“Access for All” is a blog series welcoming diverse perspectives that create an inclusive modern outdoors for everyone. Hear how Jeff Jenkins, founder of Chubby Diaries is encouraging people like himself to explore the world and his tips for plus size travel.
I’ve been a big guy almost all of my whole life, so I only know how to move and operate as such. I am saying this all because in 2017 after I finished visiting my 27th country, I realized that every time I got on Instagram or searched travel photos I would not see anyone that looked like me. It was then that I had the idea to start my blog Chubby Diaries. I help chubby people travel the world and explore the outdoors.
The Grandview GTX hiking boots have a wider toe box for the best in comfort for local trails to multi-day excursions.
National and state parks were so far down on my list of places to visit. As a travel blogger, I was looking for the next hot international destination. It was part of my brand to visit and explore these far off destinations to give my insight and expert opinions for my Chubby Diaries community. I was attracted to international travel because these were the places I dreamed of going as a kid and I was able to get those once in a lifetime experiences.
It was not until travel was limited due to the pandemic, that I made up my mind to travel around our own backyard here in the states. I set off last summer and fall to explore multiple National Parks like Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and others. I learned so much about Indigenous cultures in the Mid-Northern states and how I could have some of the same majestic experiences in the U.S. as I did internationally.
My community was grateful to ride alongside me as I gave first hand tips and tricks to traveling around to these incredible National Parks. I also got the chance to visit a local state park that is just 30 minutes away from my home in Austin, TX called Mckinney Falls State Park.
Here are a few things that I recommend for plus size explorers and their travel partners when visiting a state or national Park.
Do Your Research
This is my #1 advice for plus size people. You should know before you go. Researching the trails, weather conditions, and different activities in the state and national parks can save you a ton of headaches, isolation, or even being singled out. There are trails at all the parks I visited but doing the research to find the right trail for you can be a game-changer. That helped me while I was in Glacier National Park and there was a certain photo I wanted to capture and after doing my research it revealed that the hike down to Mcdonald Lake was not an intense one and that it was possible to do.
Also knowing the weather conditions, you can figure out what clothes work best for you depending on how hot or cold it is. Size restrictions and weight limits are a big thing to consider as a plus size person and knowing before you go can help you decide which activities are accommodating to you.
It’s all about the clothes and shoes.
I’ve learned the importance of wearing proper clothing when hiking or exploring the outdoors. Outdoor plus size clothing is now becoming more and more available around the states but there are a few tips that will help in which outfit works best for a larger body. Try to avoid cotton t-shirts, as we sweat, cotton materials tend to absorb it, making the fabric heavier. Look for fabrics that have cooling agents in them that can keep your body cooler in the heat.
Also, having a great pair of shoes while exploring the outdoors is crucial. Finding shoes that have support will take the pressure off your knees, ankle, and feet, making it easier to walk around. I love my Grandview hiking boots from Teva.
Move at Your Own Pace
For a lot of plus size people, we think that we have to keep up with whoever we are with. Or we need to finish at a certain time that we did when we were possibly smaller. I can tell you now that will not make your hike or experience as enjoyable. Moving at your own pace, helps you take necessary breaks, makes you less anxious, and allows your body to relax more. Also understand when moving at your own pace no means no and don’t allow others to shame you, or force you to do things that you don’t want to do while hiking, swimming, or exploring.
I remember I climbed part of Mount Hood with a group of friends, it was the first time I actually put this tip into practice. I learned so much from that hike, because I realized that once I communicated that I will be taking breaks and moving at a pace that was right for me, my friends understood and individually thought about how they were going to do the hike. Some went on ahead and waited for us at the top and others realized that was the pace they wanted to move at as well. I always tell people you want to be able to enjoy yourself and not feel like you are about to die trying to keep up with everyone.