Ten Tips for Skiing with Families

Families that ski and 'board together create unbeatable bonds and memories—here are ten ways to assure that those memories are good ones.
Family of skiers wearing helmets looking down
Helmets... a skiing no-brainer (Adie Bush/Cultura/Getty)

1. There are loads of programs that offer free kid's lift tickets. In New York, fourth graders get three free lift coupons at participating resorts and deep discounts on lessons and rentals. In Idaho, fifth graders get three free days at 15 ski areas around the state. In Colorado, 21 resorts offer three free ski days for any fifth grader who applies—that's 63 free days! Passes for sixth graders are just $99 for four days at each of the resorts—that's 84 days! Search the web for "kids ski free" and a specific state.

2. Use hand and toe warmers. Part of the challenge (and fun) of skiing is learning how to be outside in the winter, in all types of weather. Hand warmers and toe warmers are an inexpensive way to stay warm. Buy mittens with hand-warmer pockets and long gauntlets (wrist cuffs) for younger kids.

3. Kids should wear ski helmets. Even the safest skiers fall or collide. Plus, helmets are warmer than hats. New helmets are lightweight, comfortable, and adjustable, and most resorts now rent helmets at a very reasonable rate.

4. Invest in a wool neck warmer like SmartWool's midweight neck gaiter ($18). Synthetic ones get stinky and last for a single season, whereas merino wool should last for several seasons. It's the most versatile piece of gear out there—a face mask against blizzards, a scarf for added warmth, and is easily stowable should things heat up.

5. One-piece suits are warm, but difficult for children to shed when they have to go potty. The best bet is a bib-style pant with a high waist to repel snow.

6. Parents with small children (ages two to four) can use a harness and tip connector to help teach their children how to ski. Start children on the slopes when they are young as it's easier (and generally cheaper) to learn at age five or six than 15 or 16.

7. Bring student I.D. Many areas offer student discounts on food and passes.

8. French fries are your friend. Pack a healthy lunch, but reward kids for a good morning on the slopes by adding some hot snack food as a treat. If they ski hard all day, especially in difficult conditions, the extra calories won't be an issue.

9. Being warm is essential, but high-quality apparel is cheaper than it's ever been. Quality brands are now available everywhere, from Costco to T.J. Max. You'll need a non-cotton base layer, insulating mid-layer (fleece or down), and a water-resistant, breathable shell. Mittens are warmer than gloves, especially for kids.

10. Some places embrace the fact that people are bringing their own lunches to save money. Most ski areas even provide microwaves so you can heat up soup and make hot chocolate. Plan accordingly.

Published: 11 Jan 2010 | Last Updated: 19 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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