I was lucky enough to stay at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in La Jolla, Ca and I felt like a pampered princess. As a birthday present to my mother, sister, and myself, my cousin treated us to a night at the Hyatt and an incredible dinner at Mister A’s in downtown San Diego. The three of us all celebrate our birthdays in the same week, so if on the rare chance we’re all together it’s always fun to do a one big celebration together.
The Hyatt is known as the “Toaster and Blender” building near the Mormon temple. I’m not sure if it’s a true fact, but the urban legend is that the two buildings are designed after the appliances. While, that might not seem super fancy, the two buildings in question are absolutely a treat to stay in.
The beds were extremely comfy, the bathroom had a large bathtub and giant counter. The views were unmatchable, and the breakfast was done in a European style. Absolutely would recommend this as a place to stay whether you’re doing a solo trip, or with a partner.
Mister A’s is a San Diego treasure. You cannot match a combination of perfect drinks, food, or skyline. It’s old world San Diego, and it’s been a part of my family since the beginning. It’s a place I feel like I carrying on a tradition for my mother’s side, and opening up the newcomers to a true treat and experience.
If you go, absolutely ask for a table near a window and get an old fashioned. There is a long list of delicious cocktails and wine, but believe me, get the old fashioned.
When it comes to the shit I’m carrying on the plane I want to bring as little as possible. When I was living abroad I had the tendency to carry half my luggage in my carry-on because I am an anxious little bunny. Nowadays, I’m groovy as long as my wallet, passport, laptop, and phone are on my person.
Traveling with PCOS comes with it’s own type of baggage. I’m having to plan out each snack and meal, then back ups. Don’t get me started on airplane food. Overall, I don’t mind it, but it’s mostly reheated, overly processed food which will not only send my sugar levels rising and me crashing later on, but I won’t feel full no matter what I do. It’s essential for me to keep not only my skin hydrated, but my body hydrated. I know it might seem strange, but I keep a few tea bags of herbal tea with me and ask for hot water when the flight attendants come around. It not only gives a little comfort to an uncomfortable situation, but it keeps me hydrated while also feeding some nutrients to my body. I like taking spearmint and a green tea with turmeric - both are extremely beneficial for those with PCOS. The spearmint can help balance your blood sugar a bit while you’re on that weird eating schedule, and the turmeric is a natural anti inflammatory agent that will help with digestion.
When it comes to snacks I lean towards fats and proteins. I would love to say I take nuts and trail mix, but that’s not true. If you’re a good person and are better at staying healthy, then good on ya. Get that fruit and nut mix. For me, I’ll stick to peanut butter and apples, usually some kind of dark chocolate (I mean come on.. You’re in a flying metal bird. Gotta have chocolate), and usually a protein box from starbucks. I love hard-boiled eggs with some salt and pepper and chewy bread.
I try not to drink too much caffeine while I’m flying because it’ll make me poop (gross I know, but I hate pooping on planes) and it dehydrates me too quickly. I’ll have green tea halfway through my journey, but I have to be sure to map out my sleeping schedule too.
This is what I mean when I say traveling with PCOS has it’s own kind of baggage and struggles. We have such a delicate system that we have to maintain some kind of consistency with stress, sleeping, and eating. Keeping yourself hydrated is a key factor in this case, but also making sure you’re not pushing your stress levels up too much. That can encourage a blood sugar drop and start a whole anxiety attack. It ain’t fun.
So, to break it down, this is what I’d take:
Reusable water bottle (if you can get an insulated one for hot and cold drinks it’ll help in the long run). I take mine empty and fill it up after I cross security, or hand it to the flight attendant with my seat number when I board the plane.
Bag of nuts mixed with fruit, or small dark chocolate pieces.
Herbal tea bags
Peanut butter (almond butter) - I like those Justin’s packets
Some kind of fruit. I like apples since they’re sturdy and won’t get squished too easily.
I like to keep myself clean and semi decent on the plane. I don’t like looking like a slob when I’m traveling and I don’t like feeling like a crusty creature when I land in a new place. I love taking water wipes, or feminine wipes when I travel. They’re both perfect for a quick “shower” to help you feel a little lighter and brighter! I take on basic make up if I can. I love It Cosmetics CC+ foundation because of the intense hydration, and some mascara and eyeliner, so I look a little less grey. If I’m fancy I’ll sneak in my bronzer for a little warming up.
Here is my list of necessities:
An extreme moisturizer
Hand lotion ( I like something that has a calming scent - Aveda has a few soft scents that I won’t knock your neighbors out.)
Basic make-up for landing
Dry shampoo or a texturizing spray
Scarf (I like the big blanket ones)
My last time would be to ask for a hot moist towel when on your last flight to rehydrate your sinuses and pores. It’s perfect right before you put on moisturizer before you settle in for a long sleep, or right before you put on your makeup. A flight attendant told me about this on one of my long haul flights. She said to hold it under your nose breathe in the steam and moisture from the towel. If they don’t offer that kind of service a cup of hot water (herbal tea) will do the same trick. It helps reset your body from breathing in that recycled air for hours.
As WIkipedia puts it, “a portmanteau of ‘stay’ and ‘cation’” and it’s my favorite thing to do when I’m desperately in need to get out of my own head for a minute.
My favorite place to stay is the DoubleTree in Del Mar, CA. It’s far enough from my hometown, but close enough to work that I don’t have to stress about getting around too much. I pack an overnight bag with basic pampering essentials and take off!
I love to pack a simple, oversized dress than I can lounge around in and a few things to work on while I’m staying in. This one is from Old Navy and it’s super light and flowy. Light enough that I can use it as a nightgown if I really want to. (I usually stay up late enough where I don’t really have a choice, but to fall asleep in it!)
I know it sounds a little bizarre to “work” while taking time to pamper and whatnot, but I get so much work done! The pool at the DoubleTree is surrounded by trees, so you truly feel like you’ve been transplanted into another place.
If you’ve never tried taking a night off and spending in a nice hotel or bed in breakfast - give it a go! If you have the means, of course. The way I look at is I would normally pay about $90.00 a week on therapy, with very little results, and with one night for about $150.00 I instantly feel relaxed and I get work done. It’s not something I indulge in all the time, maybe a few times a year, and I never regret it. There are so many ways to get deals - and if you’re super sweet to the front desk they usually give you a few deals when you check in. The Doubletree always delivers when I stay there, and totally recommend them if you’re near one.
STEREOTYPES. They exist in everything. Literally everything. We don’t go a day without confronting some kind of stereotype about ourselves, our job, your neighbor, that stranger you passed - they’re everywhere.
Solo travel is supposed to be a freeing, liberating experience for a person. You’re suppose to feel free of those stereotypes and expectations from the “real world” for however long your travels take you. The whole point of being solo is to avoid these stereotypes and social conformities that are placed on every single person, so how have they crept into this luscious world?
I don’t have a direct answer for that, but I truly feel Instagram and Facebook have had something to do with it. For women there is the standard back-facing photo in the cute outfit in some place exotic. For men it’s the rugged, yet handsome muscled bro that looks like he’s built a house then sipped a coconut for the last twelve hours.
Here’s the reality: that’s a very limiting point of view.
The pressure to look a certain way while traveling has grown to a point where people feel they’re too fat to travel, to create new memories and experiences for themselves. I still don’t feel comfortable showing my entire body in photographs while I’m traveling (I’m working on it). I’m not a body confident lady just yet. I’m slowly getting there, but my lord I’ve got a mountain to climb. It hasn’t stopped me from traveling, only encouraged it, but I do find it more a comfort to see people who look like me when I search for travel blogs.
There are so many reasons a larger, plus size, fat, etc… person wouldn’t travel: small plane seats, fear of judgement, photographs, new customs, no security blankets, etc… the list goes on. My issue has to do more with activities. I want to SCUBA, as I’ve mentioned before, but the idea of putting on a skin tight suit, struggling to get it over my blubber sends razor shivers down my wiggly butt. I wanted to go kayaking, but I was worried I was too heavy for that. Then there’s the fear of the “overly considerate” people. Those that want to take multiple breaks because they notice I’m breathing hard and red in the face (I work out 6 days a week and I still pant like a hot dog). Those that pull me aside and say “I know you’re a trooper, but are you sure you’ll be able to walk the seven mile trail? It’s a long walk…” Are you fucking kidding me. Look, if I can’t do something - I’ll say it, but only then can you question my abilities.
It doesn’t help that airlines are constantly trying to single out the fatties. We’re not going to sink the plane and we’re not the issues, seats are becoming smaller and no one is stopping this from happening. In the linked article it states,
“Economy-class airline seats have shrunk in recent years on average from a width of 18 inches to 16.5 inches. The average pitch -- the space between a point on one seat and the same on the seat in front of it -- has gone from 35 inches to about 31 inches. Many airlines are charging passengers for extra legroom in amounts that used to be standard.”
It’s another way greedy people are using fat-phobia to squeeze money from the average person's pockets. It costs anywhere for $50 to over $150 dollars to travel with proper leg room, not to mention the embarrassment that happens when you have to ask for a seat belt extender. I’m not at this point, but I feel for people that do. It’s not that they’re too big, it’s that money is too desired.
Putting this aside, there’s another issue of safety. How many times have we seen viral videos come out of women confronting men who have sexually harassed or molested them while sleeping, or just sitting near them? There’s no room for personal space on planes anymore.
I think too often are motivational quotes and pretty photos masking what it's like to actually travel as an average person. I also believe that there is an agenda for the majority of people running these airlines. I want to believe that there are honest people encouraging travel, but unless you fit a certain niche it's extremely challenging.
I know this post might seem very discouraging, but I you can't travel without understanding the game that's been set up. You're a piece moving around thinking you have free will, but those plane ticket prices are really making those choices for you. The airlines you choose to fly with respond differently to you. There's a reason we have a loyalty to certain airlines, and those CEOs know and understand more than you think they do.
I encourage you to do your research and to travel intelligently. I also encourage you to fight back against selfish capitalists that want to keep the normal, day-to-day person from seeing this beautiful world.
Solo travel is not the same experience for women as it is for men. Men can be a little more spontaneous, a little more reckless than other genders. The majority of men don’t really concern themselves too much with the types of garments they wear, their marital status, or even begin to think about reproductive issues while traveling. They don’t have to worry too much about how safe they are if they’re somehow stranded and completely alone. They don’t really need to worry about “do I have some kind of weapon on me, just in case?”
This is a known generalization concerning cis, white men and women. It absolutely becomes more complicated when you identify as anything other than cis, and unfortunately, not white. However, this isn’t meant to scare off anyone, only a small blurb from my own experiences. I will only be writing from my own perspective from now on, fyi. I can’t speak for anyone else.
I’m not saying that men don’t have to worry about their safety while traveling, because you always have to! Everyone does! Even in your own home town! But for women this is a major issue. The majority of the world see women as a target, something to possess, own, and use. We are below worthless in some countries if we’re not married. Most websites will tell women to carry around a wedding band “just in case.”
When I lived abroad I made my own pepper spray after being attack one too many times while going about my daily routine in broad daylight. I also developed a good right hook when I caught a man masturbating while staring at me taking photos.
Buzzfeed put out an article called 46 Incredibly Useful Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone back in April and it’s a damn good resource if you’re new to this whole “real world” bullshit. Jessica Probus does a decent job laying out the best precautions to take when traveling alone. These tips could also be great for anyone of any gender, but especially for women. The very last tip she mentions “follow your instincts” and I couldn’t agree more. My gut has prevented some truly bad situations. It could be something someone you just met said off-hand, or the new group of people you’re walking with are taking a strange route to get to a new bar - your gut knows. Learn to trust that instinct before you leave for your trip. It’s both a treasure and a burden to be naive in certain situations, but know your limits and your “get out of here asap” exit strategies.
The comments on this article seem to either fight the idea that these kinds of precautions are necessary, are “idiotic” and common sense (which some are), or we only need these tips because, “[we] put [our]selves in that position.” AOINFODNFSDOISDNFODNSfosdmfoinsdfosndfsinf;dsnds;m;sd'sdnfs. No.
I wish we didn’t need this kind of a list. I wish we could focus more on teaching people that rape culture is not a culture to live by. I wish we didn’t have people creating nail polish that tells you if your drink is spiked, or wear a penis destroyer like a tampon, or even carry around a damn apple to bash someone’s face in “just in case.” But we do. Right now, with the way things are, and the way the majority of the world sees women, we need these lists. We need protection. We need hostel floors that are for women only. Back in the day, “women only” sections were there out of propriety, but now it’s because it’s a damn necessity for safety. Where’s the fairness in that? In BakPakGuide.com article about the female-only hostels, they try to make it sound like it’s a pretty pink, fluffy, time and that’s why they've created it - because women prefer the cleaner life. But then they have this little quote, “These hostels understand the concerns of female travelers and happily make safety a priority. Often this means having extra locks on the exterior of the hostel and extra security cameras. Another reason you can rest easy (in comfy beds of course).”
Yeah. More cameras. More security. What female travelers are looking for… Safety and travel for women go hand in hand. It's not something we can forego or wait to plan for last minute. It's something we have to prepare for in any country. HOWEVER - never let that stop you from traveling.
When you travel alone you want to feel like you can experience anything and everything, including the nightlife of whatever city you’re in, but as a women that just increases our chances of being harassed or attacked ten fold. When I lived in San Francisco I used to hold an apple in my hand when walking home from work - something that, unfortunately, was necessary a few times. I don’t like the idea of carrying an actual weapon, and that will usually cause you more trouble than you asked for. The old, tried, and true method of protection is placing your keys in between your knuckles and creating a deadly fist while walking swiftly. But, if you’ve seen the majority of keys in Europe, you’ll know they’re usually longer than your palm and make it a little too obvious.
I hope we can truly revolutionize the future so these methods aren’t something we have to consider as we cross borders, but until then, take heed and don’t be naive.
Maybe it's because San Diego, the self-proclaimed paradise, land of the "beautiful" people is experiencing actual weather, but today I've been day dreaming of Santorini and fruity cocktails. I want to experience the life of luxury, without guilt, for a hot second. I'd like to taste the wacky fish food, dried octopus, fruit and veggies galore, and maybe get lost at sea for a day.
I mean.....come on. I wanna swim in that water and hike for miles up the side of the mountain.
I don't think it's a widely known thing about me, but bougainvilleas are my favorite flower. The small white buds are hidden inside bright petals of orange, pink, white, and purple. They add a mass of color and can weed their way into any space. The house I grew up in was built by my parents and was always covered in bougainvillea bushes. My mother went into labor with my when she was putting in carpet on the stairs - this woman doesn't sit down for very long.
Something in me says the air would smell like melon and sweet oil.
Now....this might seem a LITTLE confusing as I just mentioned that I was heading to Costa Rica with TuCamino Travel....well things happen and minds are changed. Thus we are grateful for flexible flight schedules and previously saved money!
Before I go into it I do want to say that TuCamino Travel is a great opportunity for women, but there were certain things that developed after I had arranged my travels that didn't sit right with me. We split amicably and support one another in our future plans.
NOW ON TO THE FUN BIT
I'm going back to GLASGOW! I'm visiting a dear old friend and her lovely husband. The last time I went it was right after I had been diagnosed with PCOS and had just started a new birth control....so you can imagine the trip was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I didn't really understand what my body was feeling fully at that point (I literally had my doctors appointment the day before I flew out) and I ended up with a nasty chest cold on my last flight in. Nonetheless it was a great trip and it was really wonderful to spend time with my lovely friend.
This time I feel like I've matured a million years over and understand what my body can handle and what it requires. I feel ready to jump back into traveling again and trusting my own instincts to get me through the tough patches. My friend is also more aware of what the heck is going on with me, so I feel comfortable and relaxed about the whole thing.
I'll be leaving in February!! I'm so ready for a real roast dinner, good tea, yummy pastries, beautiful green things, BOOTS (omg), and maybe a unicorn.
YAY FOR SCOTLAND!!
I'm SO excited to be traveling with the lovely TuCamino Travel . All the photos above are from their website, AND please check out their promo video:
"The mission of TuCamino, literally meaning "your way" or "your path," is to offer a unique travel experience geared specifically toward women. Our tours in Costa Rica and Mexico include yoga, surfing, nature exploration, community service, and so much more. We aim to foster meaningful relationships and provide true immersion in the local community, while always leaving behind a positive footprint."
I could not be more excited about this trip. I would never have expected myself to want to travel to a tropical place, but ever since I came upon TuCamino's website it's all I've been thinking about. I am really excited to help the local community in Puerto Viejo and help create a new community of women on this trip. I'm going to learn how to surf, explore jungles, and learn about the culture and customs of the locals. I'm also really excited to try new fare!
Over the next couple of months I'll be taking this blog on a little journey while I prepare myself and my body for this new adventure. I want to give a proper introduction to the founder and extraordinary woman, Nena Ocampo, and how wonderfully easy she's made the booking process. I also want to talk about building self-esteem and why I was particularly attracted to an all women's resort, rather than a co-ed like Contiki.
BUT, if you're interested in joining me on this wonderful journey and you want to see Costa Rica for yourself, TuCamino is offering a special 10% off for the month of October and a few other ways to get discounts. If you sign up for their newsletter you automatically get $100.00USD off! Click here to send an inquiry and Nena will send you an email with all the details!!
I can't wait to visit a new place and share my experiences with all of you. Maybe I'll get around to making a YouTube channel before I leave! Vlogging? It's what the kids do!
I'm probably a little too excited about this, but I'm so honored that the lovely lady behind Travel With Curves allowed me to write about my experiences with PCOS and travel. I truly believe that this disease is not talked about enough and too many women are silently suffering from this life-altering disease. Those of us that do know we have it struggle with it day-to-day and it's hard to keep our chins up when there's so much body-shaming in our world. Our hormones play such a big role with how the rest of our body and mind functions, we cannot ignore this!
Please go read my article and check out the rest of Jen's travel blog!
Take a look at this article by the lovely Phylisa Wisdom. She asked me to take a picture for her article and used the cover photo you see here. It's a great article about Coffee Shops in San Diego!
Jen at STONEHENGE!! SO COOL
What made you want to start your blog, Travel with Curves? What do you enjoy most about blogging?
Travel with Curves was sort of the culmination of a couple of blogging projects I was attempting at the time. I’d started a body positive blog called Curvy Holistic that was meant to inspire women at every size to live life to its fullest, but it lacked focus. I’d also tried my hand at a personal blog, but it was too broad and I quickly lost interest in maintaining it because I felt like nothing in my life was that interesting. I wanted something body positive and personal that would not only encourage other women to live life to its fullest, but also motivate myself to practice as I was preaching, so to speak.
Since I work as a freelance writer, I’m always writing articles and blog posts about travel, but I write them for other people. It finally occurred to me that I could start my own travel blog, but use the intention behind Curvy Holistic to create something body positive.
The best thing about blogging, for me, is connecting with people. I hope Travel with Curves takes off to become about so much more than my own travel experiences, but also a place where plus size travelers can share their own adventures and network with each other so body positive travelers start to gain recognition in this blogging niche.
Jen and her lovely husband, Ty, in front of the London Eye.
How has your own body positivity evolved over time?
My own body positivity has progressed a lot from where I was a year ago, and I think it always will. I’m not at that point where I can say, “this is it, I’m finally there!” where I’m completely comfortable in my body and proud of it, like so many body positive role models are. I suffer from PCOS, which means I’ve dealt with weight gain, acne, and hirsutism for years, which can take a toll on a woman’s self-esteem. I’m working on it, but it’s a process. Some days I’m more confident than others, and that’s okay, but I maintain a body positive mindset and reassure myself that I’m beautiful just the way I am. You’d be surprised how easily that mindset can keep your insecurities in check.
And when you’re finally getting out there and experiencing all those things you said you would once you lost weight, only you’re doing it now instead of waiting for the scale to hit that elusive number, you don’t have time to think about how insecure you’re feeling.
In the travel blogging community there is a stereotypical expectation of women (i.e. skinny, bikini-wearing, always somewhere exotic, smiling perfectly). What are your thoughts on this? Do you think there is a lack of plus size female travelers in the spotlight?
This is exactly why I wanted to start Travel with Curves! I love reading travel blogs and living vicariously through these amazing bloggers, but none of them look like me. That’s not a bad thing, of course, but it’s hard for a plus size woman to relate to a youthful, athletic, or “modelesque” girl in short shorts and a tank top ascending Machu Picchu without seeming to break a sweat. I love what those bloggers are doing, but I also want to see more plus size women doing the same, because so many are putting it off until they lose weight or get in shape, and the years pass by and they wish they’d done it already. I didn’t plan my first trip overseas until I was 32, and that’s a shame, but at least I didn’t wait any longer.
Jen at the Roman Wall in London.
This question actually makes me think of a photo of me taken next to the old Roman city wall in London. It was humid that day and my face was flushed and still puffy from the flight. My ankles were so swollen from walking who knows how many miles every day, so my feet were killing me, and I swear you can see the pain in my face because that smile is not genuine. LOL! But hey, I’m in London! I’m standing next to an ancient wall the Romans built. I’m feeling fat, bloated, and exhausted, but I’m there! I did that! It’s an amazing feeling.
What is the number one place you'd like to visit that you haven't had a chance to?
Oh wow, there are so many! I’ve only been overseas once so far, and that was to London with a day spent in the English countryside, so I have so much more I’d love to see. Scotland is probably at the top of the list just because my husband and I really want to go back to London next year, and it would be easy making a trip up to Edinburgh while we’re there. I also want to visit Dubai, Egypt, Petra, and Budapest. But, if I had to pick one place I’ve been dreaming about, it would be the Maldives. I’m not much a beach person, but I love the water and that place looks like my kind of paradise!