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I will tip that boat! And 5 More Plus Sized Travel Fears

by | Mar 24, 2017 | BODY POSITIVITY, RAMBLINGS, Solo Travel, Travel | 14 comments

“Do one thing that scares you each day” has been a motto of mine since I saw my first Lululemon bag. Little did I know that going traveling solo as a plus size woman would have me confronting fears so often, I’d stock up enough points for years to come.

 

My “Secret” Fears

I will let you in on a secret… when people tell me I’m so brave for traveling solo, the first retort from the b*tch in my brain is “Ha! If you only you knew.” The truth is, I’m scared all the time. Almost every day I am confronted with a new situation that brings out a fear, usually ones I didn’t even know I had. My brain is annoyingly FULL of unconscious, limiting beliefs about what I’m capable of due to my size.

The key is refusing to let it stop me. I’m having a ton of fun busting most of those myths and fears. I suppose now would be a good time to admit I also get a kick out of proving people wrong, even when the person I’m proving wrong is myself.

My most recent epiphany around this came when I asked myself – what did I really fear? If “____” happened, what would be the worst thing? The only answer I could think of (besides injury) was embarrassment. That immediately settled a lot of arguments about whether I should try something or not.

I made the choice early on that no matter what happens if I am embarrassed because of something weight related, it will be worth it. I wouldn’t trade my time here in SE Asia even if it meant tipping the next 10 boats.

Now that my psychological assessment is complete…here is my list of 6 fears I have traveling solo as a plus size woman in SE Asia.

 

1. I will tip the boat

Imagine having to ease yourself off a pier, down onto a tiny board, walk across said flimsy board, and then basically leap into a long tail boat. When I saw this was how I needed to get into the shuttle boat to my hostel on Koh Rong Samleon, I almost turned around.

I hate having to climb onto boats in the BEST of circumstances. I was convinced I would either break the board or tip the boat. Given the look shared between the two Cambodians helping, I don’t think I was alone with this fear.

Thank goodness for my friends on that trip. I handed them all my valuables and got myself to the front of the line. I was going first, so if I tipped it, I’d be the only one who was wet. They laughed at me, but I was dead serious. Turns out, I was fine. I made it to my seat with only slightly shaky knees. And I would go on to have the most fun ever at Mad Monkey. Another fat myth busted. Hell yeah.

The boats that I love to hate

Beautiful picture, terrifying boats!

 

2. I’ll flip the bunk bed

After long tail boats, my next biggest fear is those damn dorm bunk beds. Every time I check into a new hostel, I cross my fingers when I ask “is there a bottom bunk available?” I’d rather have bed bugs than haul myself up a tiny ladder. Well, maybe not, but it’s close.

And to be clear, I know I am strong enough to lift myself up. It’s my brain that has come up with 5 different ways for me to break the bed as I’m climbing it. Plus, what if I have to pee in the middle of the night? At the very least I’d be waking up the person in the bottom bunk.

In the first month of my travels, I was miraculously always given the bottom bunk. Then I injured myself in Pai, Thailand and all the sudden I couldn’t physically climb the ladder. That’s when I got to say “need a bottom bunk due to knee injury” and be absolutely guilt free.  As it’s been 6 weeks since my fall, I’ve told myself I get one more week of using this excuse. That’s when the true test of my courage will be. There is some part of me that says it’s ridiculous to think that I’d flip an entire bunk bed, but I can’t help what my brain fears. I’ll keep you posted on this one.

 

Cute room, tiny ladder

These ladders at Mad Monkey were one of the best!

 

3. I won’t fit

Bus seats, plane seats, scooters, aisles, chairs.. basically any time I have to put my ass somewhere new, I feel this ripple of fear that I won’t fit and everyone will laugh at me as I do the Fat Girl Walk of Shame. This has yet to happen. Sometimes it’s a tight fit, yes, sometimes I need to use my trusty seat belt extender, but I make it work.

Due to these fears, I always pick my seats strategically. Window seat closest to the front of the plane. Single seat on the bus, if possible. Thank goodness for Asia’s love of buses with 1 single and 1 double per row. Also, the best thing about being the fattest girl on the bus, people don’t want to be squished beside you either, which means I’ll often get the whole row to myself! Score!

Watching TV on an Asian overnight bus

Not only did I get an entire row to myself, O got to watch “Yogi Bear” in Thai.

4. I will break the chair

Ok, this did happen once. I was sitting on a metal chair in a bar in Thailand when all the sudden the legs gave way and I was going ass over tea kettle, mortified.

Everyone was great about it and the staff brought me a new chair within seconds. I downed 3 drinks in the next 10 minutes and the whole thing seemed a lot more funny after that. I will say this though, the new chair felt perfectly strong, so I’m pretty sure the old one was on its last legs anyway. (Ahh, the puns)

Moral of the story, yes, I judge restaurants based on their chairs. Those tiny things in Hanoi that looked like they’d fit maybe one of my cheeks? Hell no, I will pay $2 more next door. Or.. take away please because you have the best trip advisor reviews and I’m sure it will taste just as delicious in the very solid, already tested chair at my hostel.

Fear Inducing Chairs, Fear Erasing Alcohol

I’d need a lot more than a few glasses of Thai rum to convince me to sit on those tiny excuses for a chair!

5. It won’t fit and I will look terrible

Getting a dress tailor made in Hoi An was an experience I will never forget, and one I’m so glad to have. That doesn’t mean it was easy.

Like a lot of woman, going shopping has never been fun or carefree for me. The severe lack of cute plus size clothing in Canada doesn’t help my situation. Needless to say, going to a tailor in Hoi An and saying “2 dresses, please” was the scariest thing I’d done all week. I half expected her to laugh me out of the store or ask for double. Imagine my surprise when I bargained her down to half price!

Then the day of my final fitting arrived. I took a deep breath, stepped out of the fitting room and turned to the mirror, expecting the usual tirade of insults my brain would throw my way. Instead, for the first time ever, my brain was quiet. It was as stunned as I was. I looked GOOD. More than that, I was HOT. Getting things tailor made to fit your body is amazing. Worth every damn penny.

Tailor Shop in Hoi An

I realized I don’t have pictures of my dresses yet, but here’s a pretty shop from Hoi An!

6. They think I look hideous

As someone who is at least twice the size of the biggest local, I get a lot of stares. Strangers ask “how many kilos” at least twice a week. I spoke about this at length in a previous post. At first, I hated it. I’d tense up, ignoring the question and felt humiliated when any friends I was with looked equally embarrassed. Then I started to realize that they didn’t mean anything by it. They were being curious, not judgemental.

In comparison, people in North America are taught that the word fat is synonymous with lazy and disgusting. As size is still a very taboo subject, no one would dare ask someone’s weight outside of a Weight Watchers meeting. My response to growing up in a society that perpetuates fat shaming and stigma had been to build a wall that I called “confidence.”

Traveling revealed that – shocker – this wasn’t me actually loving my body. I was still doing all the judging from behind my wall. Seeing this has opened up a whole new world for me. As each stranger chips away at my wall, something new and even more beautiful begins to emerge.

Now when asked, I laugh, saying “it’ll shock you too much!” and carry on with my day. While I still think my weight is none of their business, it’s equally unimportant what their opinion of my body is. Even if they do think it’s ugly, that says more about them than me. It actually says more about the society we live in, but that topic is worth its own blog post!

Feeling self conscious on the rocks

When this was taken, I was terrified at how I’d look. Now? I LOVE it.

A life full of fears is a life well lived.

Airing out my 6 biggest fears feels surprisingly liberating. Although admitting these does make me feel slightly ridiculous, I know I can’t be the only person to have these thoughts.

Bottom line: the fear isn’t going anywhere. Refuse let your fears stop you from doing what you want. Most of my fears are weight related, but every traveler has them. Travel is about experiencing new cultures and busting through fears. Every time I’m terrified and act anyway, a new person emerges on the other side.

So tell me, what are some of the fears that you’ve overcome? Do we share any of the same fears? Weight related, travel related, I’d love to hear from you!

14 Comments

  1. Helena

    I so love reading your posts, and I adore you!

    I used my time travelling in Australia to cure my crippling fears of heights and cockroaches. It wasn’t just your regular, healthy fear of heigths (i.e. brain telling me to not go too close to that slippery edge of the cliff), but I would avoid stairs with see-through steps, my palms pearling with sweat if that was the only way up or down. It also wasn’t your regular fear of cockroaches. I would break into squeals and uncontrollable crying if one came within a few meters from me.
    My medicine for fear of heights was going skydiving from 14,000 feet, bungy jumping from a four-storey tower (with see-through steps leading up to the jumping platform), and rock climbing.
    My medicine for fear of cockroaches was making my way north along the east coast where the roaches are bigger and slower and e v e r y w h e r e as you move further into the tropics. The last rip of the bandaid was the moment a coachroach crawled into a wine glass I had placed on the ground, and then onto my arm. I only noticed it once I was about to take a sip and all of a sudden I could feel each little foot on my arm. People burst out of their bungalows, coming to the rescue of the hysterical mess I was (likely assuming I was attacked by something more sinister). From that moment on, I have a whole new level of tolerance for bugs and critters. These days, I’ll gladly grab a cup (and sometimes even use my hands) to let them outside. Unthinkable, back then.

    Keep those fear-busting stories coming, sister xxx

    Reply
    • Susie

      I love your strength. I’m scared of these things, what’s the scariest thing I can do that will help alleviate the fear? You did that in spades!!! Thanks for sharing ❤

      (PS I had a cockroach fall out of a book I’d just picked up. It landed on my chest. I screamed so loud people ran from the kitchen to see what happened. I will be calling you to take care of the next one I see 😉)

      Reply
  2. Ash

    Thank you for your honest words! So true to not let our fear hold us back. Life is so short. I have spent so much of my time feeling miserable, lonely and regretful. Not anymore! Each day I’m trying to do better for myself. You’re an inspiration.

    Reply
    • Susie

      Thank you! I took a look at your blog as well, I think it’s so important for people to be opening up and talking about real life. So thank YOU for being an inspiration. I also love that you went to Sooke and Tofino. I’ve lived in Victoria for the last 10 years 😊 small world!

      Reply
  3. Em

    I can relate to that fear even if it’s not for the same reason. Your conclusion said it all “Refuse to let your fears stop you from doing what you want” that’s what I’m currently practicing,it’s not easy but I’m doing well!

    Reply
    • Susie

      Awesome, way to go! The world needs us ladies to keep stepping up and into our power ❤

      Reply
  4. Chicago Kelley

    WHERE IS THE PHOTO OF YOU IN YOUR CUSTOM MADE DRESS??? I want to seeeee!! Go on with ya bad, juicy self, girl – much love to you from Chicago!

    Reply
    • Susie

      I know!!! I can’t believe I don’t have one! I was adding pictures last minute and didn’t want to wait another day to post. I’m taking one tomorrow and I will post it to Instagram 😊😊

      Reply
  5. Carly Heyward

    Literally worried all those; you’re not alone! It really is amazing how clothes that fit well can look so much better! Post a pic of you in the dress!

    Reply
    • Susie

      I know!!! I can’t believe I don’t have one yet! I am getting one tomorrow and I’ll put it up on Instagram 😊😊

      Reply
  6. Annette Richmond

    OMG!!! I love this post! I recently wrote something similar and I am right there with you! Thanks for opening up about your fears, keep doing that. It helps to hear that others are going through the same or similar things. We all need to relate to each other to feel heard and understood. I hear you, I see you, I understand you. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Susie

      <3 Phew those are powerful words! We all really just want to be heard and understood. Thank you! I've read your blog as well, so I had this moment of fan girl when I saw you'd read mine 😉

      Reply
  7. Nicole

    Found your blog from GLT and I’m so glad I did! As a plus size girl myself I totally understand all of these fears and how it can prevent you from doing things you really want to do. I have so much anxiety a week before a flight in case I don’t fit or am made to feel bad by the person sitting next to me but then I am always amazed at how much of a non issue it is!

    Of course certain things would be easier and more comfortable if I was smaller in size but that shouldn’t stop me from living my life. I’m glad we both came to the realisation that we didn’t have to wait “until we are skinny” to start living! I wasted far too many years!

    Look forward to hearing more about your experiences in SE asia 💛 Safe travels!

    Reply
    • Susie

      So glad to have more GLT ladies over in my corner of the web 😊 Thanks for checking out my blog.

      And yes, it’s SO important for us to start living our lives now. Makes such a difference eh?!

      Reply

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Hi, I'm Susie! Welcome to my travel blog. Join me as I travel SE Asia and reconnect with myself - body, mind and soul!

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