A PLUS-SIZE woman who once thought she was “too fat to travel” now tours the world after watching her side-hustle take flight.
Kirsty Leanne began creating TikTok content after noticing a gap in the market for plus-size friendly travel and wanted to show other women that, whatever 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 stronger seats and beds without slats.
The influencer, who has more than 70,000 TikTok followers, hopes to encourage other full-figured women to stop putting exciting things off until they have lost weight and show they can do anything they want regardless of their size.
When Kirsty was at the University of Westminster in 2012, she did a work abroad programme in California and knew from that moment on she wanted to travel the globe – but put off doing it because she thought she was “too fat to travel”.
After finishing uni, Kirsty still had doubts about travelling as a plus-size woman, but one day realised she couldnât keep delaying things over her size.
She said: âIt wasnât until years later that I realised that I was torturing myself, every trip that I did, I was thinking I had to lose weight. It was a horrible cycle.â
When travelling, Kirsty was searching for plus-size friendly activities and places to stay, such as hotels with solid beds and roomier chairs, and realised there was a gap in the market.
She began creating TikTok videos, sharing plus-size travel tips.
She said: âMy flight reviews always do really well, mainly because people don’t agree with it.â
Kirsty also started to film herself doing things people wouldnât always expect plus-size people to do, such as surfing and cycling.
Explaining the general reaction to her videos, she says: âI have two sides of it, where I have some people that are really thankful for what I do.
âAnd they message me and they send me things like, âThank you so much, I would never have got on a plane if it wasn’t for youâ.
âAnd then I have the complete opposite where people just completely hate what I do because they think that I’m telling people it’s OK to be plus-size.â
In 2019, Kirsty gave up her job as a social media manager to create plus-size travel videos full-time after her posts started gaining traction.
She said: âI was searching for it and I couldn’t find it myself, so I kind of thought that I could be the person to give that information because I travel quite a lot.
âI want to empower people to see that they can travel the world with a larger body, but also I want to give them all the information they need in order to travel comfortably.
âSo it’s kind of both sort of parts, like educational and inspirational at the same time.â
Now, Kirsty has planned group holidays for plus-size women to Bali so they donât have to worry about the day-to-day activities being inaccessible like she once did.
She explained: âI’ve researched everything to make sure that we’re going to get into plus-size friendly restaurants, we’re going to Bali swings that have a weight limit that’s higher than the average weight limit for them.
âSo, places that have bigger seats, steadier seats, no plastic chairs and places that are a bit more accommodating.
âWe’re going on lots of different excursions that I’ve made sure that heavier people can do. There’s no weight limit on them.
âIt’s just going to be a nice safe space for plus-size people to travel with other plus-sized people because people probably don’t get the option to do that very often.
âWhen I’ve made the reservations, I’ve left little notes on them and said we are a group of plus-sized people.
âIâve asked if we can have a table that would be a little bit more comfortable for us, and they’ve all been perfect.â
Kirsty is doing three trips to Bali; the first sell-out trip is with nine people in November 2022, 11 on the second trip in April 2023 and three on the third trip in November 2023.
Kirsty has visited Bali before so knows where it is most accessible for plus-sized women, but thinks America and Mexico are the most welcoming to larger bodies.
She said: âI believe that America is probably the most accessible because they have a lot of plus-size so they probably naturally just had these things in place, which makes them great.
âI also felt really comfortable in Mexico and they were really accommodating.â
Kirsty explained what she would like to see change in the UK so day-to-day outings are more accessible for plus-size people.
She said: âI just think it would be great if the information we needed was available to us.
âSo I don’t necessarily want every single restaurant in the world to go around and make bigger chairs, like that would be great. I understand that’s not possible.
âI would just like them to say, ‘We have tables with bigger chairs available if you’d like to reserve them.’ Or, I just want that information to be available.â
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