What to do now to prepare for ski season

For us, ski season starts long before the first flakes fall from the sky. Admittedly, we’re crazy for the sport, but all families serious about learning to ski or taking ski vacations should be ‘thinking snow’ by November. Here’s what you need to do NOW, before the lifts start turning.

mt-shasta-ski-park

Buy your season passes:

If you didn’t buy your season passes last spring (the absolute best deals are in April), there’s still time to get a good deal. Check out the offerings from the Mountain Collective or Vail Resorts if you want versatility, or go straight to the source, checking the website of your local or favorite mountain.

Sign up for ski programs:

Lessons are expensive, we know. But deals can be had when parents sign kids up for season-long programs or kids ski free initiatives. Learn how to find nearby ski programs in this article, or check with your local resort to see what programs they offer for kids skiing all season long. Many offer kids-ski-free programs for grade schoolers, or after-school programs that include rentals and transportation. Hint: look into local race clubs. They teach high level skiing whether kids go on to advanced racing or not. Many also have freestyle and snowboarding clubs. This is how my kids learned to ski to the expert level.

smuggs adult lessons

Check sizes of items:

Autumn is the time of year to dig out all the ski gear and clothing, and make your kids sweat while they try on jackets, powder pants, and base layers to see what still fits. With three boys, we pass down ski clothing every year, and this step is quite the production! Be sure to try on ski boots for sizing (and don’t give into the temptation to put kids in boots that are too big, for ‘growth’…it’s just not safe). Standard snow skis should come to kids’ chin when standing beside them, and boots should be snug (see above).

Head to ski swaps:

Now that you know what size everyone is, head to local ski swaps. We have three in our area, all of which take place at the end of October and beginning of November. This is a great opportunity to find ski hand-me-downs or last year’s gear at a discounted price. Hint: it doesn’t hurt to swing by your local ski gear speciality shop before the event. They’re likely getting gear ready to take to the swap, and will happily sell it to you directly instead, allowing you a ‘sneak peek’ at the offerings. We got a great deal on boots last year this way.

squaw valley for expert skiers

Consider buying last year’s demos:

This is our absolute favorite way to acquire skis and snowboards. We’ve bought two used pairs of skis from powder7.com, an online store that sells the demo skis used at resorts the previous year. Families can find skis that are top-of-the-line (last year) for a fraction of the price. They are used, but there’s a handy rating system for determining just how used (some more than others). In our experience, skis have a few nicks and scratches on the top surface, but the bases are pristine (and newly waxed and tuned).

Tune and wax:

Have a tuning and waxing party at your house, or dedicate one evening to the project as a family. We set up shop in our garage each year. If you don’t know how to tune and wax your skis and boards but want to learn (it’s a big money saver), check out this post I wrote on Fix. Otherwise, take your gear to your local ski shop for a tuning.

Plan your winter ‘destination’ ski trip:

Yes, it’s already time to plan a trip! If you intend to take a big ski trip this season to a major resort, you can get great deals by booking before the holidays. These deals primarily focus on lodging savings, which is a huge part of any ski trip budget. In the US and Canada, start your search right here, in our ski resort archives. If you’re in the UK or Europe, start at FamilyTraveller, which has a great listing of family-friendly resorts. Grab airfare now, too, if you’ll need it!

What you need to do NOW to get ready for ski season

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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  1. This is a great post. Thank you. My husband and I just had this conversation today. We have checked all the gear for sizing and we are good. It all fits everyone but I asked him do we wax the skis or what are we supposed to do at this point and we both have no idea. So this helps. I may ask if we need the skis tuned then. Thanks so much!!

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