Should You Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride If You Have a Fear of Heights?

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While attending a travel conference last November, I was given the opportunity to go up in a hot air balloon. A hot air balloon ride has been on my Life List for years but as I’ve gotten older I have developed this crazy fear of heights. I get dizzy and have sudden anxiety with the fear. It’s totally irrational, I know.

hot air balloon ride in gallup new mexico

My fear of heights has bothered me so bad that I am apprehensive of my children getting too close to a ledge. They laugh at me over it, you should have seen us at the Grand Canyon in 2017! They are all adventurers and like to push my limits.

Gabby in Grand Canyon

That’s why I had almost given up on my goal of taking a hot air balloon ride. When my husband found out this was an option for us, he jumped at the chance. Me: not so much. It took a lot of convincing and encouragement for me to get in that basket.

Hot Air Balloon Ride When Scared of Heights

I share my tips for facing your travel fears on this week’s #TravelTuesday podcast. You can listen to that below and if you love travel stories and advice, please head over to iTunes and subscribe to our travel podcast – The Places We Travel. Also, you can read about my husband’s experience on our hot air balloon ride and being part of the ground crew on our travel site.

hot air balloon in red rocks gallup new mexico

The landscape in Gallup, New Mexico is so beautiful. It is the perfect location for going on a hot air balloon ride. We were able to float over the Red Rocks and capture so many great photos. Although the morning was pretty stressful for me, debating on if I would actually go up or not, the ride was worth it.

Watch my full experience taking a hot air balloon ride when scared of heights.

I have zero regrets. I am so proud of myself for facing my fear of heights and going up.

hot air balloon landing in red rocks state park

Our ride was a little more adventurous than usual due to not enough wind to get us to our final destination very quickly. But we were completely safe while floating in the air chatting with our pilot. I had convinced myself I could do anything for 10-15 minutes, even if I needed to close my eyes and pretend I wasn’t 1,000 feet above ground hanging from a large balloon. However, our ride ended up being over 30 minutes due to not enough wind. I share more of those details in my podcast.

Do you want to ride in a hot air balloon but scared?

Here are my three tips for facing your fears and enjoying your hot air balloon ride.

Research Your Hot Air Balloon Pilot

Our pilot came highly recommended. We teamed up with the X-Treme Lee Balloon Adventures team. They are F.A.A. certified commercial pilots and instructors for hot air ballooning. Not only do they have over 20 years of experience, but they are also passionate about what they do. They were beyond kind and accommodating. He walked me through the process and made sure I enjoyed myself. He was also very understanding about my fear of heights.

hot air balloon ride with x-treme-lee pilot

Research the company and pilot before you book your trip. Read reviews to see how other people describe their experience. Talk with your pilot when planning your trip and get a feel for if they make you comfortable. This is very important when you are hesitant about going up. 

Surround Yourself with Motivators

Some of my friends at the conference had previously gone on hot air balloon rides. They were encouraging me from the first day of the conference until I got into the basket. My husband would not let me back out. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. He knew going on a hot air balloon ride was on my Life List and wanted me to experience it. Having this kind of encouragement and motivation to face my fears helped me big time. If I was going at it alone, I would have chickened out.

Andrew and Dwan on hot air balloon ride

Find Your Focus to Clear Your Mind

Join the ground crew and chase team to get an up-close experience of hot air ballooning. Focus on all the amazing details and hard work that goes into taking a flight. I focused on documenting the experience and taking videos. When I would start to get nervous while up in the air, I would busy my hands and mind with taking videos. I would try to look out instead of down and take in the gorgeous scenery. By finding a focal point to pay attention to, it helped pass the time. 

Hot air balloon ride red rocks new mexico

If you deal with any type of anxiety, counting helps busy your mind. I would watch how long my videos were and make sure I got enough short video clips of each part of the flight to make a larger video to share. Again, this helped occupy my mind and make the flight enjoyable to me. 

Look up and be amazed. I loved seeing the fire go up into the balloon and realize how large the balloon really is. When you see them in the sky from a distance, you think they are pretty but nothing compares to riding in one. Take a deep breath and take it all in.

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Riding in a Hot Air Balloon When Scared of Heights

One Comment

  1. My family is taking a trip to Australia soon and we are thinking about doing a hot air balloon trip. My daughter is scared of heights so she is very nervous about it though. I think it’s great that you mentioned how your instructors are licensed pilots and can assure you they know what they are doing.

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