ski schoolAs the seasons change and November draws closer, thoughts of snow lovers turn to winter wonderland activities and travel.  Planning for a family ski trip is a bit more complicated than planning a family beach trip with considerations for ski equipment and skill levels for each member of a skiing family.The question that each of us has to answer first when planning a ski trip is: how far do you want to travel and what are the overall abilities of each member of the family.

The first consideration for a family is to decide where to ski that everyone can feel comfortable with skiing. For some families that might mean skiing on the East coast where the runs are shorter and less difficult.  (Although skiing on the East coast can mean more ice).  Never having skied out west, my first ski experience on the west coast was in Salt Lake City. There are several resorts around Salt Lake like Park City or Alta.   The Alta Ski Area was a perfect destination since there were no snow boarders and there were plenty of slope options in the green and blue range. (We went during the Sundance Film Festival which is a great way to combine entertainment and activity!)  Getting use to altitude, jet lag, travel costs, and travel times are also factors in deciding how far to travel for a family ski trip. 

When skiing with the family, another consideration is the ski school. We are a family that believes that everyone, even the adults, starts in ski school for at least the first morning during the first ski trip of the season.  It helps boost confidence with legs that have not been on snow in a year, and helps you get the feel for the mountain.  Full day or half ski lessons for children are also a great solution for families of only children so that the younger skiers can have some kid friendly time, as well as the adults having some solo ski time.  Our solution last year at Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia was half day ski school for our daughter, with family skiing in the afternoon so that she could show us what she had learned.

Another thing to think about is equipment. Renting ski equipment can be a good solution for families that are new to skiing or are not ready to make the investment. Renting is also a good option if you are traveling by air and do not want to check  your equipment. It is always a good idea to check ski shops in destinations that are close to the mountain but not on property. Although it is convenient to rent at the base of the mountain, you might find more selection and lower prices just a few minutes away. 

soaring eagle at snow shoe mountain

The last consideration is accommodations  Ski in, ski out options where you can strap on your boots and step out onto the mountain are very convenient.  Finding condominium type accommodations that are ski in, ski out so that you can have breakfast and dinner at home can be pricey but are worth.  An outdoor hot tub or heated pool are also desirable when comparing properties, as there is nothing quite like overlooking a mountain while soothing your sore muscles in a hot tub.

What about you? What do you think about when planning a family ski trip? 

Elena has not skied the Alps in Italy (ever) though she has hiked the Olympic slopes of Cortina.  Live the dolce vita along with Elena…  

Italian by birth, Elena tells the story of living-doing-and growing as a Cancer survivor, freelance writer, teacher, runner from her perch in the DC suburbs at Ciao Mom. You can find her on twitter as @ElenaSonnino.