Traveling when you are afraid of heights

London Eye

I have been afraid of heights for as long as I can remember. If there are levels of fear, consider mine the highest. The thing is, traveling when you are afraid of heights can bring you some unpleasant moments in many of your trips, and prevent you from enjoying many activities. Even though they make up for great stories to tell later, they can scare the crap out of you and no one will ever know what you exactly felt at that moment of fear.

Throughout my travels, there were countless moments in which I had to face my fear of heights, from my teenage until my adult days. Theme parks, airplanes, towers and cable cars are among my worst nightmares. In some cases, I know how to control it, in others not so much, then comes that freak out moment no one wants to have.

Everyone have their own way of dealing with fear, the first one would be avoiding what makes you afraid, the other one to breathe in and breathe out. But what about those situations you just can’t avoid, or those which you have to face in pro of something you really want to do? They are normally my case. Do you know what I do? I freak out. I cry. I feel ashamed for doing all that in front of other people, then it becomes a story to be told.

Flying. I am afraid of flying, especially during take off and turbulences. There were several times when I just started to pray, broke squeezed someone else’s hand, tried to breath in and out and think of something that would make me happy. For some reason, sitting on the window seat helps me, but I’m not always lucky to get it, so the worst that can happen is an isle seat for me.

Seaplane in the Maldives

Cable cars. What’s with those things? I was never the kind of person that was excited to hop on a cable car, admire the view, point at landmarks and take pictures. On the contrary, I have always been the kind of person who sits on the floor at the Sugar Loaf and starts to cry, the one who avoids go skiing just because of the thought of hopping on a cable car, the one who prays that there must be another way to go up and down that it’s not a cable car.

I kid you not; some of my worst nightmares are cable cars. I have only been skiing twice, and even though I enjoy the activity, I don’t enjoy as much going up the mountain. My hands sweats, my heart starts racing, I feel like I’m falling down, and then comes the crying; and the laughing from everyone around me.

Sugar Loaf cable car
Sugar Loaf cable car, Rio de Janeiro
Cable car in Chamonix
Cable car in Chamonix, France

Theme parks. Since I was a kid I never felt excited to go to a themed park for its rides, but more because of the shopping, food or the simulators part (haha). However, several times I was obliged by the people around me to go on a roller coaster or something similar. Each time I would say how afraid of heights I am, someone would say they were too and that I would be fine. In the end, I finished the ride crying, while this other supposed-to-be-afraid-of-heights-friend finished laughing and telling how awesome it was. Yup!

So Disneyland, Six Flags, Universal Park or anything of the genre, are not the same for someone like me. What do I do when I go to those parks? I go to the silly rides – yes, you can laugh – I eat cotton candy and take pictures with Mickey. The only thing is, in the end it all becomes something expensive for not so much fun.

Disney’s Hollywood Tower. I gave up when I was about to step in the elevator!

I love beautiful views and seeing the cities from above. I know, it goes against everything I just said, but I do. Though, we all know that to contemplate them, we must go up a tower/building of some sorts. If it’s an elevator, fine, as long as it’s not panoramic; if there are stairs involved, I don’t mind either, as long as it’s not creepy and scary like the ones of the Church of Our Savior in Copenhagen. Rooftops? Are my favorites!

The Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen
The Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen

Glass floors like the one of the CN Tower in Toronto? The only way I managed to take a picture of myself and the glass was lying on my back, I just couldn’t look. Panoramic views like the Globen in Stockholm? I closed my eyes practically the entire way. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai? Boy that was hard, I could feel the thing moving. The elevator of the Eiffel Tower? I hate it, but I reckon the stairs would be even scarier.

Globen, Stockholm
Globen, Stockholm
The Burj Khalifa, Dubai
The Burj Khalifa, Dubai (tallest building in the world)

I also have my cases of success – very few – in which I manage not to freak out and even snap some photos. My latest case of success was the London Eye. Can you believe it? I think the champagne helped though, and the fact that it’s pretty slow… and the view is worth it anyways!

London Eye

Skydiving, riding a hot air balloon, bungee jump, paragliding? You guessed right, not for me. Trust me, I don’t like being that afraid, there are so many things I wish I could do. I’ve tried many times, but it’s just not for me. I’m more the underwater type, and even so, when diving on a drop off I feel like I’m going to fall into the abyss.

The thing is, I know I miss lots of things on my travels because of my fear, but I rather enjoy it the way I feel confortable than being tense the whole trip doing things that make me afraid. Still, maybe one day I will hop on a hot air balloon and tell you how I freaked out up there!


Did fear ever interfere in any of your travel moments?


About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • Phoebe Thomas

    You’re amazing that you still persist in climbing those towers and taking things like the London Eye even with your phobia. It must be tough, but you’re obviously very determined. Thanks for hosting #mondayescapes Happy Easter!

    • hahaha thank you Phoebe!! It’s not always easy, but I try, and sometimes the blog is the push I need 😀
      Happy Easter to you too 😀

  • Thank you Kate!! Great to know I’m not alone with this fear 😀
    Yes, I keep trying… some things I gave up, like roller coasters and such hahaa, but others I keep trying for the sick of good photos hahaha 😀

  • hahahaha incredible isn’t it? Once I read a lot about the technical things of an airplane and discovered many things about it, including that turbulence doesn’t make a place fall… it’s comforting, but not enough hahaha

  • Really? My mother too, so I understand what you mean. She hates being underwater and loves being up high 😀 funny!

  • hahaha funny thing is that it’s getting worse with age! 😀

  • Ohh lucky you!! I wish it wasn’t like that though, but I try 😀

  • With me I noticed that with time it’s getting worse haha
    Oh no, sorry about the cable car incident, I can imagine how afraid you were, I probably would have freaked out!!

  • hahaha I try, but it doesn’t get easier with time!

  • hahahaha I completely agree with you 😀

  • So true Sally! I wish I could overcome this fear, I believe most of it it’s just psychological, but it’s still hard to fight against it.
    Thank you!! Glad that you liked the post. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  • Ohh noo, really? Sorry for that! I think each day I’m getting more afraid instead of improving hahaha
    I hope you don’t have to go on crazy rides again haha!!

  • hahaha there are always the not fun at all! Good that you aren’t so afraid!
    I wish I was tough though 😀

  • Ohh no, really? Poor him, I do understand it! I wish I could go skiing more often, but every time I think about the lift, I honestly don’t feel so excited anymore, they are normally the worst ones! Good that your hubby managed to go skiing this year without being so afraid! 😀

  • Oh no, really? 🙁
    hahaha I try, but it doesn’t get easier with time!

  • Thank you Caroline!!
    Wow that’s so cool, good for you for trying diving… even if you don’t do it anymore, at least now you can go snorkeling! 😀 I totally understand your fear, my mother has it too. You are actually braver than she ever will be when it comes to diving! 😀

  • hahahaha yaaay someone completely understands me!! Though you are very brave when it comes to roller coasters though 😀 When I went to Chamonix I totally freaked out, it was one of the worsts ever, it was sooo high, I felt like I was falling down. When I got off the cable car I was shaking and just couldn’t stop crying! It was hard to get down though 🙁

  • hahaha I know exactly what you mean 😀

  • Ohh sorry to know that!! We are together on this then 😀
    I also try not to look down and think of something else, depending on the place it’s fine, but with others are harder!

  • Ohhh lucky you!! 😀
    Thank you, it wasn’t easy to do them all… I know there will be more to come, and it doesn’t get easy with time!!

  • hahaha oh my, I’m like your brother, I prefer staying on the ground and taking photos 😀

  • hahahaha thank you for sharing this Ruth! Oh my, sorry about your panic attack on the plane 🙁 Until today I’m very happy I decided not to go to the Tower of Terror hahaha!!

  • Totally agree with you Cathy!
    And I think my motivation is always to get some good photos for the blog 😀

  • I agree with you! It certainly gets worse the more you avoid it I guess, and at the same time I feel like it doesn’t get so easy with time. I learned what I can and can’t do, and go from there 😀

  • I had no idea you were afraid of heights Allane but well done on trying the London Eye – like you say, it’s quite slow, which helps. I too agree that I don’t see the point of taking part in activities that frighten the life out of you – I get that some people think of it as a sense of achievement but it’s not my idea of fun having a panic attack and feeling light my heart is about to leap out of my chest in fear! I’d rather just stick to what I enjoy and makes me comfortable and content 🙂

    • Thank you Shikha! Yes, I’m afraid of heights, unfortunately! haha
      Yes, you are totally right, why do it if you don’t have fun?
      I admire people who likes doing crazy things up high, but it’s not me haha!

  • Kathleen (Kat)

    I might be a little afraid of heights, am not sure. When I was in Bali, I climbed Mount Batur but had difficulty coming down when I slipped on loose rocks. It freaked me out that I just couldn’t muster the courage to come down. It was so embarrassing – I had to be piggy-backed down the mountain by the guide who is shorter and smaller sized than me! He practically ran down the mountain! Since then, I never climbed a mountain again. I’m OK with short hikes, little hills but not mountain climbing 🙁 #MondayEscapes

    • Sorry to know that Kat! I never climbed a mountain. I’ve a few hikes but nothing scary at all.
      If you don’t feel ok doing it, then it’s better to avoid it right? Next time you know 😀

  • The_Paris_Itinerary

    I swear we are travel soul sisters! I too have a fear of heights AND I have a bit of claustrophobia. Surprisingly, the stairs up the Eiffel Tower were fine for me. I think because they are enclosed by mesh. The funny thing about the ET elevator is I have to look at the window because I will freak out from claustrophobia.

    I have mostly managed to overcome my fear of heights if it is something I really want to do. I did trapeze school and zipling but cable cars are my nightmare too. Augh. Cable cars.

    Bises, Kimberly #MondayEscape

    • hahaha oh no Kimberly, sorry about that!!
      In the ET elevator I need to stay in the back and close my eyes the entire way. But I always freak out when it makes weird noises or when people start to move a lot!
      I can’t believe you did trapeze school and zipling hahaha good for you!! How cool! 😀

  • Wander Mum

    What an incredibly honest post. I can imagine there are many people who share your fears and this is very inspiring to read – that you are still stretching yourself out of your comfort zone and seeing the world (from some very tall places). Well done you! I’m more the other way and don’t love the deep sea which you so adore! Thanks for hosting #mondayescapes

    • Thank you so much dear!! Lucky you to not face this problem, heights are everywhere, and if you want to get good shots from above, you don’t have much choice but to climb somewhere 😀
      Sorry that you are afraid of diving, my mom is terrified and she hates when I’m on a diving trip!

  • Funny, last year I believe was when I took flights more often! This year I have way less planned, so far.
    One of those times before getting into the place I was panicking, and I was alone. I managed to breathe and survived the 10 hour flight! Oh my. Too bad for us. I hope you will do just fine this year 😀 try to think of things that make you smile 😀

  • Oh my God, really? You were brave though!! I don’t know how I would have reacted!

  • Ohh lucky you to be able to sleep on the plane… I can’t, let alone when it’s taking off haha!
    You’re right, it’s worse when the space isn’t enclosed!!

  • Lucky you Marcella 😀 I wish I had a little bit more of bravery hahaa

  • hahaha I climbed the Church of Our Saviour only until the terrace… and definitely didn’t manage to climb the external stairs! I barely stood in the terrace, it was horrible, I felt like I was falling down. When people walk you feel like it’s moving!
    I have to warn you, it’s a very scary one… the whole way up is creepy already. Do let me know if you ever try!!!

  • My picture from the CN tower is horrible and embarrassing, hahaha so I preferred not to post it!
    You should definitely go again and take some shots for us. I went there in 2005 😀

  • hahaha you’re so lucky Vlad 😀 I wish!!!
    I also hate Ferris Wheel, last time I went in one was when I was kid!! But this year I would like to have a picture from the view of the Ferris Wheels over the Oktoberfest… let’s see if I finally make it there hahahaha

  • hahaha true isn’t it? The first time I saw a drop off I almost had a panic attack underwater. My husband was with me so he knew I was probably afraid of falling down, so he held my hand and I calmed down hahaha

  • hahaha good for you, closing my eyes sometimes is not enough 😀

  • Ohh really? I’m impressed that you managed the hot air balloon! Im really curious to know how it is and afraid to try at the same time hahaha 😀

  • hahaha 😀 I know what you mean!
    And lucky you for not being so afraid.