The Anxiety of Traveling While Plus Size

Will the seatbelts on the flight be too small? Is the “Moderate Difficulty” description on the tour we picked accurate or will it be too hard for me? Do I need to wear shorts under my dresses the whole time so I don’t have chafed thighs my whole vacation?

These are just some of the things I think about before I travel as a plus-size woman.

I had never really given some of these things a second thought until I recently traveled to Peru. I think of myself as a relatively in shape person who can handle the moderate activity on a hike or other similar physical activity. On other trips, if there had been an activity that required a harness or suit, they had always had my size. I never felt like I couldn’t handle something or I was embarrassed by my lack of capabilities until I had to hike in Peru.

And let’s be clear, I wasn’t REALLY hiking. I was just walking around towns and walking up structures (aka Machu Picchu) in really thin air. And it was pretty brutal. All those people who had warned me that I should be training for the altitude and hiking had been correct. What I am getting at here though is that I came back to the US with a clear understanding of the anxiety of traveling as a plus-size woman.

Over the last few years, I gained some weight so this realization was a pretty big one for me to come to especially since I still really love to travel. And I like doing adventure type things. I’ve bungee jumped in New Zealand, sky-dived in Wisconsin, para-sailed in Key West, para-glided in Switzerland. I love doing it all, but when you are plus size there is always a risk of an apparatus being too small or having to pay extra because of your size.

For example, when I went sky-diving last fall with my dad and aunt, I had read somewhere you had to be under 220 pounds or you couldn’t fly and some places would let you but it cost extra. I was just slightly over 220 lbs when I had already booked and paid for skydiving and I was panicking. I was so nervous I would be humiliated if I walked in and was 5 lbs over and was turned away from this activity or was asked to put down an extra $75. Spoiler: it was all fine – turns out they had changed maximum recently to 240 lbs.

I recently went to Iceland on vacation and was a little anxious to go on more of an adventure vacation with my friends who are much skinnier and fitter than me because I hate holding people back when we are doing physical activities. And there was a reason I felt this way. Last year, we had gone on a vacation to LA and I had begged to do Runyon Canyon. It looked fun. I like outdoor activities that include maybe seeing a celebrity! Let’s do it, I thought. My friend who used to live there warned me numerous times it’s a very steep canyon, but I insisted. My two friends, who also went to Iceland with me, walked about half a mile ahead of me the whole time. I didn’t want to hold them back and I had the same fear I would in Iceland. (SIDE NOTE: I did hike the whole way up. I was dead, but I did it).

Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about. But that tickle of anxiety is always in the back of your head when you travel as a plus-size person. Am I going to have to deal with being embarrassed because my size isn’t being accommodated?

After Iceland, I started to see the issue a little differently. Sure, I could be embarrassed, or turned away, but do I want that to stop me from experiencing the things I want to experience? Do I want to wait until I get below 220 lbs to try skydiving? What if I NEVER get to 220 lbs and I miss the experience altogether?!

Sitting on the sidelines isn’t something we as plus size women should have to do. We are allowed to have the same experiences as other people when we are on vacation. The more we want to experience things, the more we will be accommodated by travel companies. The more we see other plus people doing these fun, physical activities the more people like us will want to experience them too!

I’d love if people would share their stories below of times they have felt anxious to do something physical whether it’s on vacation or in your day to day life and you did it and you’re proud to say you did it! The more we share, the more we convince ourselves we can do it.

5 thoughts on “The Anxiety of Traveling While Plus Size

    1. I think it’s just being aware that they could be anxious about an experience especially if there is gear involved. If you’re the one planning the experience, maybe call ahead and confirm they have gear that fits plus sizes – 1X and above – or if there is a weight maximum for it so that your friend feels comfortable going into it!

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  1. Thanks, Alex! You continue to inspire me. On a related note, the thigh chafing fear and discomfort when it happens is so real. Thank you for continuing to share with us!

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  2. Love this! Thanks for sharing! I definitely experienced similar challenges and I love how you just keep living life and don’t let anything hold you back!

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  3. This hits so home so hard! I’m genuinely consumed with travel anxiety, from the airplane seats to the activities. I get really self-conscious and hyper aware of not wanting to hold my travel companions back, and I also don’t want to miss out on fun, so I end up pushing myself. Sometimes it’s hard, but other times it pays off and I have a great time! I just have to remind myself that I only live once, and to not let my own insecurities hold me back!

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