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Group Travel: Travelling With Trek America While Plus Size by Rebecca Davis

As I pressed the confirm button on my Trek America trip, I wasn’t really thinking about being plus-sized. Instead, my head was dreaming of all the sights I was due to see on the itinerary I had picked –New York City, Niagara Falls, The Grand Canyon, Vegas…to name but a few.

But as the pounds emptied from my bank account, my old friend Anxiety reared her head and the negative thought spiral began:

“How are YOU going to hike through Yosemite?”

“Do you really think a chunky girl like you can cope with the heat of Vegas?”

“What if you can’t walk around LA because of CHUB RUB!?”

Before long, the shame spiral had sent me to a full-blown remake of that scene from ‘Carrie’ where her mother screams at her “They’re all going to laugh at you!!”

Once I had given myself a good talking to, I started to look forward to the trip. Besides, I told myself, I had been to Australia a couple of years ago and had hiked through mountains, canyons and national parks there. America can’t be that different surely? Ok, granted, I WAS a couple of sizes smaller then (old age – yes I am 36! – and a stressful job meant that I definitely wasn’t the svelte 30-year old that had skipped across to the other side of the world a few years previously) but I was confident that I could cope with the activity holiday I had picked.

And it turns out…I was right!

Was I the oldest on my Trek America trip? Yes.

Was I the largest girl there? Also yes.

Did it matter? Not a bloody bit!

Whilst sadly Trek America have ceased trading this year, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there are lots of other companies that do adventure tours to the US (and further afield!) and I would hate to think that someone was sat scrolling through the amazing itineraries companies such as G Adventures or Contiki provide, but stop themselves booking because of their age and/or size. 

First of all, these companies always start with a ‘welcome meeting’ where you can get to know each other and the guide goes through the dos, don’ts and how to’s of adventure travel. From this point on, it becomes clear that you are under no obligation to do any of the activities if you don’t want to. 

Fancy sky diving? Go for it! Don’t like the sound of that hike down into The Grand Canyon? Then do your own thing! I have found all the tour guides on the trips I’ve been on incredibly approachable and understanding. They will always help you find an alternative activity if you don’t like the sound of something the rest of the group were doing. 

For example, I really wanted to try the white water rafting on my Trek, but I was a little nervous as, in Australia when we went scuba diving, there was no wet suit that fit me (which, considering I was a size 14 then – that is not very size-inclusive! ) However, since then, I have always been apprehensive of water-based activities as it was very embarrassing. I had a quiet word with the guide who assured me that the life jackets provided for this activity would definitely fit and I shouldn’t turn down the opportunity to go rafting down the Colorado River. And she was right! 

In Yosemite, the group had planned to do a particularly intensive hike. We had only a couple of days before completed a hike in The Grand Tetons National Park which had exhausted me – although I was so proud to have completed it. However, I knew that this hike in Yosemite was too far out of my comfort zone. We had one day in the park and I wanted to enjoy it. The rest of the group were all excited about the hike but I just knew I would struggle. This wasn’t to do with my anxiety either – this was just me being realistic about my fitness abilities.

Standing up in the morning and letting the group know I was actually going to do my own thing that day was really difficult and I did get a pang of FOMO as they all said goodbye, but I ended up having the best day! I went to the visitor centre and watched a film on an IMAX style screen, I went on a couple of smaller walks, took lots of photos, hired a bike for a couple of hours, had a delicious lunch in a lodge with wine and even discovered a swimming pool that you could pay to access (luckily I had packed my bikini!).

When I met the rest of the group that evening, we ate pizza together and shared photos. Admittedly their photos were stunning - but so were mine! And I was very proud of the fact I recognised my own body and strengths and what it is capable of – which allowed me to have an amazing day in beautiful surroundings.

Being on my Trek helped me realise that these types of holidays attract like-minded people. Everyone is there for a good time, to explore a country, to get involved and to have fun.

No one really cared about my size, whether I was the last one to reach the summit on a hike, or what I looked like in a bikini. In fact, the only person who really spoke about my size on the trip was, well…me (some negative thoughts from my Anxiety gremlin occasionally sneak out!) On the hikes, the others were all really encouraging. They would wait for me and keep me going until I reached the top with them. When we went swimming, no one looked at my wobbly bits, we were too busy playing games or diving into the waves. I felt truly relaxed on this trip and am forever grateful to my fellow Trek crew and guide for being the lovely accepting people that they were.

There’s a whole world out there to explore. Whilst Trek America may not be running trips anymore, there are plenty of other companies with a similar ethos that does - and I promise you, none of them cares about what the size label in your clothes says.

***

I completed my Trek in August of 2019, taking part in two tours, one right after the other. All views and experiences are my own.

Author Bio

You can find Rebecca, a lover of travel, on Instagram here

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