Secrets to Make Your Family Ski Vacation Easier Than Ever

Family enjoying a ride on a chair lift at a ski resort
Photo: Getty Images

A family ski vacation sounds ideal, but the reality is that skiing with kids can be exhausting. It’s cold, you’re using muscles that have been dormant since last ski season, and there’s a lot of gear to keep track of.

When you add in a kid or two, things only get more complicated. Most of the time, you’ll end up lugging your kid's ski gear (in addition to your own), and it’s nearly impossible to pass the day without someone whining about the cold or their tired legs.

But there are ways to make a ski trip more enjoyable for the entire family. Here are some tried-and-true ways to make your crew’s ski vacation significantly easier so you can stress less and spend more time on the slopes.

Book a Family-friendly Resort

There’s a big difference between ski areas that actively cater to families and those that just have a few kid-friendly runs. Resorts like Keystone in Colorado and Park City Mountain in Utah are consistently given high marks for their programs for kids, family-friendly amenities, and accessible terrain. Things like the child-to-instructor ratio at the ski school matter when choosing a destination, as do the number of non-ski related activities and child care programs available.

Pick a Resort You Can Drive To

If possible, settle on a ski resort that’s within driving distance. The snow in Telluride, Colorado may be tempting, but the reality is that booking flights for an entire family is expensive, and it will likely require airport transfers or a car rental.

Book a Place With a Kitchen

When you’re traveling with kids, a comfortable home-base goes a long way. Booking a condo or vacation rental with a kitchen ensures you can maintain some of your routine, even if you’re miles from home. You’ll save some money — and avoid tantrums — by staying in and cooking your family’s favorite meal or sticking to your Sunday morning tradition of chocolate-chip pancakes.

Look for an All-inclusive Offering

There’s a lot of elements that go into planning a ski vacation. Not only will you need to book lodging, but you’ll also need lift tickets, gear rentals, transportation to and from the resort, ski school reservations, and potentially airport transfers.

That’s where all-inclusive offers come into play. Lessen the burden by consolidating several bookings into one — and score a bargain when you do. In addition to asking about offers at your resort — or hotel — of choice, sites like, SnowPak, and SnowVentures often have affordable, all-inclusive packages.

Buy Lift Tickets Early and in Advance

Not only will buying your lift tickets early streamline your ski trip, but you’ll often find the best prices by booking online and in advance. At some resorts, like Colorado’s Copper Mountain, you can save up to 45 percent just by buying your ticket a day or more in advance.

If You Ski a Lot, Consider a Mega Pass

Nowadays, two major ski companies own most U.S. ski resorts. Thanks to the two competing organizations, you can buy a well-priced mega pass that gives you access to multiple resorts for one flat price.

Rather than buying a single-day lift ticket for over $100, you can invest in the Icon Base Pass for $799 and ski the included resorts as much as you want. The competing Epic Pass has a similar offering, bundling multiple resorts under a flat rate.

Put the Kids in Ski School

You might be tempted to spend the entire day skiing together as a family, but depending on everyone’s skill level, it might end up in disaster. The ski school has programs for everyone — from tots learning to “pizza” to teens who want to take their skills to the next level.

Spend the morning apart, then meet up around lunch to ski together as a family and show off your new skills.

Invest in Quality Gear

That $20 ski jacket may seem like a good idea, but when you’re out in the elements you’ll be wishing you paid more attention to quality. Things like jackets with down filling, Gore-Tex ski pants, merino wool base layers, and high-quality wool ski socks are lifesavers when you’re on the mountain for several hours.

It may be pricey, but ski gear that goes the distance will keep the entire family happy and on the mountain longer.

Pack Hand Warmers

You may have the best gloves on the market, but after several hours in the elements, it’s almost a guarantee that your kid’s hands will be freezing (cue whining). Combat the inevitable by stashing away a couple hand warmers. They’re small, disposable, and often last up to 10 hours. Ski day saved.

Take Advantage of the Ski Valet

Remember what we said about lugging your family’s gear to and from the base of the mountain? Avoid the frustration and let the pros handle it. The ski valet will meet you at the base of the resort, carry your gear, and store it for you. You’ll walk away feeling several pounds lighter and on your way to that much-deserved aprés-ski cocktail. Many hotels and resorts will offer some sort of ski valet service for free.

Bring Along a Few Snacks

You may have plans for an extravagant on-mountain lunch, but there’s no telling when hunger will strike. Tuck a bag of trail mix or a protein bar into everyone’s pockets for when the munchies hit.

Plan Out Your Ski Day so Everyone’s Included

Everyone has a different idea of which ski runs they want to do. To ensure no one gets annoyed or burned out, plan out your ski day as a family and make sure everyone has a chance to ski their favorite runs.

If all else fails, split up for a run or two so the family’s more advanced skiers don’t get bored and the newbies don’t end the day feeling frustrated.

Take Regular Hot Chocolate Breaks

Food — and more specifically, sugar — is the ultimate motivation, especially for younger kids. Keep everyone’s spirits high with regular breaks throughout the day. When spirits are low, the promise of hot chocolate will go a long way.

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