Ski Vacation Tips

Ski Vacation Tips
Skiing and snowboarding are two of the most exciting, albeit expensive recreational sports. As such, careful vacation planning is crucial to enjoyment. Many of the most important ski vacation tips cannot be found on ski resort websites. However, a good deal of insider information can be learned from ski resort employees.

Avoid Early and Late Season

The ski industry uses the phrase "white ribbon of death" to describe the late and early season conditions. During this period, only one trail is open. As such, it is extremely crowded. Although some excellent deals can be found during this period, you get what you pay for. Conditions are less than optimal, and exposed rock can ruin your equipment.

Avoid Weekends, Holidays and Spring Break

Prices are highest during these periods, lift lines are long and the slopes are over crowded. if you must ski during these periods, consider the smaller, less commercial resorts.

Mid-Week Skiing

Rates are usually cheaper during the middle of the week. Additionally, if you plan to take lessons, you can end up with a semi-private lesson at group rates.

Take Lessons

Lessons help you improve your skills. Additionally, your instructor can take you to the more interesting parts of the mountain. As if that was not enough, ski classes get to cut lift lines. Friends and family members may have a tendency to overestimate your abilities and take you on terrain that is beyond your abilities. Keep your relationships intact and go with a pro.

Visit in January

January is the best-kept secret in the ski industry. Most people are broke due to post-Christmas spending, so the resorts often offer last-minute specials. Conditions may also be at their best during this period.

Guided Tours

Most resorts offer a free, guided tour of the mountain. This is the best way to get oriented.

Answer Surveys

Many of the larger resorts hire skier satisfaction surveyors. In exchange for five minutes of your time, you will be treated to free coffee, cocoa or soda. These drinks may cost as much as three dollars in the cafeteria. Furthermore, you get to voice your opinion.

Avoid the Base Lodge Cafeteria

Prices are always higher in the main base cafeteria. However, at some resorts, you can get a discount for eating at a specific time. In fact, taking an early lunch has another distinct advantage. Most people go to lunch at noon, so if you eat at 11 a.m., you avoid the cafeteria crowds, and at noon, the lifts are less crowded.

Acclimate to Altitude

I f you are visiting the high-altitude resorts in areas such as Colorado or Utah, spend your first day acclimating to the elevation. In Colorado, explore Denver or Boulder. In Utah, explore Salt Lake City. Avoid alcoholic drinks for the first 48 hours. If you know that you are susceptible to altitude sickness, avoid mountain lodging. You'll sleep better if you stay at a slightly lower elevation. Staying hydrated can help.

About Trail Ratings

Trail ratings are relative to the particular mountain. For example, Big Emma at Snowbird, Utah, is one of the steepest "green" (easy) runs in North America. This run would be rated blue for intermediate or even black for advanced at other resorts.

Packing Tips

Pack some of your clothes in your ski bag. This will offer extra protection, and it will save money on extra baggage. Always carry on your ski boots. Place your socks and small items in a plastic bag, and place them inside your boots. This will help save space.

Lock or Check Your Equipment

You can purchase a lock at the ski shop, or check your skis at the ski check. Protect your investment.


Article Written By Lisa Mercer

In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.

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