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The pain and perks of travelling while tall

Travel Tips

Andrea Sachs

 

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Washington Post staff photographer Jabin Botsford squeezes inside a small souvenir shop near Colaba Causeway in Mumbai. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Andrea Sachs.Visitors at Gateway of India in Mumbai ask to take photos with Washington Post staff photographer Jabin Botsford. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Andrea Sachs.Washington Post staff photographer Jabin Botsford is taller than the ceiling at the Taj Mahal Palace, the opulent hotel in Mumbai. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Andrea Sachs.

Washington - During our around-the-world trip, whenever I (Andrea) needed to locate my travel pal (Jabin), I simply looked up.

No matter where we were - a crowded landmark in Mumbai, a boisterous outdoor market in Hong Kong, a hectic airport gate in Madagascar - Jabin's treetop head usually cleared the crowd by at least six inches, if not a foot.

The risk of losing track of him was as low as misplacing a baby giraffe in Times Square.

Depending on the situation, Jabin's height - a stately 6-feet-5 - was a blessing or a curse, an advantage or a disadvantage. In Mumbai, for instance, he slammed his head into a road sign that most people couldn't even touch on tippy-toes. At Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, he simply raised his camera over the mob of tourists and captured an unobstructed panorama of the skyline. By comparison, all of my images were photo-bombed by blockheads and selfie sticks.

As we hopped from country to country, Jabin noted the pros and cons of life as the Travelling Tall Guy (TTG). Here are his observations:

 

CONS

No space for limbs on airplanes. I am often woken up by people and beverage carts hitting me in the elbow or legs. It's a very rude awakening. There's just never enough room.

Parts of my body are always falling asleep on planes, even in business class.

I duck to avoid branches and insect habitats on hiking trails. I walked face-first into a spiderweb in Madagascar.

I sleep diagonally on beds smaller than queen-size.

I tilt my head sideways to use an airplane bathroom.

I usually rent a more expensive mid-size car or larger. I can rent smaller, but it just kills my legs.

I squat for ID photos, such as at the immigration counter at the Mumbai airport. The eye of the camera is set too low.

I order luggage with an extra-long handle. With the shorter handle, the bag hits the back of my foot and flips over, causing a traffic jam.

Cab drivers must move their seat up to accommodate my frame.

People stare and ask to take a picture with me. I was swarmed by photo-seekers at the Gateway of India in Mumbai.

 

PROS

I can reach luggage hiding in the dark recesses of a plane's overhead luggage compartment.

I can stop and retrieve items rolling down an airplane aisle with my feet (example: Andrea's cup on an Air Seychelles flight).

I have a better vantage point for taking photos. In Madagascar, I lifted my arms over my head, and the lens was eye-level with a lemur resting in a tree.

Every two or three of your hiking steps equals one of mine.

As someone who is mildly claustrophobic, it is nice to have my head above the crowd.

I easily cross streams without assistance.

I earn upgrades. Domestically, I can use my tall-guy status to get better seats. People take sympathy on me, including friends. On the red-eye from Seychelles, we were given one business-class ticket due to overbooking. TTG scored the more spacious seat because Average-Height Girl felt bad.

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