The unknown, unspoken travel challenges faced by curvy girls

I am an average woman with an average weight. I do have my ups and downs, but I can’t say I’ve been curvy. My friend, let’s call her Jane because she is a bit shy, is a curvy girl. She has the classic hourglass shape and an incredible appetite for fitness. Even so, her weight is stable and she is bigger than the average. When I traveled with her to Africa, she got lots of marriage proposals – far more than I got! However, she also got a lot of awkward stares on the plane, because the seat was too small for her and she had to purchase two seats. The trip showed me there are a lot of challenges for a plus size women on the road and most of them are unexpected.

Confidence and curves don’t seem to mix

Most countries have s predefined image of the perfect bikini-body and the society is pushed to believe all girls who don’t fit that pattern lack confidence. When they see someone like Jane rocking a crop top and being proud of her curves, they cringe. People stare and comment, often rudely, at the confidence of my friend. We’ve all been made to believe plus size girls should have low confidence, which is a shame.

A high activity level and curves don’t mix either

When I went on a hike with Jane and our travel group, everyone was amazed how good she was. While I was out of shape and complaining all the time, Jane was actually enjoying every step of the hike. Back to our camp, a girl from Amsterdam actually said to Jane she expected her to be very sedentary, because “plus size girls are like that”. It was rude – this was my first thought. But it reflected what everyone else in our group believed about plus size women. Later on, when I was with my curvy friend in Amsterdam, cycling, she got lots of stares. I assume people were staring at her because they were shocked to see a curvy woman cycling. By the way, most bikes have a very small seat – not plus size friendly!

Bring your own clothes

And towels. Being plus size is not an easy task when it comes to fashion, as most clothes only go up to size 12-14. Moreover, there are many countries where these sizes are not even available. I am pretty sure there are no size 20 clothes in Asia, for example. So, if you forget something and you are curvy, you can’t rely on the local stores to buy it.

Second, you need a towel. Most hotels offer small towels, which are way too small for a real girl’s bust, so the won’t go around her bust. If you have to wrap yourself in the towel, assuming the bathroom is not in your room, this is a major problem. To avoid it altogether, just bring your robe.

Some people will stare at your chest

I was with Jane in Morocco and we met two sisters from Japan, fellow travelers. They were both interested in Jane’s chest! They would have traded their own features with her and they were vocal about their disappointment in their small chests. It was very awkward for both of us, but we understood the sister’s viewpoint. After all, few Asian women have a DD cup.

There are weight limitations on certain activities

I never knew there are weight limitations on skydiving before Jane told me. And there are many other activities where your weight matters a lot. In some cases, you will be asked to pay more, in other cases, you won’t be allowed to do it. There is a strong safety issue in this case, so don’t risk your life. If you are supposed to hang on a rope above a huge canyon-like feature, make sure you tell them your real weight.

Public transportation was not built with plus size people in mind

Airplanes, buses and other means of transportation were not made with plus size people in mind. If you are not the average size, you will soon find yourself squished between two rows of seats, with no room to move your legs. I am average and I still had no room to move my legs in a Vietnamese bus, so I can imagine how bad could it be for plus size people.

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