I always debate about whether or not I should write about being an overweight traveller. It’s not that I think people will leave nasty body shaming comments, which I’m sure a few would, it’s more about the fact that I hate talking about it.
And that is the problem, nobody talks about it.
I know I’m not the only overweight traveller, but it feels as though I am. I’m sure others feel the same way.
Travelling when you’re overweight presents a few extra challenges. I remember chatting online about my first trip to Asia, I was worried about what I should be packing, and everyone kept telling me to go really light because I could buy things cheaper in Asia. It was good advice, given the fact they had no idea I was overweight, and that their advice would not be relevant. Have you visited a market in Southeast Asia and tried to buy clothing as an overweight woman with ginormous boobs? Talk about mission impossible!
For the most part travelling as an overweight person is no different than travelling as a skinny person (I would imagine), except for the fact that when I sit on those tiny plastic stools in Asia I pray silently that I won’t break one. I haven’t, in case you’re wondering. When I eat, I put a lot of thought into it. I don’t buy a tonne of food, I don’t want to be ‘the fat girl with all the food’ that everyone whispers about.
Truth is, I cannot eat a tonne of food in one sitting. Which seems to confuse people. The moment I walk into a market or restaurant, they assume I will eat a lot of food. Some of them get quite excited, sticking out their arms to mimic my weight and then giving me a dish heaping with food, which I will never be able to eat. It confuses the hell out of them. In their minds, I should be able to eat a lot. It’s a difficult situation to be in as it is summits considered to be very rude if you do not eat everything that is placed in front of you. I cannot tell you how many nights I have laid in bed, moaning in pain, because I ate too much that day. All in an effort to be gracious and polite. Thankfully street food in Southeast Asia is cheap and delicious, and I don’t eat in many restaurants. It’s the only way to control my portions.
While eating out is always interesting, I tend to be more uncomfortable on travel days, especially if I’m flying. I see the occasional looks of concern when someone thinks they are sitting beside me. I’m sure it’s because they think that my girth will somehow smother them in their sleep. What they don’t realize is that I am more worried than they are because I know that if someone is beside me I will have to spend the entire flight trying to squish myself into the side of the plane. I have huge boobs, my arms automatically stick out, and to try and counter that I will bear-hug myself for 3+ hours, to the point of my arms falling asleep.
Feeling uncomfortable sitting beside an overweight person, chances are they are just as, if not more, uncomfortable as you.
I have actually changed seats to be at the very back of a plane if I know a middle seat or an entire row is empty, and not just because of the whole squishing myself into the side of the plane thing, there is also the challenge of eating. Cause when you put a tray table down and you cannot see the food unless you squish your boobs flat, there is a problem. I usually say I’m not hungry. Then there are the flights when the attendants don’t ask passengers to put their seat up during the meal, and they try to give me a tray, and I look at them like they are crazy, and they get confused because they don’t understand big girl/ big boob problems. Love those flights.
One day I will take the tray, place it on my boobs, and eat from it to make my point.
Buses are not as bad, as long as the seats are not too small, and nobody is beside me. Boats are fine until someone tries to force me to wear a lifejacket, which almost chokes me to death because the boobs are too big. It’s a frightening scene, and I will avoid small boat excursions for this reason. The boat taxis in Bangkok are a great transportation option, but I’ve learned that getting into them is a lot easier than getting out. Good times to be had there.
I walk a lot when I travel, and not just because of the awkward way in which I climb into tuk-tuks in Asia. I really enjoy walking, and I always have my camera with me in case I want to snap a couple photos or in case my back gets really sore and the pain is so bad that I have to stop walking but I don’t want anyone to know I’m in pain so I pretend to take a photo. Yeah, I have done that so many times. I’ve also used maps or pretended to receive a text message that I absolutely must read right away. For some lame reason, I think nobody will notice my beat red face or the fact that I’m practically panting. Have I mentioned I hate hostels with stairs for this very reason? I’ve tried the photo/cell phone trick to take a break from climbing stairs. Sad, but true.
My selfies are always a headshot. I almost never allow someone to take my photo unless they understand that it has to be taken so my boobs are not in the picture (they make my head look really small). I’d love to do videos, but I’m nervous about showing more of myself. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but there is always a bit of fear about showing too much.
Although I am almost ready to kick that fear in the ass.
I could stay home, work, and try to go to the gym to get in shape, but that’s not what I want. I don’t want to refrain from doing what I love because of my weight. I’ve had friends tell me in the past that my weight would keep me from being a traveller, and I proved them wrong. I don’t want to be overweight for the rest of my life, I have every intention of getting in shape and becoming healthier, but for now, I am accepting that this is who I am, and trying to be more open about it online.