Traveling while fat comes with its own set of big ol’ challenges. Like, no skinny person has ever stopped before booking a flight off to some exotic destination to google “am I too fat to fly?” or “will I fit in an airplane seat?” And even if you’re not concerned about the unreasonable tiny-ness of today’s airplane seats, being a fat traveler is a, shall we say, ~unique experience – and traveling as a fat woman? Even more so.
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!
But OMG, Lia, you’re NOT (that) fat
Fat is a subjective term, but let’s just get this out of the way: I’m fat. We don’t have to attach qualifiers or numbers to it. I don’t need to prove my fat credentials. Some months, I fall into that irritating black hole where I’m a little too small for plus-sized stores and a little too big for every other store. Other months, I fit into a 16/18. So f**k it: I’m picking a side here and I choose to identify myself, happily, as fat.
I can feel some of you well-intended folks out there itching to reassure me about my fatness, but PLEASE, resist the urge to say something like “oh, you’re just curvy!” or “but you carry it so well” or “but you have such a pretty face,” or “you’re not THAT fat” or “you’re not fat, you HAVE fat.”
It’s nice of you to be concerned, but those are things you say to make someone feel better, and there’s nothing to make me feel better about, because there’s nothing wrong with being fat and I don’t even feel mildly bad about it.
Some fabulous fat ladies refer to themselves as curvy, or voluptuous, or Amazonian, or thick, or plus-size, or whatever term they like best. I refer to myself as fat (and also, like, all of the above).
At this point in my life – after wasting a bunch of years struggling against my fatness and battling an eating disorder that nearly killed me – I’ve come to embrace it … and, subsequently, totally get over it: I’m fat, and it’s fine. I’m perfectly happy with my fatness. Oh, and for those of you concerned about my health: it’s also perfectly fine, thank you. Fatness and poor health are not necessarily things that are connected, and I’m in the best shape of my life – much better than when I was thin and dying. But let’s not get into that just now.
Here’s the thing: to me, fat is just a neutral descriptor. Not only am I fat, I’m also tall, and loud, and a traveler, and a hiker, and very practical, and kinda a dime, when I bother to brush my hair or whatever, and married to a gorgeous gingerbeardy dude who also thinks I’m a dime. You get the idea.
Fatness isn’t a defining characteristic of who I am. Frankly, it’s not even a mildly interesting part of who I am. But it’s also not a non-existent characteristic. It does impact my experiences, particularly when traveling (or that time I tried to go surfing and things went terribly).
So I appreciate your concern, but relax! Fat isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a thing. A totally neutral, whatever thing. It’s not a big deal. Let’s all breathe through the discomfort we’ve had beaten into us by society when it comes to that word, shall we?
I wrote this post to reach out to other fat travelers and badass, adventure-chasing fat women about some of the things nobody tells you about traveling as a fat woman. There’s plenty of fat travel tips, anecdotes, and stories – and I’ve gotten some help from a few other fabulous curvy traveler friends, too!
So sit back, relax, laugh, and share your own stories in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
Things nobody tells you about traveling as a fat woman
1. Being plus sized and also confident (GASP!) is seen as strange in some places.
Some folks just don’t know how to react when you rock a crop top or a bikini and let all of your curves and fabulousness hang out un-apologetically.
Repeat after me: that’s their problem.
Personally, I enjoy being the first Hot Fat Chick that these people have apparently ever seen in person before. For some reason it makes a lot of folks tell me that I look like Adele, the only other Hot Fat Chick they’ve ever seen, which is completely inaccurate but a nice thought.
2. Depending on the country, you’ll either get hit on more, or way less.
Every country has a different body image ideal (almost like they’re completely made-up and constantly changing!). So in some countries, your voluptuous curves will attract cat-calls and pickup lines. In others, they’ll get you angry looks and disapproving glares.
In either scenario, practice your best pissed-off fat lady face (the more chins, the better) and apply it to whichever situation you rubs you the wrong way (in my case, all of them!).
3. Don’t forget to bring a towel.
Otherwise you’ll get to experience that ~sexy~ moment when the towel that your hostel/hotel gives you is too small to go around your waist/bust/thigh (seriously, what is this, a washcloth?!) and you have to walk across the entire hostel trying not to flash every single person.
There must be some mathematical reason to explain why the further away your room is from the bathroom, the smaller the towel is that they give you. I definitely learned this lesson the hard way (read about my travel regrets): girl, you gotta bring your own full-sized travel towel.
4. Your boobs will attract a lot of attention … from other women.
My friend Hannah said, “I never expected women to get more excited about my boobs than men. While traveling through Vietnam, I kept getting comments about my “big, sexy” chest. A couple of them even went in for a feel (um, excuse you!) before sadly looking down at their smaller chests. Trust me, ladies, if I could trade I would.” Psst: Hannah has an awesome post called “Fat, tall, tanned, and …beautiful?”
5. You’re gonna get stared at.
Nothing turns heads, apparently, like having a body with fat on it and also doing completely unexciting things like walking down the street or buying groceries or existing. If you look different from what people are used to, the stares will come. Call it human nature: there’s rudeness errwhere.
6. People will make really uncomfortable statements about your appetite.
Like “YOU EAT SO MUCH” as you’re enjoying your completely normal-sized plate of regular food. Or maybe a confused “you’re not eating more than that?” as you tuck into a delicious, refreshing salad, because fat people also enjoy vegetables, Becky. Sometimes there’s just a subtle “you look like you enjoy food”. Why, yes, as a person who is alive, I do enjoy eating.
Whether you’re feasting or snacking, eating in a public place is apparently an excuse for rude people to make obnoxious and unwanted comments. Keep on living and keep on feasting.
7. People will volunteer suggestions for places to eat without you having to ask.
I actually love this one. What an awesome fat perk. Like, yes, I WOULD like to know the best local spot to eat a giant donut at midnight, thank you for randomly volunteering that fact! (Ahem: Bob’s Donuts in San Francisco).
TBH, this is a huge benefit to traveling while fat. No complaints.
8. In some places, EVERYTHING is much smaller. Like a carnival funhouse, or Alice in Wonderland.
Imagine our surprise when we got off the plane in France and everything looked like it had shrunk. Why are the roads so tiny? Does ANYONE fit into this shower? What is this, a country for ants?!
It took us a lot of getting used to (and uh, we may have accidentally definitely busted a headlight on our rental car trying to navigate one of the ridiculously skinny roads. And then got our car stuck in a castle).
In places like these, there’s no avoiding it: you’re going to feel like a bull in a china shop the entire time. Just buy travel insurance in case you actually break something (oops).
9. If you’re fat and also hella active, you’ll get some skeptical looks.
Like people don’t believe you that you’re capable of physical activity. News flash: being fat doesn’t disqualify you from being a badass rock climber/hiker/skydiver/white water rafter/runner/powerlifter/anything. Own it like the boss that you are and enjoy the look of shock on their faces.
10. Some adventure activities actually have weight restrictions.
And you can’t just throw your deuces up and ignore them. I had to pay extra when I went skydiving to accommodate my above-200lbs-ness. I once saw a 225 lb maximum on a zipline tour in South America (although I later found out that those limits typically refer to harness size, not actual weight restrictions – go figure. Also, here’s an excellent write-up of what it’s like to zipline while fat).
Here’s the thing: do NOT try to play coy and act like you don’t weigh what you weigh: this is an actual safety issue. It’s also why I side-eye these kinds of activities hard (that, and I’m a huge f***king scaredy cat).
Like, OK you say this is safe, but is it fat girl safe?
Thankfully, the only time I had an issue arise, my harness and rope worked just fine as I dangled 200 feet in the air on a waterfall crying my ass off for 30 minutes while someone came to my rescue. Like I said, scaredy cat. But don’t play, y’all! Weight is just a number. Be honest and don’t take the risk.
11. There’s a secret to looking attractive while doing physical activity and I don’t know what it is.
Some people seem to glow while hiking or running. They bound across the ground like gazelles, shaking their glossy hair out as they go, like real-life commercials for bladder control pills or erectile disfunction or whatever.
Then there’s me. Red faced and sweaty, heffa-lumping across the ground like a buffalo on a mission. I love hiking – and running, as long as it’s 65 degrees and cloudy outside – but damn, do I look hideous while doing it. What’s your secret, beautiful active people?!
Here is my advice: if you’re gonna take a cute selfie, do it BEFORE your hike, run, bike ride, etc. Nobody will ever know!
12. There’s also a secret to looking attractive in the heat, and I also don’t know what it is.
I’m not sure if this is a fat thing, or just a losing the genetic lottery thing. But as soon as it’s over 80 degrees, it’s over. There’s no point in looking cute. It’s not going to happen.
Like, my hair somehow forgets what the physical properties of hair (and gravity) are. All of my clothes start to stick to my skin like when you try to get dressed as soon as you’re out of the shower but you’re still kinda wet (ugh, the worst feeling ever). And my makeup starts sliding down my face on a crash-course for my neck. Now you know why I live in chilly Northern California, y’all.
13. Clothing markets in Asian countries are like a fun form of torture.
My friend Karen says, “They only ever have one size. One size?! How convenient. You have the ONE SIZE that fits my cat, my skinny friends, and/or my baby cousin. One size is like that dress that you had in 7th grade that you promised yourself that you’d fit into ~one day~ and held onto for the next 25 years. That day isn’t here and it’s not worth becoming the Hulk in the middle of a crowded market.” Preach, girl.
14. Souvenir shops everywhere don’t have your size.
It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for a bathing suit coverup in Mexico or a pair of those cute printed elephant pants in Bali: they don’t have your size.
I hope you like magnets and postcards because clothing souvenirs that fit fat girls are not a thing. Important footnote: you can sometimes circumvent this by buying men’s clothing, which is also how my husband and I ended up with matching Peruvian Alpaca sweaters.
16. Get used to conversations like this:
Are you [insert exotic nationality]?
Nope, just American.
Are you sure? Because I have never seen an American girl with ~curves like you have.
Karen says, “is this a pickup line? Because I can tell you from experience that there are plenty of other fat people in America. I highly doubt you’ve never seen one before. Why is this a thing?!”
17. Think a bike tour sounds like a fun, relaxing way to see a new city? Think again.
Were you imagining yourself cheerfully re-enacting a scene from Vicky Christina Barcelona? I wish. Instead, welcome to that awkward moment when you realize that your booty has betrayed you and it will NOT fit on the teeny tiny bike seat.
While you play slip-n-slide with the world’s tiniest bike seat, you’ll probably get insulted by some random dude in Bogota who assumes you don’t speak Spanish and can’t understand that he’s making fun of you while you struggle-bus. Repeat after me: callate tu boca, hijueputa!
So maybe that got a bit specific, but my point still stands: rental bikes, particularly the kind used in bike tours, were not made with fat chicks in mind. I’ll take a walking tour instead, please!
18. Chub rub wear & tear is an inevitable fact of traveling as a fat woman.
You know how your jeans always rip in that one stupid spot between your thighs? Yes, ladies, I’m talking about the chub rub hole. It’s been the nemesis of all of my favorite pairs of pants for my entire life.
I’m the kind of girl who refuses to throw a good pair of pants away just because they have a chub-rub rip. So before my year long backpacking trip I actually sewed patches on where I knew they’d eventually wear through. My leggings and jeans lasted much longer thanks to 2 extra layers of fabric on each leg!
If you’ve got a trip coming up and you know you’ll be doing a ton of walking, get handy with the sewing machine and throw on some extra fabric. Or, if handy isn’t exactly your middle name, just buy a package of iron-on denim patches! Boom, problem solved.
19. Chafing is also an inevitable fact of traveling while fat.
You’re gonna chafe at some point on your travels. Whether it’s from a wet bathing suit, a pair of shorts that keeps riding up, or that f**king bike tour, be prepared. Carry a body-glide stick at all times, and get yourself a pair of comfy bike shorts like these (they even have pockets!) to wear under your cutest dresses and skirts! Your thighs will thank you.
20. Avoid top bunks when staying in a hostel.
This isn’t even just a plus size travel thing, top bunks are generally just terrifying.
21. The bigger you are, the more uncomfortable public transportation becomes.
Whether it’s airplanes, buses, collectivos, or moto-taxis, there is an inverse ratio between your size and how much you’re going to hate getting from point A to point B on a budget.
Rule of thumb: if your trip will take longer than an hour or 2, it’s probably worth it to pay extra for a little bit of comfort. Especially if that means you get to have A/C or an extra 3 inches of legroom.
Oh, and don’t worry about whoever’s lucky enough to sit next to you. Fat is squishy AF. They’ll be fine. But if they get an attitude, just passive-aggressively give them one of these with a giant bow on it. D**k.
22. If you’re worried about being too fat to fly, bring a seat-belt extender and/or book a double seat.
Yep, that’s right: you can buy your very own seat-belt extender! No more awkwardly explaining to a Flight Attendant that their seatbelts are currently slicing their way through your organs. This is a much cheaper option than booking a double seat, but if you have the money, your comfort and peace of mind are worth the investment, particularly if it’s a long flight.
That said: whenever you can, fly Southwest Airlines, who has a “Customers of Size” policy that lets you book 2 seats and then request a refund after your flight (reason #828682 why Southwest Airlines is my favorite airline EVER). However, only seatbelt extensions provided by Southwest Airlines are approved for use onboard their aircraft, so grab that Flight Attendant and get comfy!
And don’t worry: nobody is going to weigh you like your f**king luggage, unless you’re flying from Uzbekistan or Samoa, apparently. To see an airline’s policies regarding extra space needs, look for a page on their website addressing “customers with special needs” or similar.
23. Do not skimp on your shoes for traveling!
Those cheap flats from H&M may look cute, but you know they’re going to fall apart after about 10 minutes of walking on cobblestones.
As fat women, our feet have the task of carrying ALL of our gorgeousness, and they need to be treated like the valuable chariots of glory they are. So don’t give them blisters from too-tight shoes made of poor materials, or POS cheap soles that will wear through long before you’re worn out.
My favorite super cute, well-made, up-for-anything travel shoes are the Capri Sandals from Teva, and anything from VivoBarefoot (just be sure to give your feet and calves some time to adjust to barefoot style shoes before your trip). Speaking of which, I’ve got a big ol’ guide to my favorite women’s travel shoes – check it out here!
24. You are the only one who knows your own mobility limitations and abilities, so speak up!
Whether it’s hiking the Inca Trail or just hiking up the stairs, if you’re worried about your ability to do something, ask beforehand. “Is there any way our room can be on the first floor?” or “does this tour require me to walk the entire time?” or “does this hike have places to rest?” are all totally reasonable questions to ask.
Don’t feel like you have to keep quiet and suffer. Advocate for yourself and don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions before you book something. Nobody is going to judge you, and if they do, f*ck them.
25. Just so you know: you’re fabulous, beautiful, powerful, and amazing.
I guess this isn’t really a tip, but I just wanted to make sure you knew. Go out and chase your wanderlust across the globe, you incredible adventuress. You’re a mountain of strength and you radiate confidence and bad-assery with every step you take on this earth.
You’re f**king rad and don’t you forget it.
We hope this post made you laugh, smile, and feel fabulous. And we’d love for you to pass along the love! Do you have a tip for your fellow plus size travel divas? Leave a comment below!
Psst: Looking for more resources for living a fabulous, carefree, fat-tastic life? Here are a few awesome things I found while writing this post:
- There’s actually a book called “Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living” that I am in no way affiliated and definitely did not realize existed when I wrote this post! But y’all, it looks AWESOME. Pick up a copy on Amazon and arm yourself with BADASS KNOWLEDGE so that the next time some d*ckweed fat-shames you, you can laugh in his d*ckweed face and proceed to go right along living your awesome life.
- There is a rad Facebook group called Fat Girls Traveling! They’ve also got an Instagram account that gives me daily feel-good vibes and fat-spiration. They even host an annual Fat Camp, which involves a bunch of awesome plus-size ladies hanging out together, eating s’mores and giving each other compliments at an adult summer camp which sounds SO. FUN.
- *Ahem* I, too, have an Instagram account. Here it is. Not gonna lie: it’s like 99% travel – because being fat is one of the least exciting things I spend my time doing – but in my captions and Instagram stories I do on occasion talk about my struggles with eating disorders, recovery, and my journey to unapologetic, in-your-face, verging-on-obnoxious self-confidence. 🙂
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Our Top Travel Tips & Resources
- Booking Flights: To score flight deals, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Money-saving tips: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on only on a budget airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
- Accommodations: We usually stay in budget-friendly vacation rentals, boutique hotels or private rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to book hotels (we love their flexible cancellation policy) and Hostelworld to book hostels (low deposit, easy change/cancellation, and excellent reviews). For vacation rentals, we prefer to book using VRBO because they've got lower fees and better support than Airbnb, and we're not fans of Airbnb's unethical track record. 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!
- Travel Insurance: We always, always, ALWAYS buy travel insurance for international trips, and we STRONGLY suggest it - visit our Travel Insurance Guide to find out why. We recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance. SafetyWing is one of the few policies that covers Covid-19, and they have excellent monthly policies that are perfect for Digital Nomads and long term travelers!
- Travel Credit Card: We book all of our trips on our favorite travel credit card. Not only do we earn cash back that we can spend on more travel, but the card offers fantastic travel perks like travel insurance, trip delay and cancellation coverage, lost baggage reimbursement, and rental car coverage, which helps protect us on our travels. Learn more here.
- Vaccines & Meds: 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.
- Tours: We love booking guided tours, especially food tours and walking tours, to get a local's perspective and a history lesson while sight-seeing! We book our tours using Viator and GetYourGuide.
- Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to figure out how to get from place to place, and book local transportation online using Bookaway wherever we can. When we book a rental car, we use DiscoverCars to compare rental companies and find the best deal.
- Luggage Storage: 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. Use the code PRACTICALW for 2 hours of free luggage storage on us.
- VPN Service: A VPN keeps your digital information (like website login details, bank info, etc) safe, even when you're connected to an unsecured network while traveling. Plus, it lets you use Netflix & other streaming sites abroad! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO when you sign up!
- What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we bring on every trip. We also have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and many more. Take a look at all of our packing guides!
Mary Ann says
THESE STOP THE CHUB RUB! Seriously, get yourself a pair of bandelettes. These wonder-unders for thighs slide on easily, stay put with integral silicone bands, and prevent your thighs from rubbing. You can wear them with any length dress to prevent thigh chafing! Some are super sexy, too, and they only cost $8-15 per pair and come in multiple colors.
Lia Garcia says
That sounds great! I’m a big fan of the spandex bike shorts with pockets but they’re definitely more practical than sexy 😛
Regarding 21, “ Oh, and don’t worry about whoever’s lucky enough to sit next to you. Fat is squishy AF. They’ll be fine.”
Really? So you’re fat therefore we should be comfortable with you “spilling” onto us. Hmmm, who cares about anyone else, I’m fat! Deal with it.
Yeahhhh, really nice attitude.
I don’t care if you’re fat or thin. Stay on your side. Why do you presume WE should deal with you touching us?
Lia Garcia says
Well, nobody wants your bony-ass hips sticking into them either, Caroline. If you want to make sure you avoid the horror of touching another person’s leg, either book the bulkhead row or fly first class. Everyone in economy is touching everyone else.
I laughed, I cried, I joined the FB group and followed you on Instagram. Thank you for this article. Love, another fat traveler
Yep, what Sarah said. The recommendations are going to help me so much next week on my first trip in forever!
This post was awesome. And there happened to be an ad for Land’o’Lakes butter at the bottom of the screen – made it even better. Thanks for your tips. You are stunning.
Lia Garcia says
Thank you, Fiona! And LOL – that’s definitely a coincidental ad placement but hey, I’ll take it 😛
The title is so apt “25 Things Nobody Tells You About Traveling While Fat” — could relate to each point you wrote, as I have struggled with weight all my life too…It’s hilarious and so true. You are so intelligent and aware we are different, good going. Loads of love from India!!!
So glad I found this post! I’ve finally made the decision to start traveling and had no idea where to even begin. I’ve been reading so many blogs and articles, but felt like there were a lot of things that wouldn’t work for someone my size. Loved the upbeat and humorous vibes as well as the great tips. Thanks so much!
Oh my GOSH you are such a vibrant and sparkling personality, I sooooo loved reading this article. Thank you for sharing your journey it’s the funniest thing I’ve read in ages. I admire you because I have a 22 year old daughter who has struggled with body image dysmorphia for her entire life and my biggest hope is that one day she will become strong and beleive in herself to become as healthy and confident you have become. Any d***kface who can’t see your heart must be blind. You ROCK!
Lia Garcia says
Thank you so much for the kind words! At age 22 I was definitely struggling a LOT with body image and confidence. At age 30 I’m utterly at peace with myself. I hope the same for your daughter!
Loved this. My fat lady (good) friend from work and i had arranged to spend our last night of training (in Reston) in Arlington so i could see jfk’s grave (my childhood dream) . It was closed. i apologized (for leaving her behind) but i had to see it, so i was going to climb over the tall chainlink fence. Without a pause, she said “let’s go”. When i saw the mp’s (military police) before they saw us, i implored her to crouch behind the grave stones like i was, but she chose (wisely) to “hide” behind a (thinner than her) tree and maneuver around it as they drove by, to avoid detection. We had the place to ourselves after that. No longer possible today. I wasn’t going to do it alone (booking the night in Arlington), so thanks to Peggy O’Leary from Chicago (no relation to the one with the cow [she loved to say]). I didn’t apologize because she was fat – she was a lady.
Lia Garcia says
Wow, what a story! Thank you for sharing! I’d love to join y’all on a sneaky sightseeing mission one day 😛
You’re my new heroine! I hope to put some of your fabulous advice (shopping for bike shorts w/pockets as we speak) as soon as the world gets back to relative normality. Cheers!
I love this post! I am fat, and I enjoy traveling on my own. I have experienced a lot of what you wrote. What I love most is how you use humor to highlight the truth of these experiences.
I just want to mention that, in point #24, it might be worthwhile to ask, “Is there any way my/our room can be on the ground floor?” because in many (non US) countries, their first floor is what Americans call the second floor. That is especially important when there is no elevator on the premises.
Practical Wanderlust says
Thanks for the suggestion Arpita!!
I enjoyed your post so much! I go through so much anxiety when I have to fly, it over rides everything I will be doing. The return flight causes more anxiety! Over dress or under dress is a problem for me. But your post shine so much on the good qualities that I forgot I have! Confident is the best outfit a woman with curves can wear! We will see how my next flight will go. THANK YOU FOR YOUR POST! Looking forward to your next ranting! Shirley
Enjoyed your blog so much, I ended up buying some bathing suits on Full Beauty and planon using some of the tankini tops as tops. Had not heard of bike pants, will pack a pair and have a tube of stuff for chub rub. MY first trip to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand for about 10-12 days and really looking forward to it, but glad you posted about shopping, etc. I am also African American and expect to be noticed. I do plan on bringing some fabric to be made into an Ao Di-the vietnamese dresses. Have you had any custom clothes made? Great Blog!
Lia Garcia says
Noooo I haven’t, but that sounds awesome! I’d definitely recommend joining the group Fat Girls Traveling on FB and asking around in there, you might get some helpful information to prepare you for your trip!
Hi, thank you for this helpful and fat-positive article. I learned things here that will help my wife and I enjoy travel and avoid multiple uncomfortable situations, including that tidbit about Southwest Airlines’ “Customer of Size” policy. BTW, when I followed the link to their website and checked out that policy, I did notice that Southwest says “only seatbelt extensions provided by Southwest Airlines are approved for use onboard our aircraft”, so I guess we shouldn’t try to bring our own extenders if flying Southwest. Thought that might be helpful to share. Keep up the good work, love your writing!
Lia Garcia says
Oooh that’s a good point – we’ll update our post to note that. Thanks!
Online Sunshine says
Apparently comments that don’t shower the writer with fake praise are deleted. Nice.
Lia Garcia says
If anyone’s wondering, this commenter has been spamming my posts with fat-shaming comments that I didn’t feel the need to spend energy defending, nor did I want anyone reading my fat-positive posts to waste their energy feeling shitty about. Go find a new hobby, bro.
Good for you, Lia. You did the right thing. The original commenter should take some time to think about what makes them so insecure with themselves that they have to tear someone down. We are in a world where one of our biggest responsibilities is to build people up! Please remember this.
Laura Burgess says
“13. CLOTHING MARKETS IN ASIAN COUNTRIES ARE LIKE A FUN FORM OF TORTURE.”
This this this this this this. Thank you.
I found this article great, I just have a hard time agreeing with your sentiments on being happily fat. I am 275 lbs, 5 10’” and although I am very happy with myself (who I am and the things I accomplished) I am not happy with my weight. It makes things like running and jumping/being light on my feet harder. Also I know the strain my body is going through with all this extra weight. I simply cannot subscribe to being happy with the extra poundage. It seems like an odd way to think. Without the pounds I will be more efficient, quick, breathe better, travel lighter, but with this poundage all of those things are harder.
Lia Garcia says
Hey Adam, there’s no right or wrong way for you to feel about yourself. I will say that while I share some of your sentiments in regards to my own weight (for example, I’d certainly be more efficient at certain things I enjoy with less weight, like hiking or rock climbing) I’m also happy with myself at the same time. I love myself and my body, and my desire to treat my body with the respect it deserves comes from a place of self-love. When I work out, eat healthy, and so on, I’m not trying to lose weight to punish myself but because it makes me feel good to be fit and active and eat foods that give me energy and nourishment. The way that I feel about my body isn’t separate from my love for myself, they’re 2 pieces of the same coin. I’m not unhappy being fat, and at the same time, there are some really good, positive reasons why I’d like to lose a little bit of weight as well. What’s missing from the equation are things like shame, self-hatred, insecurity, and an association of fatness with negative character traits. That’s what being happily fat means to me, and it can coexist with a desire to be happily less fat. Body inclusivity and positivity is possible and wonderful at any size!
Discovered your post while looking for plus sized khaki pants for future trip to South Africa. I’m pretty self-conscious about my fatness only when I’m in an amusement park in Asia. I was not able to get on 1 ride at Universal Studios Japan but I was able to get on for the rest. I had to go to the gym at least twice a week before my long Dec trips. I admit I didn’t lose much weight but the exercises really strengthen my legs for the rigorous walk and climbs on my travels. I do worry sometimes that I might not be able to fly in small planes cos I weigh about 100kg but thankful that small planes do accommodate my weight by putting me in the middle and I’m surrounded by skinnier people. LOL. That happened on a Nazca flight. Being fat had never deterred me to travel in South America, Iran, Egypt, Europe and etc. Thanks for the interesting blog and I know that I’m not alone in my insecurities but we have to overcome it to meet our love for travelling.
Stephanie V. says
I want to thank you so much for your post. I am planning a trip to Vietnam and came across this post while searching for posts about plus sized travelers and their experiences. I am comfortable with my weight and size, but I dont want people to look at me and think that it restricts me from doing things that “regular” people do. This just reassured me that I’m not the only one with these concerns.
What a refreshingly honest post, big thumbs up. As someone who’s been plus size all my life, I can relate to this only too well.
I think the worst time was when I asked for a seat belt extension on a Ryanair flight (as their seat belts are clearly made for primary school children, only airline I ever had issues with seat belts), only to be told I could only have an extension if I moved seats. Apparently seat belt extensions and front row seats (specifically paid for, to gain some ‘extra leg room’) don’t mix. Well being strangled by seat belt and therefore unable to help in an emergency probably wouldn’t have been the best idea either.
You are like my new favorite person – I absolutely adore this post! And yes to 11 and 12 – how do they do it? Mind you, I also have a long think head of hair and wonder – how do people wear their hair down without melting?!
For the thigh rub I was told that there is an amazing powder I think from Thailand or Vietnam that works cooling magic!
Reading your posts like this is always so pleasurable! During our year of travel, I accidentally shrunk much of my clothing in KL, Malaysia. In trying to shop to replace some of it, I realized I’d be better off trying to fit into my own shrunken clothing than anything available in the stores. I did buy one shirt… in the men’s section. Oy!
Megan McC says
Oh my goodness, lady! Your writing is amazing, love your style and your humor. I love it! Thanks for sharing your practicality, your confidence and your reflections on traveling while fat. You’re amazing!
Love this! Just the type of “real” travel advise I was looking for. Also, what was the brand/type of bike shorts? I’ve been trying to find some that aren’t ridiculously tight.
Lia Garcia says
These are the shorts I like best: https://amzn.to/2HLoZov
Hi, I came across your blog while looking for backpacking tips & I found this article and I just had to say thank you! All the other sites I’ve tried reading never covered the reality of traveling while fat and your tone made it 10000x better. Just, thank you so much for tips! I’m feeling a lot more confident about my trips this summer, especially knowing that other plus size women have fearlessly made the same trek before me and aren’t afraid to speak frankly about their experiences. Thank you!!!
Lia Garcia says
Aww, that makes us so happy, Caitlyn! Have an AMAZING time this summer and remember that you are an amazing bada$$ and anyone who disagrees can suck it. <3
I just found this article and I could not tell you how much this resonated with me! As a similarly shaped woman, I have run into many of the same issues you did and experienced the looks, glares, and comments that just need to be laughed off. I appreciate your candidness and damn those “one size fits all” elephant pants. They are tiny and did not fit around my thighs at all. Spa clothes in SE Asia are not made for anyone with curves, even though they may look ok, they have no room for hips. It is nice to hear from someone that may not wear plus size clothing and may not seem to the average american as fat but also loves to travel. Traveling can really bring out the insecurities/ size challenge more than most would realize. I can’t wait to read more from you, even a few years later!
Nia H. says
“Red faced and sweaty, heffalumping across the ground like a buffalo on a mission.”
*fist bump* Yes!
I am a fat chick. I’ve hiked the Inca Trail, I’ve hiked across Thailand, I’ve hiked different parts of the Rockies. I’m preparing to go for a two-month holiday which involves hiking in Iceland, Ireland, and Ecuador. I’m aiming to do the PCT and Kilimanjaro in 2021. I’m not breaking any records, I’m usually always at the rear of any group or reliably setting last-place records for solo hikes, I’m hot and sweaty and huffing and puffing, but you know what—I’m there, I’m doing it, I’m having a blast, and I’m seeing the world.
Now, I want to to get a patch made for my pack that says “Like a buffalo on a mission”, because that line made me feel so good.
Lia Garcia says
Dayuummmm Nia you’re such a badass!! That’s amazing! And EXACTLY how I’d describe my own athletic endeavors 😀 Keep crushin’ it and representing for us all!
I am fat….and old! So have a double whammy! Yes…I remember the Vietnamese women who would laugh and comment on my size, and run their hands over me. And when I wanted to go kayaking the young guys thought Nana as they called me wouldn’t manage. As I kayaked frequently at that stage I had no problems…but the young things got scared of a bit of a rip and had to turn back! One thing I like is that you never get hassled to buy clothes in an Asian market because they can see they ;learly won’t fit!
I walked the Inka Trail….at my pace, a couple of years ago and keep up with the best of them hiking.The bright red face, pouring perspiration is not pretty….but that isn’t going to stop me …I used to get that when I was thin! Family failing!
Thanks for a lot of laughs in your delightful article…..I totally relate! Happy travels!
Lia Garcia says
This is amazing! You’re an inspiration to us all, Gail!
Granma Pam says
Ok ladies I know this is probably a site for young ladies. I just wanted to mention that I am Fat and Sassy and 72 years old and still traveling. I am flying to Michigan in just about a week. Dont ever let anyone tell you that you are anything other than awesome. I still swim 3 to 4 times a week and do water aerobics to keep myself in good enough shape to climb some stairs and walk a mile or so when I travel. Enjoy your life to the fullest. Oh and yes I will be asking for a seat belt extender on the plane. Be true to you.
Lia Garcia says
Granma Pam, you are my hero. Thank you for inspiring us all!
I’ve always wanted to own and operate a B&B and while I’m probably a decade or more away from fulfilling my dream, I’ve been trying to narrow down my ideas because I want it to be sort of niche. One of the things I’m strongly considering is to have a plus-size-friendly B&B where the towels and robes and showers/tubs and hot tubs and beds and chairs etc etc are all large enough to be safe and comfortable for guests of ALL sizes.
Anyhoo, I was doing some research tonight on “traveling while plus-sized” to see if I could get ideas and ran across this blog post. I’m so appreciative for your valuable insight on the frustrations many of us face when trying to simply be comfortable and relax in our own skin! Great post!
Lia Garcia says
Hey Lainey, that sounds awesome! If you do open it up, I’d love to come stay there sometime 🙂
Oh. My. God!!!!! THANK YOU! I am traveling to Europe in August and am a mess about it! I am 350 of AMAZING, but that tiny voice, right? That asshole who won’t let you sleep because American culture doesn’t believe you should be doing anything at 350lbs unless is in efforts to reduce oneself to a “more appropriate” size.
I’ve spent 37 years, lived through gastric bypass, and subsequent drug addiction, trying to get away from my body. With nearly 3 years clean, and 2 years in trauma therapy, baby, tiny plane seats will not dictate or determine my value.
Again, Lia, you badass, amazing, delightful sister in fatness, stay out here in these streets with the rest of us fatties. We fight the good fight each and every day!
Love to you!
Lia Garcia says
You’re so rad!!! Thank you so much for sharing your story, and YES, go forth and be a bada$$, strong, fabulous fattie!
I love this post, I have always travelled with my own towel but most of the rest are new to me. I always wear bike shorts under dresses and skirts. I’m in Australia and have been travelling to California for the last 2 years, my next trip is in November. I have been fat since puberty and in New Zealand and Australia you get the negativity for being larger than you are supposed to be, I’m a double wrong being 5 foot tall and fat. I love visiting the USA as I feel normal and a non freak. Although I cannot get over the portion sizes. I love the doggy bag. I have had trouble with finding comfortable shoes for my 2 week visits, I public transport it and walk, so I am keen to find the ones you recommend. Thank you
Lia Garcia says
I LOOOOVE my barefoot shoes! They do take a bit of time to strengthen up your calf and foot muscles and get used to them – I could only walk for like 30 minutes in them at first and then my calves would be exhausted, like that feeling you get from walking up a hill or jogging. But I kept wearing them and it was soooo worth it! Now I can walk and stand for HOURS with absolutely no pain. I’m slowly replacing all of my too-narrow, too-high shoes with barefoot style, flexible soled flat shoes instead.
Loved this post! While living in Thailand, I was once told, “You have the face of Miss Universe and the body of Miss Chocolate Cake” (thanks?). That said, once I acclimated to the looks and the occasional comments, I grew to love all the extra snacks people gave me for no reason I could tell except that they assumed I loved food. 🙂
Thank you so much for making me laugh. I am a single, 50 year old woman with purple (WAY purple) hair and weight that has clung to me for so long that I am pretty much settled on the fact that it’ll forever stay. I decided one day that I was not going to dream about faraway laces. I wasn’t going to wish about going either. I WAS GOING!! I did my homework and took my first solo adventure in Croatia. NOT a fat friendly place. Everything I booked was UP a hill and the whole country is filled with skinny women who smoke. I was a sweaty struggling mess and while I would never trade my experience for anything there were times that I was a bit saddened by the fact that some men wouldn’t talk to me. The young women were cruel as they watched me huff and puff my way around their beautiful country. I had to keep thinking “It’s OK, laugh all you want because I make a lot more money than you and I am a traveling BADASS! While I can laugh at myself I must admit that my hard earned money should come with comfort while I travel. I cannot wait around for 90 pounds of fat to roll off of me before my life can begin. You made me feel so much better and I feel a bit more empowered. I am researching some friendlier places but I will still get to the more judgmental places too. I need to work on my confidence. You are a beautiful, funny and talented writer and I thank you for inspiring me.
Lia Garcia says
You are so sweet and amazing, Stephanie! You inspire ME! I actually had pink hair for YEARS so I love that you have purple hair 😛 I’m so humbled and happy to hear that I have made you feel empowered, that’s EXACTLY why I wrote this post and why I continue to blog and write. Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your story, and keep f***ing traveling!! You’re awesome!
Margaret Oakley says
I found your site while looking for information about fat traveling. I really wish I could laugh, but I can’t. We have almost 300,000 airline miles and my husband is ready to plan the trip and go! I have two big problems:
One, I suffer from depression and anixety and I really have a very hard time leaving the house. Two: I’m fat. I have a hard time standing for very long and I have sever back spasms when I stand or walk. My husband keeps saying that if I don’t make a choice, he is ready to take his son. Part of me is really sad, embarrassed, and angry. Those airline miles are half mine. The rest of the stuff is just because I feel sorry for myself.
Lia Garcia says
Hi Margaret, I’m so, so sorry that you’re struggling. Sending you love and hugs from afar! I’d suggest talking to a therapist if you aren’t already – therapy is something that’s helped my husband and I so much. Jeremy also struggles with depression and anxiety, which is difficult for both of us because I sometimes find myself losing patience, too. Sometimes he is just sad or anxious and there’s no logical reason for it, and it can be difficult for us both to accept that those feelings are just going to be there no matter what, because it’s just the way his brain is wired. Therapy can provide the tools to cope with the conflicting and overwhelming emotions that come with this territory: fear, sadness, shame that you’re feeling those things at all, anger and impatience, etc.
As for your physical limitations, have you considered renting a wheelchair or motorized scooter to use during your trip? Lots of places have accommodations available for those with limited mobility. There is absolutely NO shame in accepting your physical limitations, and then choosing to push through them and travel anyway – in fact, it’s brave and amazing and awesome! If you haven’t chosen a destination yet, maybe look for places that are visited frequently by tourists – they tend to be the most accessible for those with mobility limitations.
I really hope that helps, and please reach out if there’s anything else I can do to support you!
Ah, I know this blog post is several years old, but it’s new to me having just found it.
I specifically wanted to reply to your reply because it is quite possibly one of the most informed pieces of travel advice I’ve encountered for the simple reason that you clearly understand not everyone is alike. We can travel even with our challenges, limitations, insecurities, etc whether physical , psychological or anything else. Many people tell those who struggle with anxiety/depression to just get over it or ” fix” it. Some of us are just hardwired that way . There’s no fixing us, because we are not and never have been broken.
I would like to add to the advice about the wheelchair/ scooter for those with situations where walking/ standing is physically possible but challenging. I do this because of orthopedic/ Neuro issues that affect my balance and gait. As a result I can walk but not far. When I travel I bring my own wheelchair. And my husband is more than happy to push me around in it ( the benefit for him is we get to travel together). It was weird in the beginning because it was different, but rather than seeing it a crutch, I see it as a tool that provides freedom.
For the most part airlines are required to accommodate wheelchairs ( as well as other medical equipment). Buses, trains as well. And increasingly more places are realizing those with mobility limitations have money too and want to travel.
Kathryn @TravelWithKat says
Great post! I’ve never really got why people get so embarrassed when you refer to yourself as fat? It’s a fact. I’m fat. In West Africa, it is so refreshing that people aren’t afraid to refer to you as fat. There, as you say, it’s a neutral fact. And men there certainly prefer larger ladies curves but what took me by surprise, in a good way, was women shouting out as I walk by ” I want your hips!” Sorry ladies, they’re all mine!!
Lia Garcia says
That’s awesome and so refreshing! Societal beauty standards are arbitrary AF.
I was in market in Peru and really wanted am alpaca sweater. I found a beautiful “mens” one and tried it on to make sure I liked it. The woman refused to sell it to me and insisted I buy a woman’s sweater, even though they obviously didn’t fit. So I left, and made my husband go buy it for me.
They clothing thing is spot! My husband has a hard time understanding why I tend to cover all my bases when packing my own clothes but don’t for him or my children. They can always find something to buy if they want or need to, I can not.
That’s so rude! I definitely have a men’s XL alpaca sweater from Peru that I got at the market in Cuscco. The women’s ones were TINY and I wanted a big, cozy, comfy, slouchy sweater – so men’s XL it was. They happily took my money. How weird that your experience was so different! Makes no sense. I hope you frequented another, less gendered stall!
You mentioned Asian markets not having your size, but don’t countries like Vietnam also have amazing and cheap tailoring/dressmaking? Seems like that would be a massive plus.
That’s an excellent point! Although as someone with a degree in fashion design (random, I know) I’ll say that it’s very easy/cheap to make something smaller, but it’s very difficult/expensive to make something BIGGER. The reason being that you have to actually find fabric that will match the original garment to add onto the piece, which is often really, really difficult to do. That’s why when you buy like, a wedding dress or a suit or whatever, you size up rather than down!
What a wonderful and loving article! Seriously. The one that stuck out the most for me is clothes: practical but stylish and appropriate for the weather. I have yet to find this!
Amazing stuff and keep on rockin’!
I cannot thank you enough for writing this. I still haven’t reached your zen-level when it comes to my body and I feel out of place more often than not. Because of Instagram too many girls think that you can’t travel (or you can’t take pictures of yourself) if you’re curvy. I’ve been bullied, harassed and I had to deal with haters too. But you know what? You’re right: there’s nothing wrong in being exactly how I am!
Totally! Keep rockin’ your gorgeous self all around the world, girl!
Best. Post. Ever. Thank you!
I’m especially laughing at the reaction to your chest. Going in for a feel is not cool people! And I’m saying that as a small-chested person who’s never had to deal with that.
I absolutely adored this and I have no idea why I haven’t fallen across your blog until just now. Count me in as a new reader!
This. is. amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this I was dying of laughter. I’ll be sharing this immedatiely to make sure every girl reads this fat or not!
Sara Tyler says
I loved this post!!! My gf and I just went to Cancun last week with our 8-month-old babies and post baby bodies and rocked it. As she said, I don’t care if I look fat in the pictures because we are in Cancun and everyone else is stuck at home, lol.
Cherri Megasko says
I just want to say thanks for this post! I’m 5’5″ and weigh 210. But I can hike well and I snorkel like a champ. I identified with what you said about people being shocked that you can be fat and still be active. I barely squeezed my big butt into my wetsuit on my first scuba dive only to surface after a 45 minute dive to see the buff young macho man had surfaced after just a few minutes.
Loved this post! It’s interesting that you pointed out that beauty standards varies around the world! Regardless the most important things is that you appreciate what figure you have and rock it!
Wow. Just wow. I LOVE your posts in general, but this one rocked. Some of your points were funny (shopping in markets in Asia), and others were super practical (body glide sticks and chafing). Could not have said any of this better if I tried!
I love this and can totally relate to all of the above! When I was in Vietnam visiting my husband’s family they were nice enough to bring out a “real” chair for me because they knew my behind wasn’t fitting in those kiddie chairs they like to sit in Stay fabulous and travel well ladies!
Bridget Ann Quitter says
Hi Lia! Long time, no see! Loved the article, and watching all your travel adventures (and mishaps, we’ve all been there) from afar!
My fat-girl tip is for when those feelings of body hate or self-loathing come creeping back in, you use your adventures to combat that. For example, when you start to think “UGH my thighs are so fat”, you just respond with “Yes, they are fat. But those thick thighs have carried you through X number of countries on different continents, and they were able to support you. Yes, you have a gut now. But that gut comes from eating some of the best bread and cheese in the world, and from drinking wine and beer in ancient cities and enjoying yourself.” <3
I LOVE this!! What a fantastic tip. Thanks so much, Bridget!
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! Seriously, this post is everything. I love that you own and love your body. It’s something I’m just starting to get better at and it is so goddamn freeing. Traveling and seeing how strange and diverse body image issues were around the world really helped me realize that everyone else and they opinions can go jump.
One time I was desperately searching for shorts in Bangkok and had a shop attendant tell me that maybe I should try the shop down the road called “Fat Girl”. I was a bit offended at her rudeness until I realized there was ACTUALLY a store called Fat Girl and they had everything in my size—aka a fat girl in Asia’s dream. These struggles are all so real but there is nothing sadder than letting your own insecurities get in the way. Once you stop caring, you realize that 99% of people weren’t caring in the first place.
Thanks for sharing this amazing post
Omg, now I want to open up a store in San Francisco called Fat Girl. That’s totally awesome 😛
What a great post! It made me laugh out loud many times, particularly about the clothes shopping in asian markets, I don’t think any of us manage to fit in anything there! Also, that people voluntary recommend places to eat without you asking! Thanks for such an honest post and giving me a real giggle.
I will always remember that time when I was with some people and they all suggested to go the next day to a pond. I had already made plans so I couldn’t go, and then this girl ( one gym obsessed girl I must add) that told me, you know, you don’t need to be in your bikini if you don’t want to. I just stared at her and told her, I am sorry but, why should I have any type of problem about being in a bikini? I think that that day I realized that people that make this type of comments are just people that lack in self confidence. They think they are great because of how they look and if they ever lose their figure they would crumble and never leave home. To all of you, yes, I know I have some extra kg on me, but I am healthy ans I have a fuller life than many of you. I love food and I love life. Can you say the same?
I definitely think that a lot of fat hate is just insecurity and low self esteem. If you couldn’t love yourself while fat, then I’m not surprised that you assume I can’t either, and project all of your negativity about fatness onto me. But it just bounces right back off. I try to let me self love radiate outwards so that it builds up both other fabulous fat ladies and anyone who isn’t fat but has negative connotations about fatness as well!
Roaming Required (@RoamingRequired) says
#18 wear & tear was a harsh reality when I was home in Aus a few weeks ago. I stupidly packed one pair of jeans and one pair of tights. What was I thinking?! Spent a few hours ironing a patch on them to get me through another 2 weeks. #Awkward!
haha loved this very honest post! To be fair, I am fairly small and I live in Thailand and constantly get the ‘you’re not gonna fit in it’ look when I’m at the markets!! If they say don’t try it on I listen though haha!
California Globetrotter says
These are all very interesting points I have never considered. I’m a bit overweight but have always been larger than all my tiny friends who have no problem with washcloths as a towel, sitting comfortably in an airplane seat or being judged by what/how much they eat. Interesting post!
Love this post especially all the awesome instagram photos peppering through it. Chub rub is the bane of my life, followed closely by the one size fits all malarkey!
Keep being fabulous 🙂
Thank you! I got most of the Instagram photos from the amazing Fat Girls Traveling Instagram. They’ve also got an awesome facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1835561730031628/
This was really eye opening and hilarious. I love your voice when you write! Chub rub is my least favorite thing and I’m pretty sure I’ve ruined about 5 good pairs of black jeans. SIGH.
My husband is constantly after me to throw out perfectly good pants ruined by chub rub but I refuse! I just keep patching them up and sewing them together again >.< Finding a good pair of pants that fits right in all the right places is NOT easy and I'm not giving them up without a fight 😛 YOU WON'T DEFEAT ME, CHUB RUB!
Aw, I packed on a tonne of weight when I was living as an expat and chub rub is my mortal enemy. I can only wear my favourite skirt now if I apply copious amounts of Chamois Butt’r before throwing it on o_0 This is a great post, Lia.
Oh girl I know this life. I have little spandex shorts I wear under all of my skirts and dresses. So that way not only am I protected from the chub rub, but I’m also ready in the event that someone wants to film an impromptu 80’s music video on the street and needs extras.
Haha love this! Have experienced all of these in my time, but never thought of them as a collective experience :+) never thought they skinny people may not get food recommendations as much as I do, new thing to be grateful for.
I know right? Sorry to my un-fat travelistas, this one’s all ours 😛
Hahaa… I enjoyed quite a chuckle reading this and could related to a few of your points! Having said that, I admit that being curvy myself, sometimes I have felt so uncomfortable wearing my swimsuit in public that Ii gave up the idea altogether. Silly thing to do, I know. I learnt from my experiences and realised that no one really deserves the license to judge you!! =)
Here’s a tip on how to get a swimsuit body, from me to you. Step 1: put a swimsuit on your body. That’s it 😉 Rock what you got girl!
I’ve learned that being a fat woman wearing a swimsuit in public will inspire a small handful of insecure, judgmental people to get all up in arms, but it will ALSO inspire a LOT of insecure, shy people who are also on the fence about wearing their own swimsuit in public to feel better about themselves! Every time I go out in a bikini I feel good about the message I’m sending to the world: look at me, I’m confident and brave and happy with myself and IDGAF about dumb body expectations and ideals. It’s worth it to me to shock a few pearl-clutching fat haters so that I can inspire some other folks to stand a little straighter and think, “if she can do it, I can too!”
Totally in love with this. You rock!
Rosie Fluskey says
I couldn’t agree more. Own the curves, get stuck into every activity and bodyglide is a saviour!!!! I have just returned from a trip where I forgot mine and I couldn’t wear half the clothes I took with me!!
I can relate to this so much! Having just come back from traveling SEA. I had local women come up to me on the beach and have a good look at my chest and in Vietnam the ladies were obsessed with my ‘strong’ arms, I call them flabby. This is sooooo relateable and provided a good laugh!
Rachel Heller says
I love this! And I’ve experienced quite a bit of what you describe. I loved going back to Malawi and hearing “You’ve gotten so FAT!” and it was a compliment!
Isn’t it funny how fat is a dirty word in some places and a beautiful compliment in others? That’s why I treat it as neutral. It only really means whatever you decide to attach to it.
hahahah! i love this post! you are definitely one of m new favourite bloggers. Number 14 definitely applies to the majority of the human race I think!! hahaha…After re-stocking my travel wardrobe in a Bangkok market, I had serious crotch-ripping drama every time I squat or bent down to do anything for the rest of my trip. If I didn’t have a friend who was handy with sewing kit, I don’t know what I would have done!!
Great post. So many things rang true for me. Excellent writing – loved it!
Kavey Favelle says
I’ve experienced a LOT of these same issues, not quite all but yeah, most of them! Made me smile!
CreativeTravelGuide (@CTGTravelGuide) says
I loved reading this post! As a fat girl who loves to travel I totally feel your pain! that chafing is the worst and yeah I always get a lot of attention around the world. I have wanted to scuba dive for so long but dread trying to squeeze into that wetsuit!
I have a new one too! Theme park rides!!! The mortifying moment I visited Germany’s Europa Park, got into a rollercoaster and the stupid seat wouldn’t fit my abnormally large thighs in it! I wanted to die!
I alway opt for mens clothes too! My hubby and I have matching t-shirts and hippy pants from all over Asia 🙂 Oh and bracelets!! My wrists are a tad stumpy and Asian bracelets fit…JUST!
Thank you for sharing! This genuinely helps feel a bit more comfortable travelling as a “larger than life” woman!
Oh man that’s a great one I never thought of! Thanks for sharing!
Leah Walker (@L_e_a_h) says
So many of these things hit home. I live in Paris and am American thin, but French fat. I laughed so hard about your #8…Alice in Wonderland, indeed. Try shopping at French stores. It’s so disheartening! Ummm…I have arms and legs, not sticks posing as arms and legs. I do find solace in the fact that I’m seeing a lot more fat people in France. Not American fat, but certainly bigger. Thank you, McDonald’s and KFC! Keep on eating, Frenchies. A few years from now I’ll feel like a normal size again. 🙂
I enjoyed reading this so much. Thank you!
Over a decade ago now, I lived in France for about a year. I wasn’t American thin (never have been), but terribly fat either–about a 12/14. I had to get a medical screening once there to apply for my resident card. The nurse spent several minutes shouting “no more cake! no fries!” (but in French) at me at generally treated me like total crap. Didn’t let me get a word in edgewise and nearly had a fit when I took more than 15 seconds (literally, 15 seconds) to get dressed after my chest x-ray. If I hadn’t needed that stupid form to stay in the country, even younger me would have told her where to go. I had shopkeepers just shake their heads at me when I went in their clothing boutique (how glad I was to see an H&M when I went to Germany one weekend!) and looks of horror when I asked if they had any shoes above size 40. French men my age acted as if I didn’t exist, at best. In spite of all this, I’m glad I had the experience and overall enjoyed my time there. Glad to hear that perhaps being fat is losing a little bit of stigma. (Also just noticing that your comment is 2 years old!)
Travelling Omnomnivore says
I love this post, your honesty, and your confidence – go girl!!
Omg I love this! I, myself, am what people refer to as skinny-fat. I have skinny arms and a small upper part of the body , but I have a belly and love handles (my dear donut), big butt and thighs. Even I struggle with clothes. And my poor boyfriend who IS fat struggles with most of the things you mentioned. And he’s French. He once broke a chair in a restaurant, he feels uncomfortable when seated on a flight with a European or Asian airline and we once couldn’t take the elevator together because there wasn’t enough room for the two of us in that tiny space.
Omg, I broke a bench in a hostel in Costa Rica last week. It’s such an unpleasant feeling! But also like … damn y’all, can you not construct benches & chairs that can safely seat people? Come on, now.
A tip for places that use plastic chairs, especially the little stool ones they use in a lot of street food places in Asia, pile two on top of one another for added strength. This is useful even with normal plastic chairs in Asia because they seem to be more flimsy than the ones we have in Australia.
Lia Garcia says
That’s a great tip! Thanks, Mez!
amanda settle says
love this, I’m like you tall as well as fat, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve tried to buy clothes when travelling… Even my skinny little friends can’t fit into them half time, I’m sure the Chinese make everything to fit children! My solution has been to buy material instead and then make something when I get home 🙂
That’s super smart! I definitely studied fashion design in college in part to learn how to make clothes that would actually fit me (and tailor my own clothes to fit as well). I was the only one in our class who consistently created patterns and designs for fat women and cast plus-sized fit models! It was pretty amazing to see a an auditorium full of people cheering as my size 16 models walked the runway in corsets and gowns made by me 😛 … but of course now I’m lazy AF and the only sewing I do is to add chub rub patches to my pants, soooo. Hehe
What an amazing idea to buy material! I have never thought about doing that.
lola ann mendez says
I really loved this post. traveling has at times made me much more accepting of my curvy body. I was celebrated for it in Spain and Italy. In India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, I have become self-conscious again. Here, curvy bodies are seen as a luxury, but they tell you so by saying, wow you are fat! I can’t separate the word fat from negativity.
I definitely know this struggle. I’ve re-taken the word fat and removed its negativity for myself, and you can too! It takes some conscious thought work, but once you wrap your head around the idea that FAT/FATNESS is NOT BAD, it’s just a totally neutral thing and does not come attached with negative connotations, then removing your gut-instinct to attach it to that negativity will eventually become second nature. It’s not easy though – our society has ingrained fatness as this awful death sentence associated with all kinds of sins like being lazy and having low self control rather than associating it with awesome things like being really soft and fluffy and extremely comfortable to snuggle with. But you can absolutely choose to redefine it for yourself, and remove the stigma associated with it 🙂
I really enjoyed reading this post since I myself can relate a lot to this topic especially when traveling. I was very insecure about my weight growing up and only until recently that I finally accepted the way I am. However, I totally know the struggle of shopping in other countries and not finding your size. Anyway thank you for being so authentic, raw and real with this topic. It is so important for women to know that size don’t define them, we are capable of doing anything in this world.
La Vida Viva Travel says
A very honest and refreshing post. Very well written and something I think many women (and gents) will find helpful and practical. Love your tips about shoes and towels – something I’ve never personally had to worry about but makes total sense. You can’t win as women though – you’re either too big or too small or not busty enough or not enough ass etc etc so let’s just embrace and love ourselves – happy and healthy is my motto!
I am on the other end of the spectrum and am seriously contemplating writing a collab post on writing about my body type as a traveler. Like for example, how I am treated as a kid and not a grown woman when I travel, which can be quite annoying 🙂 I did find your post funny, I hope it is OK to say that:-) BTW, Indians love curvy women, so you will get a lot of unwanted attention over and above the fact that you are a caucasian woman in India:-)
I’m on my first solo trip right now in Costa Rica. I needed to read this! Thank you.
Omg! I was just there last month 😀 please hug a sloth for me!
Oh my god I have had to take a break half way through because I am laughing so hard there are TEARS streaming down my face with laughter. What a refreshing, HILARIOUS article!