I can assure you of this: If you give someone who has never experienced a hot air balloon ride, a gift certificate for a hot air balloon flight, they will be thrilled, excited and maybe just a little bit anxious – only because it’s new and unknown. That’s the way it is with most adventure experience gifts.
How do I know this? Personal . . . Experience.
So, how do you buy someone a gift certificate for a ride on a hot air balloon flight? And who would be a good candidate for such an extraordinary “experience gift”?
As to the second question – who – most operators will tell you “age really isn’t an issue”. I’ve seen or heard about folks taking hot air balloon rides up into their seventies. (No doubt there’s a few folks even older who have soared in balloons.) Of course, as in the case of anything “thrilling” it would be wise to start the adventure with a healthy heart and the absence of anxiety that requires medication to control.
What would be the obvious issues in choosing to give such a gift? Well, having a fear of heights would probably be an issue. Keep in mind that you don’t sit “in a capsule”. You stand (or sit if you need, for awhile, in a basket – which is actually a big part of the thrill. There’s no looking out a tiny window. You see the whole world. Since there’s no windows you also get to feel the wind on your face (though winds tend to be minimum on chosen flight days). You get to smell, see and hear the world – from several thousand feet up – looking down and sideways. (Nothing quite so funny as the look on a birds face as you float by “in their world”. ;p)
Does a person’s health matter? Of course, in everything we do. So, if you have health concerns for your intended beneficiary you should be certain to do your due diligence by asking their spouse or relatives and the hot air balloon ride operator. (If you have to “ask a doctor” chances are you should think about another gift . . unless everyone is really determined to give the gift of flight. There’s reasons for making exceptions.)
Based on my experience you can be overweight and out of shape, a good bit, but at some point you will have to hoist yourself (with help) into and out of the basket. (Some come equipped with doors.)
And, well . . the landings . . Hhot air balloons don’t exactly land on wheels . . or on soft, flat, green pastures 100% of the time, for that matter. So you need to be able to crouch and wrap your arms around straps or hooks or grab-thingies connected to the side of the basket when landing, because there can be a few bumps as the basket drags a bit to a stop. It may even flip onto its side at some point. All very safe IF your follow the operator’s instructions.
Remember, to make the ride interesting the balloon is “unteathered” and therefore “flies” with the prevailing winds . .and the winds don’t stop blowing to allow perfect vertical descents. However, if you know this in advance then you can a) be prepared for the landing; b) can accept that there’s some element of “bounce” and a (almost always) very small element of getting hurt, or choose to take a safer means of transport. Like a car, which everyone knows to be 100% perfectly safe all the time. :P (<- Tongue planted firmly in cheek.)
So, now that you’ve gotten past the “who” the question remains: how to buy a gift certificate for a hotair balloon ride.
The answer is pretty simple.
In most cases it’s a matter of picking up a phone and placing a call, with a credit card in hand.
How do you locate a local hot air balloon ride? Well, in the old days (and still) you can start by checking the local yellowpages under “balloon” or “hot air balloon rides”. If that won’t work for you then the same phrases, entered into your favorite search engine, will produce a bazillion results . . but how do you choose an operator?
My advice would be to first be certain that anything you see in the “search results” for hot air balloon rides is actually the website of a local hot air balloon flight operator . . and not the website of an “aggregator” or marketing company. Nothing against the latter but they won’t necessarily have the best answers based upon actual knowledge – knowledge that only comes from actually being a hot air balloon flight operator.
Soooo . . double check for an actual address, a local phone number and other signs that the website is actually the local balloon flight operator. (One thing I’ve noticed is that most “hands on” operators tend to have ugly sites . . as web design just isn’t their thing. No offense guys and gal operators. ;) )
You can also make purchases through various “experience gift” specialists who, as marketers and aggregators, take a small slice (a commission) for generating leads or sales of experience gifts – such as hot air balloon rides – all across the country. Just such for “experience gifts” or “adventure gifts” and you wil find these companies listed at the top of most search engines.
Price wise, you will find there are market influences. You can expect to pay a bit more near urban centers and a bit less in less populated regions, in many cases. Exact prices I won’t quote as price depends on the length of the flight, the number of people on the flight (private, group), the location of the flight, time of year (high vs. lower demand) and other variables.