How To Prepare For Your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

two hot air balloons being packed up

Your first hot air balloon ride can be an exhilarating and unforgettable experience, but you must take the necessary steps to prepare for your maiden flight.

Properly preparing for your balloon ride helps ensure your safety and gives you the peace of mind to relax and enjoy your flight.

Preparing For Your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

There are a few things that you should keep in mind as you prepare for your first hot air balloon ride. Before you head out to your designated meeting spot, we recommend the following:

  • Checking the weather forecast to ensure that it is safe to fly
  • Bringing the necessary paperwork, such as a valid ID
  • Arriving early at the launch site to allow time for preparation
  • Following the pilot’s instructions to ensure a safe and enjoyable flight

It’s on to the outfit once you’ve prepared and packed the necessary paperwork. The question is, what are you supposed to wear on a hot air balloon ride?

What to Wear

It is recommended to wear casual clothing in layers so that you can adjust to the changing temperatures. Ladies may find it more comfortable to wear trousers, as they will need to climb in and out of the basket. Flat-heeled, closed-toe shoes are also highly recommended.

Some people like to wear a light hat or a baseball cap. Sunglasses or binoculars are optional, but a camera is necessary for taking amazing photos of the hot air balloon ride.

What to Bring

There are a few things we highly recommend you bring on your hot air balloon ride, those being:

  • A camera or smartphone to capture the fantastic views
  • Cash for tips and souvenirs
  • Any medications or special needs items
  • Comfortable shoes with closed toes to protect your feet
  • Layered clothing to adjust to the temperature changes
  • A small bag or purse (at the pilot’s discretion)

What to Expect

Your first hot-air balloon ride is a unique experience that bounces between peaceful and exhilarating. Here are some things to plan for on your first hot-air balloon ride:

  1. Launch: Launching the hot air balloon is one of the most exciting parts of the ride. As the pilot inflates the balloon, you’ll feel the heat from the burners and hear them roar as you lift off the ground.
  2. Flight: During the flight, you may feel weightless as you soar through the sky, and you’ll be surprised by how stable the basket is. Do know our hot air balloons do not have seats.
  3. Views: Hot air balloons provide spectacular views of the landscapes, towns, and cities below that cannot be seen from any other vantage point. So be sure to take loads of pictures!
  4. Wind Direction: The direction of the wind will determine where your hot air balloon ride takes you, but don’t worry; pilots have years of experience and knowledge about local weather patterns to ensure passengers a safe and enjoyable journey.
  5. Landing: Landing is a straightforward process with little jarring or bouncing around in most cases. Before landing, though, you must listen carefully to instructions from your pilot. Every landing is different and heavily depends on the winds at that particular moment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Tip a Hot Air Balloon Pilot?

Most tips in service-based industries fall between 10% and 20% of the service price. Tipping hot air balloon pilots isn’t required, but showing appreciation for exceptional service is welcome.

What Time of Day Is Best for Hot Air Balloon Ride?

The best time for a hot air balloon ride is early morning or evening when the winds are calmer. Midday is generally avoided because wind conditions are less predictable, making it harder to fly a hot air balloon safely. We here at Napa Valley Aloft personally prefer morning flights.

How Long Do You Stay Up in a Hot Air Balloon?

Flights usually last between 45 minutes to 1 hour. The experience typically takes 3.5-4 hours, including check-in, inflation, flight, pack-up, transportation, and breakfast. We recommend arriving early and giving yourself some extra time at the end so you can take your time.

How Do You Breathe in a Hot Air Balloon?

You can breathe normally in a hot air balloon, like on the ground. The basket provides stability, and the altitude does not affect most people’s respiratory systems. Avoid smoking or vaping, and consult your doctor beforehand if you have any concerns.

Can You Walk Around in a Hot Air Balloon?

Most baskets are relatively tight, with limited space to move around and walk, especially if you fly with a larger group.

Do You Sit or Stand in a Hot Air Balloon?

Most baskets are designed for pilots and passengers to stand, with some including limited seating or space for seats and step stools. 

Who Should Not Ride in a Hot Air Balloon?

Ballooning is a fun activity for people of most ages. However, some people should avoid ballooning, such as:

  • Pregnant women
  • Infants
  • Children under 6 who aren’t at least 48″ tall
  • Individuals who have done a recent deep scuba dive
  • Individuals suffering from chronic pain or have had major surgery recently
  • Passengers who cannot stand during the entire flight (45 minutes – 1 hour) walk on uneven ground to the transportation shuttles.

If you have a medical condition that could be a problem during a flight, consult your doctor and get a note. FAA rules allow hot air balloon pilots to refuse passengers, even with a doctor’s note, if they deem it unsafe. A final decision will be made on the morning of the flight. Please call us at (707) 944-4400 if you have any questions.

Conclusion: Preparing For Your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

Hot air ballooning is an exhilarating experience that provides beautiful views of nature from a unique perspective. It’s a safe and enjoyable activity for most that is truly unforgettable.
To prepare for your first ride, we recommend bringing warm clothes and a camera and checking with your pilot about any special requests. Book your first ride today!