Travel is an experience that everyone should have the opportunity to experience. But for many individuals in larger than average bodies, travel presents unique challenges.
Saying safe, having fun, and locating lodging that accommodates a plus-size body can be a challenge.
For fat-identifying travelers, some elements of travel may be especially difficult. Wanderbig.com is dedicated to traveling well, and boldly taking big adventures- like solo travel, creating art while traveling, international travel with only one bag, digital nomading, and traveling to remote destinations- and a unique focus to cover all of these topics with attention to the unique experience of traveling in a plus-size body.
Although specific to individuals who identify as plus size, larger-bodied, or who identify as fat folx, many of these tips may be helpful for individuals who experience other bodily challenges. This includes those traveling with chronic illness, traveling with a physical disability, traveling in a body that experiences marginalization in most cultures, or travelers with limited mobility or other experiences of body-based stigma.
Unique Bodies have Unique Travel Needs
Although culturally, people in large bodies are encouraged to “behave thin” and not to bluntly acknowledge the needs of larger bodies, travel has a unique way of inviting us to step into the realities of our embodiment that can be both empowering and challenging for plus size travelers.
In an effort to engage this aspect of travel more realistically, you’ll find that many of my travel guides, itineraries, and trip reports include a frank reporting of what it was like to be a person who identifies as fat in that location.
Plus Size Solo Travel
Traveling solo as a fat person is particularly vulnerable.
Without the safety of groups, we may be more exposed to experiences of stigmatization, marginalization, or even violence. Despite the slightly elevated risk of solo travel, solo travel can be intensely rewarding for people of all sizes – including- and perhaps especially- plus-size people.
Solo travel is an opportunity to discover our strengths and our weaknesses, and for many of us fat folx who have had to learn to move in the world in a way that avoids confrontation, we may find solo travel easier than those accustomed to being in the world with thin privilege.
Solo travel challenges us to depend on ourselves, be extra vigilant to our surroundings, and to know how to and read people. These skills, which many people in marginalized bodies already have honed, all become helpful and adaptive on the road as a solo traveler.
Similarly, travel in a large body might reveal growth areas or help us develop skills that we don’t already have, that could transfer to everyday life, relationships, and our professional vocations.
Plus size solo travelers may want to pick destinations with care. Although I frequently visit remote destinations in my travel, the places in my list of best destinations for first time solo travelers are also ideal spots for entry into solo plus size travel.
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Plus Size One Bag Travel
Yes, it’s possible! One bag travel is a (sometimes challenging) way to travel that has big benefits. Traveling “one bag style” involves picking one bag and limiting your entire packing list to only what can fit inside that bag.
For some people, their one bag is a large suitcase, and for others, that bag is simply a carry on sized bag or backpack. One bag travel makes sense when you are on a tour of multiple locations during your trip. Although it makes sense to pack a little more luxuriously when packing for a long vacation at a single resort, when planning to travel through many different cities during a 1-month trip, one bag travel can pay off big-time by making it much easier to pack and move from location to location. One bag travel saves money on baggage fees and prevents the hassle of having to manage multiple bags in transit to and from airports and hotels.
Plus Size One Bag Packing List
Plus size clothing, logically, takes up more room in a suitcase, and you may wonder if one bag travel- especially one bag travel in just a carry on is possible for larger-bodied people. I’ve created a guide just for the plus-size one bag traveler (Or plus size one bag-curious!). In my guide, you’ll find a detailed packing list of how I, a size 22W US Female Traveler, travel for months at a time packing only what I can carry on in the cabin of an airplane.
With smart packing skills, a few multi-use garments, and some extra hacks, you can create your own one bag packing list that accommodates plus size women’s clothing and big and tall menswear.
Plus Size Trip Guides
A developing section of this website is plus size friendly trip guides: on the ground location data for various sites and cities, specifically reporting on how accessible and/or body-positive the attractions are.
Not every location can accommodate every body, or prevent marginalization. However, with good research in advance, you can help find destinations that offer Adventure while accommodating your unique body. While this section of the website is under development, be sure and check out canweallgo.com for access to a crowdsourced location accessibility database.
Lynli Roman’s unique approach to travel is informed by decades of experience on the road with a traveling family and, later, years spent as a solo international traveler. When she’s not writing about Seattle from her Pike Place Market apartment, Lynli writes on-location while conducting hands-on research in each destination she covers. Lynli’s writing has been featured by MSN, ABC Money, Buzzfeed, and Huffington Post. She is passionate about sharing information that makes travel more accessible for all bodies.