Traveling to ski and snowboard is really fun. It’s exciting to explore new places and discover ifferent mountains. But it is always worth it?
Yes, there are rewards and I know this because we have done this a lot as a family But family travel can be a mighty undertaking. Especially when you take into consideration the time it takes time, the stress and the expenses.
So how do you decide if you should travel or not? Here are my top tips.
1. What Are Your Goals?
Whether or not it makes sense to travel a long way to ski and snowboard, depends a lot upon your family goals and desires. If you’ve long had a desire to travel to a specific resort together, then staying close to home might feel like a disappointment.
But if your family’s goal is to spend time skiing and snowboarding, relaxing away from the distractions of school and work, and enjoying time on the chairlift and in the evenings laughing and chatting together, then it doesn’t so much matter where you are.
2. Know The Benefits of Staying Close to Home
a) Easier Travel
This is a big one. Travel, especially by air, can be expensive, stressful and time-consuming. While we hope that COVID-19 restrictions and protocols won’t last forever, right now, there is an extra layer of stress related to air travel. Just the tension related to getting to the airport on time can put a family on edge.
Plus, air travel is a major component of climate change. In 2018, a National Geographic article on the climate change impacts of winter travel pointed to aviation as the fastest growing contributor to global warming. For families who love, and live for winter, avoiding air travel can be seen as an investment in the future.
Beyond the significant negative impact on the climate, long-distance travel takes time and the flight is often only the first step, with the need for ground travel via car, shuttle or rail, to actually arrive at the resort.
A family car trip to a nearby resort is less impactful and much easier than navigating the hassles of airport security and travel delays.
Pack your gear, load, the car and drive on your schedule at your leisure. Better yet? Take a train. Even in North America there are well-known destinations, such as Winter Park and Aspen (both in Colorado) and Whitefish, Montana that accessible by rail and a short shuttle.
b) Easier Packing
A family ski vacation also requires a lot of gear. Even if you plan to rent ski or snowboard gear at your destination, you still have to pack clothing for every member of the family, which means a lot of baggage. And as we all know, airline baggage fees add up quickly.
While traveling by train still requires organization, traveling by car is much more simple: put the skis and boards in the rooftop rack and load everything else into the boot. Buckle the family in and off you go!
c) Learning to Ski and Snowboard
Professional learn to ski and snowboard lessons are a “must,” in our opinion, and vital for building strong skills. But lessons at big-name, mega resorts can also break the bank.
It’s important to remember that ski and snowboard instructors are accredited and follow uniform standards and techniques wherever they teach.
If a nearby ski area has a learning center, take advantage of this proximity to enroll your children or yourself in lessons at a relatively lower cost. Rather than focusing on trying to learn to ski or snowboard during a family holiday, sign up for a series of weekly lessons spread throughout the winter.
If lessons during a family vacation make the most sense for you, choose a lesser-known ski area where class sizes will likely be smaller and the daily costs greatly reduced.
But don’t let lessons eat away at family time. The goal of the family ski vacation, even if it’s a staycation at home, is to spend time skiing and snowboarding together.
3. Skiing Near You is Easier than you Think
One of my favorite “fun facts” about skiing in the United States is that 38 of the 50 states have ski areas. This means that unless you leave in Hawaii, the flattest of the Great Plains states, or the South, lift-served skiing and snowboarding on snow is within easy reach. The same is true for much of Europe.
The advantages to staying close to home for your snowsports holiday include saving money, saving the planet, avoiding stress, and supporting local businesses.
Whether you’re planning to vacation at your local mountain, or try a different ski area within just a few hours drive, skiing and snowboarding locally can make a lot of sense and offer greater certainty, especially in a year when so much seems so uncertain.
4. But What If Nothing Is Local?
If you don’t live close to skiing, staying local is a lot more difficult. Our best tip for you is to plan ahead as much as you can.
First, choose a mountain that is covered by your season pass (if you have one). If you don’t, choose a destination that is easy to get to and offers discounted tickets online.
Second, book your lodging and transport in advance. Fall is a great time to plan your holiday, with promotional discounts available. But be sure to ask about cancellation policies. You don’t want to lose your money if the resort closes for health reasons.
No matter where you plan to travel — or not travel — this winter, be sure to check out our tips for staying healthy. Nothing ruins a family vacation as quickly as the onset of a family cold.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hailing from Colorado (USA) Kristen Lummis, or as she is better known, the Brave Ski Mom, is an avid skier and true family mum in every sense of the word. www.braveskimom.com