Your first family ski trip can be a priceless and wonderful experience, even if you have never skied before. Although I used to ski every winter while I was growing up in Chile, my Miami-born children had never tried it before. We went to Beaver Creek in Colorado and couldn’t have picked a greater place for our first family skiing experience. It helped that we stayed at a full-service resort, the Westin Riverfront, which provided easy access to the slopes and had a concierge team willing to answer all of our questions.
Here are 10 tips on how to take your first family ski trip, from my family to yours:
- Research and plan ahead: You can save money by pre-purchasing ski lift tickets at least a week in advance. Many ski rental companies also have online codes so make sure to do an Internet search before you travel. Also, you can buy packages that include ski school, gear rental and lifts.
- Dress for success: You will need layers to keep warm. The base layer should not be cotton, because if it gets wet, you’ll feel cold. Silk underwear and long johns work wonders, as do nylon and synthetic garments.
- Keep your hands and feet warm: Invest in good ski socks and insulated gloves or mittens. It makes a world of difference. You can also purchase inexpensive hand and toe warmers to tuck in your jacket or in your child’s pockets in case she or he needs them.
- Pack sunscreen: Yes, you will need it, at least a teaspoon for your face. Even if you wear goggles, you can get sunburn on your nose. Travel sized tubes are great to reapply right after lunchtime.
- Avoid chapped lips: Lips can dry out and chap easily, so make sure you have lip balm for every family member. My kids have sensitive skin, so we prefer one that has zinc oxide so it also gives them sun protection. At night, apply a generous coat before you go to sleep.
- Prevent altitude sickness: Drink lots of water, especially with food, and take the time to rest. Children may develop loss of appetite, irritability, and pallor. Older kids might complain of headaches and nausea, so monitor them closely. Symptoms of altitude illness usually resolve within 24-72 hours.
- Go with the flow: When you take a ski trip with children, know that dressing up will take up much longer than expected. Lay out everything the night before and be prepared for a few complaints and grunts from your kids. Just keep on helping them dress up!
- Try on rental gear the day before you hit the slopes: Even if you have prearranged the gear you’ll need to ski, do yourself a favor and have everybody try on the ski boots the day before you’ll start skiing. That way the skis can be adjusted to the boot size and everything will be ready in the morning. Try on helmets, as well, so you save time before hitting the slopes. Mornings can get pretty crazy, especially during peak seasons and right before ski school begins.
- Leave your boots or comfortable shoes at the ski rental shop: Ski boots are stiff and at the end of the day, you’ll probably just want them off. By leaving your boots at the shop, you can retrieve them as soon as you finish skiing. Bonus: they’ll feel nice and warm compared to your ski boots! We left our kids’ boots at the Ski School office and labeled them so we could find them easily in the cubbies. Beaver Creek provides yellow labels so you can stick them on your child’s shoes.
- Invest in ski school: Yes, it is an investment, but it’s totally worth it. No matter how advanced you are, your children will learn better and faster by attending ski school. Lunch is usually included, and you can also add the ski lift. You can always try it out for one day and then upgrade your package for more days if your child does well. My kids ended up loving it so much we did three days of group lessons, and every afternoon I received a report with all the skills they had mastered.
Finally, don’t overdo it. Allow for downtime, know your physical limitations, get plenty of rest and most importantly: have fun!