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Traveling At Any Size


Traveling is a broadening experience.

Reality is – you are already broad.

Although your horizontally challenged silhouette is shrinking, its current state might keep you from the joys travel brings.

Free yourself from such negative thinking!

At present, you might not scale Mount Everest and perhaps running with the bulls at Pamplona will wait.  However, temporary rotundness is no reason not to grab your car keys or passport and go.

I have been a broad broad, a skinny broad and an in-between broad.  Whatever my size – I regret none of my journeys.

Bring your senses of adventure and humor and a pair of invisible blinders to block the stares of the insensitive and have fun.

At my top weight of 354 pounds, I worked for a European airline, where greatly reduced airline tickets were the best benefit.

A friend and I boarded a Japan-bound packed flight.  Soon my six-foot frame was wedged into the window seat, tighter than a bag of Doritos stuck in a vending machine.

“You going to sit like that for the next 14 hours?” asked my friend.

With eyes closed, I replied.

“Yes. My mantra is this ticket to Tokyo only cost me $63.00 roundtrip.”

With my arms circling my belly, I resembled a happy Buddha.  Luckily, a kind flight attendant found another seat for my friend giving me extra room.

That trip introduced me to a fascinating culture and green tea.  The latter eventually became my drink of choice. It helped kick my long-held and toxic Diet Coke habit.

My body’s plumpness offered me a wonderful souvenir.

Boarding a Kyoto bus, I sank into a seat without noting its smaller posterior design. After some cheek readjustment, I squeezed in.  Among my fellow passengers was a wrinkled old woman.  She smiled, not in meanness or pity, but kindness.  She patted her own chubby backside and then wiggled a bit. Suddenly, without a common language, I understood she too had had a similar experience.

There are times a little extra padding comes in handy.

While covering an annual wagon train crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I rode along with costumed reanactors. The authenticity included 19th century buckboard wagons built without upholstered seats or rubberized wheels.  Those with bony butts suffered within minutes, while my personal cushioning allowed me more enjoyment of the event and the scenery.

Appreciate potential embarrassments can occur.  Survive it by defusing it.

Once on a saddle’s horn, my sweatshirt’s front pocket and my belly caught. Instead of gracefully mounting the horse, my normal routine of being the prima ballerina at the klutz ballet was in full view of the entire tour group.

I had the ranch hand grab my right ankle and toss it over the animal’s rump as I righted myself.

“When you speak of this, and you will,” I announced loudly.  “Be kind.”

The resulting laughter removed any hindrance to the upcoming fun of horseback riding through vineyards.

Do not be shy when booking a tour. Tell them your legitimate concerns.

A young woman wanting a 10-day circle tour of Iceland was enthusiastic in her desire, yet a hesitation occurred when it came to booking it.

Having answered all her questions, I asked what was keeping her from finalizing the trip.

Her voice dropped.

“I am very heavy.”

Empathic to her potential fears, I refused to let them keep her from going.

I told her everything from how to ask for a seat belt extension on the plane to other options instead of donning a bathing suit during a Blue Lagoon outing.  A fast email to the tour operator informed them of the situation and the need for sensitivity.

Three months later, her happy voice, on the phone, extolled the virtues of Iceland.  Her pre-trip loss of 12 pounds had been increased by another five, due to daily activity. I was fortunate to witness the birth of a new traveler.

Join us.

Do your research and ask questions on travel forums like fodors.com, lonely planet.com and tripadvisors.com.

If a potential tour operator offers pat replies to your questions or does not satisfactorily, acknowledge your concerns – find another company.

When booking an airline seat – consider spending the additional fare on a second seat for your comfort.

Above all, just go and let your spirit soar regardless of your size.

About LJ Bottjer

LJ Bottjer is a citizen of the world, whose journey began in Manhattan. Now living in Northern California, her garden produces healthy food almost year-round and she enjoys biking, yoga and hiking. www.words4sail.com
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