Tips For Successful Family Ski Vacations
Our family loves to ski, but I find that this type of vacation is a bit more involved than heading to the beach, at least until you are comfortably in your “ski vacation routine.” Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing for your first family ski vacation (applies for snowboarding too):
Enroll your children in Ski School
It is much harder to teach your children to ski than you think, even if you are a very good skier yourself. While generally not cheap, ski schools for children are a great investment if your family plans to continue to spend time on the slopes. They have expertly designed programs for different ages and skiing abilities and will teach your little snow bunnies exactly the kind of skills they need. The programs are usually staffed with instructors who have great technical skills and are great with children. Also, I can almost guarantee, your child will have more fun learning to ski with a group of peers, and you will get some time off to enjoy those slopes yourself!
Private, semi-private or group lessons?
This is largely a personal preference and you know best which format is most optimally suited for your child. Personally, I’m partial to group lessons for our children because they enjoy making friends and playing various games as part of a group in addition to learning to ski. Private/semi-private lessons can be very expensive, by definition limit the opportunities for your kids to make new friends (other than the instructor) and might be too intense for some children, particularly younger ones.
Rent, do not buy, ski equipment!
Kids grow quickly and the airlines charge steep fees for checked luggage these days, not to mention it is a pain to pack and lug around all the required ski stuff. Family friendly ski resorts usually offer great packages for kid ski equipment; often this is actually included in the price of ski lessons/ski school. Same goes for adults.
But consider getting your own helmets…
While many parents rent helmets too, I like having our own due to the more “personal” nature of this item. Kids’ little heads grow less dramatically from year to year, so you can usually get several seasons out of one. Also, you can make sure they fit perfectly when buying them at home and your kids will enjoy selecting their own color and fun design.
Make sure ski clothes fit before you leave home!
This might sound silly, but again, kids grow quickly. I know several friends who realized snow pants for their child were too short the morning the family was getting ready to hit the slopes. Depending on the location, you will usually be able to buy a variety of apparel at ski resorts, but be prepared for much more limited selection and premium prices, so plan ahead, I say.
Label all the clothing if your kids are in ski school
Needless to say, there will be many kids with many clothing articles (mittens, scarves, ski goggles, etc.). So do yourself and your child a favor by putting their name on everything, which is easiest to do at home while packing.
Easy On/Easy Off
Make sure your child’s clothes are as easy to take off and put back on to make those bathroom breaks as painless as possible as there are usually many layers involved when skiing. If your children are in ski school, those ski instructors will be thankful too. Plus, you want them to spend as much time as possible on the slopes, versus getting everybody in and out of the bathroom.
Sunscreen, Chapstick and tissues!
This is another one that seems basic, but the sunlight reflecting off the snow makes the rays extra strong (not to mention the effects of the thinner air at higher altitudes) and kids’ skin is especially sensitive and susceptible to sunburn. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen and Chapstick with SPF before you head out to the slopes. When our kids are away in ski school for most of the day, I like to pack an extra Chapstick along with a pack of tissues in their pockets, so it’s all there if needed.
Take a Day Off
Finally, if you are planning to ski more than two to three days, consider taking a day off. Learning to ski is fun, but it’s physically demanding and you want to make sure you don’t “burn out” your little snow bunnies. Many ski resorts offer myriad of other fun winter activities such as sledding, snow tubing, ice-skating or even dog sledding (mush!). A day off is also a great time for enjoying that hotel hot tub or pool or other indoor activities such as bowling, bocce or the movie theater.
Have fun on the slopes!
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