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Indoor Skydiving at iFly: A Tinggly Gift Review

indoor skydiving

One of the things we love about travel is the opportunity to take part in a variety of different and exciting experiences around the world. We’d been lacking in this department while home waiting for our next adventure to begin. Often finding ourselves uninspired by our too-familiar surroundings and itching for more excitement. So when Tinggly, a UK based company we adore, increased their experiences list to Texas we were thrilled. The best part? The particular activity we chose can be done in a multitude of different locations throughout the US, Canada, the UK and Asia. ifly Indoor Skydiving gives you the thrill of free-falling, without the fear and risks involved with jumping out of a plane.

Remind me, what exactly is Tinggly again?

So just a quick recap of what Tinggly is in case you’re not familiar with them: if you’ve ever had a difficult time coming up with a unique gift for a friend, family or significant other, Tinggly has provided a unique platform specifically for this scenario. Essentially you purchase what they call an “experience” – which costs a flat rate of $119 – and the gift receiver can choose from hundreds of various unique activities all around the world.

We love this idea because you don’t have to know exactly what the gift receiver enjoys to be able to give them an amazing experience! They can choose something that fits their style (scuba diving in Spain, walking with lions in Zimbabwe, cooking lessons in Mexico just to name a few) and you’ll become their new favorite person.

Tinggly’s experiences span over 80 countries, and with that range comes a multitude of various activities. Each experience is bound to provide a new and lasting memory, which is why we’re so proud and excited to be Tinggly ambassadors! 

The Purchasing Process

When you (or the gift receiver) finally find the experience you’d like to partake in (which can be difficult, since they’re all so incredible) you simply click the “Buy A Gift” button, pay via any major credit card, and the Tinggly Gift Box or Voucher – your choice – will be shipped for free. 

An email will be sent to you with the details of your order, and voilá! If you chose the voucher, it is emailed and can be printted out, and if you chose the gift box it is shipped to you for free. The gift is available for up to two years, which gives ample time for planning your Aqua Safari in Bora Bora.

Our Experience

Okay on to the exciting part!

This was our first Tinggly experience, and we chose to do indoor skydiving at iFly in Austin, because who doesn’t want to experience FLYING? 

We’ve driven past iFly numerous times since it opened a few years ago, and have always been curious about what it would be like. We booked the experience for two, and excitedly prepared for our flight. 

We walked inside the tall building, and were immediately greeted by a couple of friendly people behind the desk. We immediately wondered how often they get to float around in the wind tunnel and re-evaluated our life choices. We got all checked in, signed a waiver, and were given wristbands. We each opted for an additional $10 purchase that would allow us to “fly high” into the wind tunnel with our instructors. Obviously, we were giddy with anticipation. 

We walked up the stairs and immediately caught sight of the large glass wind tunnel. A man was floating with his instructor in what looked like one of those magic tricks where the magician removes the table from underneath his model assistant. A line of other flyers were sitting on a bench, patiently awaiting their turn, and their friends and family sat outside the tunnel watching. We were ushered into a side room with about twelve other people where our training would commence, and our friendly instructor, Ben, walked us through the procedures. After a short video, he had each of us lay on a special table to show us the proper form. It was kind of awkward and gave us a sort of beached whale feeling, ha!

After our brief training, we were given super attractive flight suites, ear plugs, eye protection and helmets. There were lockers available to put personal items in, and because jewelry or other loose items aren’t allowed in the chamber for safety reasons, we all grabbed a locker and set a quick combination. The group ahead of us finished up their flights, and we were led into the glass enclosure to sit on the bench. Shelly and I were at the back of the line, and one by one we watched people suddenly start floating as they entered the chamber. It was odd because you couldn’t see or hear the air, and from the outside it looked almost peaceful, but upon entering it was like suddenly sticking your head out of the window of a car traveling along the interstate. 

Shelly’s turn came and she handled it like a pro. The instructor uses handles situated on the back of the flight suit to guide you around the chamber. Each flight lasts 60 seconds, which doesn’t seem like a long enough time, but consider that with a normal skydive, where the free fall portion typically lasts about 45 seconds. Shelly’s turn ended and I stood up for my own. 

I trust fall-ed my way in, the instructor grabbed my handles and all of a sudden I was floating. Not gracefully by any means, but floating. I couldn’t hear anything with the wind rushing upwards into my face, but the instructor gave hand signals (which we learned the meanings to during training) to tell me whether I needed to hold my chin up, straighten my legs, pop up, pop down, etc. Any slight movement meant a sudden drop or rise, and soon I learned how to bank and maneuver just a tad. My turn ended and I glided (not so) delicately to the open doorway. 

What a rush! The second flight around, those who had purchased the $10 add on (which everybody had) we were flown with the instructor to the top of the chamber three times. It was about thirty feet high, but not one bit scary. The control that the instructor had was impressive, and he went through our line efficiently. 

After we were all finished, the instructor went in by himself to show off a bit. He went to the top of the chamber, then did a free fall to the bottom before catching himself at the last second. He rocketed to the top and then glided down in a spiral. We all stared in awe, as if watching a circus animal perform tricks.

After all the fun, we removed our gear, fixed our hair (mostly Shelly) and returned the flight suit to the desk. Included in our package was two free video clips which were filmed during our flight, and we opted to purchase two more additional photos. They have a few touch screen systems set up for you to easily view your photos and videos before making the decision to purchase. The files we bought were emailed to us about an hour later to download!

Check out the two videos we got along with our package. Please forgive the horribly cheesy music… 

Final Thoughts

We had a great time with this experience, and hopefully it’s something we can do again in the future! The instructor was extremely friendly and professional, the building is clean and modern, and the whole process was very smooth. The only downside with iFly is that everything costs something. It’s slightly expensive, and we ended up paying an additional $27 in flight time and photos. When you compare that to the cost of a real skydive though, you can’t beat it. 

We could definitely imagine gifting people Tinggly experiences and then later hearing them recount crazy stories of Northern Lights sightseeing in Iceland or extreme white water rafting in Indonesia. What an amazing memory to give to someone you care about. Very easy, very unique, and very memorable. 

We were fortunate to receive this gift for free from Tinggly, and so the real question is… would we buy this? And the answer is, yes. We had a great time, and so without a doubt we would have purchased it! It made for a great story to tell to family and friends. Normally when I tell people about it, I get a variation of the response, “aw, I’ve always wanted to do that!” It would also make a fun and unique date night, or even a family activity since kids are allowed. 

Have you ever skydived, either indoor or outdoor? What do you think about gifting a Tinggly experience? Let us know in the comments section below!


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Jimmie & Shelly

*While this experience was graciously provided by Tinggly, all thoughts and opinions are our own, as always!

Austin From Above: A Helicopter Photography Adventure

Last week I got the chance to do a few things that I’ve never really done before, and had more fun than shirtless Putin riding a horse bareback. Did I skydive? Swim with sharks in a cage? Hike to a Bhutanese cliffside monastery and learn the secrets to life? Not quite, but close. I was hired to do some aerial photography of Central Texas!

My cousin, Kristen, works for a local insurance company here in Austin, and she contacted me asking if I’d be interested in a photography shoot for her company. I’d actually only purchased my brand-spanking new DSLR five months ago. In that time though, I had spent countless hours researching and reading books, trying to wrap my head around just how to manipulate such a complicated piece of hardware. I had only just begun to really understand it all when she asked. 

And so, with my usual blind bravado, I accepted. I rented two lenses (the Canon 24-105 f/4L and Canon 70-200 f/4L, for you photography nerds out there), and we made plans on what exactly it was that we wanted to capture. The photos would be of topics that represent central Texas; a diverse part of the planet with equal parts cowboys, cattle, hipsters and hangouts.

I’d never flown in a helicopter before, and couldn’t help but grin at the prospect of it.  

Meanwhile, Kristen was working on renting out a helicopter which was made available through her boyfriend. A helicopter! I’d never flown in a helicopter before, and couldn’t help but grin at the prospect of it.

Day 1: Bluebonnets and Sunsets

We decided to take care of some pictures the night before the helicopter shoot. We set out to grab a few sunsets and try an interesting bluebonnet/ astrophotography composition that I’d been dying to capture. 

Airport Hill is one of the higher spots in town and we found a good location for the setting sun. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen, so the sky burned with oranges and reds as we watched the sun finish its day’s work over the Hill Country.

Afterwards we drove out to a spot on Lake Travis called Turkey Bend. I’d scouted the area a few days before because I had heard there were millions of bluebonnets, and they certainly weren’t lying! The night wasn’t ideal for astrophotography because the moon was nearly full and very bright but we still managed to capture some interesting shots. 

…the sky burned with oranges and reds as we watched the sun finish its day’s work over the Hill Country.

Day 2: The Helicopter!

The next morning, we woke up at 5:30am to begin our long day of shooting. We met up with Chris, a coworker of Kristen’s, at Walter E. Long Lake just east of downtown Austin for a beautiful sunrise. The lake was smooth as glass, and birds were careening towards the surface, occasionally making ripples. 

Our trio ate some breakfast, and chatted with the waitress about what was in the area.

“Well, there’s a ghost town just down the road?” she offered.

Pssh, yeah we want to go to a ghost town! We got directions and headed that way.

Ghost Town

What we saw when we got there, however, was more of a tourist trap. Hand built, definitely within the last decade, the “ghost town” had a bar, a blacksmith, a corral, and several buildings that were made to look old. A trailer sat out back, probably lived in by the person running the attraction. Even though it was all blatantly very fake, there were still some pretty cool pictures to be had.

The Executive Airport

The pilot, Drew, was sitting in a comfortable chair when we walked through the front door of the airport and stood up to shake our hands. We followed him outside toward the tarmac and turned left to a helicopter pad with a shiny red helicopter resting on it. My body was filling to the brim with nervous excitement. It was a bit smaller than I imagined. The doors were opened, and I took the front right seat.

“Unless you wanna fly, that’s my seat,” said the pilot, laughing.

Off to a good start Jackson.

I moved my gear to the other front seat, while Kristen and Chris took up the cramped back seats. The helicopter looked like a giant dragonfly, with huge bubble windows for great views of the countryside. 

“You guys all ready?” asked Drew. 

We nodded, buckled our seatbelts, and put on the headphones so that we could hear and talk to each other. He pulled a few levers, pushed some buttons, and the rotor blades began screaming. And just like that…we left the ground. Within seconds, we were above the buildings and banking hard above the tarmac. What a rush! 

My body was filling to the brim with nervous excitement.

Circuit of the Americas

Our first stop was for some aerial shots of the Circuit of the Americas, the only Formula 1 race track in the United States. I’d been there for a concert of all things before, but seeing it from the sky was a whole other experience. He took us around for a few laps; the first from higher up and the second from a lot lower for different angles. I could see people sitting in the parking lot, looking up at us. 

Downtown Austin is right next door (when you’re in a helicopter), so we flew around the skyscrapers several times capturing photos of the capital building, the beautiful Lady Bird Lake and University of Texas campus. 

A Secret Waterfall and Lake Buchanan

On our way to Enchanted Rock, the pilot asked if we’d like to go check out a cool waterfall that he knew about on the way. Uhh, why would we say no to that? We followed a brown river a little ways, came around a bend, and saw what he was talking about. Right beside the river was a large patch of grass with a beautiful waterfall cascading over the edge of a cliff into a large pool. It didn’t look like it belonged here! We watched the buzzards float high above us and listened to the waterfall as we took a ton of pictures. We were on a bit of a schedule, so we soon departed. 

Lake Buchanan was on the way to Enchanted Rock, so he took us in low over the water. I felt like we were flying along level with some of the boats that were gliding across the large blue lake. We couldn’t have been more than a hundred feet off the water, and were closing in on the opposite shore fast when he pulled up and lifted us over the houses and trees. 

Enchanted Rock

We finally arrived at Enchanted Rock, about a 40 minute helicopter ride (or 2 hours if by car) from Austin. Enchanted Rock is a massive granite formation and is the largest of its kind in the United States, rising 425 feet above the surrounding area. I loved camping there as a Boy Scout back in the day, and seeing it from above was spectacular (get used to me saying variations of that throughout this post!) The people who had climbed up to the top looked like tiny ants atop an ant hill, and we flew around it for awhile before heading down to the small Texas town of Fredericksburg. There, we landed at the airport for some lunch downtown and got some classic small-town pictures. 

…(they) looked like tiny ants atop an ant hill


We called for a cab and waited for about ten minutes for him to arrive to take us into town. The man that arrived was certainly not what I expected, although with I shouldn’t have expected anything otherwise given the town that we were in. He was about 75 years old, and looked as if he should be on a ranch herding cattle instead. He agreed to be our driver for the day while we drove around some of the surrounding area for other items on our list. He was a gentleman and was constantly opening doors for Kristen, but had a hilarious old-man wit that was on constant display. He dropped us off at the Auslander Restaurant, a German-style biergarten. I ordered a pork schnitzel for lunch, and even though it wasn’t as good as the ones Shelly and I had in Austria (how snobby does that sound?), it was a good experience overall and we left full. We snapped a few pictures downtown, and called up our cab driver to take pick us up.

Wildseed Farms

We headed for Wildseed Farms, the country’s largest active wildflower farm. Even though we were a bit out of season to view it in its full glory, there were still plenty of gorgeous flowers begging to be photographed. We walked up and down the rows of poppies, fields of bluebonnets and through the lush courtyard containing small ponds stocked with koi fish. We were there for about an hour before heading back out to our waiting cab driver. Apparently he’d been bored, because he was really excited to show me this seashell he found in the grass.

…there were still plenty of gorgeous flowers begging to be photographed.

Horse Ranch

We were headed towards Luckenbach next when off in a pasture we could see about a dozen horses grazing. They were something on our list, if we could find them, and decided to turn around to try and get some pictures. The cab driver pulled into a small parking lot, and worked his way around a little road. It felt like we were trespassing just a tad bit, but we started snapping shots anyways. A big ranch truck pulled up behind us. We’d been caught! A young girl not 5’2″ with fiery red hair jumped down, looked at us, and starting getting ready to corral a horse. Chris and I looked at each other, and decided to walk over to ask her for permission to take a few pictures. She agreed.

“If y’all want to, just drive on up that dirt road to the barn. There’s a bunch of horses back there if you’d like?” she offered.

Well sure, thanks! Our cab driver put us on the road, and with his windows rolled down started yelling funny things at her as we drove by with his old-man charm.

“There ya go girl, rope them hosses!” he yelled. We were nearly crying with laughter at his boldness. 

We drove around to the barns, and it wasn’t long before she came up the long road, two horses in tow. We kept hearing what sounded like humans screaming coming from inside the horse barn.

“What in the world is that?” we were all thinking.

She brought out three small goats only five weeks old. They stayed at her feet wherever she went as if she were their momma goat. She later brought out a two DAY old goat, who promptly pooped a yellow-green liquid all over her shirt. We were there for about thirty minutes before thanking her for her kindness and departing for Luckenbach. 


Luckenbach is a strange oddity of a town. It’s become a part of Texas folklore as a country music community where people gather for live music events and drink many Shiner Bock beers. I’d never been there before, so it was fun finally getting to see the town whose motto is “everybody’s somebody in Luckenbach.”

Everybody’s somebody in Luckenbach.

The Ranch

It was one hell of a place, and our eyes were wide with amazement the whole time. 

Our pilot offered up another destination to end the day, which just happened to be in the area.

“It’s a guy’s ranch, Josh, whom I taught how to fly,” he said.

Drew called him from the air. After the call was over, Drew filled us in.

“He actually just landed himself, and he’s more than willing to show us around.”

We were hoping for some good pictures of wildlife, and Drew promised we’d get just that. We landed on Josh’s private helipad (never thought I would say something like that), and were astonished. Josh came out of his “hangar,” which was more like a glorified man cave. It housed his helicopter, and had a spare room, living area and bar. 

Josh took us around his property in his hunting vehicle/ souped-up golf cart that fit all five of us easily. From our seats on the back end, Kristen and I snapped pictures of all the exotic game Josh had imported to his ranch; deer from India, black buck, axis deer, ibex, and even wildebeest, among others. It was one hell of a place, and our eyes were wide with amazement the whole time. 


We flew back just as the sun was setting. Everything was under the cover of darkness except for the tall skyscrapers of downtown which looked like it was glowing with a pink-red. 

It was such a cool experience overall. We were exhausted from taking pictures for over 12 hours, but had great fun the entire time. Shelly was incredibly jealous of my opportunity, so I tried not to brag too much when we landed and I called her. 

We’re already looking at helicopter flights somewhere else.

Have you ever been in a helicopter? Let us know in the comments below! We love hearing from you 🙂 

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Jimmie & Shelly

The Time We Roadtripped with a Stranger’s Car – Pt. 3

Roadtripping Pt 3 Featured Image

We finally left the uneventful landscapes of western Colorado and found ourselves gazing up at the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains just outside of Denver. The sun was setting after over 8 hours of solid driving and we were nearing our final destination for the day. It was nice to be done with the draining desert heat and in to the cool mountains, and we’d be finishing the day at the house of a friend of mine from high school named

The Time We Roadtripped with a Stranger’s Car – Pt. 2


To bring you up to speed, we were hurtling towards Alabama with a stranger’s car from Seattle, using a slightly shady car service called Auto Driveaway, and currently driving through the state of Idaho. We’d decided to nickname the car Jessica, after the name of the car’s owner. What we knew is that her name was Jessica, she went to the University of Alabama, and apparently had enough money to have her car delivered to her from across the country. Naturally