Interview with Edith from The Plus-Size Backpacker!
I’m thrilled to feature Edith Bernier from The Plus-Size Backpacker in this latest interview! When I first started Travel with Curves, there weren’t many plus-size travel blogs floating around cyberspace, but The Plus-Size Backpacker was one of them (hers was the first, in fact!). She probably doesn’t realize this, but Edith’s blog inspired me to forge ahead with my own. In fact, I’ve looked up to her for a lot longer than I’ve actually known her, and I’m glad I can now count her among my friends.
If you haven’t checked out The Plus-Size Backpacker, you’re missing out! Read on to learn more about how this amazing gal is impacting the world.
The Plus-Size Backpacker has been the longest-running plus-size travel blog online. What inspired you to create the blog and become such a prominent figure in the body-positive travel community?
My husband! He told me for years that, since I have opinions about everything, it could be a good idea to start a blog. Since I studied journalism, writing is a medium I particularly enjoy. . .
So during the Easter weekend of 2013, a few months after I came back from India, I remembered the struggle of finding gear and clothes adapted to my body.
I went online and couldn’t find any resource dedicated to plus-size travel. That’s how it all started! The rest is history. . . (or is it? Haha!)
Which country has impacted you the most as a traveler and why?
Peru. I started dreaming about that place – especially about Machu Picchu – when I was about 5-6, after watching a cartoon named “The Mysterious Cities of Gold.”
There was this 2-min. documentary part at the end that showed Peru, Bolivia, and many countries of Central and South America. These places all seemed so amazing and mysterious! So I really got into the Inca and Mayan cultures.
I finally set foot in Peru last year, and I got to see all these places that I dreamed of for 30 years.
My expectations were really high, especially for Machu Picchu, but I was not disappointed. Peru has been a non-stop source of amazement, fun and surprises. I also felt very safe there as a solo female traveler.
If I can name another country, I would add India. It was quite an epic trip. It’s truly of countries of extremes, both good and bad.
Extreme colors, sounds, landscapes, crowds, smells. In a same day, you deal with both extreme scamming to extreme generosity. That’s also where I realized that traveling will never be the same experience for a man and a woman. Being a female backpacker will always require me to be a little more careful than a man would have to be. (But that won’t stop me!)
What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered as a plus-size traveler?
Contrary to what seems to be an issue for many, it wasn’t flying! It was finding the right gear (i.e. backpack) and clothes in my size! (Good news: it has slowly improved since, at least in Canada and the US).
Learning how to streamline my luggage has been a constant struggle!
When your t-shirt is twice the size of a “standard” sized t-shirt, and you plan on traveling with just a carry-on luggage, you have to be quite creative! I once told a friend: “Carry-on luggage size is not proportional to the passenger’s size and weight! My undies are twice the size of yours, yet I have the same luggage allocation. . .”
What would you say to someone who feels they’re too fat to travel?
Read my e-book? Haha!
I would urge this person to get that silly idea out of his/her head!
With a little creativity, it’s possible to travel light, whatever your size. It will most likely require more preparation and planning, but that is no excuse to miss out on travels. There are places way too amazing on this planet to miss them simply because of our body size!
The media and the web like to tell us plus-size people what we can’t or shouldn’t do. After a while, it can start to sink in, and we may start believing these messages. That’s when you have to stop and rethink the whole thing, based on YOUR capacities, YOUR abilities. Each individual has to figure out and decide what he/she can do, what’s appropriate for him/her.
And, let’s be honest. . . proving people wrong can feel so good!
Can you tell us a little bit about your e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Plus-Size Backpacking?”
It felt like the logical thing to do after 3 years of blogging. The idea was to create a guide that could turn an inexperienced traveler into a better informed and prepared one. I also wanted to spare others from doing the same mistakes I did! (Needless to say, I learned a lot. . . enough to make an e-book out of it)!
On top of the usual preparation and considerations that all travelers must go through, plus-size travelers have a complete set of "size related" issues that need to be considered. That is also something I wanted to address. To this day, this is the first publication of its kind, and there was clearly a need for that!
Though “The Ultimate Guide to Plus-Size Backpacking” is mostly based on personal experiences – read “trials and errors!” – it’s written as a reference tool and not as a personal account. The occasional anecdotes are there simply to illustrate the tips or how I came to discover a new practical possibility that could become game-changers for my fellow plus-size backpackers.
What’s going on in your life right now? Any side projects or upcoming travel plans?
I will be hitting my 16th country in 8 years, next September. . . destination Bulgaria! I can’t wait to discover this blend of Greek, Mediterranean, and Slavic cultures. . . this should be very interesting! I plan on hiking in the Stara Planina (a part of the Balkans Mountains chain) and relax at some beach on the side of the Black Sea, among other things!
Parallel to my blogging activities AND my full-time job (which has nothing to do with the blog!), I have recently increased my actions to increase fat acceptance around me and and make people aware of the fact that you can be plus-size AND active AND feel great (and that includes a good state of global health). I am also working on a couple of very interesting (secret!) projects in the same spirit.
I have been collaborating with a few francophone blogs (I was born and raised in French), since the beginning of 2017, where I write about travel, but also on advocacy and body diversity.
Finally, I should be involved in the 2018 Montreal + Fashion Week (I was a guest speaker at the 2016 Montreal + Fashion Week and should be part of the second edition of the event), but I don’t know yet in what capacity. . . to be continued!