Tips for Planning Family Ski Trip for First-Timers

Family-Ski-Trip-Planning

As a family who lives in the South where snow is a thing of special treat, planning a ski trip with kids can be very challenging and costly. And like many families who have never skied before the task of preparing all the necessary equipments and gears can be daunting. So I would like to share with you our own experience when we prepared for our first ever ski trip a couple years ago. I still feel like newbie in this ski thing. Planning a successful family ski vacation is easier with these tips for planning family ski trip from various family travel bloggers.

Ski is an expensive activity. You probably know that. Just to get ourselves ready for a day on the slope we have to purchase several clothing to make sure that we won’t freeze to death. However, there are ways to help minimize the cost by shopping smarter and know what to splurge and what to skim. If this is your first time planning a family ski trip and don’t yet know whether your family will like it, you don’t have to go overboard and purchase $300 snow pant. Read on for more tips on planning and saving on family ski vacation.

Things to Prepare for Family Ski Trip

 

Ski Clothing

 

Family Ski Trip Planning: Ski Clothing

Base Layer

To help combat the cold and prevent us from loosing the heat, a shirt made from quick-drying fabric like a synthetic blend of wool, which wicks moisture away from skin, is an essential base layer. We picked up a few t-shirt at Target for less than $20 each. For a more popular brand, you can spend a bit more with Under Armour shirt.

Mid Layer

We already have fleece sweater so fortunately we don’t have to shell out on this layer. Keep an eye out for winter clearance sale from Old Navy or sporting store like REI to score deep discount fleece sweater or jacket. During the sale, I was able to score $7 fleece sweater.

Ski Jacket

This is probably the most expensive investment we have to do. It’s highly recommended that we look for waterproof jacket. The waterproof feature drives up the price and selections. Luckily, when I went shopping at REI, we snatched a Burton Jacket for Mr. Z. Be on the look out for end of season sale at the ski store as well. Typically, they will have a sale pre-season around September or October to clear out last season inventory. It’s a great time to shop for great jacket. This is the one item that I think you should invest on.

Snow Pants

For Miss J and Mr. Z, I opted for the bib options for them. We picked one up for each of them last year from Walmart. I know.. I don’t even know if there is a brand on this but for a once a year activity, I think it will work out. We might invest in better pants or bib later if they decide they want to go skiing more often. For now, every penny counts! For me, I was able to check out the used sporting store in our area (similar to Play Again Sport) and picked up a nice snow pants for under $30.

Ski Gloves or Mittens

We need waterproof and breathable gloves. Our normal winter gloves that we use won’t do. Luckily, we found a cheap option from warehouse club for less than $15 a pair. Our gloves have a little pouch that you can store the handwarmer.

Socks

This is another key for keeping yourself as comfortable as you can because you will need all your focus on skiing downhill. Good socks will keep your feet warm even on the cold day. Looks for wool socks and preferably ski socks.

Balaclava or Neck gaiters

Balac what??? That’s my first response. But talking to my friend who has been going skiing every year, this is one piece of clothing that he highly recommended. It will help prevent your face from freezing on your way downhill. Typical scarf will only get in a way and get tangled after a run.

Ski Goggles

This is a must in my book because it will not only protect your eyes from the Sun but also the wind. The ski goggle prices are varied based on the manufacturing and feature. But if this is your first time, you can pick up an entry level ski goggle from the Academy Sport store for under $20 per pair. For kids who wear glasses, you can also look for the ski goggle that goes over the glass. Ask for OTG goggle.

Ski Helmet

We didn’t purchase the ski helmet during our first trip but we rent it from the ski shop. It’s a must in my opinion. You don’t know what can happen and you want to protect your head at all cost. Once we realized that our family love to go skiing and it’s something we will do it on an annual basis, we decided to invest in a helmet for each kid. For way to save, check out the clearance section of the sporting store like REI to see last season helmet. We were able to pick up a ski helmet for Miss J for under $30. So worth it!

Helmet Cover (optional)

We didn’t have the helmet cover yet but it’s something we are thinking about buying. It’s not only a fun way to display their helmet but it’s a great way for us to help identify our kids can they ski down the slope.

Accommodations

 

Family Ski Trip Planning- Accommodations

Choosing where to stay during your ski trip can help ease the hassle in the morning rush to get to the slope. Hotels or condos closer to the ski slope and within ski village allows the morning routine to be less work.

Also look for condo type accommodation will provide more space for the whole family and other features like dining room and kitchen will come in handy to help save the cost of eating out during family ski vacation.

Many ski resorts provide Kids Ski Free when families book accommodation with a resort. This can help save a lot especially if your kids are older than 6 years old (since most ski resorts already have a program for kids under 6 ski free).

Another way to help save on your family ski trip is to plan a vacation with another family and share the accommodation. Many ski resorts also offer cabin style accommodation that can fit a large group. By sharing with another family, you can save on the cost and have instant play pals for your children.

Ski Equipment Rentals

 

Family Ski Trip Planning- Ski Rental

To rent or to buy, it’s never a question for us during our first ski trip. Ski equipment is ridiculously expensive. So for a first timer, it makes more sense to just rent the ski equipment. Even if you plan to ski for a few times a year, the cost is still cheaper. Unless of course, your kid plans to join the ski team.

Renting ski equipment is something you can plan in advance rather than wait until the day you want to ski. By arriving early to the ski resort or check out information in advance, you can most likely rent the ski equipment the night before to avoid the long line and rush. Most ski resorts will allow late night pick up of your ski rental equipment as well as lift ticket purchase for the next morning.

Another option for ski rental is to check out local ski shop. Most will have cheaper rate than the ski resort and less crowd. However, it will involve having to transport all the ski equipment on your own. So if you don’t have a car, it might be a bit difficult. Check with local shop if they offer the service the deliver your ski rental equipment.

Ski or Snowboard Lessons

 

Family Ski Trip Planning- Ski Lessons

For a first timer to family ski trip, ski or snowboard lesson is a must for everyone. I know that the price tag is not something we like to see. But think about the investment you have put into planning a family ski trip with all the hotel, flight, lift ticket, ski rental and ski clothes. You wouldn’t want to ruin the whole vacation by not having fun, right? Having a lesson will provide a good foundation for kids and adults to be able to eventually enjoy the slope on their own.

I would recommend for at least a full day lesson for first timer. It will help you truly learn how to put the ski on, walk on the ski, stop and probably turn as well. And if you are a quick learner, you might even get to go on the lift and take on a few run on the green. It’s much better to learn to get on and off the chair lift with an instructor. I can tell you  that!

For a way to save on ski lesson, check out also family private lesson. With the whole family learning together, it might be cheaper than putting everyone on a different group lesson and you will get more personalized lesson.

My friend, Jen @ TwoKidsandAMap, has a great post laying it out for whether you should take ski or snowboard lesson.

 

On the Mountain Tips

 

Prepare for Altitude Sickness

Family Ski Trip Planning-5

If you travel to the ski resort, chances are you will be traveling to a much higher altitude than your home base so one of the main thing to be aware of is Altitude sickness is real and important.

What is altitude sickness (also known as acute mountain sickness)? The altitude sickness is the effect of high altitude (mostly occur at 8,000 ft or higher) on human body. Symptoms often manifest themselves six to ten hours after ascent and generally subside in one to two days, but they occasionally develop into the more serious conditions. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, stomach illness, dizziness, and sleep disturbance.

In order to help avoiding altitude sickness, here are some tips to avoid altitude sickness.

  • Drink plenty of water one week before your trip.
  • If possible, arrive at the base city to help acclimate your body. For a ski trip to the Colorado mountain, a night stay in Denver will help adjust your body. Denver is already at 5,000 ft after all.
  • Take it easy on the first day. I know you will want to go up the top of the mountain and make use of your time but it will be wise to just take it easy on the first day. Enjoy other activities available at the ski resort.
  • Limit the alcohol intake.
  • Drink plenty of water during your time at the high altitude.

For more tips, check out expert Colorado blogger, Kara @ TheVacationGals for tips to avoid altitude sickness on the mountains.

Early Bird Gets the Worms

Family Ski Trip Planning-8

I admit that we are a lazy vacationer type. I love to sleep and there are more than one occasion that we forego one of to-do on our list during our vacation for a bit more sleep. But when planning family ski vacation, we typically run into the busy holiday weekend as that is the only time we can have decent amount of vacation days without taking the kids out from school. With that limitation, it also means all other families are there at the same time. So waking up early and get to the slope as soon as you can is the one thing that regardless of how much you want to cuddle under that warm blanket you must get up.

Some ski resorts will let you start earlier than published lift time if you have already purchased a ticket. Even if they don’t, it doesn’t hurt to be one of the first in line to get on the slope. Waiting till late morning can mean a line mimic one from Disney’s theme park on the busy holiday weekend.

Activities beyond Ski & Snowboard

Family Ski Trip Planning-3

There are other winter activities available in most ski resorts that will keep even the most timid skiers happy. When planning a family ski trip, don’t forget to check out other family-friendly activities available at your ski resort like Kidtopia or snowtubing at Keystone resort.

Plan a day to enjoy what the ski resort has to offer and also give your body a chance to rest like an outdoor hot tub to relax your body with a great mountain view.

Planning Tips from Family Travel Bloggers

The beauty of travel community is the vast amount of resources and knowledge we learn and share with each other. These are just some of the tips I found from our family travel experts.

 

Do you have other tips to share? Please feel free to leave a comment.

 

This post is also part of Travel Tips Tuesday hosting by Walking on Travel and Suitcases and Sippy Cups. Check out other travel tips from other bloggers.

Ski Beech Mountain Resort: Great for Family Ski Trip near Atlanta

Ski Beech Mountain with Kids: Beech Mountain Resort, NC

Beech Mountain Resort is one of the popular ski resorts in North Carolina that is within driving distance from Atlanta. Our family loves to go skiing. But living in the Southeast makes it more difficult and less ideal to have family ski trip on a regular basis. So we took opportunity on skiing in North Carolina area as much as we can. Ski Beech Mountain is a good option for family ski trip from Atlanta area.

Quaint Ski Village atop Beech Mountain

 

Ski Beech Mountain with Kids: Beech Mountain Town, NC

 

Beech Mountain town which is named ‘Eastern America’s Highest Town’ is a picturesque town with snow covered trees lining the road leading up the mountain. It truly feels like a winter wonderland once we have reach the top of the mountain. This small town offers not just a great winter getaway with snow sports like skiing or snowboarding but also other activities like snowshoeing and sledding hill.

Ski Fun for Kids and First Timer

 

Ski Beech Mountain with Kids: Beech Mountain Ski resort

Ski at Beech Mountain resort is fun especially those who ski for the first time or still learning how to ski. (ahem.. like myself). The short slope allows me to be able to slowly make my way downhill without the fear of getting stuck on the trail. We were lucky to ski on such a beautiful day or as our mountain host said ‘It’s a 4 or 5 golf balls day’.

Ski Beech Mountain with Kids: Beech Mountain Resort, NC

The perfect temperature on the sunny day provides us the beautiful blue sky with clear view. Mr. Z and I were part of the media group after filled out the form we were suited up with our ski boots and ski in no time. I would think that during the holiday weekend it will probably be busier than this. Plan to arrive early to beat the crowd.

Ski Beech Mountain with Kids- Ski rental

Miss J and Mr. Rojo arrived later but still early enough to be one of the first one to purchase lift tickets so they didn’t have to wait long to get their ski rental before they were on their way up the lift to the green slope.

Mr. Z and I signed up for a semi-private lesson for one hour. It was a good review on what to do for me since this was our first ski of the season. We stayed at the school yard area and used the J-bar to get up the hill for practice a few times for our turns and stops. In the future, I will probably enroll in private lesson for Mr. Z because his skill is clearly outpace me (thanks to ski school at Keystone resort last year) and he felt that it was something he has already known. It would probably be more beneficial if the coach will take him on the real slope for a more challenging lesson.

The school yard area is not only for skiers in class but beginners can also use the bunny slope to learn and get acquainted to ski. I like the fact that they have 2 separate lines for J-bar. One for people in class since they have limited time so it allows them to move along much faster than if everyone wait in line.

Food Options at Beech Mountain

 

Ski Beech Mountain with Kids: Fred's restaurant

The Alpine Village in Beech Mountain resort provides a few options for dining from cafeteria style at the View Haus where you can get a quick bite or sit down style at the Beech Tree bar and grill that provide the full menu option for those who look for a break after a long day of skiing.

Also if you are willing to drive, just right outside the entrance of Beech Mountain resort is the Famous Fast Eddie’s Chicago style hot dogs & deli that offers authentic Chicago style hot dog. Or for a bit longer drive (no more than 5 more minutes), Fred’s Backside deli offers lunch menu as well. We truly love their breakfast. It’s a great way to start the day.

For more budget-friendly option, you can also pack lunch to save both time and money. Also check out our tips on ways to save on family ski trip.

Overall, we had a great ski trip and already plan to go back again over the long weekend. It’s not ideal for experienced skiers looking for more challenges but it’s perfect for this scary cat skier. :)

 Do you plan to go skiing this season? Where will you go?

Thank you Beech Mountain for providing our family with complimentary accommodation and ski tickets during our stay.

Travel Tips: How to Pack for Family Ski Vacation

Packing List for Family Ski Trip

Family ski vacation can be both fun and intimidating at the same time especially for family that ski for the first time. If you grew up skiing, lucky you. You probably know the in and out of how to prepare for your family ski trip. But if you, like me, have never gotten up the slope or put on the ski boots before, the idea of preparing, outfitting and packing for your whole family for the next ski vacation seems like a daunting task.

We went skiing for the fist time as a family last season. With countless nights of reading tips on planning family ski vacation and my faithful spreadsheet, we had the best time on the slope and we dare say that it was one of our favorite family vacation.

Outfitting your children for ski clothing and accessories can be expensive but with our tips you will be able to save on things that you can skim on and invest on things that will worth in the long run. So here are our packing list for family ski trip.

Packing List for Family Skip Trip

Packing List for Family Ski Trip Equipments

Ski Clothing & Accessories

These are items you must pack for your next ski trip. It will ensure your enjoyment up on the mountain.

  • Ski jacket – Invest in a good quality jacket that is waterproof.
  • Snow pant/Bib – Snow bib is like an overall of snow pant. It’s great for children so it won’t fall down. We bought a size bigger and adjust it to fit.
  • Ski glove – Cold hand will make skiing miserable. So invest in a glove that is waterproof that also have lining to keep the little fingers warm
  • Goggles – Try it out with your kid to see if it fits properly. It’s best to go to the store to buy goggles.
  • Base layer – long sleeve and thermal pant.
  • Mid layer – Get fleece top and fleece bottom. My kids actually didn’t wear the mid layer bottom as much. Just the base layer and their snow pant already kept them warm.
  • Ski socks – Look for wicked sock so it will not hold the sweat and keep your feet dry.
  • Ski mitten – It will help keep their hand warm when they need to take the ski glove off.
  • Neck gaiter/Balaclavas – Not a scarf but neck/face warmer that keep the wind out of your face.
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Hand/foot warmer

Ski Equipments (you can rent)

Since this article is written for first time skiers, it’s will be crazy to advice you to invest hundreds (no maybe even thousands) on the ski equipment. All ski resorts will have ski equipment (boots, ski, poles, helmets) for rent. So these are the ski equipments that you need but you don’t really have to buy if this is your first time on the slope.

  • Ski boots
  • Poles
  • Ski
  • Helmets – If you plan to ski at least 2-3 times a year, it’s worth investing in a helmet. For health reason at least you won’t have to worry about lice and the cost of renting helmet will pay off for itself in a few days. We were able to pick up a helmet on clearance that cost less than $30 for our kids.

Après Ski Clothing

  • Sweater
  • Jeans
  • Boots
  • Shirts
  • Undergarments
  • Socks
  • Scarf
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit – There most likely are hot tub in the ski resorts and it’s one of the best way to end your day after a hard day on the slope.
  • Sunglasses

Do you have any particular tips to share on packing for family ski holiday? We will include your tips on our next post about how to save on ski equipments & gears.

Ski with Kids: Family Deal ‘Kids Ski Free’ @ Keystone Ski Resort

Family Ski Trip: Ski with Kids @ Keystone Ski Resort

Our family learned to ski together the first time last season and it had been one of the fun experience we have done together. Ski with kids can be a fun family vacation with the right planning. We picked the perfect family friendly ski resort at Keystone Ski resort in Colorado for our first lesson and I couldn’t be more satisfied with all the learning and improvement my kids had done last year.

When I heard the latest announcement from Keystone Ski resort about their latest promotion ‘Kids Ski FREE at Keystone Resort. Every Day. All Season Long. No Blackouts.‘ I couldn’t wait to share this awesome ski deal with you guys.

Here is the official information from Keystone:

As simple as childhood itself, Keystone’s Kids Ski Free program removes the red tape and fine print, allowing all children 12 years of age and under to ski and snowboard free every day, all season. The program has no blackout dates and is available on all weekends and holidays, a rarity in the ski industry. To qualify, families must stay two or more nights in one of Keystone’s numerous owned and operated accommodation options, which span from luxury hotel rooms to cozy ski-in/ski-out condominiums. Families big and small are able to take advantage of the offer, as there are no restrictions on the number of children per adult. Reservations must be booked through http://www.keystoneresort.com/?cmpid=PARPR0008 or toll-free at (877) 204-7889.

We have seen many Kids Ski Free deal before in the past so what makes this deal different from other deals. Let’s see.

No Blackout dates for Kids Ski Free Deal

This is HUGE! We (especially families with school age kids) know all too well that we have limited choices of ski weekend we can take with our kids and mostly those will fall in during the holiday weekend. Most of the time, the discount or deal from other ski resort will have blackout date during the busy holiday weekends that will prevent us from taking advantage on the deal. Keystone ski resort must have read our mind because this deal has NO BLACKOUT DATES. That’s right! You can take advantage of this deal even when you want to ski during Christmas break, President day weekend or any other holiday weekends.

Kids age 12 and under Ski for Free

Many of the ski deal for families have lower age limit. So with the age limit up to 12 years old, many of the pre-tween kids can truly enjoy skiing with the rest of the family.

No Restriction on Number of Children per Adult

Most of the time, the kids ski free deal often tie to the adult lift ticket. For us a family of 4 with 2 kids, we rarely have any issue with that. One adult ticket will get one free kid ticket. But how about a larger family with 4 kids or the family that the other parent doesn’t want to ski? Keystone ski resort program takes care of all that restriction. It doesn’t matter how many kids you have. As long as you book a room within Keystone resort via their online booking or call center within the maximum occupancy per room, you will have your free kid lift tickets waiting for you upon your check-in.

Available Through 2012-2013 Winter Season

One more wonderful thing about this deal is that you have the whole season to plan for your trip. That’s why I feel obligated to share this family ski deal here. Most of the time, by the time I publish the post, most deals will be gone. But with this deal, you can take advantage of the discount anytime this season.

So if this doesn’t convince you to take a look at the deal, check out below our posts from our past visit to Keystone Ski resort to help you learn about their resort, ski school and other fun things to do at this family-friendly ski resort in Colorado.

Ski with Kids Memorable Experience @ Keystone Ski Resort

Family friendly accommodation at River Run Village – Keystone Ski Resort

Keystone River Run Village Ski Resort with Kids

Outstanding Ski School for Kids (and Adults) at Keystone Ski School

Family Ski Trip: Ski with Kids @ Keystone Ski school

More Than Ski, Fun Things to Do @ Keystone Ski Resort

Also check out Mother of All Trips #BackToSki week for more ski related posts.

Family Ski Vacation in North Carolina @ Appalachian Ski Mountain

Family Ski Trip Appalachian Mountain North Carolina

After our first ever family skip trip to Keystone Resort, our family is hooked to this new winter sport. However, it’s hard for us to find a good ski resorts within driving distance to Atlanta. I did a little search and found that there are several ski areas near Atlanta that we can drive up over a weekend. So the plan was in motion to go for another ski trip.

We were fully aware that the snow, the trails or even the facility will not be anywhere near what we had experienced in Keystone like my friend, Kristin mentioned on her blog :) . But as beginner skiers, we just want to learn the art and skill of skiing at this time. Appalachian Ski Mountain is located in Blowing Rock, North Carolina about 5 hours drive from Atlanta, not too bad for a long weekend.

More Fun with More Friends

Appalachian Family Ski Trip with kids

This trip we planned it with a group of friends that have kids similar in ages to Miss J and Mr. Z. Traveling or planning a trip with group of friends can help save on family ski vacation and kids will have instant playmates.

We had enough in our group to even get the discount group rate for our ski lift tickets and rentals. Another bonus of group traveling.

Cabin Stay in the Snow

Appalachian Family Ski Trip Cabin Rental

There were different types of accommodations available in Appalachian area. Most popular ones are cabin rentals or hotel stay. We chose to rent a cabin since it can accommodate all of us and we had extra space for kids to hang out and play.

Kitchen was a center of our action during our whole stay. We cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner all throughout our stay. With a bit of pre-trip planning, each family just had to prepare minimum about of work and it was more fun cooking with friends.

Appalachian Family Ski Trip Snow Falling

We were lucky to get snow the night we arrived. Kids couldn’t dress up in layer fast enough to enjoy the snow flake and play outside.

Appalachian Family Ski Trip Snow

In the morning, we woke up to several inches of fresh, untouched, white snow surrounding our cabin and covering our driveway. Here’s where we learned one valuable lesson in choosing a cabin rental (make sure that the driveway is not too steep to get in and out during snow or properly maintain with salt & gravel) or preparing for staying in a cabin rental during winter. Living in Atlanta, we don’t have to worry about snow tire or anything in that nature. So we were quite unprepared to handle this situation. We ended up stuck inside the house half a day before we could go anywhere.

Appalachian Family Ski Trip Snow Fort

But it’s not exactly a big problem for us or the kids. There were fun things to do all around the house in the snow. They built a fort, had a snow ball fight, sled down the hill and enjoyed time together.

The Appalachian Ski Mountain Experience

Our cabin was only a few minutes from the Appalachian Ski mountain entrance. So it was a quick hop in the car to start our day at the ski area.

Appalachian Family Ski Vacation with kids

The rental process for group rental was very efficient and fast. A coordinator gave us a quick overview and provided our group with lift ticket. After a few minutes, we were off to get our ski rental gears.

I loved the fact that there were plenty of staffs to help direct people to where they need to be. Many instructors even helped us out to put our ski boot on. With many kids on our trip, some of them took a basic lesson to refresh their learning and some headed to the magic carpet.

Family Ski Trip Appalachian Mountain View

There are not many choices for the trails if you are an expert who frequent much higher elevation slopes in the West or the Colorado mountain but it’s sufficient for first time skiers family especially for kids. We (ok.. *I*) stick to the only slope I could manage while Mr. Rojo and our friend who is more experience skier than us took the kids to try out different slopes.

We spent the whole day there and lunch time was a challenge. We didn’t pack lunch as we should so the line was long but moved at the reasonable speed. After several more runs on the trail, it was time to say goodbye to the slope.

Family Ski Trip Appalachian Mountain Kids Skiing

Kids had a wonderful time partly because they had many friends to share their fun experience with. I would be lying if I say I hardly compare this family ski experience with our family ski trip in Colorado. But knowing that this experience provided us with different experience and allowed us to improve our skill within a budget, I’m okay with that.

We actually planned another trip to try out another ski resort in North Carolina soon.

Here are family ski vacation tips we learned from our trip:

  • If your schedule allows, try to ski on non-holiday and non-weekend day. We went during MLK day and ski on Monday and got a great discount in addition to our group rate.
  • Choose your accommodation wisely. Check to make sure that you can get in and out of your cabin during snow. There are hotels in Boone area which is about 15 minutes drive from Appalachian Ski mountain.
  • Pack your own lunch to avoid paying steep price for food.
  • If you plan to buy food, eat early or later than normal lunch time.
  • Enjoy!!!

So have you been to Appalachian Ski Mountain in North Carolina? Any tips you would like to share?