Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon! Here’s what you need to know about hot air ballooning.

Do you want to do something at heights but aren’t an adrenaline junky? Hot air ballooning is definitely for you!

Do you want to be an aeronaut? (Someone who travels in a hot air balloon)

Here’s what you need to know!

Heights, schmeights!

Even if you are scared of heights you should seriously consider giving hot ballooning a chance. I am terrified of heights and often get dizzy just going up escalators! But I loved hot air ballooning, it’s hard to describe the feeling but you know you are slowly getting higher, but it doesn’t feel like it.

The basket is very sturdy and doesn’t wobble, so it is almost like being on firm ground but seeing it get further away.

Hot Air Ballooning over the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

It’s all about the weather

Just like skydiving hot air ballooning is reliant on the perfect weather conditions. The burner only controls the altitude not the direction, so where you go is dependent on the wind. So when the wind is too high or going in the wrong direction they have to cancel so you don’t end up halfway to Hawaii.

So don’t be surprised if your trip is postponed the night before.

Remember operators have your safety in mind.

It starts really early

We knew it started early, but you may find the start is even earlier than expected. We were told it was a 5:00 am start… that was the balloon ride start time. But first we had to meet the mini bus that takes everyone out to the balloon launch site. So our actual time of arrival to meet the bus was 3:30 am, so we left home at 2:30am.

So definitely an early start. But well worth it.

Peacefully drifting in the morning breeze hot air ballooning
Peacefully drifting in the morning breeze

When they say wear pants… wear pants!

We were told to wear pants and enclosed shoes but not the reason why. Oh man I wish they told us why because I wore thongs (flip flops for non-Aussies) and a long dress. I don’t often go against what we are advised but we were going out for breakfast afterwards and I decided if there was a real reason for us to wear pants and sneakers they would have told us. Oops. The reasons are basically you are in a field and you have to climb in.

Take my word for it, wear pants and shoes as you can get dirty.

You’re in a field

I didn’t know much about hot air ballooning, so I guess I just figured there would be a nice little area for us to mill around in until we left, and that when we landed it would be back in the same spot. Yeah no!

Our balloon had been out previously (they had a night/dawn flight) and it landed in the middle of a cow paddock, a currently used cow paddock. So to get to the balloon we had to climb through barbed wire and hike through knee high grass with cow pats and mud.

And on landing we landed in a different paddock on a slope with prickles and ants.

This is why you wear pants and enclosed shoes!!

Hot-Air-Ballooning-2
Take-off and landing places are not always convenient

You have to climb in

Getting into the balloon basket is not very ladylike… especially if you are wearing a dress and thongs (again flip flops for non Aussies).

No one told me there would be climbing.

And think about it, if you have to climb in, it means you have to climb out. I’m a bit chubby plus I’m very uncoordinated so it was even more awkward for me than Chris who is wirey and nimble.

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But don’t let this put you off, there are helpers who will get you in and out without too much of a problem. And it probably helps if you are wearing pants and sneakers.

It’s loud!

It’s serene but loud! You know how sometimes you don’t really give much thought to how things work? Well we definitely didn’t when it came to how the balloons work. The sound of the burner going off and heating the gas is amazingly loud, especially when you are right under it. It doesn’t ruin the experience, only adds to it, as a reminder of what is happening around you.

Don’t get a shock when it happens for the first time.

Don't worry, there's excellent shielding from the intense flames
Don’t worry, there’s excellent shielding from the intense flames

There’s no toilets

Don’t worry, there’s excellent shielding from the intense flames

Well there is… whole paddocks! But the whole experience is 2-3 hours long depending on where you are doing it and how far you have to travel to and from the landing spots. So remember that!

You get a different view of the world

Hot air ballooning is an amazing way to get a different view of the world. You aren’t as high up as a plane so everything isn’t far away, but you are higher than 5 ft 6 inches or however tall you are. We really enjoyed seeing the Gold Coast Hinterland from tree top height, traversing over farmland and creeks and rising slowly to about 2000 ft.

A new perspective on the landscape from a hot air balloon
A new perspective on the landscape

They put you to work

On our hot air ballooning experience we also got to help deflate and roll up the balloon, and help get the basket onto the truck. If you have injuries I am sure they will let you get away with ‘supervising’ but otherwise it is fun to get stuck in and help. Another great reason to wear pants and sneakers.

Hot Air Ballooning over the Gold Coast - Queensland Australia
A truly enjoyable experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list

It’s amazing

If Hot Air Ballooning is on your bucket list (or even if it’s not) you can’t put it off!

Update: We’ve just found a number of other great places to go hot air ballooning thanks to Mapping Megan’s excellent travel blog on 5 ideas to kick start your bucket list today. Looks like our bucket list just got a whole lot longer!

It truly is an amazing experience.

Words can’t truly describe what it is like to float above the trees with little more than a waist high barrier between you and the landscape below.

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