This month's newsletter features Edith Bernier, better known as the Plus-Size Backpacker. Please enjoy the informative interview below!
The "PS Backpacker"
Abundant Travel: What inspired you to start the PS Backpacker blog?
Edith Bernier: As I was preparing my first backpacking trip to India, in 2012, I realized it was really hard to find appropriate travel clothes and equipment in my size. I couldn’t believe that, because I was chubbier than most, backpacking wasn’t an option for me! So I started looking out for decent alternatives that were also cost-efficient… I didn’t want to spend all my money on the gear and have nothing left for the trip! *laugh* Upon my return from India, I launched The PS (Plus-Size) Backpacker to share my newly discovered tips with my fellow plus-size travelers.
AT: What kinds of vacations do you enjoy taking? Do you always use a backpack?
EB: I usually travel alone and live in hostels; it’s a great way to meet people and save money. I have tried Couchsurfing, but my experience turned out pretty bad, so I have reservations about hospitality exchange, but I’m willing to try again eventually.
I really like visiting ruins – especially Maya & Inca sites – and history-related museums. I also enjoy snorkeling and beach holidays, hiking, discovering local cuisine… When I get the chance, I try to celebrate important holidays with local families… amazing souvenirs guaranteed!
I usually travel using a 48 liters carry-on size backpack as I hate waiting for my luggage at airport carousels… and because I’m too afraid my checked luggage could get lost! On my latest journey – a 1-week road trip in the US Southwest with a friend – I used a carry-on size suitcase… but it was the first time in quite a while!
AT: What challenges have you faced and overcome on your travels?
EB: There was that time two rude flight attendants were screaming across the plane – and informing all passengers! – that “I couldn’t sit in the exit row because of my safety belt extension”. I also vividly recall some rides in overcrowded collective mini-buses in Mexico and Guatemala.
At some point, when you’re so close to one another, you have no choice but to start chatting with the other people so it won’t feel too awkward to be 16 stuck aboard a 12-passenger van!
But the worse was getting sick in the Himalayas. Luckily, the locals were very friendly and helpful and I was able to find doctors that patched me up so I could make it down the mountain and be able to fly home.
AT: What advice would you give to plus-size people who are hesitant to travel?
EB: Be open-minded: if you want others to be tolerant, make sure you lead the way!
Be realistic: you might want to start with shorter trips, if you are new at traveling. You can also decide to visit areas that are more “plus-size friendly”; some of the islands in the southwest Pacific, the US or Canada, for example.
Be ready: don’t expect to find plus-size adapted installations or clothing everywhere.
Be zen: stress will only make a bad situation worst.
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*Please note that the information shared in this newsletter is based on opinion and subject to change. Feel free to contact us with any suggested additions or omissions.