Traveling with someone you love to a new place is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Not only are you able to make memories with them, but you get to experience life outside of your comfort zone and your daily routine together.
That is why I had the opportunity to travel with my husband to Morocco, I couldn’t have been more excited. Still, it dawned on me slowly – one would group tour in Morocco be plus-size friendly? When traveling as a plus-sized couple, you need to think about space and comfort, from transportation issues such as the size of your plane or bus seat to what type of table is offered at a restaurant. Over the many trips we’ve taken together, we’ve learned how to adjust to traveling as a plus-size couple, and in the end, I knew we’d be okay. Still, I thought I’d share my tips on how you can advocate for yourselves on group travel, whether you’re a plus size couple or not.
I’m lucky that I have a built-in support system when I travel with my husband who always helps give me the confidence to stand up for myself and my needs. If you are not so sure about talking directly, I would suggest you talk to your tour guide. Fortunately, Intrepid employs people who are friendly and approachable, so it’s much easier to talk to them about any concerns you have while on your trip.
In addition to talking to your manager, here are a few more tips on how to advocate for yourself and tips on what signs to look out for to check if your trip will be plus-size friendly!
Get comfortable asking questions
The best way to speak up for yourself is to ask questions about what to expect. This isn’t just an issue for larger sizes – it’s also relevant for older travelers or those with mobility issues. You wouldn’t think twice about asking for help for your friend who has a bad knee. Some general questions to ask before departure are:
- Are there activities that require special equipment or have a weight limit?
- What are the transportation options and the likelihood of having to share a row or seat with someone?
- What alternatives or options are there if I know I will need more time for certain physical activities?
- How big are the showers or baths in the home?
Choose the right home for you
One of the main reasons we chose premium tour in Morocco was that we knew that on a basic level the rooms would be a little bigger and more comfortable for us. Sometimes when we stay in more budget-friendly hotels, we pay the price with small bathrooms (nothing humiliates you more when you can barely wash yourself in a cramped shower cubicle).
Luckily for us, every riad and hotel we stayed in during the 12 days in Morocco was beautiful and every bed was safe and comfortable for us as a plus size couple. The only potential caveat I would share is that not all riads have an elevator, meaning that rooms can often only be reached by taking the stairs. Just know that it’s perfectly fine to request a lower level room when possible and take your time walking up and down the stairs because frankly no one cares about you . On a personal level, the most plus-size friendly accommodation we stayed at was the magnificent Riad Salam in Fez. The service was great, the rooms were spacious and there was even an elevator to take you to your room or the roof terrace. In addition, it was beautiful!
Push yourself – you won’t regret it
There were two activities that were part of our Premium Explorer Experience that were high on my bucket list, but also made me nervous. They were: Riding a camel in the Sahara desert and walking through the Ourika Valley. I was stressed, but luckily our tour leader Syeed helped allay any fears by making sure everyone knew what to expect and any potential issues. In our group we had a range of mobility issues and were of varying sizes – so the day before we left Syeed made sure to talk about the strength of the camels and the fact that these animals were very used to walking through the desert with loads. He was able to discreetly talk about weight limits without actually having to say anything and it made me feel confident that I would be able to ride the camel safely and not be turned away because of my weight. It was a first for me as a plus size traveler not having to ask specific questions because he answered them all.
The result? Two moments that I will remember forever and I got to experience them with my love. Getting on a camel is never a graceful experience for anyone of any size or age, but everyone in our group did and enjoyed the ride in the Sahara desert. The next morning, on the camel ride back, it felt a bit more natural and I let it sink in that I was riding a camel through the Saraha desert. How amazing is that? The second experience occurred at the end of the trip during our stay in Ourika Valley. I was nervous that I would hold up the group while going up the mountain and have to take ‘too many’ breaks. Which brings me to my final thought…
Rely on new friends for support
One of the advantages of group travel is that you have people around you who are interested in the same experiences as you. Spending time with them every day, breaking bread (and making bread) bonds you, so when it came to the walk in Ourika, I was comfortable enough to tell the group that I would probably be slower – and not a single person did not care. In fact, the hike ended up being more manageable for me than I thought, so the fears I had weren’t even necessary.
As a group we all had our own issues – our guides made sure we were all looked after and we all looked out for each other. Ultimately, don’t hold yourself back by not communicating what you need to have the best travel experience possible. It’s better to figure out a solution instead of wondering what could have been. If I hadn’t been honest about my anxiety about the walk, I would never have experienced the amazing view or been invited into our local guide’s home to meet his family, eat homemade butter on fresh bread and learn more about his life.
So do yourself a favor and don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself, your loved one or the people around you. I promise you, it’s worth it.