plus size travel tips

Plus Size Travel Tips: Key Steps to Improve Travel Comfort

Larger travelers are are finding that diligently following specific plus size travel tips is often the only way to be comfortable.

Bring on the Comfort with These Plus Size Travel Tips

Overall, regardless of how you are traveling or where you are staying, the key to a comfortable trip is pre-planning. Researching and arranging for the largest accommodations and knowing what to expect can give you the opportunity to create the most comfortable experience.


Airlines are notoriously uncomfortable. They fill the coach sections with seats that are only 16 to 18 inches wide between the armrests. Only people with waists of 38 inches or less are likely to be comfortable in these narrow seats. Those with larger waists will need to raise the armrest to have enough room for their hips.

Check out the GrandStyle articles on selecting a comfortable seat and holiday travel tips for lots of ideas on selecting the most comfortable airlines and seats as well as ideas from experienced travelers.

Plus Size Travel Tips to Improve Airline Comfort

Here are a few additional tips to add to your airline travel comfort:

    Pick the Right Flight and Airline
  • Research the layout of your flight. Don’t reserve a specific flight or a specific seat on the flight without checking the seat measurements (width and leg room). SeatGuru has all the stats of the various models of airplanes. The airline’s website will give you the particular model of airplane scheduled for your flight. Just research the layout of this particular model on SeatGuru and determine which seats will probably be the most comfortable for you.
  • Research the seating rules of your airline. Check out the seating requirements of a particular airline before making your reservation. Some airlines are more size-friendly to larger passengers, allowing them to pull up the armrest and use part of the adjoining seat for extra comfort. However, most airlines require a larger passenger to fly with the armrest down or they require the passenger to purchase a second ticket regardless of whether the plane is full.
  • Fly Canadian airlines when possible. Canadian airlines have a “one-passenger-one-seat” law which allows a larger passenger to take up however much room they need without having to purchase a second airline seat. The passenger needs to provide documentation from a physician that the use of the additional seat is medically necessary such as for obesity.
  • Create a Good Seating Situation
  • Put a center seat between two people traveling together. If two people are flying together, reserve a window and an aisle seat, leaving the center seat vacant. Center seats are usually the last to be assigned; so, you increase your chances of having an empty seat between you.
  • Pre-board. Give yourself some extra time to get settled. Ask for a seat belt extender from the flight attendant. Raise the armrest after you get seated and then negotiate with the passenger who sits next to you regarding leaving the armrest up to give both of you some extra hip room.
  • Use a wheelchair. Avoid walking long distances between boarding gates and baggage claim by requesting an airport wheelchair when you make your reservation. There is no cost for the wheelchair; but, be sure to tip the sky cap who gets you where you want to go.

Airline travel is rarely comfortable unless you are traveling in first class. But, with a little planning, coach or business class travel can be bearable.


Whether your travel plans are for short or long distance car travel, be sure to rent or purchase a mid-size or larger car with size-friendly features like sufficient leg and head room.

Here are a few more tips:

  • Use a seat belt extender. If the car doesn’t have a seat belt that is long enough, ask your rental car provider or purchase one from your car dealer or a retailer like Amazon.
  • When renting a car, call the rental agency and ask them what car models they have in stock which would be comfortable for a larger passenger. For example:
  • Dollar car rental carries a wide variety of vehicles including Chevrolet and Chrysler mid and full size vehicles.
    Thrifty car rental carries standard and full-size vehicles including roomy SUVs.


Cruises are great for larger bodies because there are a lot of activities on the ship, requiring less walking than participating in the same activities on-land.

However, cabins tend to be small and bathrooms can even be smaller! So, this is another great place to do some research before you book your cruise and reserve your cabin.

Here are a few tips to get your research started:

  • Research cabin floor plans and measurements. Check cabin floor plans and shower sizes on the cruise’s website before making the reservation.
  • Reserve a handicap accessible room. Consider upgrading to a cabin designed for handicap access or a mini suite. Both will have a larger bathroom and will to increase your available cabin area.
  • Cut down your walking. Reserve a cabin close to the elevator. Most activities will be located near the elevator.

Cruising is a very competitive form of travel, each cruise line specializing in different features. Some, like Princess Cruise Lines, have lower prices and attract younger travelers and families. These tend to have smaller cabins. Other cruise lines, such as Celebrity Cruises, tend to have higher prices and slightly larger cabins.


Whether you need a hotel room for a night or a week, here are a few tips to make sure that your visit is comfortable:

  • Make your hotel reservation at least a month before you plan to check in to the hotel. This may result in a larger room for a smaller room rate. For example, you can save up to 20% the best available rate at any of the six Hilton brand hotels worldwide when you book in advance.
  • Minimize the distance you need to walk by requesting a room close to the elevator or reserving a ground floor room that is close to the lobby.
  • Avoid hotels without elevators. Hotels that only have stairs between the floors can be very inconvenient and tiring.
  • Consider staying in hotels that offer light evening meals like Embassy Suites. This will keep you from having to travel away from the hotel to go out to dinner.
  • Stay in hotels that are close to major cities since they tend to be designed for both large and small visitors. Hotels close to a small town may have more limited accommodations, and may not have floor plans or rooms designed for the comfort of larger travelers.

As with airline reservations, do your research. Check floor plans and website pictures of accommodations before you make your reservation.

Vacation Destinations

Look for family-oriented hotels and theme-parks such as Epcot or DisneyWorld. They will tend to provide more accommodations for larger or disabled visitors.

Final Plus Size Travel Tips: Join reward clubs such as Hilton HHonors, Delta Privilege, Marriott Rewards and Riu Class. Being a reward club member can give you lots of negotiation leverage if you want to upgrade your travel experience. And, don’t be afraid to ask for more comfortable accommodations.