This article is about How to Travel When you Have a Fear of Heights, not an article on how to overcome your fear of heights. A phobia like Acrophobia, the fear of heights is a very real condition, just as claustrophobia is, and many other phobias. Of course, if these are debilitating your life choices then you should get professional assistance. [clickToTweet tweet=”However, having a phobia like a fear of heights does not need to stop you traveling. #travel” quote=”However, having a phobia like a fear of heights does not need to stop you traveling.” theme=”style3″] So what if you never jump out of plane, or bungee jump?. Many people without a fear of heights don’t want to do these either. But let’s see how you can organize your travels to minimise the impact of this condition. The first image was to let you know it is ok, if you never choose to see this in real life, let alone walk inside this precarious house on the cliff.
Why am I writing this?
A friend has just returned from a trip to Singapore and had many meltdown moments because of his Agrophobia. This ranged from where he was staying, and a poor choice in a room on the 24th floor, to activities like taking the cable car to Sentosa Island. He has sworn off travel, but he does not need to if he takes some time to work through practicable solutions to counter his fear of heights.
Why I understand this fear of heights when you travel
I don’t like heights particularly, but then I have come to realize that when push comes to shove I can deal with many situations. Mine is a fear and not a phobia. I have avoided things that make me uncomfortable like climbing Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London and climbing the steps to the top of the Duomo in Florence, and my total panic attach climbing to the top of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka is well documented. But ..and herein in lies the difference between a fear and a phobia; I have caught the highest cable car in Zermatt, Switzerland BY MYSELF as it descended 3,883 straight down. I also went solo on the Rothorn, which sits at 3103 metres up in the Swiss Alps. So I am not a fan of heights, but it does not debilitate me, although it has at times.
A Fear of Heights is a Medical Condition
My mother has Type 1 diabetes, and when she travels she needs to take injections, and to make sure she eats at appropriate times, and the correct foods. She adapts and we adapt. So, what does this have to do with traveling when you have a fear of heights? Everything; as both are recognized medical conditions. A phobic fear of heights and in fact all phobias are medical conditions much like Type 1 Diabetes. Adapting to any medical condition means that you have to be a little more organized when you travel. It does not mean that you stop traveling, but rather adapt to address your condition.,a nd so should your traveling ompanions. This is what my friend and others need to do.
How to Adapt to a Fear of Heights When you Travel
1. Tell your travelling companions.
Tell your travelling companions that you have a very real fear of heights. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Show them a spider, a snake or something else if necessary to get your point across. Tell them that there are certain things that you may not want to do, and that it will be your choice. Let them know that you do not want to put into an uncomfortable situation, unless YOU CHOOSE TO. Use the diabetic analogy if you have to. Remember that you don’t have to do everything together. If they still hassle you, the solution is easy – don’t travel with them again.
Not all people with Acrophobia have a fear of flying, though it is very common. I think this is when you call in the professionals to get you through the flight aspect. They may well offer drugs, hypnosis, breathing techniques, positive thinking and gradual desensitization. Use the professsionals to assist you.
Book an aisle seat. Put your headphones in and listen to music or a relaxation tape. Distract yourself.
3. Hotels and Accommodation
Glass elevators and hotel suits on the 24th floor are going to send a person with a fear of heights into a tailspin. You need to plan this in advance and get a ground floor room, or the lowest level that the person is comfortable being in. This can be problematic if you are doing an organized tour, and just maybe you will have to shop around until you find the company that can cater to your needs.
One of the most important things to relaise when you are travelling with someone with a morbid fear of heights, is that it is a real medical condition, quotecorner pharmacy, and one that they have little control over. Cajoling them to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower is unfair, when you not only embarrass them, but make them feel inadequate. Besides looking up at the Eiffel Tower is stupendous anyhow. Avoid known trigger factors like cliff lookouts, and taking cable cars.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Of course knowing that the person is suffering from Acrophobia is never that clear cut. #travel” quote=”Of course knowing that the person is suffering from Acrophobia is never that clear cut.” theme=”style3″] Everyone who has a fear of heights is different, Some can cope with some things, and others can’t. The onus does lie with the person to let others know what they are going through, and even to recognise that they do have a real condition. I know. I was the master of hiding from this. It is funny, but I have got so much better since I travel so frequently. This means that for me gradual desensitisation has worked. I will let you know when I do climb to the top of the Duomo without making a total dick of myself.
I hope this helps people with a fear of heights and people who travel with these people.