Have you ever thought about taking a hot air balloon ride? Well, if you have and you’re on the fence, I hope my experience in Melbourne, Australia will encourage you to try it!
For those who’ve followed my posts, you may know that I have a fear of heights. I usually avoid situations where heights could be an issue for me. But, I have faced my fear of heights successfully like when I walked across the Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, Canada, but I knew this hot air balloon ride would be on another level. It’s not like I could turn around and run the other way in a hot air balloon basket like I could on the Suspension bride or a hiking trail.
Taking a hot air balloon ride was something on my bucket list so I couldn’t justify letting this fear stop me. When facing your fears, one of the most important steps is to make the decision and commit to doing it. So, for me signing up and paying a couple hundred dollars (Yes, this is an expensive bucket list item…be ready) easily made me commit!
What’s a Hot Air Balloon Like?
Now, to the good part. What was it like? Did I lose it when the balloon took off? Was I scared? Would I do it again? It was AMAZING and, yes, to the other questions!
I took my hot air balloon ride in Melbourne, Australia. The ride started very early because part of its theme was to watch the sunrise. There’s also lots of prep involved including setup, watching the weather conditions and finding the best takeoff spots, so we needed to get there EARLY! I was picked up from my hotel around 4:30am.
After the host company rounded everyone up we headed to the takeoff spot. Once we arrived, the equipment had to be unloaded, prepped and set up. The process took some time and one of the coolest things about it is that we (the riders) got to participate in getting the balloon blown up and ready! It was nothing too crazy or hard and it’s not mandatory to help, but it was fun to participate in.
After everything was all set up and I could see what I was getting into, reality was sinking in. I was about to be floating through the sky in a little basket, crammed in with about 9 other people. Ummm, at this point I was about to tell everyone I’ll see them later and just wait until they got back. But, I pushed through, hopped in the tight little basket and rode out!
When we first took off, I was ready to do a tuck and roll and jump out the basket because I was scared…not gonna lie. The heat from the fire that lights/powers the balloon was going strong, there was a lady beside me who was about to have a panic attack and I was wondering why I signed up for this. Needless to say, a lot was going on.
As time went on, we slowly kept climbing up and my feelings changed. My heart went from beating a million beats a minute out of fear to being slow and calm. It was so beautiful and peaceful that I easily went from fear and nervousness to joy and peace. I’m sure most, if not all, of you reading this have flown before. You know how beautiful the clouds, sky and buildings below look when you’re flying? Imagine being in open air seeing all of that, with nothing blocking your view. Watching the sun rise over Melbourne from the air? BEAUTIFUL! So quiet and peaceful. It was also pretty chilly, but I was prepared with my clothing, so be sure to do the same so you won’t be distracted by being cold!
I was so into the ride that I don’t even remember exactly how long we floated around. I believe it was a little over an hour. We chatted with each other, took pictures and videos and took the time to take it all in. Even the lady who was about to have a panic attack before we took off had calmed down and was taking pictures. When you take your hot air balloon ride, be sure to take it all in while you’re up in the air! Take pictures, videos, meet new people…just ENJOY it!
The landing was pretty cool and not what I expected, but in a good way. The hot air balloon operators have to watch the wind conditions closely to decide when and where to land. It’s not exact like an airplane where you know when and where you’re landing, which is what I initially thought. After about 30 minutes or so of starting to float down, our operator and the team on the ground found our potential landing spot. We slowly floated down and at one point were so close to a mental health facility that we could see people’s faces in the buildings! We ended up landing in a park. The landing wasn’t scary, just a little bump as we hit the ground with everyone holding on tightly and kneeling. After we landed, it was time to deflate the balloon and head home!
If you have the opportunity to do a hot air balloon ride, of course I now say go for it! Make sure you choose a reputable operator or host company and they’ll take care of making sure everything’s in place for you to be as safe and comfortable as possible. Just show up, dressed comfortably and enjoy the ride!
Have you been on a hot air balloon ride before? If so, share your experience below!