One of my favorite parts of travel is the anticipation. The weeks, months and sometimes even years before the trip actually occurs that are filled with Googling images of the destination, researching all the exciting activities you’ll do while you’re there and envisioning yourself at those famous sights you’d only seen before in pictures.
Planning upcoming trips and basking in the glow of the anticipation definitely do make me happy, but I try hard to not let my eagerness overwhelm me. Because nothing is worse in travel than disappointment — when that amazing moment you’d been waiting for falls short of your expectations. Sure, cognitive dissonance might kick in and soften the blow a little, but deep down you know it wasn’t what you wanted it to be.
I first went paragliding in July 2015. I had been wanting to do it for several years. The original plan was for me to go paragliding as an early birthday present during our trip to Brazil in 2014. However, when we got to Rio, my mom quickly found out from our hotel’s concierge that the paragliding/hang gliding scene in the city was rather sketchy (there had been several accidental deaths earlier that year.) So that was a hard “no” from my mom. This just left me yearning to do it even more. When I found out we were going to New Zealand the next summer in 2015, I knew this could be my chance. Thankfully, my mom agreed, which left me to imagine this flight over and over again in my head for the next several months.
When the day finally came for me to jump off Coronet Peak, I was beyond excited. But I was also nervous that the actual experience of paragliding wouldn’t live up to the scenario I’d imagined of so many times in my head. I wanted so desperately for this experience to be perfect.
I am happy to report that my paragliding ride met and exceeded my expectations. I could spend years imagining what it would feel like to soar 5,000 feet in the air, or imagining how tiny the houses and streams below would look, but nothing could compare to the real thing — how I felt like a bird taking flight for the first time when my tandem instructor and I ran off the side of the snow-covered mountain and seamlessly transitioned into the open sky, or just how quiet and peaceful it was to slowly glide over the trees and mountains. The experience wasn’t perfect (I underestimated how cold it would be at 9 a.m. on a New Zealand winter morning and my fingers nearly froze under the thin gloves I was wearing), but it still went above and beyond even my most elaborate dreams.
Although there have certainly been times in which I’ve been disappointed while traveling (*cough cough* Paris *cough cough*), I am so glad to say that my first time paragliding was not one of them — I say “first time” because I can’t wait to do it again.
Check out the video I made using the GoPro footage from my flight: