Plus-size influencers on what would make travel more accessible for them

Two plus size women walking on the beach

Plus-size travellers have a number of challenges, whether it’s being cramped in an aeroplane seat, or feeling as though they cannot travel in the first place.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, two in three (67 per cent) are living with overweight or obesity. This is approximately 12.5 million adults.

We asked two plus-size travel influencers about what they believe would make travelling easier for them.

The perception of plus-size people

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple, Bali, Indonesia
(Kirsty Leanne/PA)

Kirsty Leanne, 29, an influencer from Telford, Shropshire, who thought she was “too fat to travel” but now plans group holidays for curvy women, thinks perceptions of plus-size people need to change.

“It’s often believed that we’re not capable of travelling, we’re too lazy to enjoy travel, but for so many plus-size people, that’s not the case,” Ms Leanne says.

“Adventure means something different to every single person, so no matter what your ‘travel’ looks like as a plus-size person, it’s valid.

“I used to tell myself that I needed to lose weight to travel, and it took me so long to realise that it doesn’t have to be like that.

“The world is available to you as you are now, and you don’t have to lose weight in order to enjoy yourself.”

Since posting about her plus-size travel experiences online, she has realised she is not alone.

She explains: “I’ll often get messages from plus-size people on social media telling me they feel the same, which makes me so sad that they’ve been made to feel like that. I want everyone to know there’s no size limit when it comes to seeing the world.

“Sure, there will be difficulties, but it’s not impossible.”

A woman climbing out of a pool at a hotel
(Jaelynn Chaney/PA)

Jaelynn Chaney, a 26-year-old ‘fat activist’ and influencer from Vancouver, Washington, who provides advice on plus-size travel, has experienced similar barriers.

“On a daily basis, I receive messages from people sharing their hesitations and fears about travelling due to negative past experiences or the perception that they won’t fit comfortably in certain spaces,” she says.

“Many have refrained from travelling for a decade or more, harbouring concerns about potential judgement and mistreatment based on their body size.

“It’s disheartening to witness how the belief that living in a larger body incurs higher costs and challenges in the realm of travel influences these decisions.

“This underscores the urgent need for a shift in societal perceptions and industry practices to ensure that everyone feels welcome and comfortable exploring the world, regardless of their body size.”

Plane seats

A woman at Pioneertown, Joshua Tree
(Kirsty Leanne/PA)

Ms Leanne also posts Instagram reels rating the accessibility of plane seats and their seatbelts for plus-size people.

She says: “When it comes to planes, for instance, it would be great if there were policies in place that considered the comfort and safety of passengers of all sizes.

“Over the years, seats have shrunk, and for plus-size people it’s becoming more and more uncomfortable to fly.

“I’ll do my best to get an empty second seat next to me, but often, it’s not possible and it means I end up arriving at my destination in pain.”

A woman in front of the entrance to Portland International Airport
(Jaelynn Chaney/PA)

Ms Chaney echoes this view, and explains the impact. “The emotional toll is profound, knowing that the infrastructure and services are not always designed to accommodate different body types.

“This lack of inclusivity creates a pervasive sense of discomfort, as simple activities like finding suitable seating become emotionally draining.

“The physical discomfort is palpable, especially when contending with seats that are not accommodating, leading to enduring discomfort throughout the entire journey.

“The frustration is heightened by the awareness that many people lack empathy or knowledge on how to be accommodating, contributing to a pervasive feeling of being overlooked.”

Bigger sized equipment and amenities 

Ms Leanne adds: “Other ways in which things could be different are larger chairs in restaurants, and bigger towels and robes in hotels and spas.

“The most important change, I think, is simply for information to be given on websites and booking platforms that allow plus-size people to make their own informed decisions.

“This means listing seat width in restaurants and theatres, giving info on the size of beds at hotels.”

Ms Chaney also says: “Amenities at accommodations, such as towels and robes, may also lack the necessary size inclusivity, further hindering the comfort of plus-size travellers.”

“Beyond air travel, plus-size individuals may struggle to find excursions and equipment tailored to their body size, limiting their options for inclusive and enjoyable activities.

“Addressing these barriers is vital for fostering a more inclusive and accessible travel industry that recognizes and accommodates the diverse needs of all travellers, irrespective of their body size.”

Do you think there is enough support for overweight people when they travel? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

Also read: How will airlines accommodate the increasing number of overweight passengers?

– With PA

Written by Molly Powell

8 Comments

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  1. Lose weight is the answer, stop eating junk food, exercise. What about the effect on other airline passengers when someone overflows into their area. Provide bigger seats but charge them more. Charge them more on the basis of weight after all it means the plane uses more fuel.

    • It’s our modern food industry that us to blame. Most if the food you buy at your local supermarket is designed to pack on the weight and give you diabetes. The amount of food that has added sugar where it is not necessary is frightening.
      Here is a tip: Cut out all drinks except plain water and if necessary plain milk. This includes cutting out fruit juice and energy drinks both of which are not healthy. Slash your carbohydrate intake and eat more vegetables (minus potatoes). Don’t add sugar to anything and only buy the products with no added sugar. These steps alone will help you lose weight over time.

      • I forgot to mention, black coffee and black and green tea are ok without adding sugar. Ignore anything advertised as low fat, as it is likely to be packed with sugar. Our bodies handle fat better than sugar.

      • It’s not the modern food industry that it to blame, it’s the people who buy and put highly processed foods into their mouths. We hear all sorts of ill-considered excuses like this. Another is it’s hereditary or genetic. But look at any film of the 1920s to 1940s showing the general public, our ancestors and try to find a fat person.
        People choose to be fat due to their own laziness to do anything about it and then expect sympathy from the suffering general public who are unfortunate enough to be seated next to them. Let’s put every passenger with their total baggage on a weighbridge and charge per kg.

  2. I don’t agree with David as people may be overweight due to a medical condition or illness. But I do not agree with the reasoning behind having bigger seating and larger towels. Airlines and hotels must furnish on an average and majority. They can’t cater for those who are tall, small, fat, thin, deaf, blind, have health problems eg arthritis in the hands- holding and using a thick towel. Where would it end?

    • bigger seats are a must, its the only solution otherwise you’re back to ‘overflow’ into the next seat, towels not so much. Extra leg room seats for the very tall would be good but, thin, deaf, blind don’t need anything special. I have no sympathy for airlines whose main aim is so quash as many people on as possible in the smallest space, economy travel has definately deteriorated over the decades.

  3. If they really want to look like they do then that is their choice but they should not expect others to bend to accommodate their desire to be huge.
    Being as fat as the women in the pictures is very unhealthy and I wonder why anyone would want to increase their risk of illness and early death as they are doing.
    There is a difference between being a bit overweight and being morbidly obese but they seem to be advocating for the latter.

  4. I think it’s obvious what needs to change. There are very few medical circumstances in which losing that much excess weight is impossible. I once had the misfortune to be seated in economy class next to a grossly overweight and malodorous man who ate and drank and grunted constantly and kept leaving his seat which entailed me and my son having to leave our seats entirely each time he left or returned. We asked if he could sit in the aisle seat but he preferred to stay in his window seat. Finally, after enduring a few hours of his snoring we asked the cabin crew if we could be moved but they decided to move him instead – to Business Class! presumably because they had roomier vacant seats there. We at least didn’t have to put up with him anymore and got a decent sleep but I’m not sure if Business Class enjoyed him.

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