The temperatures are cooling off and the teens and tweens are heading back to school. Before we know it snow will be falling in the mountains of New England and the Rockies and ski resorts will be open for business. Planning ahead is a great way to get the best deals. When it comes to families with teens and tweens, blocking out time for family ski vacations is about the only way to make sure that these trips really happen at all.
We talk to many families who lament that once their kids hit high school and middle school, the demands of sports, part time jobs, school work, and college searches can really limit time for family fun. Don’t give up! Family fun doesn’t have to take a back seat to all these other demands, but, it does require some careful planning and coordination. Here are five things your family needs to be doing now to make sure you don’t miss out on some great family ski vacations this winter:
- Get some inspiration! If you are the one taking the lead on planning your next family ski vacation, get excited and get you family thinking. Spend a little time reading up on what’s new at your favorite ski resort. Better yet, expand your horizons and learn about some destinations your family has never visited before. Mara Gorman’s Back to Ski web site is a great source for researching all types of family friendly ski resorts and destinations.
- Call a family meeting and have everyone – mom, dad, teens, tweens, siblings, grandparents, etc. — bring their calendars. Discuss sports and school commitments, adult and teen work schedules and school vacation schedules – including weekends. Agree on specific dates that work for everyone and block them on everyone’s calendars NOW!
- Discuss whether the teens and tweens, and younger siblings, can bring friends and what the ground rules will be. Parents – be clear if you feel comfortable with teens bringing significant others or if you want to limit it to platonic friends. Would you prefer family only? Is the getaway focusing on time with extended family and cousins that might leave friends feeling a bit left out? Be clear about who pays for what – will you pay for the lodging and the friend pay for lift tickets? Also be clear about ground rules for behavior on and off the slopes. And of course, make sure its ok with the friend’s family ASAP!
- Build a list of top priorities for things to do on and off the slopes. Depending on your family you may need to balance all kinds of interests. Does mom want to take an afternoon off the slopes and head to the spa? Do the teens want night skiing so the action never stops? Teens and tweens might surprise you with a request to go ice skating outside, visit a nearby college, or to take a dog sled ride or a zip-line winter canopy tour. Tweens or younger siblings might think the option to play in an indoor water park would be fun. There is so much to do at ski resorts now-a-days that even non-skiers can have a great time. You might need to reserve a day for family activities off the slopes.
- Get a great deal on a destination that is right for your family. Once you know your headcount , travel dates, and priorities for activities on and off the slopes, start working on getting a great deal at a destination that will work for your family, including the teens and tweens. We’ve found condos or hotel suites that allow a little extra elbow room usually work better than trying to crowd mom, dad and two teens into a single standard hotel room. Ski-in and ski-out options can allow for more teen and tween independence. If they want ski school or private lessons, look for resorts that offer teen-only classes or teen friendly instructors. If you have boarders and skiers at different levels, look for a range of terrain that matches their skills and interests. Check web sites for special deals – particularly early or late in the season. Multi-day packages can often include solid savings or discounts.
Time together during a family ski vacation can create some great memories that will last a lifetime. Planning ahead now helps ensure that your active family can really carve out the time to enjoy everything the mountains have to offer.
Disclosure: This article was sponsored by Mara Gorman and Back to Ski but all opinions and advice are solely ours.