I’ve been skiing with kids for over a decade, since my oldest was three years old. While sometimes difficult, the rewards have been well-worth it: our family now enjoys a lifetime sport we can experience together. Skiing with kids can be daunting and expensive: here are five ways to save money, time, and hassle.
1. Have the right gear. Quality outerwear and equipment can be expensive, but families can reduce the cost by attending ski swaps and participating in ‘grow with kids’ gear programs at local ski shops. Renting gear on the mountain can be less hassle if families reserve skis or boards ahead of time and have them delivered directly to their lodge room or condo. (If your ski resort doesn’t offer this service, check to see if a local ski shop does.) Warm gloves, jackets, and socks can make the difference between a fun day skiing and a miserable one. Consider it an investment: after paying for lift tickets and lodging, do you really want to hear whining all day? Of course not!
2. Stay close to the mountain. Ski-in, ski-out accommodations may seem like a luxury, but if you’re skiing with young kids, consider them a necessity instead. Getting kids out the door and to the snow can be the most challenging (or downright frustrating) part of a family ski vacation. I’ve broken a sweat in sub-zero weather trying to wrestle my ski-suited preschoolers to the snow! The proximity to the slopes will ease this burden, allowing everyone to start their day smiling. Slopeside accommodations also allow parents to stop mid-day for their kids’ naps, or simply eat lunch in their own condo kitchen.
3. Ski half-day. If you have young kids or beginners, it can be worth the loss of ticket value to ski or ride half-day. Start out late if your family has a hard time getting going in the mornings: rushed ski mornings take their toll. Or if you’re all early-risers, plan to ski until lunch, then return to your lodging for a dip in the hot tub and an afternoon playing board games by the fire. Maybe if your resort offers night skiing, the family will be ready to hit the slopes again after dinner.
4. Have a rest day. Ski resorts offer so much more than just skiing! One of our favorite days during a ski vacation to Lake Tahoe was our afternoon snowmobiling with Zephyr Cove Resort. On another trip, we loved our day ice skating and roasting marshmallows in Northstar California’s cozy village. Smuggler’s Notch features an entire indoor playground for kids taking a day off the slopes, and Keystone Resort entices families with events in Kidtopia.
5. Be flexible. Luckily, lift tickets have become more flexible, allowing families to choose which 2-3 or 3-5 days they want to ski or ride, allowing parents to be more flexible, too. If the weather is terrible, will the kids have fun on the slopes anyway? Only you know. If you wake up for another day of skiing and everyone is cranky, should you opt to sleep in? Maybe one kid is anxious to return to ski school, but another is not…a great family ski vacation is made by keeping the itinerary flexible.