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BRANDI JEWETT: Conquering fear one foot at a time

Vacations are great but sometimes the journey to your destination is half the fun — or in my case, all of the misery.

I took a trip to Finland and Estonia last month. It was a wonderful time but obviously required a plane ride as neither one of those places conveniently happens to be on this continent.

When it comes to planes, I can handle the less-than-spacious seats, crying children and turbulence. I’ve found the free beer served on these types of flights helps with all of this quite a bit.

But even a complimentary Heineken can’t help me shake the dread that comes with flying literally miles above the ground.

You see, I’ve been afraid of heights for quite some time now. More specifically, being pushed off of something or falling from great heights — like say off the edge of a building or out of the sky in a broken airplane.

I couldn’t tell you why. I can only tell you I am the last person you would ever want to be next to at the top of the Burj Khalifa.

Luckily, I live in a state known for being flat so I don’t have to face this fear on a daily basis.

Most of the time, it just requires me to not look down when I’m crossing bridges or peering out from windows in tall buildings — thankfully there are few of those here.

It does become hard to handle when the height is part of the attraction. Take the Sears Tower for example. I took a trip there in high school and made it to the top without fainting.

The views of Chicago from the observation floor were breathtaking and momentarily distracted me from the inevitable.

Once I caught a glimpse of how high I really was, my stomach completed an entire Olympic gymnastics routine, and it was time for me to descend.

I’ve gotten somewhat better at fighting that fear. My recent trip brought me to Tampere, Finland, and the nearby Pyynikki Observation Tower.

At 85 feet tall, it’s not the most imposing figure, but the top is still about 84 more feet than I want to be off the ground. I’m happy to say I didn’t even get nauseous looking down at the ground.

I may or may not have backed away from the edge a little faster than most, but hey, even the smallest victory is still a victory right?

So watch out Sears Tower, I’m coming back for round two. As for planes, well, I’ll be nice and give you a few years — or decades — to prepare yourselves for my presence.

Though, have some beer ready just in case.