I’m afraid of heights. And close spaces. And crowds. And getting sick abroad, or worse, on an airplane. Yeah, these can all put a damper on traveling. Most great sites of the world require you to take a crowded, small elevator up high to see an amazing sight. Triple whammy! Or a crowded plane. Closed space? Check. Crowded? Yes. High up? Yes. But I’m determined not to let any of my irrational fears hold me back from my passion for travel and experiencing new things. So I’ve learned to use my travel experiences to help with conquering fears. As I learned from my father, don’t wait to experience life to its fullest.
Case in point. Last year, I had the opportunity to go to Australia visit my son who was studying abroad. But the 16-hour direct flight paralyzed by finger from clicking the ‘Book now” button. I once had a panic attack on a plane – it came out of nowhere. And I’ve been squeamish on planes ever since. Wine helps.
So I sat on the trip for weeks. I lamented to my Facebook friends, who said, “Suck it up buttercup.” I spent countless hours researching how to survive a long flight. But I soon found that what was keeping me awake at night was not the fear or going, but the fear of not going. So I sucked it up – and by sucked it up, I mean filled my Xanax prescription) and embarked on the journey. I went a little overboard planning for the flight and doing things to distract me and help me sleep. My go to sleep aid has always been a glass of wine (or three) with a Xanax (don’t judge) but I discovered this amazing app, Airsleep and no lie, I slept for 10 hours straight on the way over. So I conquered that fear and honestly feel like I could do it again.
On a recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, our group was going zip lining and again, I was hesitant. I’m the girl that has to take a Xanax to get on a ski lift (truth). Don’t even ask about the time my friend convinced me to go parasailing in Cancun. My hands still have calluses from hanging onto the parachute cord for dear life. But again, I had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to zip line over the forest in Mexico. I considered doing a shot of tequila first but didn’t think that was the best breakfast decision. So I got strapped in and opted to go first. It was exhilarating! I was so proud of myself. But as the lines got longer and higher, I asked to opt out after the third line, which lead to further teasing and taunting, all in good fun, by the guides. So I soldiered, errrrr, zipped on. Five more times. Higher and faster. And it was awesome. And such a sense of accomplishment. I’m ready to do it again.
While living in Milan, one of the places our guests loved to visit was the top of the famous Duomo, an open air terrace that looks out over the entire city. I tried numerous times, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I regret it to this day. Seattle Space Needle? Nope, couldn’t do that either. Missed out.
But now that I’ve recently conquered these recent fears, all spurred by travel experiences, I’m feeling a renewed sense of bravery. For me, travel offers more than the opportunity to experience a new culture. It forces me to push myself beyond my comfort zone whether it’s hiking along a cliff hanging out over the Mediterranean or putting myself inside a long metal flying tube to reach another part of the world. You won’t see my skydiving any time soon, but you just might see me zip lining.