I'll never forget my first family ski vacation! I was 11 years old, growing up as a ski racer in mid-Vermont, and my dad and his best friend decided it was time to take their kids from the friendly hills of Okemo to the peaks of the Wasatch for our first taste of big mountain skiing and bottomless Utah powder. Two dads, 4 boys, and me (the girl) packed into the dorms of Alta's Peruvian Lodge for five days of exhausting, epic skiing. We all had a great time, yet there were bound to some hiccups. That's why I'd like to offer you these 5 tips on surviving your family ski vacation.
1. Send The Kids To School
ski school, that is. Mountain sports schools these days are highly evolved, well-oiled machines of safety, fun and learning for kids on the slopes. In group lessons, kids will be placed with other kids of similar ages and abilities to ensure that they a) learn and improve and b) enjoy themselves. Don't feel guilty about dumping your kids off and having a great time on your own. They are on vacation also, and guess what: they'll have a lot of fun without you, too.
2. Give Each Other Space
I offer this tip as a response to the WE ARE ON A FAMILY VACATION, SO WE HAVE TO BE TOGETHER ALL THE TIME adage. Maybe your teenage boy and his cousin want to lap the terrain park, Grandpa wants to go on a mountain tour, and little Suzy wants to play on the ice castle sculpture at the base while Mom and Dad hit the glades. Allow for varying interests while connecting throughout the day for lunch or a couple runs together. This way everyone gets what he or she wants, and will be happier when you do spend time as a family unit.
3. Make Plans…50% Of The Time
Some structure is good; too much is terrible. Especially if you are vacationing during a prime vacation period, it's best to make some dinner reservations ahead of time, perhaps a family ski day with an instructor, or a special off-slope activity. But be sure to leave time open for spontaneous après drinks, an afternoon of sledding, and maybe even napping.
4. Take A Rest Day
Rest days are crucial for family ski vacations of 6 days or more. As a professional ski instructor, I have seen this happen time and time again: families try to pull 8am-4pm days several days in a row and most end up sick, injured, or unhappily exhausted. So…relax! There are so many fantastic activities to do off-the-slopes at these huge resorts. Take advantage of them.
5. Ask Questions
The hotel concierge is your new best friend. Use him. After several years working in the service industry in resort towns, I can assure you that hosts, concierges, servers, bartenders, babysitters, and parking lot attendants can answer any of your questions about what to do and where to go, how much things cost and maybe even some locals' secrets. All you have to do is ask!
Ten years after our first trip to Alta, all five of us kids had settled out West, "living the dream" in our respective mountain towns. My family ski vacations growing up played a huge role in my development as a skier and my love for the sport. They are wonderful opportunities to get away, have some fun, learn and grow and bond as a family. So start planning, and let us help you find all the best deals for family ski vacations here!