Temperatures are dropping and before we know it winter will be upon us. What now? If your family loves the snow as much as mine does, winter weekends often mean a road trip to the mountains to hit the slopes. However, as every parent knows, sometimes family ski vacations don’t go as smoothly as we’d like — especially when there are multiple children involved! Between the long car (or plane) ride, renting equipment and finding the right ski lesson, it’s not uncommon to run into a few hiccups.
Here are a few tips to consider when planning a family ski vacation with kids in tow (trust me, I’ve been there!):
1. Location, Location, Location – Consider the proximity to the slopes before booking lodging – ski-in, ski-out is ideal, especially with young kids. If ski-in, ski-out is not in your budget, consider valet parking or using the resort loading/unloading zone to drop the kids off with one parent. Anything to lessen the amount of time spent on walking to and from lifts in ski/snowboard boots carrying heavy equipment. This can tire young ones out even before they hit the slopes!
2. Yelp It! Do your homework on the ski/snowboard school and child care options at the resort – check reviews, make sure location is conveniently located near your lodging facility, verify ages and types of programs they offer suited to each age and ability range. Unhappy campers won’t want to give it another try.
3. Gear Up – Newer, properly fitted clothing and equipment is essential to having a positive on-snow experience. Boots that fit just right using modern technology are substantially warmer, more comfortable and more flexible. Ski and snowboard technology has also dramatically changed the way skis and snowboards are now made, making it easier and easier to master the slopes. Many shops now offer equipment leasing options allowing you to ride/ski the newest equipment each season without breaking the bank! Visit our Equipment Section for a complete list of retailers in your area offering both equipment sales, leasing and rentals. For a list of ski/snowboard clothing recommendations, click here.
4. Lids on Kids – The National Ski Areas Association supports the use of snow sport helmets and we do too! With the encouragement of resorts and parents as well as helmet education, snow sport helmet use has increased year after year. Properly fitted, fastened helmet’s can reduce injury by as much as 30% to 50% and may be the difference between a minor and a major injury. Visit www.lidsonkids.org for more information, safety tips and research to help better understand the benefits of helmet use and snow sport safety.
5. Practice Makes Perfect – If you’re fortunate enough to have a credible youth ski/snowboard coaching program in your area, get your kids involved. Your kids will be much more prepared and comfortable hitting the slopes, which makes for a much more relaxed and stress-free vacation for the whole family. My program, the Blue Angels, operates every winter in Northern and Southern California. The Blue Angels program offers a comprehensive five Saturday coaching program for youth ski and snowboarders of all levels. The program includes all-day professional lessons, luxury bus transportation, lift tickets, a helmet, trained adult supervision on and off the slopes, healthy snacks and hearty lunch, as well as discounts on equipment rentals and leasing. If you’re in Northern California or Southern California, I invite you to visit www.blueangelsnow.com to find out more.
6. Relax, Chill Out – this may not be like the trip you took in college with your buddies when you charged all day catching the first chair of the day. Go in with the mindset that this is a fun, mellow trip for the kids, you are planting the seed to grow upon for future years. Your first several family ski vacations with young ones should be about the fun of the entire mountain/resort ambiance. Plan your day around plenty of hot chocolate breaks, long, leisurely lunches and plenty of après ski action (kid friendly). Don’t be disappointed with a little more (or even less) than a half day on the slopes. Keep it fun, comfortable and light hearted and they will want to come back year after year!