This topic came up recently as my wife and I were reminiscing about past trips; I’m 6’2”, my wife is 5’0”. I’ve always raved about the Vatican, but she’s always hated it with no desire to go back because it was too crowded for her to see some things. I could hang at the back and not only people watch, but enjoy the art. She had to navigate through bodies to try and get to the front of the crowd to see anything besides armpits. The Vatican, Carcassonne, St Marks Square in Venice, Changing of the Guard at Buckingham, or a parade anywhere, she views a lot of armpits. She doesn’t want to miss anything, but it’s frustrating because she does miss stuff if she can’t get to the front.
The height challenge can rear its head right from the beginning as we board the plane. Being 5’ tall is not a recipe for success when trying to stow your stuff in the overhead compartments. Without me, my wife typically checks her back because it is a struggle to place it up there herself. But an unintended bonus of the vertically challenged is leg room on a plane. Her feet dangle and so plenty of leg room. I also, benefit because any excess storage that can’t go above, can be put under her seat, leaving me with a bit more space to stretch my legs under the seat in front of me.
But once we arrive somewhere…riding the subway in Paris during rush hour in June was a problem because she found herself standing at armpit height in a crowded car. Interestingly enough, she enjoyed the Tube experience in London more as she found Londoners more likely to give up their seat for her than Parisians. But even walking through the Subway/Tube stations can be a challenge as she regularly latches onto my beltloop as I cut through the crowds that she can’t see above.
Another unintended bonus to her height is that it forces us to plan to miss the crowds. We were one of the only people in Burano early one morning and got some great, unobstructed photos. Carcassonne at sunset and sunrise…we had the place to ourselves and once again we got some incredible photos. Travel tip, get up early to see the sunrise against the walls at Carcassonne.
Speaking of photos, have you ever tried to take a photo with a 14” height difference? Posing for a shot by others or posing for dual selfies can be a challenge. We tend to take a couple of selfies a day because of the personality it can add to some photos, but we can’t just turn and shoot anywhere, we need to find steps, a bridge or a hill and even then, she’ll be a few steps behind me so we can both be in the photo. Palatine Hill in Rome; perfect, the Mona Lisa at the Louvre; not perfect. We tend to find a location away from the crowds and overlooking the sites.
So, our strategy is to get to places early in the day. We also look for smaller group tours on day trips where she finds it easier to shimmy her way to the front; a small 8 person tour of Pompeii-good, a free tour of Bath with 55 of our closest friends-not so good. We were on an RS tour in May and an unintended benefit of his tours for us is the group sizes of 26-28 people. Not perfect, but much easier for her to make her way to the front of a group to see the sites.
Does anyone else travel with the vertically challenged? Do you do some pre-planning to factor in height to make sure you get maximum benefit out of your trip?