5 tips for successful holiday family ski trips

We spend many Christmases away for the holidays. By far our favorite holiday vacation: a holiday family ski trip in a ski resort condo. Three years ago, we spent Christmas tucked away in a South Tahoe HomeAway vacation rental, and past Christmases have found us exploring Big White Ski Resort in Kelowna, BC Canada and the North Shore of Tahoe. Spending the holidays away allows us to focus on our family and leave busy schedules behind, but it can also seem daunting. Below are our best ski trip tips for enjoying a family ski vacation away for the holidays.

holiday family ski trip

1. Go before Christmas Day.

Ski resorts (much like theme parks and beach resorts) remain relatively quiet until December 25, after which they experience their peak season crowds (through early January). No one wants to spend their family ski trip waiting in lift lines, so if you can swing it, book your trip in the first half of your kids’ winter school vacation (or earlier). You’ll experience fewer crowds but also lower lodging costs. Plus, stress-fee pre-Christmas holiday travel is easier to come by.

2. Consider your ski trip one of your family gifts.

Older kids can understand that a family ski vacation costs considerable money, and can be considered a family gift. Plus, bringing a mountain of holiday gifts along on your vacation can be difficult: we bring everyone’s Christmas stockings and one special present for each child if our ski trip will extend to Christmas Day. Kids can also be gifted with experiences: surprise them with a day on zip lines or a sleigh ride at your ski resort as an extra holiday gift you don’t have to bring with you.

3. Bring holiday traditions with you.

You may not want to pack a lot of extra items on your family ski vacation, but some things are worth the space. We like to bring our usual Christmas linens so we can set our table for Christmas Eve, and we bring stockings and special Christmas pajamas. It’s easy to bring a travel Hanukkah menorah, and Hanukkah gifts can double as travel toys. If you like to have a tree in your living room, find out if your ski resort is near forest service land that permits Christmas tree cutting. If so, it’s relatively easy to obtain a permit and have a family outing finding the perfect vacation tree.

4. Make your own holiday meals.

We always book ski trip lodging with a full kitchen. During the holiday season, this allows us to make our usual holiday meals, which makes it feel more like Christmas when we’re away. Find the local grocery store when you arrive, or check to see if nearby stores offer grocery delivery service to your ski resort (many do).

Northstar lodging

5. Use a ski trip checklist (and check it twice).

Before you pack and depart, write a ski trip checklist with needed gear and supplies. Everyone remembers to bring the basics: skis or boards, boots, and outerwear, but did you remember to pack the following lesser-known items on our ski trip checklist?

extra pair of gloves for everyone
hand warmers (just pack them in coat pockets before leaving home)
chapstick for everyone
laundry detergent and dryer sheets (you’ll want to at least dry outerwear a few times)
base layers or long underwear for all
the makings of s’mores
a cheap box of Christmas ornaments or decorations for the room or condo
a strand of Christmas lights (this can help you find your window or door easily)
batteries or chargers for those new toys

Are you planning a holiday ski trip? What tips can you share for enjoying your time away?

Five tips for successful holiday ski trips

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler.