A new guide to traveling — and traveling to eat — while fat

Have you ever walked into a restaurant and realized that the chairs are just too small for you? Have you ever asked for a seatbelt extender the moment you got on a plane, because you knew the seatbelt wouldn’t fit?

Me too.

I am Chaya Milchstein. I’m a queer fat woman, a car educator, a journalist covering cars and travel, and an influencer taking up space.

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Like most obese people, travel and adventure come with unique challenges and considerations (and a lot of planning), like digging for weight limits and having to call when not on vacation activities. typical and non-traditional, like helicopter rides, scuba diving, Segway tours, and even ATV rentals.

By the way, I find it interesting that helicopters are used in emergency situations to transport tons of equipment, medical personnel and many patients – but somehow they can’t be used to transport my wife and I. Also, why can’t hotels have large, plush towels, instead of the smallest pieces of fabric I’ve ever seen?

I’m not alone.

About 67% of women in the United States are over the age of 14 – however, it should be noted that the statistic comes from a study that is over ten years old, so this number is likely growing.

Nobody said it was easy to travel fat, but damn I’m getting there, and I want to help you do it too. That’s why I’m compiling “A Bold Guide to Traveling and Eating the World”, a travel and food column here at The Show dedicated to helping travelers of all sizes find adventure.

After all, the market is there. Plus size women’s clothing is a $24 billion business in the United States alone. However, just as we remain an underserved market in fashion, we are certainly almost invisible in the realm of mainstream travel media – something I seek to change.

While there’s plenty of travel to come, let’s take a look back at some of my top hotels, restaurants, and experiences around the world to add to your to-do list.

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Hotels

The St. Regis – Rome, Italy

You should have seen the smile on my face when I discovered that the plush and beautiful towels of this magnificent hotel could wrap all around my body. This feeling is worth gold! But that wasn’t the only reason to love this luxury hotel in the heart of Rome. Our bed was incredibly soft, like lying on a cloud – yet still firm – easily making it one of the top five hotel beds I’ve slept on in the world. The staff were top notch, leaving us feeling like royalty in a hotel that has the first ballroom open to the public in Rome.

Hotel De Sers – Paris, France

A huge tub for two in the center of the biggest bathroom I’ve ever seen? Yes please. The Hotel De Sers is not only a base during a visit to Paris; it is an experience in itself. We were welcomed with wine and French pastries and our two room suite had a kitchenette and a balcony overlooking the Eiffel Tower. There were two bathrooms in the bedroom, and although one was a bit “too squishy”, the toilet in the main bathroom was big enough for me as it was bigger according to European standards.

Marivel Armony – Punta De Mita, Mexico

Just returned from Mexico where I stayed at four different hotels. Of the group, the Marivel Armony was in a class of its own. Sure, there were seemingly countless pools and hot tubs, but the spa was definitely on the next level.

For the first time in my life, I experienced a full scrub and mask, followed by an incredibly relaxing massage. There wasn’t a word or drink that even made me feel uncomfortable and despite my initial hesitation I allowed the masseuse to even rub, mask and massage my belly which was actually a really enjoyable experience.

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Food

The Super Expensive Food Tour – Paris, France

The Super Expensive Food Tour (for what it’s worth, it’s just over $325) was the very first traditional food tour my wife and I have taken, and it transformed the way we travel. I was worried the walk would be too long, but stops at a variety of local restaurants were timely. We had a blind caviar tasting – complete with an in-depth education on all the varieties and subtleties – drank delicious cocktails and champagne, and ended a flawless evening with a delicately fluffy soufflé.

Bruna – Guadalajara, Mexico

First, be sure to order a cocktail if you’re drinking. It’s a spectacular tabletop experience, with spun sugar, smoke and other intricate details that will leave you mesmerized. The food certainly does not play second fiddle. The mole sampler is amazing, but there wasn’t a single bite of the whole meal that didn’t thrill the senses. The chairs have been too small, but I took another one which worked perfectly without problem.

mole sampler (Jodyanne Morgan)

Mezzanotte – Seattle, Washington

I must admit that I am picky. Especially when it comes to pasta. The texture must be good, the sauce just right, and the balance of flavors must be awfully good. Mezzanotte nails every type of pasta I’ve had the pleasure of trying there. Add the fluffy focaccia, rich burrata and dessert and you’ll be leaving after a meal you’ll talk about for a long time.

Weinkeller – Niagara Falls, Canada

Five years ago, while visiting Niagara Falls, my wife and I stumbled upon a restaurant that I still remember as yesterday.

We were inexperienced travelers and this was our first big trip. Our whole trip was a failure when it came to food. Every meal failed until we ran into Weinkeller. Not only is the food locally sourced, but Weinkeller makes its own wine and it’s available on tap. The menu is available in a three- or five-course format, and each course is prepared daily. Pure paradise!

Ardent – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I love food in all kinds of different presentations, but there’s just something really special about the chef’s choice tasting menus. There’s no stress in choosing the perfect dishes, and the multitude of small-format dishes means that even if something isn’t quite to your liking, there are more to come. And Ardent, in my hometown, really nails the tasting menu, with next-level finesse and skill in every bite.

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Experiences

Blue Lagoon – Grindavik, Iceland

The Blue Lagoon is said to be one of the wonders of the world – and while I wouldn’t quite describe it that way, it’s a beautiful spa with stunning views and in-water massages that transport you in another universe. The Blue Lagoon has two hotels, several restaurants and lava fields as far as the eye can see. Bring your own bathrobe if you are more than a size 20/22 as the larger bathrobe was a bit too small for me.

Borola Café Coffee Tasting – Mexico City, Mexico

This coffee tasting experience at a local cafe in Mexico City taught me how to really understand coffee, from taking notes in different types of coffee to learning the best way to pour. I arrived having never quite enjoyed the taste of a regular cup of coffee and left having fully enjoyed the first black coffee to ever pass my lips. And the freshly baked Mexican pastries were just the icing on the cake.

Tub Boats – Seattle, Washington

Paradise must look like a bath in a hot tub – it is exactly what it sounds like – floating leisurely on Lake Union. Maneuvered by a joystick, the boat sails easily and does not exceed 5 miles per hour. The company provides a wireless speaker so you can set the mood, and a dry storage area so you don’t soak anything that… shouldn’t get soaked. Bring a cooler and snacks, and enjoy!

Oh, and this is important. When I visited, the hot tubs only offered relatively small towels. After seeing my post on social media, they immediately looked to fix it, because tall people deserve pads too!

Classic car ride – Paris, France

Okay, the Viator vintage car ride I took with three other people was definitely a bit smooth, but I’m not telling you to cram everyone in. It’s the perfect Parisian experience for lovebirds. Not only can you see the city while riding the back of a vintage beauty up and down, but you get a tour, a fantastic view from a vantage point, and photos to keep the memory alive. Worth every penny.

Follow next month for a deep dive into my next adventure. We’re going to Las Vegas, baby!

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