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Adventure Travel is for Plus-Size Bodies Too!

This article is written by our dear friend, Michelle, who is excited to join us on our Mont Blanc Circuit this year (June 2024). From Authentica to Michelle: "We love your adventurous spirit. You belong on the trail with us, and in fact, we'd be incomplete without you."




If you’re a plus-size person, like me, but you’ve never adventure traveled, you probably think that adventure travel isn’t for you. Scroll through any adventure travel website and you will likely see smiling groups of slender adults in epic locations. It might seem like a dream you could never achieve.  

I’m here to tell you, plus-size people CAN and DO adventure travel!  Just like ANY adventure traveler, preparation is key.  If you’ve got a larger body, you’ll have some unique challenges, but they can all be conquered, and I can show you how.


WHERE DO I START?

Mindset is the first thing you must tackle.  DESIRE and COMMITMENT will set you on the right path to achieve your adventure travel aspirations.

You’ll have to bulldoze all the limiting beliefs that have probably been drummed into your brain for many, many years.  You might even have people in your circle who actively discourage you.  They might mean well, but they are usually projecting their lack of motivation, drive, and fitness onto you.  Block. Them. Out.  Your desire for an adventure vacation must be louder than your (or anyone else’s) doubts.

It will be hard work and you will sacrifice time to train and prepare.  In addition to the physical training you’ll need to do, you’ll have to invest time in learning about and trying various pieces of gear for your body.  The time you commit to making your adventure happen will get you ready physically and mentally.

Go forward with the belief that you can do it, because with the right preparation, you really can!  




HOW DO I GET READY?

Once your mindset is fixed for success, then you can start planning for your adventure.


Step 1: Select experienced adventure travelers to guide you

If you are attempting your first multi-day active vacation, select a business that works with trained guides, like Authentica Travel and Dive.  Trained guides will have experience with the environment and the potential hazards.  You’ll have peace of mind knowing that they are prepared to deal with a variety of  emergencies.  They’ll be able to give solid information about the conditions of the location and the fitness level needed to successfully complete the trip.  Trained guides won’t leave anyone alone, so you won’t have to worry about losing your way or getting left behind.  


Step 2: Pick an adventure travel journey that’s a good fit for you

When selecting an adventure trip get as much information as possible about the physical demands of the trip.  Some adventure travel sites rate their trips according to the level of physical difficulty.  Pay attention to this but also read the itinerary to get the full picture of the day-to-day activity.

Adventure travel will push your physical limits.  Pick an adventure that will stretch what you think is possible for your body, but also be realistic about how much training you’ll be able to do prior to the trip.  You don’t want to pick an adventure that requires skill or fitness levels you can’t acquire in the time that you have to prepare.  Challenge yourself without setting unrealistic expectations.  You can always scale up to more challenging trips as you gain experience.

If you are someone with a medical condition, it’s also critical to consult with your doctor and discuss your adventure goals.  Your doctor will make sure that you aren’t selecting an activity that will cause you harm.


Step 3: Train for it

There’s no getting around it.  Adventure travel is not going to be easy.  Doing adventure travel means training consistently before your trip. Depending on your level of fitness, you want to give yourself at least 6 months to prepare for an adventure vacation.  You are setting yourself up for disappointment if you show up for your adventure without having built up your strength and endurance for months before the trip.  

Consistent training will strengthen your body, and as you achieve new milestones on the road to your adventure vacation, you will feel more confident.  You will KNOW that your fat body is capable. Unless you’ve booked a trip with a plus-size group, most of your co-adventurers will have smaller bodies.  You may feel insecure, but your training has got your back.  With consistent training, you are just as likely to complete the journey as any other person in your group. 

Workout plans for backpacking, mountain hiking, and other adventure travel activities are available for free online.  Find one and get started on it before you book your trip.  If you find the workouts difficult, that doesn’t rule out the trip, but it does mean you’ll have to work past the discomfort in order to appropriately build your fitness.  If cost isn’t an issue, hiring a personal trainer to help you is worth the investment.


Step 4: Start gathering your gear early

We plus-size folks don’t get to shop off the rack as easily as smaller bodies.  Clothes, packs, tents, sleeping bags, shoes, all these items must be acquired thoughtfully because having good gear that works for our specific bodies will vastly improve the adventure travel experience. 

As soon as you decide on your trip, get familiar with the gear list and start looking for options that fit your body. Allow yourself plenty of time to find just the right items.  


Packs

I can’t overstate how important this piece of gear is. This is going to be on your back during most of your physical activity.  If you’ve never shopped for a pack before, be sure you go to an outfitter to help you select the right one.  Trying on a variety of packs will help you find the perfect fit,  whether you need a multi-day backpack to carry everything you need for multiple days, or you only need a daypack to carry essentials.

There are some brands that make plus-size versions of their packs, but they typically must be ordered. If you order a brand online that your local outfitter does not carry, ask if they can help you fit it after it arrives, and compare it with others. Once you find the right pack, start training with it. 


Shoes

Like packs, there are loads of options when it comes to footwear for adventure traveling. Before visiting an outfitter for shoes, consult the recommended shoes on your trip gear list. Invest time in researching different types of shoes online. When you’ve got that information, then go visit your outfitter, have your foot sized and try on shoes that meet the needs of your trip.

Many shoe brands come in wide sizes, but like with all things plus-sized, often those wide sizes must be ordered.  Purchase or order shoes to try well in advance of your trip and be sure you try them with your pack on (with weight).  When you find the shoes that work, start training in them.


Sleeping Bag and Pad

Once you have your pack and shoes squared away, start looking for a sleep system that works best for your body.  A sleep system includes your sleeping pad and the sleeping bag (or quilt system).  Refer to your gear list to find out what you’ll need.   Some sleeping pad brands offer different lengths and widths.  Sleeping bags also come in different widths and lengths to help everyone get the best fit possible.  As you probably guessed, many of the larger options must be ordered instead of purchased in-store. So, just like with all the other gear I’ve mentioned so far, start researching and trying things out early.  


Clothing

There are many plus-sized outdoor clothing options from ski bibs, to base layers, to rain gear.  Clothing brands are realizing that fat people like to play outside too, so you will see many more options available than there were five years ago.  As a result, clothing is probably the easiest size-specific thing for a large person to acquire from their gear list. 

That being said, plus-size bodies usually have issues with chafing, seams being in an uncomfortable position, or things just not fitting properly.  I would recommend purchasing from a business with a solid return policy so you aren’t wasting money on items you try once or twice and will never wear again.  Wear the items when you train so that you know how they will perform.  As always, consult your gear list to see what items are recommended for the adventure.  

**Because chafing can be an issue with bigger bodies, I strongly recommend carrying Body Glide to deal with any hotspots you encounter.  This little piece of gear can be a life-saver.




ADVENTURE TRAVEL IS FOR EVERYONE

Plus size bodies have as much right to be on adventures as everyone else.  If you train properly and pick the right gear for your body, your size won’t get in the way of an epic adventure.  Stop waiting for the “right” number to show up on the scale.  Don’t postpone your thrills because your pants size isn’t small enough.  Commit to a trip and start preparing, then marvel at the amazing things your powerful body can accomplish!


-Michelle

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