The first thing that you should know about your first trip on a hot air balloon is that unless you have paid for a private trip, you will be in that basket with up to 11 other people as well as the balloon pilot. So you will be in very close quarters with a few strangers. Most of them will be making the trip for the first time, and for many, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is an excellent chance to make new friends who have the same interests as you.
The cost of the trip will depend upon how many people are on the trip and the organization running the trip, but you could pay several hundred dollars for your trip. If you want to take a private tour, then you can expect to pay much more than that. Just keep in mind that it is a once in a lifetime experience, and it will be worth every penny. It is also worth taking along some extra cash so you can tip the pilot – gratuities are not included in the cost, and the crew will always appreciate the gesture.
The trip you take is dictated by the weather. Even if you arrange your trip far in advance, the weather conditions on the day will determine if you can go ahead or not. Be prepared for having your trip postponed if there is any sign of wind or rain. And don’t be too surprised if this change happens at the last minute – you could be standing in the launch field when the organizers take the decision to halt the trip. Just remember that the safety of the crew and passengers is the most important thing, and they will not take any risks if they do not have to.
What to Wear
During the flight, you will be very warm, even on a cold day. This is because there are burners and open flames fuelling the balloon, and you will feel that heat. Think carefully about what to take with you and think of the burners as similar to a campfire and dress as you would if you were going to sit around a campfire for the evening.
One essential though is sensible shoes. There will be no sitting down on the balloon, so you will be on your feet throughout the balloon trip. Hot air balloon crews recommend sneakers or other sports shoes because they are also very practical when you are trying to climb in and out of the basket (not an easy task!).
There is so much to remember when you are preparing for your first balloon ride, but even if you are nervous, the crew will be able to put your mind at rest. This will be an enjoyable experience, and it is a great opportunity for you to see the world from a different vantage point. Don’t forget your camera so you can show everyone else what they missed out on.