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6 Tips for the Plus Size Traveler

If you know me, you know that I LOVE to travel. You can find me on a beach on any given day. And I live in Arizona, so I have to travel to find the bodies of water I want to sunbathe on.

However, traveling as a plus size woman can be… challenging. It seems like modes of transportation and accommodations simply do not keep in mind that ‘large and in charge’ folks like to travel too. I used to fear getting on an airplane for this very reason.

But I pushed past the fear and now go to different cities, states and countries whenever I get the opportunity. And I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way to make my experience less daunting. Plus... Enjoy some travel photos! :-)

Outfit from Fashion To Figure

Airplane seats are small AF. So I try to always fly Southwest.

Southwest Airlines shows LUV to their plus size customers. They have a policy that allows you to purchase an extra seat in advance, that is specifically logged as a ‘customer of size extra seat’ so that you can get a full refund of that seat after you travel. Or, if you’re a gambler, you can wait until you get to the gate and request an extra seat. If there is a seat available, they will give it to you FREE OF CHARGE. The only caveat to that is, it’s only given if there is space available. If that flight is already sold out, and you didn’t purchase it ahead of time, you are out of luck on that option.

My stylist Star and I in the Cayman Islands

When I get an extra seat, it makes the whole experience soooo much better for me. No one can sit next to me, and they allow me to pre-board, so that I can pick whatever seats I want, before everyone else starts to come onboard. Having that extra seat also eliminates my frustration with that God awful tray table fiasco. Instead of trying to force the tray table in front of me to come down and rest on or under my belly {insert eye roll and crying faces here}, I just use the tray in my extra seat next to me. I normally pick a window seat, leaving the middle seat as my extra seat. So whoever sits in the aisle seat in my row is generally pretty happy as well, to find out that no one is sitting between us. It’s all a win-win.

You can also buy your own seat belt extender.

If you’re plus size like me, that seat belt is just as dreadful as the seats and tray tables. These hips don’t lie; they tell on me every time. You can ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extender, which gives you the extra room you need, so you aren’t dying just trying to fasten the seat belt. However, this can cause a bit of anxiety, depending on how the flight attendant handles that scenario. When I fly Southwest, it’s typically pleasant and discreet, and I ask for it as soon as I pre-board, before the masses come onboard. But I’ve heard of flight attendants forgetting to bring it, forcing you to ask again. I’ve also heard of attendants making an announcement louder than you would’ve liked, “HERE’S YOUR EXTENDER MA’AM.” Some of them have walked up with the extender already fully extended and feel the need to tell you how to attach it, in front of everybody else. “Ummmmm I know how to fasten a seat belt sir/ma’am, thank you!” Goodness…. How embarrassing!

To avoid any and all of that, you do have the option to buy your own extender and take it with you when you travel. Just be sure to check that airline's guidelines in regards to the type of seat belt and if external extenders are allowed.

San Francisco Bay - The Golden Gate Bridge

Invest in cute and comfy travel clothes.

It’s inevitable; some people are just downright rude and will stare at you like you’re some freak of nature, because you have a bigger belly, bigger hips, or whatever other awesome attributes that make you better than them… hehehe just kidding. ;-) That can make the airport, the train station, the bus station, the hotel lobby or any other waiting place an uncomfortable experience, especially if you are not in full blown diva mode, dressed to kill. Which most of us aren’t when we are traveling, because we want to be comfortable.

I suggest investing in some cute and comfortable travel clothes. I usually travel in something loose and cotton. Joggers and a cute graphic tee. A floor length loose sundress with a denim shirt wrapped around my waist. Possibly some cute athletic gear. Dressing for comfort can be just as cute as dressing to impress. But the goal is to be comfortable while traveling and also a little less self-conscious when the gawkers are doing their thing… staring. The more comfortable you feel, the easier it is to travel unbothered.

Some activities do have weight restrictions. It’s not to make you feel bad, it’s for safety. So please be aware of that.

Sis, listen. I know. If you’re somewhat adventurous like me, we get so mad when the roller coasters and the zip line harnesses say we are too big to ride. But this is no time to be coy and act like you don’t weigh what you weigh. It’s a safety issue, not a discrimination issue. There are plenty of activities I’ve done while traveling, so there are tons of ways to have fun. But be aware of any size restrictions. Don’t be too afraid to call and ask ahead of time, if you feel embarrassed about asking when you’re face-to-face. It’ll also save you some time if you can call, in case they say you would be over the limit. Either way, safety first!

Bring your own towel.

Oh, hotel towels and bath robes, how I loathe you.

Any time I travel somewhere that requires me to wear an article of clothing that I didn’t bring myself (like an art smock, a spa robe, etc), my anxiety kicks into full gear. I swear, it would be so nice if places didn’t treat us like it’s a burden to carry a bigger size robe! Sighs… anyway… I avoid this issue by bringing my own towel and/or robe with me. Yes, it’s a little extra space in my suitcase. However, I’d rather be fully covered when the time comes for these items, instead of being at the mercy of the washcloth-sized towels I’m given. LOL

Only YOU know your limitations. It’s okay to speak up if you’re uncomfortable or don’t want to do something.

Seriously, if you are uncomfortable with an activity, a seating arrangement or any other type of expectation during your travels, it’s okay to speak up. Just because you are full figured does not mean you are subjected to whatever is thrown at you. If you are at a restaurant and the host seats you at a table with flimsy chairs, but you see they have booth options, tell that host you would not like to sit there and you want a booth. Even if you have to wait, they should accommodate your request. If you are doing an activity with friends or whomever, and you feel like you are pushing yourself too hard or too fast or too far, say something. Please, plus size queens (or kings), know that you are amazing and you don’t have to put yourself in compromising situations to appease the masses. You have the right to speak up for you, because only you know your limits. You deserve to have a good time too!

I hope to see you in the skies and on the beaches soon, my friends! Get out and experience the world!

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