5 Tips For Planning A Family Ski Vacation

By Rachel Walker

There’s snow on the mountains!

Granted, it’s a slight dusting, and you can still see plenty of ground underneath. But the snow, the changing temperatures, and the short days confirm that winter is right around the corner.

Which means it’s time to plan your ski vacation NOW. Here are five tips to make it easy on you.

1. Start Early

Give yourself a deadline.

Whether it’s Oct. 15, Nov. 1, or the Monday before Thanksgiving, mark on your calendar when you plan to have your plans in order, and then stick to that deadline.

2. Choose a Destination

Any of the Vail Resorts ski areas guarantee exceptional ski school and day care; friendly customer service, a range of amenities, and beautiful scenery.

So how to choose? I won’t lie. It’s tough. Here’s a short summary of each resort:

  • Breckenridge: High alpine, terrific beginner and expert terrain, a charming, authentic mining town.
  • Keystone: So family friendly there is no way your children could ever get bored. Varied ski terrain.
  • Vail: Endless ski terrain, a mix of luxury and budget accommodations, and a charming, car-free village.
  • Beaver Creek: Rarely crowded, high-end, escalators and covered walkways, free cookies, and home of the famed U.S. World Cup Birds of Prey racecourse.
  • Heavenly: Value lodging, amazing Tahoe views, more of a night scene.
  • Kirkwood: Secluded and gorgeous, a variety of terrain for all abilities.
  • Northstar: Less crowded than Squaw Valley, great park and pipe, convenient location.
  • Canyons: Legendary Utah powder, close to Salt Lake City for easy access, wonderful terrain.

3. Pick Your Lodging

Budget condo or high-end hotel? Or something in between?

Find vacation deals here.

4. Audit Your Gear

Whether you waxed and sharpened your skis last April, washed yours and the kids’ coats and pants, or just tossed everything into a corner of the garage, go through everything piece by piece.

Note whether the kids need new gear a size up, waterproof when necessary, and check out whether your goggles can make it through another season.

Nothing spoils a good vacation like discovering your gear won’t work after you’ve arrived at your destination.

5. Write a Budget

This may sound like overkill, but it’s no secret that skiing is expensive.

The best way to avoid stress on a vacation is to go into it knowing how much money you have to spend and how you plan to spend it.

We organize our budget into the following:

  • Lodging
  • Ski tickets or passes (my family all gets an Epic Pass, and kids under 5 get free passes. Check out season pass prices, even if you’re not a “local” to see if it’s less expensive than purchasing day or multi-day passes on-site.)
  • Food (restaurants and groceries)
  • Daycare/ski school
  • Souvenirs (there’s a reason for the abundance of T-shirt and hat shops)
  • And WAM, also known in my house as “walking around money.” This is the cash for you and your husband so you can buy a coffee or whatever without always pulling out your credit card.

And there you have it. Easy, right?

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