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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
On the Mountain Tips
Prepare for Altitude Sickness
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.
Early Bird Gets the Worms
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
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.
- How to Pack for Family Ski Vacation by The Q Family Adventures
- How to Plan Family Ski Trip on a Budget by The Q Family Adventures
- 12 Tips for First Time Skiers by TravelingMom
- Tips for Planning the Best Family Ski Vacation by Ciao Bambino
- Tips for getting kids gear up for the ski season by Mother of All Trips
- 5 Tips for successful holiday family ski trip by Pit Stops for Kids
- What to Wear Skiing – A Beginner Guide by Field Trips with Sue
- 30 Skiing Tips for Beginner by R We There Yet Mom
Do you have other tips to share? Please feel free to leave a comment.