We’re delighted to share a guest post by Mara Gorman, a freelance writer and author of The Family Traveler’s Handbook. Mara is also the founder of the online Back to Ski campaign, which is designed to get families off the couch and onto the slopes. On Back to Ski, you can get tips on how to execute a perfect family ski trip and sign up for the free Back to Ski email newsletter. We think Mara’s post perfectly captures the special benefits of a family ski vacation, and we hope you’ll enjoy her perspective.
If I had a nickel for every time someone has told me that family ski vacations are too hard or too expensive, well, I’d have a lot of nickels. But after years of traveling with my family to ski I’m a firm believer not just that these vacations are worth it, but that they are the best kind of family trips out there. What makes them so special?
Family ski vacations get everyone outdoors and off of screens
I have 9- and a 12-year-old sons and both of them are fans a wide range of TV shows and video games. But when my family travels to the mountains I never have to tell my kids to put away their devices and go outside – they want to spend the entire day on the slopes. And since they always have a stated goal of getting in as many runs as possible, they are exercising pretty much the entire time.
I love that skiing gives us all a total-body workout and that we literally spend days each winter out in the fresh air. There are few other kinds of family vacations that offer such a fun and easy way to get exercise.
Anyone can learn to ski or board
Skiing and boarding are truly sports for everyone because there are always opportunities to learn how to do them. When you visit a ski resort, you’re never far from a ski school or lesson programs for both adults and kids. Some resorts have group family lessons and others offer adaptive programs for disabled skiers and boarders. And just about every ski mountain has graduated terrain, starting with flat, smooth trails for beginners. Learners can move at their own pace and enjoy whatever type of skiing they enjoy as they improve.
My husband grew up in the Midwest and never skied a day in his life until he was in his 40s. One of the first things he said to me at the end of his first day on the mountain? “I can’t believe you didn’t show me how to do this sooner.”
And here’s an added bonus to learning to ski or board as a parent: Even my 12-year-old thinks it’s cool that his mom skis.
Yes, skiing does require specialized equipment, and yes, lift tickets can be expensive. But I think that ski vacations offer tremendous value for your dollar. There are few other activities like it where you pay a set fee and are given so much entertainment and enjoyment.
Advance planning is the key way to save money on a family ski trip. Multi-day rentals and lift tickets are almost always discounted, so if you plan a longer vacation you’ll pay less. If you have the ability to ski during off-peak periods (non-holiday weekdays) you’ll also save money.
Although everyone in your family should have a helmet and comfortable ski clothes, you don’t have to invest in much else, especially when you are just starting out. Rental equipment is usually reasonably priced and may be included with some lesson or lift ticket packages. Or lease gear seasonally from a local ski shop and save even more.
Most ski resorts have a range of accommodations that include condos or apartments with fully equipped kitchens. Bring your own food, even just for breakfasts and lunches, and you’ll certainly save.
Depending on how far you have to travel to ski, there’s no reason a family ski trip needs to be more expensive than a theme park or beach vacation.
There’s so much more than just skiing
Between the ice skating, indoor pools and activity centers, spa treatments, Bingo games, sing-alongs, bonfires, snowshoeing, cooking classes, sledding and tubing, wine tasting, and ziplining, it may sometimes feel hard to fit that skiing and boarding in.
Of course, if none of that sounds nice, there’s always the option of just enjoying the snow-covered views from your condo or the base lodge. Throw in a good book and some hot chocolate and you may decide that ski vacations are more relaxing than the beach.
There are so many opportunities on ski vacations to connect, whether you’re playing board games in front of the fire, reviewing tricky runs over dinner, or just enjoying your kids’ undivided attention along with the views on the chairlift. We’ve had some of our best conversations while we are literally hanging out on our way up the mountain – sometimes I think our time on the lifts is my favorite part of the entire trip (especially when it’s not too cold).
I treasure the good times my family has enjoyed on every ski trip, and I know you will too.