By Michele Herrmann, Jessie on a Journey Contributor
This post is part of Jessie on a Journey’s Inspiring Travelers series.
When you hear the phrase “adventure traveler,” what kind of person comes to mind?
Whether female or male, it’s a likely guess that you imagined someone lean and muscular, though wait a minute while intrepid traveler Hannah Logan changes that.
The Canadian travel blogger behind Eat Sleep Breathe Travel and Ireland Stole My Heart, Logan has dealt with mixed reactions and off-the-cuff remarks about her appearance while traveling. Nonetheless, she continues her journey onward.
For Jessie on a Journey’s Inspiring Travelers series, Logan shares what she thinks of the term “plus size” as a traveler, plus size travel tips and how she keeps a positive, healthy mindset on the road.
1) You refer to yourself as a plus size adventure traveler. What has led you to apply this self-description?
To be honest, on a day to day basis, I refer to myself more as “curvy” than “plus size.”
Plus size is a term that relates mostly to clothing, and I hover on the edge. I’ve actually been told by a few people that I’m not actually “plus size”; but fact is, when it comes to travel, I think that I am.
I’m bigger than the typical female traveler as pictured in media; whether it be the top female Instagram accounts, bloggers or even models depicted on vacation advertising. So whether the term is curvy, voluptuous or plus size doesn’t really matter; my body size is different than the usual one depicted by travel media.
I think that using the term “plus size” draws more attention and allows me to open a dialogue about the realities about being a bigger traveler which, in my experience, isn’t nearly as horrible as many make it out to be.
2) What is it about adventure travel specifically that attracts you?
I’ve always wanted to be like Indiana Jones!
Most little girls dream about being ballerinas or pop stars; but, I dreamed of discovering treasures and far off places.
Now that I’m older, I know that being Indiana Jones isn’t a real job, but exploring off the beaten path destinations gives me that same thrill of adventure that I had as a child when watching those movies.
3) What challenges do you face as a plus size adventure traveler? How do you overcome them?
Honestly, not a lot. Which is why I’m so open to talking about it and quick to identify as a plus size traveler.
Any articles surrounding bigger people traveling are always nightmare stories, but mine aren’t.
Granted, I haven’t had any problems with fitting into airplane seats and I know that’s a big concern to many, so I can’t speak specifically to that. But overall, I’m not treated differently abroad than at home.
Have there been a couple of snide comments about my weight and size while on the road? Yes, but that’s something can — and has — happened at home too. There hasn’t been anything extreme or of out of the ordinary, and the few rude comments I’ve heard are rare.
4) What has been your favorite country/city for adventure, to date?
The place that stands out to me the most is Bagan, Myanmar because it’s where I felt the most like Indiana Jones.
It wasn’t hard-core adventure; but it was off the beaten track, remote and parts of it felt undiscovered. My friends and I rented electric motorbikes to explore the more outlying temples where no other tourists went. We drove through farmers’ fields, our bike batteries died, we got lost. But we also found dozens of amazing, crumbling temples that we then climbed to watch the sunrise or sunset or just look at the views.
It’s been a few years since I went, but Bagan remains one of my most cherished travel experiences. I loved a lot of Southeast Asia for adventure, whether it be hiking in the hills, or scuba diving in the coral reefs and to see shipwrecks.
5) In terms of packing, what challenges do you face as a plus size traveler? Any plus size travel tips?
For me, it’s just a matter of knowing that shopping will probably not be easy, so I always pack too much. It’s not a big deal, but I often am jealous of those with their carry-on only backpacks for a two-month trip when I have to check my bag, especially because it does end up costing me more.
At the end of the day though, paying a bit more for the backup is 100x better than worrying about having to try to find a bra in my size in Southeast Asia. For that reason, my biggest plus size travel tip is that too much is actually better than too little.
6) What pre-notions and stereotypes do plus size travelers face on the road that you’d like to dispel?
The biggest stereotype I’ve seen is that plus size people are lazy.
Sometimes I’ve gotten looks of surprise when I do something active, or even more when I’m good at it. I’ve done a few hikes that people were surprised I wanted to do. When scuba diving, some of my guides have been taken aback by what a strong swimmer I am.
It can be frustrating, but I also kind of enjoy challenging those conceptions.
7) What has been one of the easiest countries to travel through as a plus size traveler? Why?
I don’t believe that plus size travel is necessarily hard like so many people make it out to be, so there really isn’t an “easy” choice. I guess if I had to choose, I’d say Canada — my home country — or the USA, because larger sizes are considered more normal, so there is more of a market for it. Meaning I don’t have to worry so much about packing extra. If I want or need to go shopping, it’s not going to be as stressful.
8) What has been one of the most difficult countries to travel as a plus size traveler? Why?
I think that Asia in general has a bad reputation of being more uncomfortable for plus size or bigger travelers. Forget the size of my butt. At 5’8,” I towered over men and women alike in most of the countries I went to.
It’s impossible not to stand out, and they can be pretty blunt about it.
I’ve heard quite a few stories of bigger travelers — men and women — being ridiculed in public, but the worst I experienced was a local vendor telling me that the elephant pants I was looking at wouldn’t fit. Sure he was blunt, but he was also right.
9) What is one experience you’ve had on the road as a curvy traveler that completely surprised you?
In Hoi An, Vietnam, I wanted to get some custom clothes made. I was worried it might be awkward and that the tailors would maybe take advantage of my larger size to charge me more; however, it actually ended up being a fun experience.
A couple of the tailors loved my curves and told me they were jealous. One in particular kept trying to get me to go with lower necklines telling me I should “show them off.”
I left feeling pretty flattered, which was a pleasant surprise.
10) What plus size travel tips would you give to someone who is nervous to travel due to being curvy?
I’d love to say don’t worry about it, it’s not worth the stress; but until you realize that on your own, you’re going to worry.
Therefore, my suggestion is to do your research and make sure you are prepared.
- Are there shops with larger sizes where you are going? No? Pack more just in case.
- Do you think you will need a seatbelt extender on the plane? Buy your own or board early and ask for one in advance.
I think that the biggest stress is the unknown; so if you can prepare yourself as much as possible, you will be able to enjoy yourself more.
Have any plus size travel tips to add? Please share in the comments below!
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