The Ups and Downs of Being a (Very) Short Traveler

I’m short.  Not kind of short and not like “ugh, I’m 5’3” I’m soooo short.”  I’m very short. I’m 4’9” to be exact (for fancy metric system people that’s 124.7 cm).  

If this is any reference for you, I’m under the “M” in Amsterdam and I’m barely crouching down. I was able to stand up straight under the “M”


At times my height can prove to be a bit challenging. For example, when I need to do things like: go food shopping, try on clothes, or drive someone else’s car.  But everyone has their cross to bear, right? Most days I don’t really think about my height because I’ve been 4’9″ for the majority of my life. My family members and long-term friends always say that they don’t notice how short I am anymore.  Traveling, though, can bring about situations that make even me notice it. These are the ups and downs of being a (very) short traveler:



There’s always plenty of legroom

Average height people need to get up and stretch their legs.  But me? Nope, I can stretch my legs from the comfort of my butt in my seat.  I don’t have to get up, it’s great! Whether I’m traveling on a plane, train, or bus, I always have more than enough leg room.   



Putting your bag away is a pain in the ass

I know before I get on a plane, train, or bus that I’ll have a difficult time putting my bag in the overhead compartment and taking it down.  If I’m traveling with Randy, a taller friend, or a taller family member (who am I kidding, everyone is taller than me), I can count on them to take care of my bag for me.  

Quiz time: if I’m by myself and trying to reach for my bag, I’m more likely than not going to:

A – be stared at as I struggle  

B – get trampled over as I struggle    

C – be helped but with a smart-ass comment accompanied with it (usually something like, “need a couple more inches, huh?” or “wow, you’re really short!”)

D – all of the above

If you answered D – all of the above, congrats you get a gold star!  Yes, all three have either happened to me separately or on the same trip.  Humanity never ceases to amaze me *facepalm.* 



Storytime: The year I taught in Madrid, I came home for Christmas through KLM Airlines.  I boarded the plane and had a difficult time getting my carry on into the overhead compartment.  I was struggling for what felt like hours. Mid struggle, I look over at a flight attendant who is just chillin and smiling at me, watching this all happen.  Finally, I get my carry on in the overhead space and she smiles even bigger and mockingly claps while she says, “you did it!” Ya. I don’t even know how to comment on that.    


Packing is easier

I wear a size 5 (US) in shoes and a size small (most of the time) for clothing, as a result packing is easier for me.  I don’t have to try to jam size 8 shoes (US) into my bag or roll up average length pants. Everything I wear is smaller and it takes us less space in my bag.  Free space in my bag = Room for delicious non-American snacks for me to take home 🙂



You’re invisible to other travelers at times

Maybe it’s because I’m short, or maybe it’s because people are dumb, but while traveling but I’ve noticed that I get overlooked by other (taller) travelers. I’ve been in line at the airport before and much taller people have walked past me or ahead of me because they didn’t notice that I was there.  A few times, people have even been surprised to see that there was next to them. Over the years I’ve learned to speak up and politely claim my spot in line.



It’s easier to nap in the airport

I may never be able to reach the top shelf in the grocery store but what I can do with my short legs is, nap in the airport.  When you have a long layover and all you want to do is curl up in a chair, little legs come in handy. Unlike long legs, my legs don’t cramp up and take up a lot of space. I can burrow into an airport chair and drift off into la la land.  


This is almost exactly what I look like when I nap in the airport


Small, European beds have nothing on me

Many of my average height friends have complained that the small, European beds in hostels and hotels are too short for them. Me?  Nah, my short stature allows me to fit perfectly in any Euro type bed. Is it basically understood throughout this post that short people can sleep and fit anywhere?  Good. The travel life for travel sized people (I’m coining that phrase).



So many more steps

With little legs, comes many little steps.  One of my normal strides is like half of a normal stride for Randy (who is 5’8”).  How do I know this? Last month when we were rushing through the London Gatwick security to make our connecting flight to Madrid.  Randy was speed walking and I had to jog to keep up. When we made it to our connecting flight, and finally caught our breath, he had a good laugh about the amount of work my tiny legs have to put in to keep up to him.  But I guess looking at it glass half full, with the extra steps I have to take, the more and more toned my butt gets.


Me, preparing to keep up with Randall’s walking


It’s always a talking piece

I don’t know if other people under 5’ have experienced this but my height has always been an ice breaker, especially when I travel. I guess it’s left up to the individual to interpret if that’s a good or bad thing.  I, personally, try to take it as a good thing. Yes, some days it can be annoying. Like, when a person gets so focused on my height that they seem almost fixated. I want to be like, “omg yes, I’m small! I’m the 8th Wonder of the World! Jesus, get over it!”  

But other days, like when I’m traveling alone and looking to chit chat, I don’t mind it so much.  Usually, it will first open the door to a conversation about my family and their height. Then we’re talking about their family and before you know it, we’re not talking about height anymore and we’re just talking.


My friend Maria and I…Maria is 5’5″…


Tell me, what makes you a unique traveler?  What are the ups and downs you go through when traveling? Comment, share, subscribe 🙂


Spread the word, people 🙂


  1. I’m 5’1” and understand your struggle, girl! To bounce off of your running through the airport story- one day at work, my two co-workers and I were running around like crazy and, for the most part, we were always together. At the end of the day, one of them checked her steps, which prompted the rest of us to check ours too. Sure enough, I “walked just as much” as them, but had almost twice the steps to show for it!! 😂

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