Traveling With Plus Size People Has Ruined Me For Life
I’ve experienced many different types of travel throughout my life. Family travel, multi-generational travel, solo travel and group travel. Each one carries its own pros and cons. I enjoy them all but recently I’ve been spending a lot of time doing group travel, and by extension some solo travel as well. My most recent group travel adventure was hiking Mount Kilimanjaro with 20 plus size women. It was that trip that made me realize how impactful plus size group travel was to me.
The Curvy Kili Crew
Aside from my grandmother, who’s joined me on almost every Disney vacation, I had never experienced traveling with a plus size person. It was just never an option for me. I was the only fat person in my family (again, aside from my Mimi) and had no fat friends with a wanderlust that’s similar to mine. So the opportunity never presented itself. I quite literally had to make my own opportunity! That’s how the Curvy Kili Crew got started.
Sharing 7 days on the tallest mountain in Africa with 20 unapologetically fat women was life changing. For the first time ever I could celebrate my victories, no matter how small, with a group of people who knew just how hard it was to achieve those goals. I didn’t feel insecure about my size or my pace. There was no self-imposed pressure to make things look easy, the way I often feel around straight sized people. I was free to be my best, fat self.
That’s how most of the group felt as well. Many of the crew said they would have never attempted a challenge this big without being surrounded by the support of other fat women. We were all an inspiration to each other and our collective positive vibe was felt by locals and travelers alike. Mama Teddy, the woman who runs the non-profit hotel that we stayed at, was ecstatic to see a group like ours and we all bonded with her as well. Other hikers on the trail were inspired by our group and the enormous amount of positivity that we emanated. It was surreal. And I wholeheartedly feel that our group shined so bright because of the connections we made as plus size women.
A Plus Size Disney Vacation
After I returned from Africa I had just a few weeks to relax before I was jetting off again, this time on a family vacation to Disney World. We traveled with Stink’s birthparents who are also plus size (side note: open adoption rocks). Again, it was an incredible experience, not just because they’re amazing people to vacation with but also because traveling with fellow fat people really does make a difference. Meg and I rocked our Torrid bathing suits at the pool, we shared our folding fans and baby powder to keep the sweat at bay, and we coordinated our Little Mermaid Disneybounding outfits. We had a fantastic time. We’re planning another vacation next year, this time to Yellowstone National Park, and I’m already counting down the days.
Highlighting my love for plus size group travel doesn’t mean I dislike other group travel. I can’t think of a single bad experience I had with standard group travel and I’ve met so many wonderful people of ALL sizes, races and ages on those adventures. But traveling with fellow fatties took my vacations to an entirely different level that simply can’t be replicated. I made deeper connections with my travel companions and it made my trips so much more meaningful.
It was exactly what I didn’t know my soul needed.
There are a number of organizations that deserve recognition for creating opportunities for plus size group travel. To WHOA Travel, the company that organized the Curvy Kili Crew adventure, thank you so very much. For going above and beyond for our group, for putting in the extra hours and for simply listening to us with an open mind and an open heart. I can’t wait to see what your new division, WHOA plus, brings to plus size travel.
Another special thank you to Unlikely Hikers, Fat Girls Traveling and Fat Girls Hiking. These grassroots communities have paved the way in travel inclusivity by organizing hikes and other events for plus size people and other marginalized folks.