black and green luggage bag on brown carpet
Babcia and Yia Yia!, Notes on Planning and Packing, Study Hall: Essays On Travel

Plus Size Travel 2.0

It’s us! We’re back! Yep! We are back for another look at how the plus size traveler can conquer any challenge that comes her way. Whether it’s trying to find the best spot to sit on a plane or the challenge of streamlining your suitcase, we are here to make plus size travel just a bit easier for anyone who carries just a little more with them than the clothes in their suitcase.

person in white pants lying on bed
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Plus Size Travel Writers That Are Keeping It Real!

Mary Fran is a plus sized woman who keeps the humor in day to day life as well as travel. She’s become so popular on TicTok that Good Morning America featured her in one of their human interest segments. Meet Mary Fran by clicking here to the original GMA article.

In A Letter To My Thin Friend by Lacie-Jade Christie, the author takes some time to give her friend her perspective on how a plus sized traveler feels dealing with big moments like hiking and little moments like sitting in an airplane seat. Read A Letter To My Thin Friend and link to more stories in this series by clicking here.

woman with cup sitting on couch while working on laptop
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Looking at our clothes

What are you self conscious about when you travel? For us, we are constantly striving to fit in and not impose on others. For us, embracing our size not only means caring for ourselves but also blending into the group we are with or the place that we are spending time. This balance may start with our mindset but always, always, finds its way to our wardrobe.

modern male clothes on hangers in closet
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Taking our clothes on a test drive.

Recently, we’ve been working really hard to make sure every single thing we put into our bags has a good reason for being there. To test out our ideas, we’ve been giving our travel wardrobe a test drive. Here are some of the results! Note that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too!

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  • The jumpsuit solution: jumpsuits are in style right now and plus size women can seize upon this great wardrobe choice to make going out comfortable whether its day or night! Jumpsuits can look sporty or give just the right glam vibe no matter where you travel.
  • Raincoat regrets: There’s always one item that makes its way to the top of the should or shouldn’t I list and that’s our raincoat. It can be a waste of space or the best thing in our bag. I went to Victoria Falls and never pulled it out even though it was recommended and was in the sunniest part of Germany wishing I had one! Take it or leave it, it’s awfully hard to find one in a plus size when you are out and about.
  • Leggings: Whether you use them to work out or to keep warm or comfy, leggings pack small and find so many ways to be part of any capsule wardrobe. We confess! We fell into the rabbit hole of LuLaRoe and we apologize for even thinking this was a good idea. These days, you can find leggings in our wardrobe that don’t include tacos or palm trees. Some of our favorite leggings include great finds from LuLuLemon and Lane Bryant.     

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The classic V-neck: Plus size tops can be so very difficult. They stretch across our boobs, hang too low or act like an unsightly crop top or simply make us look far larger than we are! We are always on the search for V-necks that compliments our neck line so we don’t look like we are strangling ourselves and are just the right length to cover without shortening our legs so we look like oompaloompas. Call us when you find them.   

Bra Basics: The girls always need a lot of attention when you are plus size. Traveling brings a whole new set of challenges to lift, separate, and flatter. Bras need to be super supportive as well as washing and drying easily. It’s not an easy task! We love these super cheap strapless bras (with no clasp to break) as well as our Third Love bras. TL does a great job of fitting you correctly. Not always something that is done well.  We are hoping that plus size bras become more readily available but we don’t expect this to be something that  to be any time soon.    

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  • Scarves or pashminas: One way that we can save room in our luggage is to forego a jacket during fair weather travels. I mean, in the end, we barely use it especially when we’re ducking in and out of shops and museums. And when we do commit to the whole jacket thing we wind up in a sweat juggling a jacket with packages while my mother looks on in disdain. Can we say overheated?! Lately, our jacket alternative is a pashmina and a light scarf that both have a multitude of uses. It’s a blanket on the plane and a jacket that easily wraps around the handle of our handbag. A lighter scarf is a great accessory and a great way to add a little variety to a capsule wardrobe. Both pack small and both do a better job than a jacket.
  • Plus size swimsuits: Ugh. Can we just say this is one of our least favorite topics? We have, however, over the years picked up a few ideas that help. First, no matter what size you are, there is a two piece swimsuit for you. Two piece swimsuits offer plenty of coverage while being far easier to get on and get off whether you are dry or wet. Trust us! We’ve both been dealing with the swimsuit wriggle for far too long, we know what we’re talking about! The next thing that we highly suggest is to have a dedicated packing cube just for your suit. It will always be ready to go and it will take up hardly any space at all! Our cube is small enough to even fit in our bag.
  • Compression socks: This may be our favorite trip saver! Compression socks are known to help with swelling but did you know it also helps with fatigue which could aid in jet lag!? We’ll take it! Unfortunately, not all socks fit plus sized legs! Check out some of our picks below.

How Do You Streamline Your Luggage?

Pop quiz! If you raise your hand if your suitcase is always bigger than everyone else’s even though you have the same amount of stuff. We’ve come up with a few ways to help streamline the amount of stuff we pack up and here are just a few of those thoughts.

  • Staying Make up free is a great choice we’ve made to keep our skin fresh and our bags just a little lighter. Between both of us, we carry one gloss, a brow pencil and mascara. We are done.
  • Compression cubes shrink things down and can be a life saver when trying to stay organized. We use them for everything especially the “just in case” items like swim suits and rain jackets.  
  • Laundry options including where the laundromats are where you are going and Tide sticks is a huge piece of the puzzle for the “my boobs catch a little of everything I eat” crowd. A few dryer sheets in our shoes are not such a bad idea either.
a woman looking at a map
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What technology do you truly use when you travel?

Let’s face it: travelers need their technology to do double duty. We need items that earn their keep in our bags. In fact, even though we podcast and we have definitely committed to leaving the big camera and computer at home. Instead we focus on making our iPhone earn its keep!           

Stay Inspired

Amazing Race Couple Challenges Eliminated

person holding black android smartphone
Notes on Planning and Packing, Travel U for Kids

Travel U: Fun Family Apps

Have you seen them? Those lists of the 49 most essential products that you absolutely positively need before you travel 9 miles from home? And the 29 best apps that are not free that you need to download before you get in your car to go to the supermarket? It seems like no matter where you look someone is trying to sell you some sort of travel tech that is going to make your vacation the easiest and best vacation ever.

person holding iphone showing social networks folder
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The way I see it, travel gear falls into one of two categories: travel tech and everything else. And sometimes, that tech can get waaayyyy out of hand! Not so fast! I certainly don’t think the newest inflatable kid sized neck pillow that folds down into a bunny origami style is going to make or break your vacation. However, there are a FEW things that do stand the test of time. Note that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too!

The Basics

Travel Tech is a fast growing industry and kids are a big part of the market. From kid proof tablets to kid friendly travel apps, where does a family on the go even start looking?! For me, it’s a matter of need. I try hard to stay away from the fancy new things and stick to the basics. But, I’m weak! I eventually find myself checking out the latest and greatest gadgets that seem to always be popping up. So, let’s break down some of the all time best and have a chat about what’s needed and really not something to worry about.

When sifting through the latest headphones, the fanciest suitcases (more on those later) and the best travel toys, I think it can start feeling like you are putting your whole house into your suitcase! As a matter of fact, we were packing at home once and my daughter unplugged her little Alexa echo. I asked what she was doing and she told me she wanted it so she had music to fall asleep with. I told her to put it back and use her iphone. Seriously! So, how can you pack light and still have the techno world at your fingertips?

flat lay photography of person touching silver ipad on world map chart beside black hat
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Versatility matters…

I’ve got to say that I am a fan of a good, up to date, ipad. It’s, by far, the most multi purpose travel item I pack and does just about everything. Music, TV, online, reading, games, maps, a connection back home. Check. Between my phone and my ipad, I’m set. I don’t need to travel with a laptop, a camera, or any other piece of technology because I’ve got it all in one place. But an ipad may not do everything you need for the kiddos in your life.

Let’s face it, sometimes we depend on technology to entertain our kids while we are trying to get things done. And who could blame the harried parents of the world as we try our best to get from one place to another by waiting in lines, negotiating with gate agents, spend hours in a few seats on a plane or in a car and handle the check in and out processes along the way!

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I know that, back in the day,  as I traveled with my kids, I always made sure I had a book and a Nintendo DS at the ready, especially when I knew an inevitable 4 hours would be spent on a tour bus! Today, there are so many choices that can promote global understanding. Here are a few classics and a few new finds that help us feel better about ourselves as we remember “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!”

Stack The States/ Countries (App, school age and up)

There is something so mesmerizing about Oklahoma teetering on Hawaii or Fiji  dotting the top of Chile. Stack them as tall as you can before the tumble down and you need to start again.

stack the states

Trivia Crack (App, pre-teen and up)

Play against each other in Trivial Pursuit style, some questions make you feel like you are a smarty pants while others will make you question what you are missing.

Trivia Crack for Travel tech

Kindle Reader (multiple platforms, all ages)

Use that Amazon Prime account and get reading no matter where you are. Easily used offline, Kindle works as an app, on its own reader, or on a regular computer.

Kindle for travel tech

Audible (Multiple platforms, all ages)

Quality recording of unabridged literature including Harry Potter and Percy Jackson allows young readers and teens to enjoy hours of escape in the pages of a book without lugging the book around. And maybe with a little less stubbornness since the reading is done for them!

Nat Geo Kids (Website and app, Preschool to Preteen)

Animal interest and culture pieces made just for kids let young minds explore for hours. Available both on website and as an app. (Check out the Weird But True app by Nat Geo too!)

Nat geo kids

Worldle on Facebook

So, are you caught up in the Wordle fandom sweeping the hallowed halls of Facebook? Well, dear traveler, there’s a new figure it out in six steps trend ready to distract you from your inbox once a day. Meet WorLdle: check out the shape of the country, and figure out where you are in the world you are in six guesses. Good luck!!

Travel tech that goes past the app…

Apps and games aren’t the only thing out there for the savvy traveler. There are strollers, carriers, foot rests, tray table cloths, inflatable booster seats, travel games, art packs, owl shaped suitcases, suitcases that charge, suitcases that you can ride on, suitcases that you can literally take a ride on. The list goes on and on…. Here’s my opinion on all of it. Stop. If you seriously plan on traveling with your kids, take the time and invest in one quality product that will serve you both at home and away.

You don’t need one stroller at home and another for trips if you take the time to find a lightweight, quality made stroller that fits your specific needs. Why pay $200 for a big one and $150 for a small one when you can get something that works across the board for $250? The same goes for luggage. You can buy a cute doggie backpack with matching roller bag that holds about half of what your child needs and lasts about two years instead of buying one brightly colored roller bag that will last until he or she are a teenager.

Rethinking our needs

In Japan, school children buy one back pack to last them from first grade to eighth grade. It is well made and they care for it. How come we don’t do the same? Why not buy one really nice backpack and have it dry cleaned once a year? Why not use it for school and travel? I’d rather spend my money on artwork while on a trip anyway. In short, the savvy traveler buys for their lifestyle and buys once with quality. Don’t get taken in by all the hype. There’s just no need. (I think I may have just lost every future sponsor I could have!)

So, you’ve got your tablet (and perhaps a separate one for your kids-each), you’ve got a good suitcase, and you are leaving the majority of your house at home. There are a few odds and ends that will make your trip a little better. A quality cover that protects that tablet is a good choice along with a good pair of reasonably priced headphones so you don’t have to listen.

Can I take a minute here?

As a teacher, I deal with headphones literally everyday. I can not begin to tell you how many parents I have to talk to about replacing headphones because they purchased the cheap $5 ones instead of leveling up to a better pair that only has a wire that comes out of one side or actually stays together for more than two uses. Please believe me, there is no worse money spent than having to buy a new set of headphones from an airport vending machine. (There goes another sponsor!) AND earbuds do not work for little kids! They do not know how to use them independently and they hurt their little ears! A reasonably priced pair of over the head headphones (wired or wireless) are the best way to go.

Getting Kids Onboard

When your kids are geared up and excited for what’s to come, they will take on so much more that the world has to offer! Contrary to popular opinion, I think surprises while traveling can wind up becoming overwhelming meltdowns. Instead, use technology to help you get the kids ready to take on all that your travels have to offer. Let them research destinations with books and videos like the one below. Let kids be the teachers along the way. Choose a time each day to go over the next day’s plans.

I want to leave you with this, I put my money where my mouth is, I use (or have used) every one of these apps and products while I travel or work with kids as they become global citizens.

Notes on Planning and Packing

Rhode Island 101: Westerly to Newport

This Summer could be coined as the return to American travel. All over the states, travelers are turning towards closer, second city destinations to quench their travel thirst. Where to? Oh, have I got just the place for you! We are heading back to travel and taking on a long weekend for a New England getaway!

Lay of the Land

New England officially consists of Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and, our destination, Rhode Island. Specifically, we are headed to the town of Westerly and it’s fancy neighbor, Watch Hill. Just over the border from Connecticut, this Ocean State secret is one worth exploring. Westerly sits right in the middle of Newport, Block Island, and Mystic Seaport.

Sail into town by car or arrive at the town train station from a local airport like Providence or even Logan International in Boston.

A bunny saying hello in Westerly’s Wilcox Park.

Westerly Downtown

Laid back, work-a-day Westerly charms with little shops and plenty of great eateries like Amigos Mexican Restaurant, Longo’s Italian Restaurant, The Malted Barley Brewhouse and The Tapped Apple. Each is a great time with great energy. Before sitting down, enjoy a quick stroll through the town’s Wilcox Park. I’m sure you will find a bunny or two to say hello! Move to the 1:40 mark in the video to see the charming downtown area.

Watch Hill

Fifteen minutes and a world away, fancy sister Watch Hill, packs the beach charm in a very small area. The cove-side area predictably has plenty of shopping including the famed awnings of Lilly Pulitzer as well as some yummy eating options. The historic Olympia Tea Room is the most recognizable but don’t overlook some of the get and go options that make a great picnic on the sea wall or out on the beach.

You’ll find all the kiddos surrounding the rope driven carousel or standing in line for an ice cream cone in the setting Summer sun. Probably the star of the entire area is the crescent beach that is accessed just past the rentals and over the dune. The New England waves are just right and the sand is perfect for wasting the day away.

Watch Hill Cove with Ocean House keeping an eye on things.

Ocean House

Anchoring this little corner of Watch Hill stands the big yellow Victorian known as Ocean House. This Grand Dame is the epitome of luxury and is worth every cent you save to enjoy it. With amazing experiences and accommodations that will wow you every time, Ocean House is the center of this community providing it’s neighbors with plenty of events including its annual Christmas Tree lighting.

Artistically, the hotel is one of the premiere collectors of Ludwig Bemelmans famous for his iconic contributions to the Madeline books. Additionally, look for serious eating options that partner with such heavy weights as Vueve Cliquot. Ocean House offers another property in the Watch Hill Inn which is more tailored to families.

Enjoying the view of the private beach club from the Vueve Cliquot Veranda.
Bemelman’s artwork is prominent on the lower level. For more on how artwork can be enjoyed check out our tips here.

Day Trip to Newport

One of Rhode Island’s biggest attractions is the seaside town of Newport. This town has a few lovely activities to keep you delighted. The seaside wharf is packed with boutiques and restaurants that will deliver just the right amount of charm and sophistication that anyone would come to expect from New England.

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The biggest draw to Newport, however, are the mansions. Run by the Preservation Society of Newport County, all eleven houses are open during the high Summer season.

The Mansions

America’s version of Downton Abbey winds along Ocean Drive. Of the eleven properties, the prom queen of them all is The Breakers. This massive Summer cottage was the brainchild of the Vanderbilt Family. The 70 room mansion highlights the day to day workings of staff and family. However, it can be so very crowded!

The Grand Entrance at The Breakers

The grandeur and pomp of these homes shows their primary role: to show off. These families were part of the original 400 and they wanted to ensure people knew and that their status didn’t change. This gilded age mentality came at a huge cost in not only materials but labor to create it and, moreover, labor to maintain it.

The dramatic staircase at The Breakers.
Sitting on the back veranda at the Breakers.

Taking time to explore some of the other venues like The Ems and Rosecliff are totally worth it. Some of these properties give far better insight into how these grand dames worked and how technology played such a crucial role in making them a success.

The back yard at The Elms
The latest and greatest in the kitchens.

Block Island

Escape the Southern Rhode Island mainland and hop on a ferry to Block Island for New England’s take on island time. Forty-five minutes on a ferry lands you in the quaint little downtown area full of all kinds of distractions to keep you entertained. The rest of the island opens up to outdoor enthusiasts who are ready to hike, bike, swim, explore, ride, paddle, sail and enjoy. Stay for the day or stay for a week. Block Island is a never ending source of Summer fun. Check out the video to get inspired and enjoy island time.

Cliffs that take in the views and give anyone a go at a great hike!

More Outdoors in Southern Rhode Island

Check out these amazing places for even more to keep you busy and entertained in Rhode Island!

  • Weekapaug State Park
  • Point Judith
  • Fort Adams
  • Sachuest Point