A trip to Southern Africa helped this plus-size creator push past fear 

written by Brittany Buckner December 19, 2023

Brittany Buckner confronts her fears and discovers newfound friendships while on a transformative trip to Southern Africa.

I am scared of my own shadow. I mean, not really, but literally scared of every living thing except maybe ants. Yeah, I can handle ants. But, I’m determined to push past all limitations, so that’s why I said yes to leaving my family for an eight-day safari in South Africa with Intrepid.  

As I sat on the plane for the first leg of my journey to Johannesburg, I felt both excited and incredibly anxious. Travel is not always kind to people who look like me. 

As a Black, plus-size creator, the space I occupy is all about showing my experiences as a wife, mother and avid traveller. 

Many plus-size travellers have trouble just fitting. It’s in the back of my head whenever I go somewhere new. Questions like will there be any limitations or will they be able to accommodate me? I strive to push past the noise in my head by taking the trip. But to keep it real, even when I say yes, I still get the noise. 

I’ve never travelled with Intrepid, but I came across their ethical marketing goals. Being in a space where Black creators are overlooked, this was huge to me. I’ve only been on a few group tours and I was always with people I knew personally, so travelling with a group of strangers was new territory and a source of anxiety. I was hoping I wouldn’t feel left out of the group.

It took me two days to get to Johannesburg. Once I met the rest of my group and we started conversing with one another over dinner, my initial anxiety began to ease and the excitement started to take over.

The next morning, we began our six-hour drive to Kruger National Park. We arrived at our lodge, just in time for lunch, before our first game drive. When the transfer vehicles pulled up to take us into Greater Kruger, I immediately looked to see what time of vehicle we would be in. 

I was happy to see there were bars that made it easy to hop in. 

We drove around with our heads swivelling in every direction, delighted to spot any sign of wildlife, and then we saw a leopard. It was mind-blowing. The big cat was just chilling in a tree eating dinner. Our first of the Big Five and more to follow. We had three days of game drives in Kruger, spotting lions, giraffes, hyenas, cape buffalo and even a newborn elephant.

After a day of safari, we pulled over and the driver and everyone started to get out, but I kept my door shut because I was afraid, I mean, we had just seen a leopard. He opened my door, and I shut it. A few of my fellow travellers started to laugh, telling me this was the location for our sundowner. 

A sundowner involves watching a sunset with a drink in hand. The driver assured me it was safe and encouraged me to join them. It was incredible watching the sun go down with my new friends. Throughout the trip, we would often stop off for a sundowner. I loved it every time. I remember looking around as the sun was setting, thankful that I didn’t let my apprehensions keep me at home and grateful for this amazingly diverse world I get to explore.

Travel helps me to push past the fear and the noise in my head. I often feel afraid and nervous going alone, but I have never regretted taking the trip. 

I was really looking forward to seeing Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Admore Musimbe, our trip leader, explained that the falls are called Mosi Oa Tunya by the locals. We set out to walk to the falls. The pace was perfect – not too fast and not terribly slow. We had a mix of people on the tour, older, fit, not fit, and everyone was able to keep up. 

The only problem was the blazing sun, but we didn’t have control over that. Then I went and tripped on rocks. It wasn’t bad; I was still able to keep walking. When we returned to the lodge, I noticed my knee was swelling a bit. Admore had a medical kit, and he helped me clean it and wrapped it up for me as we chatted about his career with Intrepid.

On this trip, I always felt supported. Not just by the Intrepid team, but by my fellow travellers. When small issues arose, Admore acted as our liaison and handled the situation. 

One woman got sick on the tour and Admore checked in on her and even found a way for her to see Victoria Falls without having to do the walk. When I was almost attacked by a monkey – well not exactly, it just walked by me – a friend from our group helped me not freak out. We all looked out for each other. 

You become close by sharing all these experiences together. On the last night, we all reminisced about the trip, recounting our highs. For most of us that was our newfound friendships. 

I’ve been on other group trips, but I’ve never bonded with a group so much. Since returning home, I’ve already met up with one of my new friends. Intrepid brings together a unique bunch of people, people excited to explore, but also searching for community. I can’t wait to do it again.

Brittany travelled as a guest on Intrepid’s Premium Southern Africa trip. You can follow more of her adventures @plussizedandoutside.

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