Brainstorming with the family over which holiday to go for next can be quite a task, but you know what’s the ultimate challenge? Getting them onboard for a ski vacation! Witnessing your kids go berserk on a roller coaster on a sunny day is so much more different than motivating them to learn an intricate hobby in cold temperatures. However, there is nothing more fulfilling than watching your kids embrace the thrill of this winter sport. Moreover, it is an incredible way to hone their qualities such as confidence, awareness, perseverance, and balance.
Well, no one can promise you a family holiday in the mountains without its own set of hiccups, but we’re here to help you make it memorable despite the obstacles that you can come across. Here are some travel tips and tricks that can help you plan smartly for your next snow-blanketed adventure with your loved ones.
Preparing for a family ski vacation
Unlike a solo trip, where you can afford to be spontaneous, there are numerous arrangements to be made planning when a family vacation, especially when skiing is involved. To make this process as good as smooth sailing, here are some factors that you will need to emphasize on while planning a perfect family ski vacation.
The location you pick purely depends on your budget and personal preferences. An international ski vacation in the Alps or Dolomites will obviously require you to make a generous investment. However, if you have a budget to honor as well as limited time then you can opt for a ski trip either in the Eastern or Western side of the country. In the US alone, there are approximately 500 ski locations scattered across 37 states which surprisingly also includes southern territories such as Alabama and Tennessee. So, you have plenty of places and options to choose from.
One of the best parts of taking ski trip today is that there are numerous resorts available that specifically only cater to families. If your kids are too young to ski, then look for places that offer other kid-friendly snow activities and daycare amenities. Likewise, the location of the resort matters a lot when you are traveling with kids as schlepping heavy gear can easily tire them out. It would be wiser to book accommodation that is in close proximity to the terrain so that kids don’t have to cover long distances with the ski equipment. Additionally, some ski resorts offer equipment rental and lift tickets at no cost for kids belonging to a certain age group.
- Alternative activities
You have to consider the possibility that your kids might not want to ski after the first few attempts or the destination you intend to go might not have the right conditions for skiing. Fortunately, there are several ways to make the most of your holidays in the mountains. So, while planning a ski vacation, ensure that you have some nonskiing activities included in your travel packages, such as dog sledding, ice skating, ice-fishing, sightseeing and shopping, snowmobiling, and stargazing.
For a gratifying experience, it is essential that you choose the right terrain, particularly, when this is your family’s first time skiing. For instance, Aspen (Colorado) isn’t the best pick for novices because this particular area encompasses multiple tricky terrains, suitable for advanced skiers. Learning to ski in such an environment can be extremely intimidating, especially for kids. To get off on the right foot, you should opt for locations such as Telluride (Colorado), Deer Valley (Utah) or Mammoth Mountain (California) which are abundant with beginner terrains.
- Ski school
Enrolling the kids in a ski school is the best way to help them develop the right skiing technique. Ski lessons are typically arranged by the resort that you are staying in. Specialty camps, group, private, and semi-private lessons are some common options rendered by most ski schools. It is also crucial to remember that every resort will enforce different rules with regards to the minimum age eligibility, length of the lessons (half or full day), and how many beginners they include in a single session. It might be surprising but taking a private lesson as a family can be more economical than booking slots for the kids in a camp or a common group lesson.
While all the dare-devilry on the slopes seems to be exhilarating it is important to make arrangements for your family’s wellbeing. Apart from the safety gear, it is also important to check the range of your medical coverage in case things goes south. If your current health plan doesn’t reimburse expenses for skiing accidents then consider travel insurance. Besides medical expenses, travel insurance can also protect you from damages involving misplaced or stolen luggage, personal liability, and lost holidays due to weather.
The best time to enjoy a family ski vacation is during December and January as the snow conditions and weather are fairly predictable. Moreover, since the winter season lines up with Christmas and New Year’s, your family will get an opportunity to attend some fun events and festivals including concerts, torchlight parades, and fireworks. However, expect the ski locations to be crowded during this season as most kids are on a school break. If you make reservations any time after October then the prices of accommodation and air tickets will surge accordingly. Unable to make a booking during the peak season? Don’t worry! You can plan for a ski holiday in the month of February or March, however, avoid pushing it till April as most ski areas start closing when spring arrives.
Best family ski resorts
Here are some of the most popular options for family ski resorts that you can consider for your next holiday.
10 top family ski resorts in the USA
- Jackson Hole (Wyoming)
- Aspen Snowmass (Colorado)
- Alta Ski Resort (Colorado)
- Beaver Creek (Colorado)
- Deer Valley (Utah)
- Telluride Ski Resort (Colorado)
- Taos Ski Valley (New Mexico)
- Sun Valley (Idaho)
- Vail Ski Resort (Colorado)
- Snowbird Ski Resort (Utah)
10 popular family ski resorts in the world
- Alpe d’Huez (France)
- Breuil-Cervinia (Italy)
- Åre (Sweden)
- Whitewater (Canada)
- Wengen (Switzerland)
- Gervais Mont-Blanc (France)
- Gstaad Palace (Switzerland)
- Ski Welt (Austria)
- Beaver Creek (USA)
- Madonna di Campiglio (Italy)
7 ways to save money on family ski vacations
Enjoying a skiing adventure with your family in the midst of snow-capped mountains is a priceless experience, which unfortunately comes at a significant price. Pinning down an average estimate for a family ski vacation can be tricky business as multiple factors come into play including location, accommodation and meals, lift tickets, ski lessons, rental equipment, airfare, and ground transport. Needless to say, it is easy to blow the budget on a family ski vacation. Worried? Don’t be! The next time you plan to hit the slopes with your family, try these hacks to save big on your ski vacation.
- Get it right with the early bird packages
There is nothing like relishing a last-minute travel deal, at the same time, waiting for one can be a bit of a gamble. So to be on a safer side, scour for early bird ski packages. Booking sites usually release these travel bundles by the end of May. You can save up to 50% on travel deals if you start making reservations before early October. Apart from the price factor, booking during this window will give you some wiggle room, helping you score the best of deals such as upgrades on accommodation and other amenities.
- Make the most of all-inclusive offers
Shelling out money for an all-inclusive family ski vacation initially may come across as a big-ticket expense, but you will have almost no costs to bear during your stay at the resort. Typically, all-inclusive ski vacation comprises flights, ground transportation, lodging, meals and drinks, equipment rentals, and ski lessons. Some packages also might also cover off-piste guiding. Getting a package with lift tickets will also help you save some big bucks. Their prices can surge to almost $100 when directly purchased from the ticket counter. On the other hand, discounted lift tickets included in the ski packages offer almost 40% off on the original price.
- Get acquainted with all the discounts
If you are independently organizing a ski trip for your family, then ensure that you are well-acquainted with all the discounts and deals offered by the ski resort. Numerous accommodations have special offers for big families, students, physically challenged individuals, and seniors. These deals can come to your rescue, especially if you have missed the early bird booking window.
- Try the shoulder season
December and January are the best months for skiing, however, they are equally expensive. The Christmas holidays and winter break further amplify the demand for ski vacation packages during this period. If you want to steer clear of the steep prices and crowds, then you can plan for a skiing trip in spring or fall. However, ensure that you check your ski resort’s closing time and the area’s weather conditions to avoid disappointment.
- Save on air tickets
The classic trick of saving on flight tickets is by directly flying into a local airport instead of busy, domestic ones to avoid extensive road trips to the mountain or completely eliminate the need for a rental. However, this trick won’t work during peak seasons as the flights landing in the local airports are much more expensive. For example, if you have made reservations in Lake Tahoe’s ski resort during the peak season, then it would be cheaper to book a flight to Sacramento International Airport instead of Reno-Tahoe International Airport which is closer to the prime skiing locations. However, if you want to stick to the closest airport, then ensure that you buy air tickets well in advance to dodge the wrath of exorbitant prices.
- Don’t let the baggage get you down
If you are bringing your own skiing and snowboarding equipment, ensure that you pick an airline provider that doesn’t charge extra costs for it such as British Airways and Lufthansa. However, the overall ticket prices offered by these airlines might be comparatively expensive. Another way to minimize any baggage expenses is by making airfare payments via an airline travel credit card so that you can get a waiver on a few checked bags. If you aren’t a frequent skier then it would be wiser to rent the equipment at the slopes. In case you don’t want to rent or buy skiing gear, then you can borrow it from family or friends.
- Pick a smaller mountain
If this will be your family’s first skiing experience, then it is better to book a resort on a smaller mountain. Ski resorts and schools located near smaller terrains are often cheaper. However, ensure that the budget-friendly resort you choose has all the required amenities. It would be an added bonus if your resort is closely situated to the social establishments in town.
Popular, budget-friendly resorts
If you are craving to spend some time with your family skiing without burning a hole in your pocket, then consider these popular, budget-friendly choices.
10 affordable family-friendly resorts in the country
- Copper Mountain (Colorado)
- Big Sky (Montana)
- Taos Ski Valley (New Mexico)
- Mad River Glen (Vermont)
- Steamboat Springs (Colorado)
- Heavenly Ski Resort (California)
- Schweitzer Mountain (Idaho)
- Cranmore Mountain Resort (New Hampshire)
- Red Lodge Mountain (Montana)
- Crystal Mountain (Washington)
10 budget-friendly family ski resorts in the world
- Serre-Chevalier-Briançon (France)
- Bialka Tatrzanska, (Poland)
- Kranjska Gora( Slovenia)
- Les Rousses (France)
- Vialattea (Italy)
- Arosa Lenzerheide (Switzerland)
- Obergurgl-Hochgurgl (Austria)
- Pamporovo (Bulgaria)
- Harrachov (Czech Republic)
- Kiroro Ski Resort (Japan)
Family ski vacations can be full of fun, adventure, and adrenaline. They also give you the chance to relax by the fireplace and cozy up with a book and some hot chocolate. Plan your trip well in advance to avoid hearing that the ski resort your family decided on is booked out. You are now armed with the sources you need and deals to steal.