calls herself the “blood sucker”. She had the cutest british accent and told me about her horse and her family in Birmingham, UK. When we were done with the blood tests, she packaged up my tubes and put them in the Panorama box to be shipped off to the labs! Let’s hope for a healthy baby! We also told her that we wanted the gender results in a card so Husband and I could open it together. We’ve talked about enjoying a nice dinner on the beach and opening it there. I’m really excited!

After my lab appointment, Tyler took me to get maternity jeans. I’ve been walking around with my pants unbuttoned for about 2 weeks, so it was time. I finally bought my first pair from H&M ($49.99) and they’re really adorable. I bought a pair one size larger than my regular size so I could grow into them. I also got two basic t-shirts and some cute maternity jogger pants. After that, I had to stop by Zoe’s Kitchen to grab some chicken salad to go. I can eat loads of chicken salad, right now.

As far as symptoms go, my forehead acne is still present but slowly dissipating. My breasts definitely fill up my bra, and sleeping is painful. There’s a slight dull ache when I lay down on my side, and I flop like a fish all night long. Other than that, it’s been an easy week and my food aversions have died down. Thank goodness!


Week 13: *Sigh* the last week of my first trimester. When I found out we were expecting, it felt like this week would never come. Now, I am in awe that it’s here.

If I had to sum up my first trimester, i’d say that I had it easier than most. After reading a lot of baby forums with very sick moms, I’m surprised that the morning sickness simply didn’t happen to me. I also slept fairly well though I had a few nights where I woke up a lot because of the pressure/abdomen pain. I’d say the worst part about my first trimester experience was the headaches and food aversions. It got really difficult eating at times! Seeing that I have no trouble eating now, i’m glad that’s over. I missed you, food! Weight wise, it looks like I gained 1.8 pounds since the start, and I’m expected to gain 1 pound every week until baby. Week 13 was an easy week. Feeling great!


Currently Reading / Watching:

Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy. I actually read this book in one day. It has really quick chapters and fun pregnancy humor. Such an easy read! I love Jenny McCarthy and it’s so funny to hear all of the symptoms she went through while pregnant (she seemed to experience it ALL!)

Have I told you how bad my taste in TV has become since i’ve been pregnant? I have The O.C.One Tree Hill and Gillmore Girls playing constantly, and it’s such bad TV that it’s GOOD. I’ve never watched any of these television series before, and I truly believe it’s pregnancy that got me here, but… TEAM RYAN (and LUCAS).

I’m using the free Pregnancy+ iPhone App. I love it so, so much! After downloading over 5 pregnancy apps, this one was my favorite. I also love Baby Center. Every day, the app gives you fun facts and recommendations based on how many weeks you’re at. On the Pregnancy+ App, it has weekly images of the growing fetus with a 2D and 3D scan so you can get an idea of what it looks like in your belly. You can enter appointments, your weight, look at monthly diagrams and log important phone numbers. All in all, it’s a great app and I wouldn’t use anything else. I look forward to opening it every single morning!


Currently Drinking:

Loads and loads of water. I find that my HydroFlask helps me gauge how much water i’m drinking per day (which is around 3 liters). I also love to throw in a La Croix here and there to make drinking water more enjoyable, though i’ve heard that carbonated water can make you more bloated and burpy. I don’t care! I love LaCroix! And i’ve been drinking a lot of milk for calcium. Since I am not a huge fan of coffee lately (which is crazy because i’m a total coffee fanatic and had 2-3 cups a day pre-pregnancy), i’ve been drinking hot cider in the morning and I just love it, especially with fall right around the corner. If you do buy cider, makes sure it is pasteurized.


Currently Eating:

I’d like to start by saying I am a fairly healthy eater. My pre-pregnancy lunches consisted of simple, whole foods like apples, avocado wheat toast and a string cheese. Dinners at our house range from baked salmon with watercress salad or shrimp kebabs. I love to cook, and I’m a huge foodie, so any time of day that I can eat is my favorite time of day! However, immediately upon getting pregnant, my tastebuds quickly turned into the KID MENU AT APPLEBEES. Though I have not gotten terribly sick during my first trimester, all I can stomach lately are refried beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, tacos, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken noodle soup and cereal. You know – comfort food. I’m buying things that I didn’t even know still existed: OATMEAL CREAM PIES? $1 RED HOTS AT THE GAS STATION? POP TARTS? It feels out of my control to eat healthy at this point, and I’m trying not to make myself feel guilty for it. I’ve had several attempts at eating vegetables, and I literally can’t fathom swallowing them. I am forced to spit them into a napkin! In my opinion, it’s better to eat something than nothing at all. Be prepared for your taste to change. Mine has gone completely bonkers. Here’s to hoping I eat better in the second trimester.

My top cravings are chicken salad sandwiches and turkey sandwiches. My OBGYN says it’s totally ok to eat deli meat, and only recommends Boars Head meat – it has no preservatives and no nitrates. FYI: It’s not near the other sandwich meats. It’s in the deli section.

Other foods i’ve been eating are peaches, oranges, boiled eggs, avocados, dried apricots, babybel cheese (you can eat/drink any dairy products made from pasteurized milk and Babybel cheese is one of those) Toast with strawberry jam, spaghettio’s, corn chips and salsa, and the occasional chocolate cupcake and sour cream and onion potato chips. Yummmmm!


Currently NOT Eating:

I have both salmon and cod in my freezer and the thought of eating them makes me want to vomit. If you know me in the slightest bit, you would know that I absolutely live for seafood. I mean, hello – I live on the beach! On the other hand, I did enjoy a cooked sushi roll the other day and never seem to grow tired of my go-to teriyaki sushi roll. Still a fan! And yes, i’m eating sushi! My OBGYN says “go for it” and that, “pregnant Asians have been eating sushi for centuries and they have some of the smartest kids in the world”. I am liking my OB more and more every day.

I cannot stomach rotisserie chicken (the color, the smell, the taste) I made dinner one night with a rotisserie and spit it into a napkin. CORN (oh my god, vomit, vomit, vomit) sweet potatoes (i usually love them but I ate too much of them before I got pregnant and now the taste lingers with me) but corn is probably my worst aversion of all. Typing the word makes me cringeeeeee.


Things i’ve learned in this trimester:

Avoid kitty litter while pregnant. I had never heard of this until a friend told me! Thank God she shared this information with me, because I have a cat and clean out the box once a week, hence = a new job for hubby!

Body pillows are complete life savers. I’ve always slept with a normal square pillow, and it wasn’t until I got a long, body pillow that I started sleeping well. I find that the body pillow helps with a bloated and crampy tummy. I got mine at Walmart for under $10! I can promise you that a body pillow will help you sleep so much better during pregnancy.

Husbands are miracles. I have really enjoyed this process so far but that’s largely because Tyler has made it easy for me. If I have a craving, he’s good about helping me satisfy it. If i’m uncomfortable, he finds a way to make it better. He rubs my belly sometimes and asks me how i’m feeling. I’ve really fallen in love with him even more during this process.

Prenatal vitamins don’t always give you great hair, skin and nails. Although my nails look better than they ever have and i’m clipping them almost daily, my hair is dull and my face is covered in zits. WHERE IS MY GLOW?

Find a way to stretch. I’ve been doing YouTube workouts in our media room. This one is really great. It helps stretch parts of your body that haven’t been stretched in a while, and did I mention that I slept like a baby after I did this workout? In my early first trimester, I walked around the neighborhood in long sleeved shirts and long pants to play it safe. I can’t do that anymore. Not only are there 80 confirmed cases of Zika in Florida, but a long sleeved shirt in 100 degree heat is not my idea of a good time. Zika has been such a bummer!

Keep Cheerio’s by your bed incase you get a spout of nausea or wake up hungry. It’s perfect for those 3 AM hunger pains!

COCONUT OIL. It smells delicious, you can cook with it, and I rub it all over my body to create elasticity for when my belly grows. I’ve actually heard its great for breast feeding moms (and some like it better than using Lanolin) since coconut oil is completely edible and is safe for the baby to ingest. I leave my jar out as a reminder to put it on every day!

Put a cold popsicle on your neck if you suffer from hormone headaches. The cold seems to help immensely.

Treat yourself to your cravings. I’ve read article after article talking about how important it is to avoid your cravings and eat healthy. This ticks me off to no end. Not only am I growing a tiny human, but i’m uncomfortable, headachy and eating is already tough. Now, I wouldn’t say Cheetos are a healthy choice for every meal, but do NOT make yourself feel guilty for enjoying what you can. Food is not a fun part of the first trimester. Feed your body, do your best, and treat yourself, damnit.

Let go and let God. I’ve often had to remind myself that regardless of outcome, worrying will get me nowhere. It only makes it worse. Stress is not good for you, mama!


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on The Weir House are based on my own thoughts, knowledge, and experiences. Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional, so please consult your OBGYN before making any changes to your diet or health while pregnant.

Travel

Our San Francisco Trip Budget

For the past 2 weeks, i’ve been keeping up with all of our San Francisco expenses for the simple reason that we wish we had this information during our planning stage! We’ve heard San Francisco is expensive, and we didn’t know if we would need $100 a day or $300 a day for food. We didn’t know if the City Pass was worth it, or if we should consider another option. Think of our budget as giving you the flexibility to increase or decrease your budget and better personalize your experience.

We purchased the city pass for this trip thinking the street car and MUNI bus would be a beneficial way to get around. The city pass also comes with tickets to the science museum, aquarium and a few other local attractions. However, we found that using an Uber to get around town was a better option. Our Uber rides only cost $7-$10 per ride, and we got some great local recommendations this way. The amount of time it took for us to stand in line and wait for a street car or bus wasn’t worth it to us. If we could do it again, we would skip the city pass.

We really enjoyed where we stayed. It was right in the middle of Fisherman’s Wharf, so we could walk to dinner or grab ice cream at Ghirardelli. Our hotel was clean, our bed was extremely comfortable, and the complimentary breakfast was decent. If you want to go all out, you could stay at the Fairmont, Hyatt or Hotel Zephyr. We knew we would be out of the room a lot, so we chose a middle of the line hotel. If you want to save even more money, you could look into an AirBnb or Travelodge. If we go back, we will stay somewhere new just to explore a new area of town, maybe somewhere near Haight-Ashbury. Keep in mind that Fisherman’s Wharf is very dirty, very crowded, very touristy. If you want to see the real San Francisco, go deeper into town.

If I had to choose my favorite experience of the trip no matter the cost, it would be Coldplay, followed by the Giants game. California’s stadiums are some of the nicest I’ve ever seen. The food at the game is SO good, the atmosphere is wonderful, and the weather is lovely. Bring sunscreen because Tyler walked away a fried lobster and my head has been peeling through my hair the entire trip. Tyler’s chosen experience would be Coldplay, followed by biking the Golden Gate bridge with Blazing Saddles. He loved it!

My least favorite experience was China Town. It didn’t impress me much, and the food isn’t the typical Chinese food that you’re used to at home. There is some funky looking food in China Town! I also think the China Town in New York is nicer than this one.

Food wise, it looks like we spent around $100 per day on food. I think we could have eaten better as well as enjoyed a few more meals that didn’t involve a table number or standing in line. If you like the restaurant experience (and being waited on), I would increase your food budget. I know some that spent $200 a day solely on food.

If you have any questions about your San Francisco trip or ways to save/splurge, you are welcome to browse my past posts as well as leave your questions in comments. I’m happy to answer them! My whole goal on this blog is to make your life easier and provide you with real expectations for a hassle free trip.


Arrival Day:
• Delta Airfare with complimentary companion ticket (we have a Delta Sky Miles Credit Card) – $420.00 round trip for 2 people
• Airport lunch (Chick Fil A) and snacks for plane – $18.00, $25.00
• City Pass (usage of Street Car, Cal. Academy of Sciences, Bay Cruise Adventure, Exploratorium, Aquarium) $188.00 for 2 people
• Holiday Inn Express Hotel, Fishermans Wharf, 7 nights (complimentary breakfast) – $1700.00
• Fisherman’s Wharf Crab Chowder for dinner – $32.00 for 2 people incl. tip
• CVS run for chapstick, toothpaste, and makeup wipes – $15.00

TOTAL: $2,398.00


Day 1, Fishermans Wharf, China Town, AT&T Park:
• Starbucks morning coffee – $8.00 for 2 people
• CVS run for deodorant and shampoo – $9.44
• Giants game tickets – $110.00 for 2 people
• Giants game stadium food (1 hot dog, 2 hamburgers, 2 waters, 2 cokes, nachos, ice cream bar, peanuts) – $55.00
• China Town dinner at Begoni Bistro (impulse decision) – $55.00
• Uber back to the hotel – $10.00

TOTAL: $247.44


Day 2, Blazing Saddles Bike Tour, Sausalito:
• Bike rental – $100.00 for 2 people (one electric bike at $70, one mountain bike at $30)
• Trader Joes snacks for the bike trip – $8.15 (peanut butter pretzels, 2 waters, dark chocolate bar)
• Ferry ticket to return bikes – $20.00 for 2 people
• Lunch in Sausalito – $27.51 (2 sandwiches, 2 chips, 2 drinks)
• Saltwater Taffy – $10.00 
• Starbucks coffee in Sausalito – $9.20 (2 coffees)
• Pizza at Carmel Pizza$55.00 (2 large pizzas)
• Ice Cream Sandwiches at The Baked Bear$11.00 (2 ice cream sandwiches)
• Uber back to the hotel – $10.00

TOTAL: $250.86


Day 3, Alcatraz + Ferry Building:
• Alcatraz Tickets – $66.00 for 2 people
• Lunch in the Ferry Building – $47.00 (one salad, one hot dog, one sandwich, one cup of chili)
• Candy treats at Miette Bakery – $12.00 (one chocolate treat, one sour treat)
• Ghirardelli Square Sundaes – $29.00 for 2 sundaes
• Baked Potatoes for dinner – $19.00 (2 loaded baked potatoes, 2 drinks)
• Movie on demand – $3.00 (Escape from Alcatraz on Amazon)

TOTAL: $176.00


Day 4, Mission + Castro + Haight-Ashbury:
• El Farolito lunch – $23.00 (2 super burritos, 2 sodas)
• Starbucks – $12.00 (2 waters, 2 muffins, 1 coffee)
• Uber to Castro – $7.00
• Uber to Painted Ladies – $7.00
• Uber to Haight Ashbury – $8.00
• Uber to Embarcadero – $8.00
• Walgreens run (sunscreen, aloe, souvenir) – $29.00
• Starbucks collectible coffee mug souvenir – $12.00
• In N Out for dinner – $19.00

TOTAL: $125.00


Day 5, Bixby Bridge, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Monterey Aquarium, Carmel :
• Enterprise Car Rental – $265.00 with insurance
• Starbucks – $8.20 for 2 drinks
• Santa Cruz Corn Dogs for lunch – $9.00 for 2 corn dogs
• Santa Cruz slushies – $12.00 for 2 slushies
• Monterey Bay Aquarium parking – $10.00 (our tickets were included in the City Pass book, see arrival day)
• Souvenir for parents – $18.00
• Carmel dinner – $74.00

TOTAL: $396.20


Day 6, Sausalito, Muir Woods:
• Lunch at Caffe Tutti – $46.85 (2 drinks, 2 lunches, 2 desserts, cup of soup)
• Sausalito parking – $4.00
• Entrance fee Muir Woods – $20.00 for 2 people
• Gas – $30.00
• Dinner at Bistro Boudin – $88.00 incl. tip (crab macaroni and cheese, meatballs, appetizer, hamburger)
• Souvenir for family – $28.00
• Ghirardelli – $20.61 (2 hot chocolates, 2 ice creams)

TOTAL: $237.46


Day 7, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Coldplay Concert:
• Switched Hotels for one night for Coldplay concert (and close to airport for the following morning) – $175.00
• Wings for lunch – $26.00 for 2 people
• Dinner – $15.89
• Stadium Drinks – $12.00
• Stadium snack – $7.00
• Coldplay T Shirts – $80.00
• Coldplay Tickets (the whole reason for our trip!) $600.00 for 2 people

TOTAL: $915.89


Departure Day:

• Gas – $11
• Breakfast at airport – $10.00
• Lunch at airport – $12.00

TOTAL: $33.00


TOTAL TRIP COST: $4,779.85


• Most Expensive: Hotel Cost, $1700.00 for 7 nights (and one night at a hotel for Coldplay)
• Average spent on food per day: $97.00 (I would recommend increasing your food budget if you plan on making reservations at a nice restaurant / being waited on since you will end up tipping your waiter. We only ate at one restaurant that waited on us. Everything else involved standing in a line and ordering at the register).
• Most expensive activity: Giants game / Coldplay concert

Life Travel

San Francisco, Day 5: Bixby Bridge, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Monterey Aquarium, Carmel

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Today was my perfect day, and my favorite day on our trip thus far. It incorporated everything I love to do – road trips, aquariums, fair food on the boardwalk, dinner by a fireplace, sightseeing.

We rented a car for our road trip today (which we will keep through Sunday for the Coldplay concert on Saturday, 30 minutes outside of the city). We had a list of places we wanted to visit, so Tyler put them in order of proximity, and then we were off! We also had a running bet that we would see 15 Volkswagen buses on the drive, so part of our trip was keeping our eyes peeled for them.

It was such a moody day today and perhaps the most foggy day we’ve experienced yet, which is why it made our road trip extra cozy and fun! We stopped at the Starbucks in Pacifica and began driving Hwy 1. Looking out at the Pacific Ocean with it’s moody waves and nippy breeze made the experience so memorable. We’d jump out at every stop and spot seals playing in the foam of the waves.

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We spotted a whale carcass with a sign nearby that said how the whale died, which was by head collision with a large vessel. It was a sad sight (and smelly) but the circle of life, I guess. If you squint your eyes in the below pic, you’ll see the remains by the birds.

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Our next stop was the Santa Cruz boardwalk. I’m so glad we came here! We were like big kids trying to decide what we wanted to eat, considering it’s probably not healthy to eat 3 funnel cakes for lunch. We settled on corn dogs and mixed our own slushies. It was a beautiful day in Santa Cruz.

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I had to sport my food pins at the boardwalk!

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After Santa Cruz, we drove 5 miles to Venetian Capitola, a charming (and colorful) 1920s Mediterranean-style hotel overlooking the beach!

About 50 minutes South, our next stop was the Monterey Bay Aquarium (below – I only took one photo, i’m sorry!!!). I am a total sucker for aquariums, and this one was officially THE nicest aquarium i’ve ever been to. Supposedly if you go after 2 PM the crowds die down. We had no idea and just happened to arrive after 2 PM, so we sort of had the aquarium to ourselves (give or take a few kids and strollers). This aquarium has awesome touch pools with manta rays and creatures you’d find in coral reefs.

The mission of the aquarium is to inspire conservation of the ocean. I really felt like they were doing that. They had exhibits around what we as humans can do to save whales, sharks, dolphins and turtles. They even pass out brochures teaching you what types of fish to eat and to avoid (because of extinction and overfishing). They have a pretty cool app that has similar info. Look them up!

They also have an area to walk outside and observe sea life right under the Aquarium (since the aquarium is located on the edge of the Pacific Ocean!) We saw crabs swimming around, and seagulls trying to catch them. It was really cool!

The town of Monterey is so clean and adorable. We talked about coming back and staying here!

With two more stops on the list, Bixby Bridge had to be one of them! The two lane road and turns on this mountain had my hands (and head) sweating the whole time, but it was worth it! We also drove over and past the bridge into Big Sur where we had to turn around because there were wildfires. We saw helicopters grabbing water and everything!

Side note: if you’re on Hwy 1 at night, it is terrifying. It’s two lanes on the edge of a cliff, no street lights and sharp turns. I was biting my nails the entire time. I would suggest leaving before it gets dark. And if you get car sick easily, this road does have its fair share of turns…though not as bad as Point Reyes. We tried to make our way out to see the Point Reyes lighthouse. NEVER AGAIN. I promise with every fiber in my body, it’s the curviest, most head spinning drive i’ve ever been on…in my entire life. Tyler had to stop a few times because I thought I was going to hurl. You could not pay me money to get on that road again.

Our last stop on this epic road trip was Carmel. By the time we got to Carmel, the sun was going down. I was kind of upset because we wouldn’t be able to see all the quaint homes (or take photos!) but we found the most charming restaurant for dinner, so all was well.

Boy does this town know romance! It has quaint shops, cobblestone streets, and our restaurant even had the fireplace going (since it’s so darn cold in Cali! I’ve had my jacket on the whole trip!) We also talked about coming back here for Valentine’s Day one year. We loved it.

This was also the first restaurant we’ve been to that actually served us. It didn’t involve waiting in lines, or grabbing a number, or a vibrating pager. It was really nice to be able to sit back, have a great conversation and enjoy an even better meal (we got the chefs special with a honey mustard salad, chicken and pasta and cheesecake for dessert). Highly recommend!

Total VW Buses: 9

Only two more days, and our trip is over. I plan on posting our budget at the end!

Life Travel

San Francisco, Day 4: Mission, Castro, Haight-Ashbury

Today was a good day! I had a feeling it would be. Our schedule finally slowed down a bit. We even slept in and missed our hotel breakfast (a first on the trip). That’s a good sign, right!?

We then grabbed coffee and rode BART to Dolores Park. I’ve been cold on this trip (go figure – I’m a Florida gal) so Dolores park was extra cold in the morning! The wind has been so crazy here. I don’t know why they call Chicago the “windy city”. If the wind was any stronger in San Francisco, you would topple over!

We had two Facebook recommendations to eat at El Farolito so we knew this would be a good spot for lunch. WOAH. Our tastebuds weren’t prepared for the awesomeness that we experienced! We both got the super burrito. I added chicken and Tyler added steak. We battled over who had the better burrito, and we never came to a conclusion because they were both so good. My chicken was so tender and flavorful!

My goal for today was to enjoy the scenery, sit on a park bench, people watch and gaze at houses. And that’s exactly what we did.

We stopped at Bi Rite Creamery and got two scoops of Salted Caramel and Creme Brûlée. The Creme Brûlée was my favorite! And the rainbow Castro sidewalks are completely up my alley.

We ended the night at In-N-Out and Neapolitan milkshakes!

Life Travel

San Francisco, Day 3: Alcatraz + Ferry Building

Today was a tough day for many reasons, with one reason being that I had to get on another darn ferry boat, and those things just make my head spin, not to mention we’re tired from going 90 to nothing! We’ve also been planning our trip around activities and excursions instead of food which means we haven’t been eating as well as we hoped. To dive into that a little deeper, we’ve had great meals! But nothing that has been memorable. I think that’s partially because we didn’t want reservations to hinder any plans, and I’m glad we didn’t make any because there really isn’t any extra time! All of our excursions have involved time sensitive activities with tickets: with the Giants game tickets in the middle of the day on Sunday, we had a late dinner; with the bike tour starting at 10:30 AM yesterday and lasting ALL day long, we had both a late lunch AND dinner; and with Alcatraz starting at 10:30 AM this morning, we had a late lunch. It’s been hard. I’m self diagnosed hypoglycemic so my blood sugar gets low, and I get serious headaches (regardless if I’ve packed snacks – nothing works as good as a meal!) And being in the city, you have to plan for where you want to go and how you’ll get there, which takes ubers, buses, trains and time. So if you’re already late eating, you’re only going to be eating even later (not to mention the lines!) I’d say this has been the hardest part of the trip.

It’s crazy how many foreigners are here. I can’t tell you the last American I’ve talked to! No exaggeration. Anyone I sit by, take a picture for, or talk to is foreign. We’ve met some wonderful people from Canada, South America, Australia and Britain. We’ve also met some not-so-wonderful people who just don’t seem to have any manners. No “excuse me”; no holding the door open for ladies; no offering the last seat on the bus to the only woman standing. Some even act like they don’t know how to stand in a line, and that lines don’t apply to them. The weirdest has been that they don’t move over on sidewalks and share the street. I always tell myself if my husband notices it, too, then it’s bad (because he’s usually a pretty chill guy) I know, I know, I’m in a city. I still find it strange that people don’t have common, polite character traits that I see at home. I’ve been spoiled by manners in the south and I’m proud of that!

But enough of the sour stuff. We went to Alcatraz today and it was awesome! The audio tour is so well played out, and it’s cool walking through jail cells and hearing the background noise of the inmates. If you haven’t purchased your tickets before your trip yet, you need to do so now! We played chicken with purchasing these tickets even after we read to order them ahead of time. When we went to order them a week before our trip, they were ALL SOLD OUT. We couldn’t believe it. We were so bummed. We called asking how we could get our hands on some and the only advice we were offered was to check back on the site since some may open up. To our excitement, we found 2 tickets – yes, just 2 tickets – 3 days before they were to be used, and we booked them! I really think we got lucky. FYI, we were also told to not buy Alcatraz tickets from street sellers as they are a knock off.

Where the inmates showered!

A typical inmate cell

Where prisoners were confined if they broke the rules - a pitch black cell.

Where prisoners were confined if they broke the rules – a pitch black cell.

Our Alcatraz tour took about 3 hours. We then rode the MUNI bus to the Ferry Building to get lunch and eat all the samples inside. Hehe.

I promised Tyler we would go to Ghirardelli Square and he has been waiting on go, so we caught the MUNI bus to Ghirardelli and had ice cream sundaes and banana splits!

The night ended with ordering dinner down the street at a Spud place. We loaded our potatoes, toted them back to the hotel and watched “Escape From Alcatraz” in bed. Much needed! I think tomorrow will be a better day considering we have NO plans and NO obligations.