By Raphael Lopez
What a year 2020 has been. COVID-19 has really put everyone’s plans to a halt. Weddings have been canceled, graduates of 2020 were not able to cross the stage, virtual meetings are becoming the norm among companies, and walking around with masks is now part of our daily wardrobe. Get ready as we provide some dope travel tips for the Big & Tall Guy.
As an avid traveler, one thing that I’m bummed about is that all of my travel plans have been canceled. Leisure travel has been brought to a standstill for everyone. Airlines, hotels, Airbnb, and other forms of travel have countless restrictions and/or cancellations.
Some of those restrictions are 14 days of self-quarantine once someone reaches their destination, masks must be worn at all times throughout the travel process (to/from the airport, in the airplane, etc), cruise ships have canceled all sails until the fall and due to high numbers of COVID-19 in the states, Americans are now banned from travel to certain countries.
However, I am positive that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for travel and certain travel restrictions will be lifted. Airlines are currently limited the amount of flights (i.e. normally a flight from NY to LA will have a flight 3-5 times a day; now flights are going out once a week).
Airlines are not booking flights to full capacity as well as not booking the middle seat in the airplane. Fingers crossed, let’s hope that this too will become a type of normalcy. Travel is my escape, my hobby, and one of my passions. Traveling is one of my biggest passions in life; ever since I was a young child traveling back and forth to my home country, the Dominican Republic.
Traveling is such a big passion of mine that I made a career out of it and now I work in the aviation industry as a pilot/flight instructor and airport operations. As I’ve gotten older, bigger, and taller, I realized that at times it can and may be difficult for the plus-size traveler to navigate the world without being ridiculed or at times feel somewhat embarrassed because airlines may not cater to the plus size. However, here are some travel tips for the Big & Tall Guy.
1. Don’t worry about what others are saying or thinking of you. Enjoy your trip! I’ve been to countries where people immediately stare at me or mock me because of my size. Don’t let them bother you during your trip. Enjoy the sights. My saying is that I’m not going to see these people ever in my life again so why would I let their ignorance bother me. 🤷🏽♂️
2. Comfort while flying! As an aviator and a travel addict, I know that flying at times can be uncomfortable. Especially when flying in economy. Well, here are some tips to make it somewhat comfortable when flying. (a) It is not good for us to travel and sit for a long time. So I recommend compression socks, which will help reduce leg swelling, discomfort, and blood clots from forming near the skin’s surface.
(b) When you select a seat during your ticket purchase, purchase an aisle seat. For me personally, I love the window seat because I can look outside. However, if the flight is going to be crowded I take comfort over scenery any day! You’ll have more arm space when you’re sitting in the aisle. Not only that but the armrest at times are movable in the aisle seat. Which gives you more space! Just watch out for the food carts.
3. Call the airline! As a plus-size traveler, I am very honest and will call the airline directly before purchasing a flight. I’ll let the airline know that I am a plus-size traveler and I’ll ask if they have any services that will ease and make my travel experience comfortable. Certain airlines do cater to the plus-size traveler. For example, Southwest Airlines have something called “customer of size”.
Customer of size allows a plus-size traveler to purchase a seat and the seat next to them half the price. Giving them an empty seat next to them. Now, if you don’t want to pay for an extra seat, at the gate you can ask the gate agent for a customer of size seating. If the flight is not empty they will most likely give it to you complimentary. However, that’s a big risk taken, especially if the flight is full.
4. Lodging! When I plan my travel, the two things that I ask myself are: How am I going to get there? Where am I staying? I am a big advocate of staying in AirBnbs or Home-stays. The reason being is that I feel more at home. I stay among the locals, some AirBnbs have kitchens, pools, and other personal amenities. When I can’t stay at an Airbnb, I like to stay at a hotel where I can benefit from it. For example, I am a member of countless hotel companies (Hilton, Marriott, etc). Every stay I earn reward points, which adds up and allows me to stay in one of the hotels for free at a later vacation.
5. Food! This is no secret but as a big guy, I love to eat! Especially when I travel to a different country and try new cuisines. I converse with the hotel concierge and/or taxi driver and ask about local restaurants. They’re willing to help to make your stay enjoyable. Another thing that I look for is staying at a hotel or Airbnb that offers free breakfast. Traveling is great but I always make an effort to travel on a budget; and food/drink expenses can add up. Therefore, if my hotel can offer me a free meal, I’m all for it. I look to stay at a hotel or Airbnb that offers free breakfast.
4. Airlines have seat belt extenders. For the most part, all airlines have seat belt extenders which allows the plus size traveler to safely wear their seatbelt by extended the one that’s on the chair. All you have to do is ask the flight attendant. But if you’re like me and try to be prepare for anything, you can easily purchase a seatbelt extender online on Amazon.
Travel, see the world, and experience life! Follow my travel page @bigtallandabroad as well as my personal page @iamrelopez