How to plan an early season ski vacation

By Amy Whitley

If you’ve been eyeing all the enticing email blasts announcing early storms and turning lifts, and wondering whether to book an early season family ski vacation, the answer is yes.

Here’s how to make it easy.


Sure, it takes effort to plan an early season ski trip.

After all, you just got done with Halloween, right? Between planning Thanksgiving and getting your Christmas tree, who has time to organize ski gear?

You do. (Think of it as Christmas shopping “research…” better to find out now that Katie needs new snowpants).

What else do you need to do to plan the perfect early season family ski trip?


Watch the weather forecast to see if, indeed, ski resorts will be opening pre-holidays.

Possibly pull the kids out of school or ditch the family Thanksgiving get-together for a ski trip (totally worth it, by the way).

Money savings: gear

Now the good news: organizing your ski gear early means savings.

I’d bet my favorite pair of Spyder gloves that your local ski shop hosts a pre-season clearance sale every November.

Then hit the ski swaps that take place in late October and early November, and by Thanksgiving, you’ll be ready to hit the slopes well before most families.

Money savings: lodging

Here’s why the effort is worth it: great deals and low crowds.

Our favorite family-friendly ski resorts—Northstar California and Keystone Resort—both offer early bird deals.

Plan on renting a ski vacation home on-site?

Most are sitting empty before the Christmas holidays, which equals bargaining power for families.

Money savings: on mountain

Another early season perk? Extensive restaurant deals.

You can expect more personalized attention during the early season: fewer kids in classes can mean a near-private lesson or two.

The timing couldn't be better: your kids will start their season with thorough instruction to carry over into the coming months.

Fewer people on the slopes helps everyone in the family to get their ‘ski legs’ under them without worry about collisions.

Know before you go

But what about the snow?

Snow conditions are a valid concern in the early season (and families face the same gamble in spring season).

Keep an eye on snow conditions at your resort, and book as soon as they have an opening date on the calendar.

You probably won’t be skiing trees, thanks to lack of coverage, but the novelty of the first ski trip will make up for this.

And if snow conditions are just too iffy at your booked resort as your vacation date nears, postpone! Adjust your reservation and know you’ll be ready to go when they are.

Plan Your Trip

Get deals and insider info from top ski resorts!


Did you know that your browser is out of date?

To get the best possible experience using our websites we recommend that you upgrade to a newer browser. A list of the most popular web browsers can be found below.

Click on an icon to go to the download page.