Maybe once winter rolls along, it’s not jingle bells or Christmas shopping that get you in the holiday spirit, but the thought that ski season is finally here! You’re already used to going on ski trips with your friends – racking up chairlift rides, flying down the slopes, and then heading out for après-ski.
It was something you would look forward to all year long: a chance to forget about workplace hassles and the stress of daily life in the fresh mountain air. But you’re all grown up now, and you have kids. You want to share this experience with them, but at the same time, you know how stressful family vacations can be.
The good news is that ski trips with the kids are not so bad. They’re actually enjoyable. The little ones go off together to ski lessons and other fun activities prepared especially for them, giving adults the time and freedom to take on more challenging trails.
Planning a family ski trip might seem daunting at first, but really the biggest challenge is still deciding where to go. Luckily, the world is full of great ski resorts. You have about 500 to choose from in the U.S., 300 in Canada, and then there are the Andes in South America, the European Alps and Niseko in Japan, and the list goes on.
The sooner you choose a resort, the easier it will be since you’ll get top choices in terms of accommodation, you can enroll your kids for lessons and make hotel reservations. Here are a few tips to help you get started and make sure you have a smooth and enjoyable family ski trip.
When and Where?
Before you book tickets and accommodation, you first need to know when you want to go. That’s easy enough for parents because you’re limited by school vacations. As you would expect, those are the most popular times at ski resorts and consequently the priciest.
Since the resort will be more crowded than usual, you’ll want to plan a full week’s trip so you can go skiing during the week and avoid all the people coming in just for the weekend. Anyway, small kids usually can’t take more than a few days of straight skiing. On the weekend, you can try other activities like skating and snowmobiling.
Any parent knows that the secret to a good family vacation is to keep your kids from getting bored and acting out.
For practical reasons, you’ll want to book a resort with easy access to the piste and ski school. Again, this will cost a bit more, but it will be worth it. Kids never want to carry their own equipment, so you’ll have to do it for them. It’s hard enough getting them dressed in their ski clothes, so if you have to carry both your gear and theirs, it should be on a short, stress-free walk to the ski lift.
Since your kids will be taking ski lessons, which will give you a chance to unwind and spend some time with adults, you’ll want to make sure the instructors are qualified and can speak English. Let’s say you want to go Liquid Snow Tours.
In that case, you want to check if the ski school also gives lessons in English. Otherwise, you’ll have to teach your kids skiing yourself, and you won’t get that window of time where they’re supervised so you can mingle freely with the other adults.
You’ll also want to check class size and timings. Resorts that cater to families also offer childcare services, so you’ll want to inquire about the children to staff ratio, kids’ activities, staff training, and, again, make sure the staff speaks English.
You can find this information by reading through the resort’s website and going through the reviews. If you go on a ski trip with your kids, you’ll want to be sure the resort has enough beginner slopes. Fortunately, you can also find online resources that show you the percentage of beginner slopes each resort has.
After you’ve narrowed the options down to three or four top choices, you can start checking and comparing prices. If you book early enough, you can take advantage of early-bird holiday packages that include onsite accommodation options, ski rentals, lift tickets, lessons, and even meal vouchers. This will help you save quite a lot of money. Family packages usually also include free lessons and lift tickets for children up to the age of 12.
Ideally, your accommodation should include a kitchenette because kids eat a lot, especially after taking skiing lessons in the cold for several hours. Since they’ll eat multiple times a day, it will be much less expensive if you have the option to fix snacks whenever needed. Plus, it will also give you more flexibility in terms of time.
Create an Itinerary
You probably know by now that kids behave better when they have structure. When you go on ski trips with your friends, it’s easier to do things on the spur of the moment because it’s easier to reach a consensus. With kids, it doesn’t go so well. You’ll need to think about how you’re going to spend your days at the resort. This includes when and where you will have your meals.
As we mentioned before, if you get accommodation with a kitchenette, you can save money by having dinner at home at least some of the time. On the nights when you’ll be eating at a restaurant, you’ll need to make reservations ahead of time to make sure you get a table during the busy season.
Since kids tend to get tired more quickly than adults, you’ll want to make plans to take them to ski lessons in the morning and then pick them up and take them to the resort’s daycare. You’ll also want to plan other activities with them after they’ve rested or they’ll get bored. If you plan well, you can schedule some adult time for yourself to go to the spa or shopping.
After you’ve made the itinerary and the reservations, you’ll want to save them on your phone and print out copies that you keep in a folder with additional information on the resort and surrounding areas, such as maps and brochures.