Ski Vacation Planning Tips: what to do NOW to prepare for winter

You may be still working off Thanksgiving dinner, but ski season is right around the corner! December is a great month to plan where you’ll spend your winter ski vacation and prepare for a season on the slopes. Whether you plan to ski every weekend or have one big ski trip in mind, the following tips will ensure everyone’s happy on the snow.

1. Book before Thanksgiving for the best deals. Season tickets are often at their lowest price during the fall, and early bird lodging packages are offered in the vicinity of most US ski resorts. A quick search of Mountain Reservations yields enough results to make deciding on just one vacation difficult. And you know, ski vacations make for great Christmas gifts. Book early and surprise your family with lodging reservations or lift tickets!

2. Pick a resort with seasonal events in mind. Are you looking for a quiet vacation away from it all, or an event-filled trip with lots going on? If booking accommodations near a resort with a lively village or ski town atmosphere, be prepared for festivals, concerts, and children’s programming during the holidays and three-day weekends. Likewise, expect some on-going programs to go on hiatus during the sleepier weekdays. We love planning a Keystone Colorado trip around their Kidtopia events, for instance, or Northstar California during one of their village events.

3. Plan to acclimate! If you’ll be visiting a high-elevation resort from lower ground, plan a day or two to acclimate. Even families who are used to relatively high elevations can experience symptoms of elevation sickness at Mile High resorts in Colorado. We suggest booking a night in Denver before heading into the Rockies, for instance, or spending your first vacation day near the lake in Tahoe. If you do hit the slopes right away, drink plenty of water and take breaks…you will be winded!

4. Upgrade your skis. Fall is a great time of year to take inventory of your ski gear and decide what you need to replace (and what your kids have outgrown). If keeping up with the latest and greatest is not in your budget, look for a ski swap in your area and keep your eyes peeled for your local ski shop’s annual sale. I guarantee it’s in late autumn! If you plan to fly to your ski destination (or just don’t want to hassle with packing everyone’s skis or board), consider renting skis at your destination. Many local rental shops will deliver to resort and area lodging. For extra fun, most resorts have a demo shop which rents out demo skis and boards for surprisingly affordable daily rental prices. Word of warning however: once you ski a few days on the best-of-the-best, it’ll be hard to return to your less flashy model!

5. Look for a resort with something for everyone. Finding one ski resort that fits your entire party’s needs is not easy. Last October, Mountain Reservations paired with family travel site Trekaroo to bring you One Peak for all your Peeps. This ski planning series follows five real families in their search for the ideal resort and lodging to suit their needs. What does my family look for when booking a resort to fit everyone? Central meeting places (such as a condo or a village), multiple recreation options for apres ski bonding, a large enough ski instruction program to suit toddler to teens, and lodging where we can all sleep under the same roof.

Amy Whitley (6 Posts)

Amy Whitley, is a Tahoe-native lucky enough to spend her childhood skiing and ski racing on Northern California slopes. After moving to Southern Oregon, Amy got her three sons on skis from the time they could walk; they’re now all avid skiers and snowboarders who love mountain vacations in all seasons. Amy is editor of family travel site Pit Stops for Kids, and content editor of family-travel mega site Trekaroo. When not skiing, Amy writes about outdoor adventure travel at Outdoors NW Magazine and eco travel at Go Green, Travel Green. She and her family spend at least two ski vacations a year at Tahoe resorts, spending every other winter weekend skiing the Pacific Northwest. Amy is an ambassador and contributor to Mountain Reservations. Connect to Amy Whitley: Google+ | LinkedIn

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