Planning your first ski vacation adventure is exciting but can also be as foreign as traveling abroad. Here are a handful of things to remember while planning, packing, and going on your first ski vacation.
- research your possible locations and logistics
- schedule a lesson or mountain tour
- plan for weather
- schedule to do a non-skiing activity or adventure
- expect to spend money
- borrow equipment from friends, neighbors, or family
- expect that everything will go as planned
- pack the night before
- wait to hydrate
- keep to yourself
This includes everything from which resort to go to, which city you will fly in and out of, how to get to and from the airport and, selecting the lodging option that best suits your needs—slope-side condo, ski cabin off the beaten path, or a hotel in the heart of the nearest ski town and ski and stay packages.
The more you know about technique the more fun you will have on the mountain. This goes for your kids, too. Even if you have skied in the past, ski instructors are valuable also as mountain guides – showing you to secret stashes. An added bonus of taking a lesson is you get to load the chairlift in a special lift line, often times loading much quicker than the general public.
You will be in the mountains so plan for all conditions which can change rapidly. Mountainous conditions include sunshine, heavy snow, wind, and unfortunately rain. Plan and pack accordingly.
Destination resorts pride themselves on their activities, amenities and après activities outside of skiing and snowboarding: snowmobile tours, snowshoe adventures, mountain-top dining excursions, riding on a groomer, spa treatments, and kid specific activities, just to name a few.
You are traveling to a ski resort where traditionally retail goods and food costs are more expensive than in non-resort communities. As you research your trip, keep a tally of your known costs so you're not thrown off by how quickly lift tickets for a family of four can add up. There are ways at a resort, like in day-to-day life, to trim down on expenses. For example, bringing a refillable collapsible water bottle so you don’t have to buy water to keep hydrated. Bring extra cash for the unexpected expenses.
Rental gear is up to date at every destination resort and will be fit right to your specific needs and conditions. If you don’t already have gear—or if you want to avoid traveling with bulky ski bags and paying the checked baggage fees—then plan on renting skis. While this might add some costs to your total trip expense, it will lighten up your load and also give you an opportunity to try out new demo gear.
You are in the mountains. Conditions can change in an instant. Go about your trip with an open mind and take advantage of every condition that is thrown in your direction. If it is sunny, enjoy the views. If it is snowing, enjoy the powder. If it is raining, enjoy the amenities.
Give yourself plenty of time to pack and repack. Dress yourself as if you are heading to your local ski hill; helmet, goggles, gloves, base layers, ski jacket, ski pants, socks, sunscreen, lip balm, hand warmers, ski boots, skis (unless you plan on renting), camera, and of course all the other items that will make your time in the mountains comfortable.
Drinking a lot of water prior to leaving on your trip will aid in your transition from lower to higher elevations. Ski resorts in the US can be as high as 12,000 feet. Hydration will help with acclimating to mountain elevations and will help you avoid getting altitude sickness.
While this might be obvious to some, it serves as a reminder to others. Plan to make friends, give high fives, and take as much as possible. The mountain culture is truly beautiful. Introduce yourself and make conversation on chairlifts. You will find out more information about the mountain from locals and frequent visitors than you will find online. This will enhance your trip tremendously.
Whether it be adventure, fun, challenge, exploration, relaxation or freedom, planning your first ski trip adventure can be just as exciting as going on the trip. The more research you put in and the more you know about where you are going, the easier it will be once you are on your way. Now, you have done the research and are packed, it is time to relax and enjoy your first ski vacation. Proper research and planning is sure to bring lasting memories and many unique adventures.