A PLUS-SIZE woman who once thought she was “too fat to travel” is now touring the world after watching her side hustle take off.
Kirsty Leanne started creating TikTok content after noticing a gap in the market for plus size travel and wanting to show other women that no matter their size, they can still travel comfortably.
The 29-year-old from Telford, Shropshire is now planning group holidays for curvy women where every place they visit will have sturdier seats and slatted-free beds.
The influencer, who has more than 70,000 TikTok followers, hopes to encourage other full-figured women to stop putting off exciting things until they lose weight and show that no matter their size, they can do whatever they want.
While at the University of Westminster in 2012, Kirsty did an internship abroad in California and knew from that moment she wanted to travel the world — but she put it off because she thought she was “too fat to travel.”
After graduating from college, Kirsty still had doubts about traveling as a plus-size woman, but one day she realized that she couldn’t delay things beyond her size.
She said: “It wasn’t until years later that I realized I was tormenting myself, every trip I took I thought I needed to lose weight. It was a terrible cycle.”
When traveling, Kirsty looked for plus-size-friendly activities and accommodations, like hotels with solid beds and roomier chairs, and realized there was a gap in the market.
She started making TikTok videos and sharing plus size travel tips.
She said: “My flight reviews always do very well, mostly because people don’t agree with it.”
Kirsty also started filming herself doing things that people wouldn’t always expect from plus-size people, like surfing and biking.
Explaining the general reaction to her videos, she said: “I have two pages of it where I have some people who are really grateful for what I do.
“And they text me and they text me things like, ‘Thank you, I would never have gotten on a plane if it wasn’t for you.’
“And then I have the complete opposite where people just absolutely hate what I’m doing because they think I’m telling people it’s okay to be plus-size.”
In 2019, Kirsty left her job as a social media manager to create full-time travel videos after her posts gained traction.
She said: “I was looking for this and couldn’t find it myself, so I thought I might be the person to give this information because I travel quite a bit.
“I want to give people the opportunity to see that they can travel the world with a larger body, but I also want to give them all the information they need to travel comfortably.
“So it’s kind of both educational and inspiring at the same time.”
Now Kirsty has planned plus size women group trips to Bali so they don’t have to worry about the daily activities being inaccessible like she used to.
She explained: “I’ve done all the research to make sure we get to plus-size friendly restaurants, we go to Bali swings, which have a higher weight limit than the average weight limit for them.
“So places with bigger seats, sturdier seats, no plastic chairs and places that are a little more accommodating.
“We do a lot of different excursions that I’ve made sure heavier people can do. There is no weight limit for them.
“It’s just going to be a nice safe place for plus-size people to travel with other plus-size people because people probably don’t get a chance to do that very often.
“When I made the reservation I left little notes on it saying we are a group of plus size people.
“I asked if we could have a table that would be a little more comfortable for us and they were all perfect.”
Kirsty makes three trips to Bali; The first sold out voyage is with nine people in November 2022, 11 on the second voyage in April 2023 and three on the third voyage in November 2023.
Kirsty has visited Bali before so knows where it’s most accessible for plus size women, but thinks America and Mexico are the most welcoming to larger bodies.
She said: “I think America is probably the most accessible because they have a lot of plus sizes, so they probably just had those things in place, which makes them great.
“Also, I felt very comfortable in Mexico and they were very accommodating.”
Kirsty explained what she would like in the UK to make everyday trips more accessible for plus-size people.
She said: “I think it would be great if we could have the information we needed.
“So I don’t necessarily want every single restaurant in the world to go around making bigger chairs, that would be great. I understand that this is not possible.
“I just want them to say, ‘We have tables with larger chairs available if you want to reserve them.’ Or I just want that information to be available.”
https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/20363124/trolled-plus-size-travel-world/ I was trolled over my plus-size side-hustle but it’s meant I’ve been able to quit my 9-5 job and travel the world