It seems like every time I log into Facebook I see some sort of add or blog post or article about travel tips – making the most of a long flight, how to get upgraded for free or how to roll your clothes so everything fits in a clutch.
All that is well and good,
Side note: if anyone finds an article about fitting a weekends worth of clothes into a clutch please let me know! I’m a notorious over packer.
But what I find the hardest part about traveling, especially flying is doing it as a plus size person. The world is getting very PC, not judging people for their sexuality or skin color. But when it comes to weight, especially on airplanes, the gloves come off. People seem to think its ok to make a fellow traveler feel bad for also traveling. I can’t tell you how many scared looks I get as I walk between the rows of seats to mine. Those terrified looks of “is this whale going to sit next to me and use up all the space?” If you do that – shame! Trust me, I don’t want to be squeezed into a tiny sheet in a metal tube for hours on end anymore then the next guy, but in order to travel I do it. Here are my tips on making the entire process a little less awful for everyone.
Fly Early or Late
Now I realize this isn’t always possible, but I try and book my flights at less desirable times of the day. Not only does it normally mean cheaper fairs, but it also means emptier planes. And of course, emptier planes means more empty seats so you’re much more likely not to have to sit directly next to someone.
Arrive at the Airport Early – Especially for a Full Flight
This may seem obvious, but I like to arrive for my flights about an hour or 1.5 hours before take off for the off-peak flights. I have zero desire to sit at a gate at 5am waiting to board my 6.45am flight. No sir. But when I have to take that 10.45am flight that I know is booked solid I will arrived by 8, so I can chill in the lounge.
Side note – if you travel a lot its worth checking with your credit card companies to see if they offer lounge discounts or memberships. Thanks to my American Express I can get into any delta or partner lounge gratis. Hello free snacks and drinks.
A few drinks and some free bottles of water help to keep me calm pre flight. I can reorganize my carry on, fill my metal water bottle & change shoes if I need to. Plus most lounges have quiet areas where you can just chill.
The first time I flew and realized that the seatbelt was not going to fit I thought I might just die right there. I felt like every passenger on the flight was staring at me (they weren’t) and I told myself I wouldn’t fly again. Obviously that’s not the case because I’m flying in 4 days. I tried to hide the 2 halves of the seatbelt under my blanket but a flight attendant noticed. She didn’t make a big fuss, she just came over to me and passed me a bottle of water and an extender and said “here’s the water you asked for miss, let me know if I can get you anything else”. No mention of the extender – no loud announcement over the intercom that I needed one. It was amazing.
Will this always happen – no. I’m sure there are rude attendants out there, but they’re few and far between. These days I simply go up to the desk before boarding and explain what seat I’m in and that I need an extender. It’s also a great time to see if there’s an empty seat next to you, and if not see if you can switch. No fuss, no drama, no embarrassment. Seatbelt’s keep you safe – so wear it!
Pack A Mini Carry On
When I fly I tend to over pack. This is where Steve would say I over packed for a walk into town. It’s true – I tend to get very anxious about having everything I will need whenever I leave the house. So my carry on is often over packed and heavy. What I do is I pack a smaller bag in the big carryon bag. It’s big enough to hold a book , some gum & chap stick, my phone, passport, usb cable and headphones. That’s it. Not the 3 books in my bag, or my entire make up bag, or 4 pairs of socks. Just the stuff I actually want on the flight. So I pull the little bag out and put it on my seat. Put my s’well bottle in the pocket in front and put my big carryon bag in the locker above me. Then I don’t have to try and dig through it while I’m in the tiny airline seat because I have what I need right in front of me.
Sit at the Back of the Plane
I’m sure there are studies about the best place to sit on a plane, and where the safest seats are. In my experience they’re all the same. In order to make you more comfortable look for seats in the back. Often the front part of the cabin fills up faster – people naturally want to sit closest to the door to get on and get off faster. Not me, give me the back – where there is the highest likeliness of empty seats.
Last time I flew to the US my flight looks super booked. I was dreading a 9 hour flight squeezed next to someone who didn’t want to be sitting next to me. As I boarded I noticed the first 20 rows where full, even middle seats, but as I got back to my row (high 30s) there were lots of empty seats. As soon as we pulled away from the gate I smiled at my seatmate and took a row of 3 seats to myself. Bliss! He got 2 seats, I got 3 and all those sardines in the first 20 rows had no idea how much space we had in the back. Winning!
You Have The Right to Travel
If you don’t take any of my other tips – this is the most important one. You pay for your seat like everyone else; you have the right to travel comfortably as is humanly possible on a flight. No one has the right to make you feel bad for your size no matter what! If you happen to have a rude seatmate, and unfortunately it will likely happen to all of us, don’t engage with them. Simply call an attendant and say you’re feeling uncomfortable due to the verbal abuse and would like to request a seat change. They’re amazing problem solvers.
Now go book that flight and see the world!