Travel Tips & Resources
things nobody tells you
If you’ve ever traveled while fat, you’ve probably stumbled across a few of these already (and if not, there’s so much to look forward to!). Here’s 25 things nobody tells you about traveling as a fat woman!
Now that our year-long honeymoon is over, we want to share some of our learnings. We’ve got a few pieces of information – some useful, some completely useless – to pass along to anyone considering quitting their jobs and taking a grown-up gap year to travel.
I’m about to lift the gilded, glittery, frolicking-on-the-beach-with-a-coconut curtain and let you in on a few secrets about what it’s REALLY like to be a full-time travel blogger. Satisfy your morbid curiosity and spend the next 20 or so minutes putting off actual work so you can read this post in its entirety.
Travel Tips & Resources FAQ’s
Where is the best place to get flight deals?
We score flight deals by searching on Google Flights or Kayak! To save the most money, fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on only on a budget airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
And remember that not all airlines show up on flight deals sites – our favorite domestic airline, Southwest, does not! So if there’s an airline you prefer to fly, you might need to go directly to their site to check for deals and book your flights.
Where do you typically book accomodations?
We usually stay in budget-friendly, vacation rentals, boutique hotels or private rooms in hostels (our hostel dorm days ended the minute we both turned 30).
- We use Booking.com to book hotels. We love their flexible cancellation policies. But note that Booking doesn’t always show all fees up front, so read the small print!
- We use Hostelworld to book hostels. We love that there’s a very low deposit, it’s easy to change or cancel trips (we always choose the Free Cancellation policy, it’s well worth it), and we rely heavily on the honest reviews of other travelers like us.
- For vacation rentals, we prefer to book using VRBO. They’ve got lower fees and better support than Airbnb, and we’re not fans of Airbnb’s unethical track record. We’ve also had a lot of bad experiences with Airbnb – read about those here. You can also book vacation rentals on Expedia and Hotels.com.
- We also use TrustedHousesitters as both hosts (for our home and our fur-child) and travelers! It’s kind of like getting a free vacation rental, except you’ll have some plants to water or pets to take care of (which, frankly, we consider a plus.) You’ll pay an annual membership fee, but all your stays are free after that. One trip – one night, even – pays for the entire membership fee, and you can find some REALLY unique places to stay!
Is travel insurance worth it?
OMG, YES. We can’t tell you how many times travel insurance has saved our distaster-prone a****. We always, always, ALWAYS buy travel insurance for international trips, and we STRONGLY suggest it. Read our Travel Insurance Guide to find out why, and what to look for in a good travel insurance policy.
The travel insurace policies we personally use and recommend are:
- World Nomads:The best international travel insurance for adventure travelers – or even mildly adventurous travelers. World Nomad policies cover a lot of “adventure” activities that other insurance companies don’t … like, snorkeling. Yep. Snorkeling isn’t covered by most travel insurance policies! But World Nomad covers pretty much everything. We’ve filed several policies with World Nomads over the years and they’ve always been great!
- SafetyWing: This is the best international travel insurance for frequent or long-term travelers. You can book either a short trip policy, or an ongoing monthly policy with no end date. For digital nomads and long-term travelers, SafetyWing is by far the most affordable and comprehensive travel insurance out there and most closely mimics a healthcare insurance policy. SafetyWing is also one of the few policies that covers Covid-19 (including quarantine) for all travelers!
- Chase Sapphire Credit Card: We rely on the travel insurance that comes as a benefit with our Chase Sapphire travel credit card for all of our domestic trips, and every time we rent a car both domestically and internationally. Their primary car rental insurance has saved us thousands of dollars, and their trip cancellation and interruption policy has come in handy many times as well! We’ve filed several claims with Chase and they’ve always been super helpful. Plus, it’s just a great travel card – read our full review here.
What vaccine or meds to I need for travelling?
We use the travel guides on the CDC website to research recommended medications and vaccines for international trips. We always recommend getting every vaccine recommended by the CDC! You can get them at your primary care doctor’s office or a walk-in pharmacy.
Are tours worth it?
Most of the time, yes. We love booking guided tours, especially food tours and walking tours, to get a local’s perspective and a history lesson while sight-seeing!
But not all tours are good – some companies are better than others, sometimes it depends on your tour guide, etc. But generally speaking, even though we’re picky, we are a big fan of tours. A good tour can be the highlight of your trip, and we LOVE sharing those tours in the destinations where we find them!
Here’s how to decide whether a tour is worth it:
- Does the tour include transportation that would otherwise be difficult for you to figure out or manage on your own? Not all tours are in-depth or informative – sometimes you’re just hopping on a private shuttle and being driven somewhere that would otherwise be really difficult to get to on your own! Other times, a tour solves a problem such as “but how am I going to drive after I drink all this wine? Some examples where these kinds of tours are worth it are wine tasting tours and day trips to places in foreign countries where public transportation is lacking.
- Does the tour provide context that you would otherwise miss? A good historical walking tour will open your eyes to a side of a destination that you might not otherwise realize exists! Unless you’re reading a lot of books before you visit a place, a local guide is the BEST way to get to know a place, it’s history and background, and the stories behind it that would otherwise be difficult for you to find out on your own.
- Does the tour bundle together multiple experiences that would take you a long time to do on your own? A multi-visit tour can be a more efficient way to experience a place, whether you’re seeing 3 incredible local attractions in one day spread out all over the place, or eating at 10 different local restaurants on a food tour! It’s a great way to spend a day – and a lot easier on you to plan, since your tour guide has already taken care of the logistics for you.
- Is the tour an experience in and of itself? Sometimes a tour IS an activity, such as a white water rafting excursion, whale watching tour, or zip-lining adventure! In that case, your tour operator will be professionally certified and licensed to ensure your safety. You literally can’t do these activities without a tour guide! That’s what they’re there for.
We book most tours using Viator and GetYourGuide. These are both tour marketplaces that vet tour operators and list a wide variety of tour options, so we can browse options and read reviews to get an idea of what to expect. Once we find a tour operator we love, we try to book as many of their tours as we can (and we rave about them in our blog posts, too)!
How do I get around while traveling abroad?
Each destination is different, so it’s hard to give a blanket answer. Generally speaking though, literally every other continent has better public transportation than the USA. In South America, buses will take you absolutely anywhere you want to go. Europe has incredibly efficient trains criss-crossing the continent. In Asia, tuk-tuks and moto-taxis will whisk you across town. And taxis are universally available: there is always a taxi driver at the airport waiting to take you wherever you need to go.
But even though we’ve learned to rely on public transportation wherever we go, knowing a little bit about how to get from place to place is a huge help when planning a trip. And being able to book it in advance can give you major peace of mind. Here are are tips and tools of the trade:
- We book international transportation using Bookaway wherever we can. Bookaway is a transportation marketplace that partners with local operators and makes it easy to book transportation online, especially in hard-to-navigate destinations (think Colombia, where transportation advice often amounts to “show up at this street corner and wait around until a bus pulls up.”) You can book buses, ferries, trains, and more in countries across South America & Asia. They’re constantly expanding their destination coverage, so it’s worth checking to see if your destination has an available route!
- We use Rome2Rio to figure out how to get from place to place using public transit. For anywhere not covered by Bookaway, we use Rome2Rio. The site helps us compare between driving, taking a bus, taking a train, or whatever other options may exist. It typically tells you the distance between destinations and the cost for each route option. You can’t always book online (though Europe is usually pretty bookable) but it does help us plan our transportation routes in advance!
- When we need to book a rental car, we use Kayak to compare rental companies and find the best deal. Note that most of the time, your US drivers license will work just fine for an international rental, but in some destinations you’ll need an International Drivers License which can be picked up at your local AAA. It’s inexpensive and quick (no parallel parking test or driving test necessary)!
How to you store luggage on long layovers?
Whenever we’re checking out early or taking advantage of a long layover, we use LuggageHero to safely store our luggage while we’re running around. They’ve got secure locker locations in hundreds of countries worldwide! Use the code PRACTICALW for 2 hours of free luggage storage on us.
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