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Growing up, I would eagerly look forward to our annual family ski trip. They were easily the most memorable trips for me as a child. Those trips were filled with endless hot cocoa, Grandma’s chili, cousins galore, and skiing until our legs got wobbly.
It’s no wonder that as a parent, I was eager and excited to take my kids on our own family ski trips. Well, I quickly learned that the key to having a memorable and fun family ski trip (aka, one where mom and dad can actually relax and have FUN), was lots of planning. We’ve taken dozens of big family ski trips with our kids, and I’m here to share with you all our best trips to help you plan an amazing family ski trip.
Note: This is just an introduction to how to plan a family ski trip. For all of our very best tips including printable checklists, meal ideas, what to wear, and all the logistics of taking a family ski trip, get our Ultimate Ski Trip Planner.
Set a Ski Trip Budget
The first step in planning any trip is to set a budget. This is especially important when planning a family ski vacation because ski costs can add up really quickly. When it comes to a ski trip, there are several potential expenses to account for, including lodging, transportation, lift tickets, equipment rentals, and food. Once you’ve taken all of these factors into consideration, you can start looking for ways to trim costs. For example, many ski resorts offer package deals that can save you money on Lodging and lift tickets. You can also often find discounts on equipment rentals if you rent in advance. And although it may be tempting to eat all of your meals out while on vacation, doing so can quickly add up. Instead, try to find lodging that includes a kitchen so you can cook some of your own meals.
How Much Does A Family Ski Trip Cost??
The costs for a family ski trip can vary widely depending on where you stay, which resort you choose to ski at, transportation, and dining options. A week-long ski trip for a family of 4, costs about $10,000 on average. A mid range cost for a family ski trip, would be about $7,000 and a budget ski trip for a family would cost about $3,000.
Decide What Your Ski Trip Priorities Are
After you’ve set your budget for your family ski vacation, it’s time to start thinking about what’s most important to you and your family when it comes to your ski trip. Do you prioritize convenience and want to be able to walk to the slopes? Or are you willing to drive a bit further in order to get a better deal on lodging? Perhaps your kids are beginners and you want to make sure they have access to good ski school programs. Are you primarily interested in downhill skiing or do you want to do other activities on your ski vacation too? Are you searching for powder stashes, or do you want smooth groomed runs? Once you know what’s most important to you, you’ll be able to start narrowing down your options.
Choose Which Type of Ski Resort You Want To Ski At
One of the most important decisions you’ll make when planning your family ski trip is choosing which type of resort you want to ski at. Many people often confuse bigger with better when planning a family ski vacation, but the only thing that a bigger resort guarantees are bigger crowds. Don’t overlook small local resorts, especially if you’re skiing with beginners or it’s your first ski trip.
There are generally three different types of resorts: big mountain resorts, boutique resorts, and local hills.
Big mountain resorts offer expansive terrain and plenty of amenities but can also be quite crowded—and expensive. They offer a lot, but can be really overwhelming for beginners.
Boutique resorts tend to be smaller and more intimate but may have fewer amenities and less challenging terrain.
Local hills are typically the most affordable option but also offer the least amount of high-end amenities. They’re often more family friendly and have a more relaxed atmosphere.
Ultimately, the right choice for your family will depend on both your budget and your skiing abilities—as well as what type of experience you’re hoping to have on your trip.
If you’re not sure where to start, I always recommend that families start at a small resort and save a bigger resort for after they’ve gotten a good handle on the logistics of a family ski trip.
Choose A Ski Trip Location
Once you’ve decided which type of resort you want to visit, it’s time to start thinking about where you want to take your family ski trip. Do you want to travel somewhere close to home and take a family ski road trip? Or are you looking for a destination that you’ll fly to?
Keep in mind that ski gear gets bulky in luggage, so flying on your ski trip has an added layer of complexity to getting your gear there.
Make sure to check out some of our favorite family ski resorts to help you narrow down your choices:
Best Utah Ski Resorts for Families
Best Colorado Ski Resorts with Kids
Best Family Friendly California Ski Resorts
Best Vermont Ski Resorts
Pick The Best Time Of Year To Ski With Kids
Did you know that some times of year are actually better than others for skiing with kids? While we all love the magical idea of a White Christmas, we think that Christmas is THE WORST time to ski with kids. It’s overcrowded, more expensive, and generally more stressful for families.
We love ski trips in late January and February if you’re looking for great snow. If you want a better chance of sunny days, then plan a ski trip for the spring. Mid-March is one of the best times to ski with kids because temperatures are usually warming up, but the snow hasn’t turned to a sluch puddle yet.
Reserve A Spot In Ski School ASAP
Are you planning on putting anyone in the family in ski school? Make those reservations for ski lessons FIRST! The worst is to plan and book a full trip only to find out that ski school is completely full for the dates that you want to visit.
Do your kids need to go to ski school? Yes and no! We firmly believe that most parents who are solid intermediate skiers can teach their kids the basics of skiing. That being said, if you’re not a comfortable skier, or you feel like your child needs help mastering a new skill, ski lessons with a professional is the best option.
Meal Plan In Advance
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to save money while on a family ski trip is by cooking your own meals. Not only is this more affordable than eating out for every meal on your ski vacation, but it also gives you more control over your food choices—which can be important if you have picky eaters in your family. Come up with a meal plan for what you want to eat before you leave home. It’s so much easier, and less stressful, to have a ski trip meal plan before you leave home since you have easy access to your favorite recipes and it’s usually less stressful to make plans at home instead of on the road. We always plan a few dinners and lunches and usually eat breakfast at our lodging before we leave in the morning. We also plan a few meals to eat out which is fun but also makes sure that we don’t blow all our budget on just eating out.
Plan For Non Ski Days
Yes, I know that you’re planning a family ski trip, but you probably won’t be able to ski the entire time. In fact, if your trip is more than a few days, we recommend that you don’t. Most kids can’t ski for more than 2 consecutive days, 3 if they’re in great shape or really used to skiing a lot. To avoid pushing your kids to the point of exhaustion or a mid-slope meltdown, put a few nonski days in your itinerary. Here are some of our favorite family activities on non-ski days:
Outdoor Activity Ideas For Non Ski Days
- Ice Skating
- Dog Sledding
- Winter Hiking
- Building A Snow Fort or Snowman
- Get some new snow toys to play outside
Indoor Activity Ideas For Non Ski Days
- Make S’mores
- Baking Challenge
- Card Games
- Family Charades
- Watch Ski Movies
- Family Dance Party
- Read By The Fire
- Set Up An Indoor Obstacle Course
Do A Dry Run Before Your First Day
Whether your kids are first-time skiers, or have skied their whole lives, the first ski day of the season can be a bit overwhelming. Have everyones ski equipment ultra-organized the night before and practice getting gear on. The night before we go skiing on a ski vacation, we have everyone try their boots on inside and make sure that they can do them up alone and are comfortable with the way that they fit. We practice carrying their skis while walking in ski boots (it’s much harder than it appears) and getting all their layers of clothing on and off. Finally, we make piles of clothing and ski equipment so that no one forgets anything essential in the morning.
To make things easier for mom and dad, we make our breakfast in advance and just warm it up in the morning so everyone can get a hot breakfast, without the stress that often comes with .
Rent Ski Gear In Advance
If you’re renting ski gear on your ski vacation, make sure to get it in advance. Ski rental shops are CRAZY in the mornings, and if you ask about it, most shops will let you get your gear the night before. This not only makes your morning at the ski resort less stressful but getting your gear in advance also gives any of your newer skiers a chance to practice walking around in their ski boots before they get to the ski hill.
You can often get better prices if you rent your ski gear away from the ski resort, with off resort rental shops as much as half the price of a ski resort rental shop.
By following these simple steps, you can plan an affordable and enjoyable family ski trip that will create memories to last a lifetime! Want more detailed tips and tricks to planning your family ski trip? Grab our ski trip planner. It goes super in-depth on everything you need to know to plan a successful family ski trip.