It’s never too late to start traveling! Edith Bernier didn’t start until she was 28! Now an expert plus size traveler, she has backpacked places across the globe from the mountains of India to the ruins of Mexico. She swears by the motto that “everyone should be able to travel light, whatever their size.” Her bigger shoes certainly don’t weigh her down and definitely don’t stop her from following her wanderlust and seeing sites she has wanted to explore since she was a kid.
1)After 28 years of being a home-body what got you traveling?
My first trip (and very first flight!) was to New Orleans, Louisiana with a friend of mine. I had this place on my mind for about 10 years at that point. The city, in spite of Hurricane Katrina that hit 3 years before, was so vibrant; the people were so nice and music and food were beyond their reputation. That is how I got infected by the travel bug, and I don’t plan on getting cured!
2) As an expert on local cuisine from around the world, what is the most interesting thing you have tried? What are some of the best dishes?
I tasted some “brain salsa” and tripe soup in San Salvador… definitely an acquired taste! I discovered what is still one of my favorite snacks in India: it’s called Masala Papad and consists of a crispy papadum covered with diced cucumber, tomato & red onion and some chili, soaked in lime juice… so fresh and tasty! But my all time favorite remains Mexican-Yucatecan cuisine in general; absolutely everything I ate in Yucatan was delightful!
3) The mountain landscape captures you the most. What mountain would you recommend the most for other backpackers to explore?
The Himalayan foothills of Darjeeling in India were breath taking. One morning, I was cold and exhausted when I stopped to have some tea on a mountain side terrace. That sunny spot where I sat, the bluest skies in the world, the panorama of the highest peaks on the planet and that warm spiced chai… it felt so great to be so far from everything! The Nepalese community there was so charming and caring, a great preview of those I shall meet, one day, if I hike to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal, which is my ultimate mountain destination!
4) A fascination with Mayan ruins has led you to visit 5 major sites already. What do you think sparked that interest and where will it take you next?
When I was about 7, my favorite cartoon was The Mysterious Cities of Gold. In the 16th century, 2 kids and 3 adults arrive in Peru on a quest to find seven mysterious gold cities somewhere in Latin America. They end up finding one somewhere in Central America. At the end of each episode, there was a 2-3 minute documentary part which presented the places visited by the characters. That is how I first heard about Tikal, which I will visit next October, during my trip to Guatemala.
5) Tell us what inspires your motto for plus size travel, “Everyone should be able to travel light, whatever their size.”
As a plus-size backpacker, the challenges of traveling light are even greater than for a regular sized person. For example, my clothes and shoes are bigger and heavier, yet my luggage allowance is the same than a standard size person! As a big person, finding everything, from a decent sized airplane seat to gear or clothing for the minimalist traveler, is a major challenge. I don’t believe I’m the only big backpacker girl in the world, yet, the resources for people like me are so few!
All Photos contributed by Edith Bernier.