In 2019 I traveled through Europe with my 14 month old son and my partner. Three different countries, six different cities, four different flights and many car, bus, boat and train rides later, I’m here to tell you, as a US size 20, that traveling while fat and with a baby is doable and fun! Don’t wait to take that trip until you’ve reached an arbitrary number on the scale. Go live your life right now!
Here are some tips to encourage you to take that trip:
Mindset Is Everything!
Traveling and flying are not privileges for one body type. People of all sizes and all different abilities have the right to travel.
Don’t be afraid to take up space. This is easier said than done, but embracing this philosophy is key to you enjoying your time while travelling. Let me explain: Your body is your body. There is no need to attempt to shrink yourself (not possible) or apologize for your body (sorry, not sorry). If fellow travelers are even paying attention to you (which most of them are not), they will have their own opinions and come to their own conclusions about you no matter what you do! So get comfy, sit where you need to sit, and ask for more space if you need it. Enjoy yourself!
Flying – Be Prepared!
Certain airlines make flying more accessible for passengers of size than others. Southwest Airlines has the most progressive and accommodating passenger of size policy, allowing you to book two seats and will cover the cost of the additional seat as a refund. Check each airlines page ahead of time to learn more about their policies. Some airlines offer a percentage off a second seat.
Board early for passengers who need extra time and that might. You might need a little more time (and space) to get settled and make sure to ask for that time.
Instead of waiting until you are seated, ask for a seat belt extender as you walk onto the plane and let them know what seat you’ll be in. You can also purchase your own belt extender (may not fit all airlines).
The seating concerns continue in restaurants, bistros and osterias around the world. The good news is most restaurants have photos up on their websites where you can check out what kind of seating situation you’re going to be dealing with. If they don’t have a website, in this age of social media, you can bet that underground, word-of-mouth spot has a hashtag and you can spot some seating arrangements in those bomb selfies! And what if you only see some narrow chairs with arms? You already know what I’m going to say, don’t you? Call the restaurant or visit ahead of your reservation and ask for the accommodation that you need! Don’t let this very minor adjustment stand in the way of you living your best life!
Take Care of Your Plus Size Body
For me, traveling often means lots of walking and hiking. I like to get out and explore on foot as much as possible. For many plus size people, chafing can be a big discouraging factor especially in hot climates. Don’t let chafing stand in the way of you checking out that beautiful view and experiencing some joyful movement! There are so many great anti-chafing clothing and products available including my favorite.
Those heels look great for photos but make sure you bring some comfortable footwear that’s going to give your feet some support and diminish impact on your knees. Here is a great wide but light weight sneaker and a wide athletic sandal to consider.
Take rests when you need to and don’t be afraid to ask for the accommodation that you need. If you’re on a group tour, speak to the guide ahead of time to let them know you might need more breaks or time. Most guides can provide these accommodations if they know ahead of time.
Stay hydrated and always have water on hand. This goes for all travelers but especially plus size travelers in hot climates. Studies show that plus size individuals are more likely to be dehydrated. Water and foods with higher water content will keep you feeling energized throughout your travels. I’ve linked my favorite water bottle here and if you’re not carrying a little one on your back, consider a hydration backpack like this one.
With a few accommodations, a bit more planning ahead, traveling as a plus size person can be fun and comfortable. You will be surprised how asking for what you need just a few times will completely change your mindset and empower you in other areas of your life, beyond your travel. And that is precisely what traveling is about, enriching our lives, opening our minds, and giving us access the world around us.