One of my favorite childhood movies growing up was “The Chipmunk Adventure” where Alvin, Simon and Theodore race the Chipettes around the world in hot air balloons. Since then, taking a hot air balloon ride has always been on my #travel #bucketlist. Thanks to Hot Air Expeditions in Phoenix, Arizona I was finally able to check this adventure off my list.
If you sign up for a hot air balloon adventure with Hot Air Expeditions, prepare for them to fully take care of you and make the logistics easy. Depending which flight your sign up for (sunrise or sunset) you’ll be instructed to meet at Deer Valley Airport (702 W Deer Valley Rd 85027) at a specific time.
Morning flights are available daily, year-round. Sunset flights are available seasonally, November through March. Timing for flights varies depending on the sunrise and sunset times during the year, but a good starting time range is between 5:00AM – 7:00AM for mornings and 2:30PM – 4:00PM for sunset flights. Pricing starts at $129 per child (ages 5-12) and $179 per adult.
My Hot Air Expeditions adventure happened during a #brocation trip I took to Arizona with three of my best guy friends. On the day of our flight we arrived at Deer Valley Airport at 5:30AM. Upon arrival we checked in and were assigned to a van with your fellow hot air balloon riders. Next we went on what I like to refer to as a Helen Hunt, Twister-like search for a good launch point. Multiple pilot-led vans caravanned throughout the surrounding area in search for a spot with ideal wind conditions. After about 30 minutes on the road our pilots settled on a spot and began setting up the balloons.
Watching the hot air balloon setup process is fascinating and a lot of work! Each balloon requires a full team to unload the heavy basket, spread out the massive balloon, rig up the engine (known as the burner) and then properly blow up the balloon. Once the balloon is vertical, everyone is loaded into the basket. Our basket was divided into five sections. The middle held our pilot and on each side of him was two box-like areas that could fit up to four or five bodies.
From takeoff to landing we were airborne for roughly an hour over the greater Phoenix area. The flight itself was extremely smooth and tranquil. It literally felt like we were just peacefully floating and at times it didn’t even feel like we were moving. The views of Arizona from an open-air basket were #breathtaking.
I’ve done a lot of adventures at tall heights – skydiving, bungee jumping, parasailing, hang gliding, etc. – but nothing compares to hot air ballooning. It allows you to enjoy the scenery as a passive observer and over a much longer time compared to other action sports.
Was it scary? At times yes!… especially when my #brocation brothers pushed me up against the basket wall! However, it is thrilling getting to the edge of the basket and looking down.
After enjoying the views from above, Hot Air Expeditions lands the balloon (wherever the winds take you) and your hot air balloon adventure ends with a meal and champagne toast. A little bubbly is the perfect way to cap off a beautiful flight.
For #brocation we called the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa home for the weekend. We enjoyed our stay which included a good hotel pool area and cabana style rooms on an expansive piece of property.
Taking a hot air balloon is one of many items on my travel bucket list. Every time I scratch off an adventure I’ve wanted to do, I feel a sense of gratification and accomplishment. So often I hear people talk about what they want to do or where they want to go, but fail to follow through and make it a reality. Thank you Hot Air Expeditions for turning one of my travel dreams into a cherished memory.
What are five of your travel bucket list items? I challenge you — write them down, make them happen and let me know!
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