Planning a ski trip for a small number of people, whether with a spouse, partner or a couple friends is easy, especially if you all ski at a similar level. You can choose the resort that has the most appropriate runs, one that is lively or quiet, large or small, in the US or further afield.
Things become slightly more challenging if you are organizing a skiing or snowboarding vacation for a larger family group, especially if the kids are of varying ages. Here are a few tips that should help you overcome some of the most common issues.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado, US
When and where to go
If you are taking children of school age, you will most likely want to go around Christmas or the New Year, during the kids’ winter break, which is usually a week in February or March, or during Easter. It should be borne in mind that, depending on how late you plan the trip, some of the lower altitude resorts might start to close due to a lack of snow. On a positive note, by March and April, the days are longer and the weather is warmer.
Mount Rose, Nevada, US
The problem with vacationing during school breaks is that prices tend to be higher and resorts, ski schools, accommodation and flights must be booked well in advance; the larger the group, the earlier you should make your reservations. The same is true when organizing ski lessons and equipment rentals. If you are traveling with young children, you may want to check what childcare is available before finalizing your destination, and be sure to retain the services of a reputable nanny well in advance. If you are staying at a hotel or traveling with a tour operator, child and baby care is often included.
In terms of accommodation, there are a couple of options: staying in a hotel or renting a chalet or apartment. For large groups with children, the most suitable choice is a chalet or apartment, simply because it avoids any of the problems associated with hotels, such as making sure all the rooms are close together. In addition, it’s more fun having everyone staying in the same place. Hotels are a better option if your children are older and semi-independent.
When selecting your destination, go for a larger resort if you have younger children, because it is sure to be easier to arrange ski lessons and equipment rentals. What’s more, they are more likely to have a wider variety of ski and snowboard trails. Larger resorts will also have more facilities available, such as spas, restaurants, indoor pools and shopping centers, so the entire family can enjoy other holiday activities while on vacation.
Equipment – buy or rent?
Having the right equipment, particularly protective clothing, is essential if you and your family are to stay safe and enjoy your ski trip to the utmost. If you ski regularly, you may wish to purchase your own clothing, such as ski jackets and boots: click here for suggestions. However, if you are just starting out, it is probably better to rent all of the equipment and gear; there’s no point in spending hundreds of dollars if you subsequently decide winter sports are not for you. Similarly, it makes more sense to rent equipment for the kids, because by next winter they will most likely have outgrown their ski jackets and boots, probably even their skis.
Health and safety
Having the right equipment and clothing is the only way to ensure you remain safe during your trip. Bring footwear that minimizes the chances of slipping on icy surfaces. Pack lip salve and high factor sun lotion, and if driving your own or a rental car, ensure that it is equipped to cope with severe winter conditions and has snow chains or winter tires. Other essentials include hats, sunglasses and goggles, and helmets for the kids. Helmets are compulsory for all in some countries, so check before you leave home.
Ski at Trysil, Norway
Image by Trysil via Flickr
Remember, the best way to ensure the entire family has a great winter sports vacation is to plan ahead and consider the specific needs of each member of your group, depending on their age and skiing ability.
The Ridge Tahoe Resort Hotel, Kingsbury, Nevada, US
Image by Ridge Tahoe Resort Hotel via Flickr