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.

Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

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.

Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

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.

Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

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.

Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

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.

Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride www.casualtravelist.comTips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride www.casualtravelist.comHeights

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.

Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

There are no bathrooms at 5000 feet.

Plan accordingly.

Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride www.casualtravelist.comKeep belongings secured.

Strap down phones, cameras, sunglasses or anything else you don’t want to lose. 5000 feet is a long way down.

Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride www.casualtravelist.comEnjoy 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.

Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride www.casualtravelist.comTips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride www.casualtravelist.comCelebrate

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.

Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

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.

Author Unknown


Where would you like to go on a hot air balloon ride? Please share with us in the comments!

Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

25 Comments on “Tips for your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

  1. This has been on my bucket for a long, long time. I once saw a video of hot air balloons drifting over the Loire Valley in a low-lying mist with castle turrets peeking above the mist. That is my dream! It was so fun to read your post. I really have to make this happen sometime soon!
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  2. I’ve always wanted to do this so it’s great to have a sneak peek at some tips! I’m definitely taking notes 🙂

  3. I have never done a hot air balloon ride, I hope I will be able to in the future. You gave some great tips. I guess being flexible is very important since indeed, you cannot predict the weather. And also, getting up early gives you the best morning light when you are high in the sky.

  4. I’ve never been on a hot air balloon but now I have serious motivation. Luckily I don’t have a fear of heights so I should be pretty ok.

  5. I’ve actually just recently done my first hot air balloon ride this year and it was pure bliss. I can’t wait to do it again!! Love the quote from the pilot. Too funny!

  6. I remember when I did my first air balloon ride, I thought my hair was going to catch fire, haha, I never thought of bringing a hat. This is a great tip!
    Love the pictures!

  7. Really enjoyed this post, in all the years I’ve been traveling I’ve done all kinds of adventure activities, sky dives, abseiling, diving but yet I am still to ride a hot air balloon. I’ve always wanted to ride in one, just never got around to it. Reading through this is making me want to do it now haha

  8. Wish I’d had your tips before my first balloon ride! I tend towards vertigo so our first flight was delicate until we were aloft. Then I was more comfortable and engaged. It’s a wonderful way to experience the world! Great pictures.

  9. I am hesitant of hot air balloon rides ever since friends of ours had a crash landing after the flame went out and the pilot had no matches on him to relight it! But your trip with Hot Air Expeditions in Phoenix looks lovely. I will do it just for the Champagne breakfast after!

  10. I would love to take a trip in a hot air balloon but I must admit I’m nervous! The views are definitely worth it though, and if there is champagne at the end that would help calm my nerves!

  11. I loved my ride in a hot air balloon, although we didn’t get up very high, definitely nowhere close to 5,000 feet! Most times, we were just a little above the tree line, so it wasn’t as “thrilling” as some hot air balloon rides, but I still really enjoyed it. Other than the height, these tips definitely would have helped me prepare for my first hot air balloon ride!
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  12. Thanks for sharing and Hot air balloon is available in more and more places! I had a fun hot air balloon flight in Frane –
    I do agree that you have to be flexible because weather is the most unpredictable factor for the hot air balloon flight, ~ Besides, the safety of the flight would be an important concern and so always listen to the instruction of pilot and supporting staff!

  13. I am terrified of heights, but I have always wanted to ride a hot air balloon because the views are breathtaking. I absolutely love your photos – they really make me want to go for it regardless of my fears!

  14. My Uncle was a balloon pilot so, I got to crew and learn to fly a bit myself! I recommend taking a ride to anyone – even those afraid of heights. I have found that most don’t notice the height because of the gentle rise. Your pictures are awesome!

  15. I loved my first balloon ride and even overcame my bit of vertigo. The peace of floating above the clouds was incredible and even better when above an incredible landscape.

  16. I have never done this but a hot air balloon ride is high on the bucket list! The scenery there in Arizona looks stunning… I would love to do this in Cappadocia, Turkey which is also apparently a spot where you can be reasonably sure of getting a launch. I love that your tips are all really practical – the bathroom situation should be obvious but I bet many people don’t think of it! The hat is something that wouldn’t have occurred to me. Thanks for this – will use it as a checklist when I finally do my first ride!

  17. I’ve always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride, by my other half is hesitant enough about heights that it’s not in the cards anytime soon. That said, this experience sounds amazing. And there must have been great energy on the flight with all those wonderful, celebratory vibes around you! Also, loved that the balloons had cacti on the sides – they looked perfectly at home in the desert 🙂
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  21. As obvious as it seems, it really does help to take the article’s advice about securing your belongings. After all, nobody wants to suddenly catch site of their phone tumbling down thousands of feet to the ground. Instead of having to deal with that hassle it is just easier to take a few seconds to make sure that everything is tied down.

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