Am I too fat too travel?

Old Jun 17th, 2013, 01:52 PM
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Am I too fat too travel?

Hi all,

Next month I'm going to Europe for the very first time. I'll be visiting Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Paris, Florence, Rome, Naples, and Interlaken. I am of average height and I am 300lbs/136 kilos. I'm a woman who is pretty comfortable in my own skin, however I'm concerned that I may run into public & private space issues. Examples: Restaurant chairs/booths, bus/train aisles and seats, bathrooms, showers etc. Here in America, where being fat is more the norm, I don't run into these issues much. But I hear most European countries have smaller people; thus smaller accommodations.

Should I expect to be physically uncomfortable in many of these spaces? Turned away? Ridiculed? (not as much of an issue, but I'd still like to know.)

I'd really appreciate honest, non fat-shaming advice, tips and feedback.
rhev_olutionary is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 01:58 PM
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The accommodations size (I don't think) has much to do with people's size but that buildings are often older.
My questions would be
Are you on a tour? Is the tour aware of your size?
If this is independent, have you let the hotels , car rentals, etc know of your size?It might make a difference what room you are booked into or even if they have a room that will be OK.

What about the flight?

I have t confess I have never seen someone of your size in my European travels but I'm sure people do. I'd be most concerned that lodgings etc know your situation so you aren't faced with difficulties when you arrive.

Good luck.
newtome is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 02:00 PM
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Is this a real post or a troll?

If it's real, just go enjoy yourself!

You may experience tighter quarters but just like the restrooms on airplanes, just deal with it for the short time you have to, then go out and enjoy the open plazas and markets. Of course everyone should be mindful of imposing on another's space.

Sure someone may make a comment but it's a reflection of them not you - there are nice and less nice people everywhere.

Have a fab trip - enjoy-la!
klam_chowder is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 02:04 PM
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We recently returned from Italy and we all commented that the showers and bathrooms are smaller than expected but you will be fine.
I think you may feel a bit crowded in restaurants and bars but I think everyone (from America) does because it is a little out of our "comfort" zone - things are just closer than we are accustomed to.
From our experience we found that the trains are an awesome way to travel! We were somewhat nervous about trying something new but we loved it and found the trains to be easier than planes and much more "roomy" than we expected, even in 2nd class. Buying the tickets was easy with the great advice you can find here on the boards.
Most importantly, your attitude is everything. People will welcome you with your obvious positive outlook! Have a great trip!
willowjane is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 02:20 PM
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Yes, it is true that many fewer europeans are overweight - although there are many Germans, dutch and scandinavians that are not slender/petite.

You will not be turned away. I can't imagine you will be ridiculed - but there are rude people everywhere - so you might hear a nasty comment.

I would be more concerned with comfort and sitting in seats.

When was the last time you flew? Are you comfortable in a coach class (I assume that's what you will fly) seat? Will you need a seat belt extender? All US flights are supposed to have them - but I don;t know if this is the case. On intereuropean flights seats are sometimes smaller and this might be an issue. If you plan to fly those I would check what equipment they use and seat size and row distance. (I am tall with long legs and have had squashed knees on a couple of shorter flights.)

Long distance trains should not be a problem - seats are generous. Local buses and metro are usually bench - so you can squash or stand.

Chairs in restaurants and theaters should be OK - I don;t recall any that were very tiny - although I suppose it might be possible in specific older theaters. for the latter I would ask when getting tickets.

As for "comfort zone" in restaurants - I don;t think that is US versus europe. I think that is big city (high rents and taxes push tables very close together) versus suburbs (land is cheap so fewer tables in same space). I recall one couple (suburban country club types trying to show how important they were) loudly complaining in Harry's in Venice that the tables were so squashed together that they were a fire hazard. (They were big cheese heads and complained abuout a lot of things). In fact, the tables were farther apart that in most nice restaurants in NYC (although obviously not as spread out as in their country club - where snapping your fingers at waiters seemed to be de rigueur, as was asking for a pitcher of ice.)
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 02:21 PM
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@newtome I'm going on an independent trip - no tour. Great idea to let the hotels know! I've flown a bunch and its always a bit tight but I'm usually fine. I'm traveling with a friend who won't mind if I impede on her space a little bit. Thanks for your honesty & advice.

@klam_chowder I am not a troll. Just very honest. =) Thanks for your feedback.

@willowjane You're the 2nd person who has told me that the trains are rather comfy. Great to hear! Thanks for all the feedback.

I really appreciate the helpful & thoughtful answers so far!
rhev_olutionary is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 02:50 PM
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One thing that might be of concern to you (and perhaps not just someone who is of larger stature, but anyone with mobility issues) is the fact that there are sooo many stairs in Europe. Have to go to the bathroom? Well, it's just 3 flights up (or down!) Your hotel room? On the 4th floor with no lift! And some of the smaller hotels expect you to carry your own bags, without any help. My husband and I just got back from Italy and Switzerland and I was sure glad he was there to help with the heavy lifting as our room was on the 4th floor. Bathrooms can be a bit tight quite often too--regardless of your size.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 02:51 PM
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I don't know what you mean by "average height and I am 300lbs/136 kilos". Coach seats on most international flights measure only 17" to 18" in width. Even the lay-flat beds on US Airways international flights (20.5") will not comfortably accommodate anyone over 6'3 and 250 lbs.

You should check with your airline regarding your seating arrangement. Many airlines will make you buy an extra seat if you impose on your fellow passengers. So the question is, are you sitting on the side with only two seats, or will there be three or more seats in the row.

Table spacing may be a problem in certain restaurants, especially in France.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 03:01 PM
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I've traveled a few times to Europe with a friend who weighed about 350 lbs or so. She enjoyed the trips a great deal. Hotels were generally fine in greece, italy abd spain. definitely contact the hotels if you have a question. There were a few uncomfortable moments on planes. Actually the flight attendants were very nice about it but another passenger complained. It worked out in the end (they switched him with a young kid on a school trip). But I would do your best to get seats where your only neighbor will be your traveling companion.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 03:01 PM
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Other than out in an open field, I don't know any place on this planet where accommodations for public use make it comfortable for 300-pounders. I think it's great when any obese person claims to be "comfortable in your own skin." Personally, I hated weighing 300 lbs, and I've worked hard all my life to avoid returning to obesity. To look at me today, no one would ever believe I once weighed that much.

When I see overweight people struggle while traveling, and I see them often, I'm reminded of my long-gone teenage years, and the extreme discomfort of being overweight in public.

It would never occur to me to ask this question on the internet. It's like asking is the sun bright. If you're overweight and you travel just one day, the answer to this question is obvious. Hence, troll suspicion.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 03:02 PM
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Rhev...I applaud you for you honesty. I hope you get enough preliminary info on this forum, and I do hope you have a fun and meaningful trip to Europe. Believe me, there are people on this forum who bypass your dimensions but they frequently and happily travel the world.
tower is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 03:21 PM
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Here are a few articles regarding "large" passengers. Food for thought?,10525/
Robert2533 is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 03:44 PM
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There are still people in Europe who are large - I know a family of larger people in Germany and they don't have or do anything special to accommodate their weight; in short they are not 'out of place'. You will even find some boutiques that cater to larger women such as Ulla Popken:

Ulla Popken

Düsseldorf Arcaden
+49 211 33679018

Graf-Adolf-Platz 11-12
+49 211 4058026

In short, don't fret - you will blend in.

lavandula is online now  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 03:58 PM
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@NYCFoodSnob Again, I'm not trolling. I ask because I want to be as prepared as possible. Yes, it's pretty obvious that I will encounter some uncomfy situations, but I'd still like to get some insight from experienced travelers.

@Robert I am 5'6. I'm sitting in rows of 2, with my friend who doesn't mind that I will be impeding a bit.

You guys have been GREAT; giving me plenty of tips and - I guess what I needed most - some reassurance that I will still have a great time.

Thanks again to everyone.
rhev_olutionary is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 04:10 PM
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Some of the shower stalls can be tight for even the thinnest of people. Maybe you can check with your hotels as to what types of shower facilities they offer.

Go and have a great trip!
joannyc is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 05:17 PM
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The most uncomfortable part of the trip will probably be the airplane seats, and you are already prepared for that. I have never encountered an international flight without seat belt extenders.

Theater seats can also be a problem. And European bath tubs can be much narrower than American ones.

People in Europe do not appear to be any less accepting than people in the US. You should not expect to be turned away or ridiculed. I am speaking from experience. Go and have a great time.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 05:40 PM
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I agree with joannyc - ask about the showers. Some of ours were tiny in Italy. A large person would not have been able to shower in them.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 07:16 PM
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Cafe chairs at Parisian brasseries and restaurants tend to be quite small and therefore uncomfortable. I'm not sure what you can do about this.

Other than the possible impediments mentioned above, I expect you will have a fabulous time.
muskoka is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 07:53 PM
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What type of hotels are you staying in? If you decide to go on a budget, you may find that hotels are smaller with teeny showers.

If you can spring for American hotels they will usually accommodate you.

Trust me, you are the only sizable woman to step off the shores of this country. AND you will not or will never have been the only sizable woman in Europe.

You will be walking! A lot. You'll be climbing stairs.

I hope you have been shopping for really good shoes. And then a couple of very comfortable socks. And bring moleskins. Your feet are much more important than any other body part for this journey.

I think if you can brave this thread, you'll be fine.

Speaking of language. Please learn to say some basic greetings and at least please and thank you (thank you very much is a good one too.) People in Europe or anywhere else are just as nice as you are.

Have a great time.

Now let's talk about the important stuff

What shoes are you taking?

What size suitcase?

What are you wearing?
LSky is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2013, 10:27 PM
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As Lavandula has already pointed out, I cannot imagine that you will be ridiculed in Germany.
You'll blend in just nicely
In the media, it's more the "How to become a super model" TV shows that get ridiculed or critisized for promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.

If you want more seating comfort on long-distance trains, you can think about 1st class.
Seating on high-speed trains is usually more or less like an airplane cabin, and while 2nd class usually has a seating plan or 2 seats - aisle - 2 seats, 1st class will have 1-aisle-2.
On public transport like buses or subways it will matter more if you travel during rush hour or not. During rush hour also the slim people will feel uncomfortable, so there should be no major difference.
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