Family Skiing: 12 Tips for a Family Ski Vacation

Many of us skied…a lot…before kids. Well, let’s face it, there were a lot of activities that had to be curtailed with the advent of kids, but we love them anyway. Getting back into those activities can be difficult…especially when you don’t know how the kids will handle them. The best tip we have is be prepared. The more you have prepared the kids and prepared yourself for experiencing the activity slightly different with kids, the happier everyone will be.

We recently took a ski trip to Sunrise Ski Park in Arizona, and here are a few things we learned to help make for a smooth family ski vacation.

  1. Dress in Layers – It can be really cold in the morning, but once that sun is up…especially in Arizona and Colorado, it can get warm. Dressing in lighter layers vs one bulky layer can prevent the whining about being too cold or too hot. Don’t forget hats and scarves! Faces can get really cold flying down those slopes! And good gloves are a must…tiny fingers get cold easily!Nathan and Seamus, Cook Inlet, Alaska
  2. Get rental gear ahead of time. Rental shops can get crowded and stressful in the mornings before the ski day, so it’s best to get your gear ahead of time. In Park City, they even had a valet service that brought the gear to your room the night before to fit you and make adjustments. No waiting in lines and taking time out of your ski day makes for a much better start to the day!
  3. Make sure the boots fit! One of the biggest complaints from kids is about being cold or getting blisters, so a good fit on the boot can make the difference between a miserable day and an awesome family ski vacation! Most experts recommend that you DO NOT double up on socks as the rubbing can cause blisters. Better to get a nice pair of ski socks and a good fit on the boot.
  4. Consider lessons…if this is your kids’ first time skiing or snowboarding, it might be a good idea to get lessons. Even if you are the best skier or snowboarder you know, teaching someone else is an entirely different cup of tea. Experts can have the kids skiing or boarding in half a day, half a day you have to enjoy skiing or boarding on your own instead of yelling (not that you ever would) at the kids. And then, you have the afternoon to enjoy the sport as a family!
    learning to ski - deer valley

    Learning to ski at Deer Valley Resort

  5. Don’t rush in the morning! In college, you may have been determined to be the first one on the mountain, but with kids in tow it’s better to let everyone take it easy in the morning. Not saying sleep in past ten, but you don’t want to start the morning out waking up cranky kids and rushing everyone out of the house.
  6. Eat a good breakfast! Skiing/snowboarding takes lots of energy, so make sure you fuel up before you hit the hill!
  7. Wear sunscreen!! And re-apply. A sunny day, of which there are many at Sunrise Ski Park in Arizona and in many of the Colorado resorts, at high altitude can mean lots of sun exposure. So be sure to coat the kids in sunscreen!
  8. Make sure you grab a trail map. Maps will show you where the green runs are for kids who are just starting to ski/snowboard and where to find things like terrain parks that the kids will love!
  9. Pack light snacks and plenty of water! The dry air, altitude and sun means dehydration can occur quickly. Be sure to have water with you and keep the kids drinking throughout the day. And with all that skiing, energy can get zapped pretty quickly…so having some snacks like energy bars with you can mean one less trip into the lodge to fuel up!food - deer valley
  10. Go to lunch early. The food at most ski resorts has to be brought in and when it’s gone, it’s gone. So, especially if you have a picky eater who may have his/her heart set on one item, it’s best to get in to lunch before the crowd.
  11. Don’t forget that selfie from the top! Most ski areas have an easy way down from the top (check the trail map you got before you head up), so even beginner skiers/snowboarders can make the trek to the top and enjoy the fantastic views!

    View from the top at Sunrise Ski Park, Arizona

  12. Plan on missing the crowds at the end of the day. Once those lifts close, there is a mad rush down what is usually a one or two lane road from the ski resort. Best to either plan to leave an hour early or stay an hour late. If you stay late, the mountain usually empties out towards the end of the day, so you could have the slopes to yourself!

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