Welcome to Community Conversations, an interview series featuring Intrepid travellers, creatives and activists in our community. In every Q&A we ask an inspiring individual about their world view and their world adventures.
Annette Richmond is the creator of Fat Girls Traveling. Not only has she built an incredible community and resources for plus-size travellers, but she also helped us to create Intrepid’s first-ever Ethical Marketing Policy.
Hi Annette! Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! I’m Annette, a fashion-obsessed travel addict and fat positive activist. I’m from the Bay Area, California and am currently a Digital Nomad embarking on my third year of traveling full-time. Not only do I have a passion for fashion, I have a degree in it! My goal through my work as an advocate and content creator is to change the way the world views fat and marginalized bodies.
Tell us more about the Fat Girls Traveling community and its mission.
4 years ago I started traveling the world solo. I was faced with many obstacles and stigmas due to my race and size. When I looked for guidance, tips or tricks about traveling while fat, it was slim pickings.
But I saw fat people traveling! I saw them in Europe and Asia, I saw them getting on planes and doing bike tours and adventure sports. Yet there was no representation or resources.
So I created Fat Girls Traveling, a fat positive travel community and support group exclusively for fat womxn and non-binary humans.
The truth is, when you see someone like you doing something you thought you could never do, it shifts your perspective. It allows you to dream bigger and break out of your comfort zone.
For nearly 3 years my priority in life has been to inspire and empower fat people to travel outside of their comfort zone. Even if that means to the next town.
What else is on your plate right now?
I’m constantly writing and recently contributed to a Fat Travel feature in Airbnb Magazine. I collaborated with a major plus-size clothing brand for a Pride Month campaign. I was guest editor of the Inclusivity Issue for a popular women’s travel magazine.
I do all of that in my spare time when I’m not creating fat positive travel memes for my blog, managing the Fat Girls Traveling Facebook Community, writing and editing the Fat Girls Traveling blog and event planning.
How did you get bitten by the travel bug and, more specifically, the adventure travel bug?
I always knew I wanted to travel but didn’t think I could afford it. I started making travel a priority and not just traveling to the most popular destinations. Once I started to diversify, I realized that I enjoyed offbeat destinations more than seeing certain bucket-list places like France and Italy.
I love nature, hiking and being outdoors but my recent Intrepid trip to Jordan was the first time I’d gone on a trip focused on adventure. I went on a Jeep Safari through Wadi Rum and an 8-hour hike through Petra.
It was my most memorable adventure travel experience to date. I felt like I truly trusted my body for the first time.
That trip sparked my adventurous spirit and since then I’ve gone hiking in Yellowstone National Park, I’ve ridden in a helicopter and kayaked on the Mississippi River. I love pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.
How do you practice responsible travel when you travel?
Responsible travel is important to me. I’m constantly learning new ways to travel with a smaller impact on the Earth. One thing I try to keep at the top of my mind is my plastic consumption. I travel with a reusable water bottle and a metal straw. When I’m on the road I try to buy gallons of water to refill my personal bottle with. I also try to be aware of my carbon footprint and will opt to take a bus instead of flying whenever possible.
Giving back to local communities looks different and can be as simple as shopping with local vendors. It can also mean being honest about overtourism and showing the reality instead of the pretty, edited Instagram photos.
What has travel taught you about both yourself and about life and humanity more generally?
Travel has taught me that people are mostly kind. I’ve leaned on complete strangers for everything from directions to guidance and they haven’t let me down yet. This probably speaks more to my low expectations of those I don’t know but I’m always surprised by the kindness of strangers! This kindness has allowed me to soften and to view life as something more than making the most money to buy the most things.
What would you say to someone who wants to travel but is scared to or has never travelled before?
The first tip I would give someone who is interested in traveling but afraid is that travel is not a competitive sport. For me, it’s not about country counting – I choose quality over quantity everyday.
If you’re more comfortable keeping it close to home, go on a day trip to a nearby town you’ve never visited.
Take small steps out of your comfort zone. Domestic travel counts! Contributing to your local communities economy is just as important as traveling to Paris and buying all the Eiffel Tower key rings and macarons you can fit into your carry-on.
If you’re considering long-term travel or becoming a Digital Nomad, my biggest tip would be not to plan too far in advance. Things change so quickly and part of the uniqueness of this lifestyle is the spontaneity of it all. I generally have plans booked 1-2 weeks in advance and have learned planning much more ahead than that while on the road can get costly.
What destinations and experiences are at the top of your bucket list?
Honestly, I prefer being on a beach, in a bikini, with a fruity drink in my hand. But for some reason, seeing the Northern Lights and taking a dip in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon are on my bucket list.
This is second only to visiting Africa. The more I travel the more often I’m asked where I’m from “originally”. Most people can trace their roots but African Americans and people from the Diaspora can’t. My dream is to visit Africa and learn more about the incredible continent, my origins, and the world.
What Intrepid trip would you most like to go on?
The Intrepid trip at the top of my list is the Kenya Women’s Expedition because it seems to combine so many of the things I’m interested in and want to learn more about.
However the Mexico Real Food Adventure and all the Festival Tours would be my next options. I was raised in a Latin community and learned so much about the culture and food through sheer proximity. So it would be great to learn about those things in a more historical way.
Tell us some some people in the travel industry who inspire you!
These profiles are on the body love journey with me: Chantel of @voyaging_vagabond, Amanda of @arms.wideopen, Sam of @callmeadventurous, Bianca of @biancakarina__, Carol of @girlgonetravel, Hannah of @hannahlogan21, Aria of @ariasaid & Isabelle of @issyong.
I’m so thankful to the amazing creators in my life, many of whom I’m lucky to be able to call friends. That’s the thing with the interwebs: it can connect you to people who are thousands of miles away yet on the same journey.
And if you’re looking for more uplifting travel tales, check out the “Stories” section of our blog, The Journal.