Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride
With a combination of romance and adventure, a hot air balloon ride is at the top of many bucket lists. I recently had the chance to take to the skies for my first hot air balloon experience with Hot Air Expeditions in Phoenix, Arizona; and floating above the Sonoran Desert is hands down one of the coolest adventures I’ve had. The hot air balloon experience is magical, thrilling and surreal; completely unlike any other flight adventure out there. Here are a few tips to make sure your first hot air balloon ride is a walk in the clouds.
I was graciously hosted by Hot Air Expeditions and Visit Phoenix, but as always all opinions are my own
Be flexible with your schedule
Hot air balloon flights are highly dependent on the weather. Any chance of storms, high winds or anything that may affect a safe ride will usually result in the flight being cancelled. Balloon pilots and staff are experts at reading the wind and conditions in order to provide a safe and exhilarating flight experience. With over 300 days of sunshine Phoenix is one of the best places in the US for a hot air balloon ride and the folks at Hot Air Expeditions successfully launch more than almost any other balloon outfitter in the country.
Prepare to get up early
There aren’t many things that will get me up at 4 am on a Saturday but the chance to fly above the Sonoran Desert in a hot air balloon is one of them. Around Phoenix and Scottsdale the Hot Air Expeditions team will pick you up at your hotel or you can meet at their office before being shuttled to the launch site.
Listen to the staff
A hot air balloon ride is utterly thrilling but there is a bit of risk involved. The staff will brief you on safety instructions, particularly for take off and landing. Follow their advice to ensure a safe ride for everyone on your flight.
Wear layers and bring a hat
As our launch location was off a highway among desert scrub the advice of wearing closed toe shoes or sneakers was a good one. Layers are also a good idea as the temperature can drop up to 15 degrees during the flight. Oh, and that flame that powers the balloon and keeps you in the air? It gets hot. A hat is great for keeping some of that heat off of your noggin.
As our pilot said “It takes a certain kind of crazy to go up in a wicker basket attached to a big piece of nylon powered by fire”. Balloons can reach an altitude of 5000 feet with the wicker basket being the only thing between you and all that air. Needless to say, if heights aren’t your thing this may not be the adventure for you.
There are no bathrooms at 5000 feet.
Keep belongings secured.
Strap down phones, cameras, sunglasses or anything else you don’t want to lose. 5000 feet is a long way down.
Enjoy the amazing views
Floating silently above the earth in a hot air balloon offers up some truly spectacular views. Take lots of pictures and simply enjoy the landscape below.
A hot air balloon ride is a special occassion adventure for a lot of people and my flight was no exception. A young couple celebrating a soldier’s return from deployment, a mother celebrating news of cancer remission and even a mid-air proposal (she said yes!), there was certainly a lot of cause for cheer that morning and Hot Air Expeditions ended our sunrise balloon tour with a champagne breakfast.We raised our glasses and toasted each other with the Balloonist’s Prayer.
The Winds have welcomed you with softness.
The Sun has blessed you with its warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well
that God has joined you in your laughter
and set you gently back again
into the loving arms of Mother Earth.
Where would you like to go on a hot air balloon ride? Please share with us in the comments!