Thursday, May 17, 2012

Traveling while overweight

Man, just saying the phrase "travel day" when it's like 15 hours door to door with layovers and such is enough to turn my stomach.  It's like by the time we're on the west coast and ready to be where we want to go, we've still got a 5-6 hours of flying over the great void of the Pacific to go.  Travel days take on a whole different meaning when you're hundreds of pounds overweight.  For us, travel was never not an option as long as first class was an option.  From 2002 on, we've flown first class.  From 2002-2004 it was by choice, from 2005-2010, it was by necessity.  Thankfully it's leaning back toward by choice again.  I'm tall in addition to heavy which seems to be some kind of anomaly so in addition to worrying about seat width, I also get to lament over legroom or lack thereof.  For seats you pay double or triple for, I shouldn't still have some dude with his head in my lap when they recline...2 seconds after taxi.  A good coughing fit can take care of that.  *wink*

Here are some things have I've found invaluable traveling as an overweight/obese person.  Hopefully it will help someone else out there not dread travel days as much.

Seatguru.com  I love this site because as soon as I begin looking up flights, I also look up the type of aircraft. (Airbus, 767-300, 777 widebody, etc)  I look to see what legs of trips have the most roomy planes.  It comes in handy before booking so you can get the most room.  Not only can you look up the seat width but their color coding system will also tell you if certain seats will impede legroom due to electrical boxes under the seat in front of you or if they're close to a stinky bathroom for the flight, etc.

Universal Airplane Seat Belt Extender  (This particular model does not fit Southwest which isn't an issue for us because on principle we don't fly them.  But if you do, you can order the Southwest Airline Seat Belt Extender)  This has been a God send for a loooong time for us.  Because both of us have needed them for a long time (not the case for the Mr anymore...woot!) we couldn't rely on the airlines to have 2 available for us to use.  I'm not one to put my fate, safety and dignity in someone else's hands so this was the perfect solution for us.  We discreetly tuck them into our carry on, grab them as we're getting situated and pop 'em on.  We actually have a whole routine down when as the Mr is putting our carry on's up, I'm adding the extenders to our seat belts so when he sits down, anyone who has passed us in the aisle is none the wiser that we even needed them.  I think I'm *just shy* of not needing them this trip but I believe that the Mr's extender days may be behind him though we'll still take it as a "just in case."  If you're overweight or obese, this will be the best travel investment you'll ever make!


Traveling in first class does not mean some lavish meal anymore.  Honestly, I sometimes envy people in coach because their little sack deals they buy look better than the reheated crap we get.  In the scheme of normal food choices though they're all pretty gross.  The airline we used last year had the worst food we ever ate when we made the mistake of using them for San Fran.  Hockey puck burger and stale bread anyone? United is better but still not on par for what we pay.  I must admit, their little snack boxes are pretty awesome and I have to try not to swipe the whole basket of Biscoff biscuits out of the flight attendants hands but when you're doing a few 3-5 hour hauls, that's not gonna hold you.  I usually pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because they travel so well and aren't stinky like say, the tuna fish I'd rather take but are too much hassle to keep cold.  We'll usually take Trader Joe's cereal bars with us but we'll likely take the chocolate chip and/or peanut butter oat bars with us instead. Five grams of fiber and filling and they're perfect for the inevitable delay.  Plus they can be bartered with other passengers in dire 12 hours on a flight with no working toilet situations.  Always go on a flight with barter material.  "Hey attendant, I'll slip you a homemade cookie for use of the working bathroom I know you're guarding with your lives."  Obviously you can bring whatever you like but bring stuff that can double as 2 meals with lots of protein to keep you full if you have a long travel day ahead of you.  It's always better to have control over the food you eat on planes because Lord knows we don't want to use those claustrophobic bathrooms if we don't have to!

Have the 800 and or direct numbers of your airline in your cell in case of a long delay where you're going to miss your connecting flight.  This isn't an overweight flying tip as much as a tip in general.  Learned this lesson through an airline last year when they snatched half a day in Napa from us due to being ill prepared for the most simple of situations. Program the numbers of your airlines, hotels, rental cars direct office with the confirmation numbers in a notes section so if God forbid you need to make other arrangements or let them know you'll be late you can do so from the discomfort of your airline seat just as someone's kid gets cranky and starts "serenading" everyone with their screams.

In the seat calisthenics.  We've all heard of the dangers of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) on long car rides and/or flights but this is especially more prevalent with obese people.  Do your calf pumps and point and flex your toes a few times an hour.  You won't be disturbing anyone else and you'll be keeping the circulation going in your legs.  If getting up and walking the aisle isn't an option for you, you might also want to consider compression stockings.

I hope some of these tips have helped you!

Do you have any travel tips to share?

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7 comments:

  1. I like the bartering tip! If I ever fly, I'll keep that in mind! I don't go too many places lol

    Why don't you take Southwest??

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  2. Eating is always a problem for me as I like to eat on a regular basis and can get quite cranky if I have to go for longer than my hunger can handle. I am also gluten-free so I usually cannot eat anything they are serving anyway. I found GoPicnic, (www.gopicnic.com) mini meals that travel well and do not require refrigeration. They are too small for some, but on average about 300 calories which is a meal for me but a snack for someone else (like my husband). They're expensive, but if you get on their mailing list, they run specials. They do expire, so don't order too many at one time.

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  3. Thanks so much for the tips. I think I might have to invest in an extender for my upcoming trip to NC. There are VERY imited options for fights out of MT in terms of different types of aircraft so it always poses a problem. I'm still worried about the trip however it's just two short flights (less than 3 hours each) and my schedule looks good. Crossing my fingers!

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  4. Those are some good travel tips! The only good travel tip I have is to not kill the people in ffront of you like I almost did! My husband, as you know is super tall (all legs I tell ya), anyway this lady was trying to put the seat back in a reclining position, which in turn bashed my husbands knees. Since the lady thought her seat wasn't as reclined as she wished, she kept REPEATINGLY hitting his knees and I could see him grimacing in pain..oh HELL NO, I thought. Marc is just too damn nice sometimes, so I took matters into my own hands and told her a few choice things and so on and so on...so yeah it was interesting. Since then we've been fortunate to upgrade to first class or an exit row. By the way, I've missed you..sorry I've been away, school tried to kill me.

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  5. I've had seat belt extenders for years and would not even try to travel without them. Whether or not I need them depends on the airline and plane. Sometimes I can eek by and others...I'm not able to breathe. I like having earplugs or noise cancelling headphones for long trips, like Hawaii or Europe. If you're trying to catch a snooze the hum of the plane and those crying babies can be very difficult to sleep through. Once I'm in the airport, I always get a bottle of water (expensive but oh well) and take that with me also. I hate the bathrooms but I'd rather stay hydrated! Miss you, Mrs.

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  6. Great tips!!! I want to know why you don't fly SW either!

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  7. I don't want to get into some big thing about why we choose not to fly them so let's just say their policies on many levels leave a bad taste in our mouthes.

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