Christy Sports The Ridge Report
A Blog About Everything Skiing & Snowboarding in Colorado & Utah
Ski Trip Travel Tips

One of my favorite parts of winter is our annual family ski trip.

While we ski most winter weekends (a definite perk of living in Colorado), spring break is when we venture further afield, if not afar, to sample new mountains and new resorts.

While planning a ski vacation should be fun, it also requires some work and attention to detail.

Today, we share some tips for planning your best winter getaway.

Dream

We all have lists of ski resorts we’d love to visit. We also have lists of favorite resorts we return to again and again.

When planning a ski vacation, you have to choose between the familiar and beloved and adventuring to a new destination.

Start with who will be going on the trip.

If children are coming, how old are they? Do you need services like childcare or ski school? While almost all resorts have dedicated programs for children, some, like Snowmass and Keystone, specialize in families.

If this is a girls’ trip, is it all about skiing or do you want shopping and spa, too? If skiing will be front and center, you might look into a women’s ski week or camp at somewhere like Alta.

While I’ve obviously never been on a guys’ ski trip, I hear it’s all about skiing, drinking and eating.

So here’s a question for the men: Do you want to be in the middle of the après action?  Or, would you be okay with a more remote resort like Snowbasin, Utah that has great skiing, but no lodging base or nightlife?

Next, ask yourself how many mountains you want to visit. Do you want to stay at one resort and really get to know it or hop between several resorts and sample them all?

In Colorado, this could mean choosing between a multi-mountain destinations like Summit County or picking a more isolated ski town like Telluride.

Make a list of what you want and use it to narrow down your options. Ask your friends for their suggestions and look online for ski resort reviews.

Best Tip for Choosing a Resort: If you have a season pass, check for reciprocal deals with other mountains. You may find that you can ski for free or at a significant discount. This makes choosing the “right” destination a no-brainer.

Plan

As with any vacation, you have to know how you’ll get there, where you’ll stay and what you’ll need to bring.

1. Getting There

While driving has some serious advantages (think bringing your own gear and having maximum flexibility), flying can take you anywhere.

Whether you fly or drive, factor in how much time you’re willing to spend in transit.

Do you want to fly into a city and ski the same day? Are you willing to rent a car or take ground transportation to the resort?

If time is a major consideration, look for resorts with nearby local airports. Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Whitefish, Montana come to mind.

Best Driving Tip: Be prepared for winter weather. The Colorado Traction Law now requires passenger cars to carry and use chains (or their equivalent) during some storm conditions.

No matter where you are, check the state department of transportation website or download an app to keep you updated.

Best Flying Tip: Ask the airlines if your skis and boots can fly for free. Rules vary with each carrier, but skis/snowboard and boots are free on United if packed in ski boot bags and ski bags.

If you pack your boots in a duffle bag, or your skis in a box, you’ll pay. Plus, you have to check both skis and boots. We tried to fly with just boots and got dinged.

2. Sleep and Eat

Resort websites often have links to extensive lodging and last-minute deals. But for some trips, renting a home through a service like VRBO might be better.

Make a list of what you need and want.

Do you need a kitchen? How many bedrooms and bathrooms? If you’re staying off-mountain is there a shuttle or public transportation? Are there slopeside or ski-in/ski-out options?

Best Lodging Tip: Check out lodging in nearby communities to save money. For example, stay in Basalt if Aspen is too pricey.

Or take an urban ski trip. Stay in Salt Lake City (the Salt Lake SuperPass scores discounts on tickets and lodging) and commute 30-40 minutes by car or bus to four world-class resorts.

3. Gear

We recommend taking your own boots if you can. But leaving skis/poles or snowboards at home can make life much easier (especially when you’re trying to fit everything and everyone into a rental car or SUV).

Best Gear Tip: Make your life easy with ski and snowboard rental delivery services like Door 2 Door from Christy Sports. Reserve everything you need online. When you arrive, a ski tech brings the equipment and fits it to you at your convenience.

Execute

Online planning is key to maximizing fun and limiting ski vacation hassle. Study resort websites to find out what activities and special events are available.

Save money by purchasing lift tickets in advance on resort websites or from vendors like Liftopia.

Also, reserve lessons, dining and other special events (perhaps snowshoeing, a snowcat dinner in a remote cabin, or a western family BBQ) in advance to avoid disappointment.

Best Overall Tip: Be flexible. While it’s good to plan ahead, don’t schedule every moment and be prepared for changes. It’s a vacation after all, not a marathon. Whether you’re traveling with friends or family, let everyone set their own pace and agenda.

Then reconvene each afternoon to share stories, photos and fun (with an emphasis on fun).

Enjoy!

 

The calendar seems to be rushing towards the resort closing dates at an alarming rate.  While spring skiing conditions don’t get much better than they are right now, it seems like at the end of the day, I walk away from the resort a little bummed out.  No matter how much fun I had, one pervasive thought dampens my mood; the season is almost over.  Don’t fret though.  For those of you who aren’t ready to let the season go, there is hope.

2014_06_14_A-Basin_Dave-Camara_4

Image: Dave Camara – Arapahoe Basin

The Holdouts

Even though most resorts in Colorado and Utah shut down around the same time, places like A-Basin and Snowbird refuse to yield to the warming temperatures until the last possible moment.  It’s really refreshing to see a big, bold TBD on their calendars well after the lifts stop turning at the other resorts.  Plus, the longer their seasons go, the more festive things get.  From giant barbecues in the parking lot, to fun on-mountain events, these mountains and the die-hard skiers and riders who frequent them know how to wring every ounce of fun out of the season.

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Image: of Kat Via Flickr

Endless Winter

After the last resort shuts down in the West, rather than face a change in seasons, change your hemisphere instead.  Just hop on a plane and head over to New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, or Australia, and you can see where the snow went after it abandoned you in the States.   Whether chasing winter full time or just escaping the summer heat for one unforgettable ski trip, ripping around a mountain in August is a guaranteed way to satisfy the inner powder hound in you.

Earn Your Turns

Image: Emily-Jane Newbern

Image: Emily-Jane Newbern

For the purist, the adventure seeker, the endurance athlete, and for the folks who can’t afford a trip to New Zealand, hoofing it is your best option for late season turns.  The backcountry and side country in the Rock Mountains stay relatively good for months, allowing you to enjoy the snow even after the last of the holdout resorts call it quits for the year. Better still though, when the backcountry snow turns into a granular, pitted mess, you can always turn to the glaciers. A short drive from Denver and a short hike up a trail delivers you to a large snowfield called St Mary’s Glacier. Places like St Mary’s (and there are multiple gems like this all across the Rockies) are the perfect destination for midsummer turns. While strapping your gear to a backpack and heading into the hills is a fun and exciting way to keep the season alive, only experienced and prepared backcountry travelers should attempt it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love summer and all of the activities that warm weather affords, it’s just hard to let go of winter. So, in between runs, bike rides, camping trips, hikes, and barbecues, you will find me punctuating my summer with old ski movies, and the occasional trip up some remote snowfield with a snowboard strapped to my backpack.

If you know of any other ways to keep the ski season alive, let me know!

The most overwhelming part about a shredcation is not knowing where to ski, what to do, or where to eat when you arrive. Luckily for us, it’s 2015, and although hoverboards haven’t become a viable mode of transportation, we do have access to the world’s information through smartphones. Here are a few of my favorite apps to help you make the most of your ski vacation:

Liftopia App1. Liftopia – Instead of paying full price for your lift tickets at the window, check Liftopia to see if there are any discounts or offers for the resort you’re visiting. Beware that you may have to purchase a few days in advance to get the deal, but sometimes you can get 50% off or more.

On The Snow App2. OnTheSnow – Want to find out which resort near you has the best snow conditions? OnTheSnow will give you the daily snow report for over 2,000 resorts worldwide to help you decide where you want to ski. It also lets you view trail maps, ski news, and live web cam feeds.

Trace Snow App3. Trace Snow – This app is loaded with cool features for the shredder that wants to track their day on the hill.  Record how many runs you’re taking, how many calories you’re burning, how fast you’re going, and how many miles of terrain you skied. Your GoPro can even sync with the app and track how high your jumps were. Most importantly, you can also add your friends to prove who shreds harder and share it on social media.

Yelp App4. Yelp – In case you’re not familiar with this popular review site, I’ve just introduced you to your new best friend. Yelp has customer reviews for just about everything. Need ski rentals? Check Yelp for the best ski rental shop near you. Looking for the best, cheapest place to grab a bite to eat? Check yelp for the highest rated restaurant with an average price per meal of $10 or less. Yelp has a great selection of filters that help you find the best of what you’re looking for wherever you go. Use it on your vacation to find the highest rated establishments so you never have to deal with poor customer service. Some places will even offer discounts if you “check-in” using the app.

Trip Advisor App5. Trip Advisor – Maybe everyone you’re traveling with doesn’t ski, or you’re wiped out from the day before and want to do something else. Check Trip Advisor for other local attractions to keep the gang entertained. Read tips from other travelers to see what they recommend for “Things to Do” in your vacation spot.

Skiing Fred App6. Ski/Snowboard Games – What better way to keep your stoke up than with some ski and snowboard games? If you’re flying or driving a long distance somewhere to ski, playing some ski games will keep you excited to hit the hill while you’re waiting to get there, and are more fun than reading a book or scrolling through Facebook. A few Christy Sports favorites are: MyTP Freeskiing 2, Skiing Fred, and FreshTracks Snowboarding.

What apps do you use for skiing and snowboarding? Have you tried any of these?