Christy Sports The Ridge Report
A Blog About Everything Skiing & Snowboarding in Colorado & Utah
family on ski vacation

Planning a family ski vacation can feel a little overwhelming. From budgeting travel and lodging costs to packing the right gear and clothing to scheduling time off work and taking the kiddos of out school. Doing a little homework before you go can certainly save you time and money so you can focus on having a great trip with your family.

To Fly or To Drive?

When budgeting for a ski or snowboard trip, the first decision you need to make is whether to fly or drive. Both have advantages and disadvantages. If you choose to fly, airline tickets may be one of your bigger expenses. But there are ways to save by shopping airports and airlines, and ski free deals. You might be able to reduce the cost of flying, giving you extra money in your pocket for more family fun!

Shop Airline / Airport Deals

Shopping for the best airfare deals can sometimes feel like a game. When comparing airfares to the same destination, again, do your homework to make sure you know exactly what is included before you book. Most airlines and travel agencies give you 24 hours to cancel and re-book in case you should overlook a better deal elsewhere. Keep in mind, the least expensive airfare can turn out to be the most expensive by the time you select a seat, check a bag, or bring a carry on.

Also consider the airport you fly into. You’ll generally find more direct flights and budget-friendly choices when flying into larger central airports than into smaller airports closer to some destinations. While those airports might be closer, the flight cost may be significantly higher. Simply, it comes down to weighing out cost vs. convenience.

Save on Airline Baggage Costs

Researching additional baggage costs before your trip will definitely save you money. For example, check out things like airlines that offer free checked luggage, both a carry-on and personal item included in your ticket, and bundled deals if offered. Also consider reserving checked luggage and carry-ons at the time of booking your flight as prices may increase at the counter or at the gate.

Another time and money saver is to familiarize you with weight and measurement guidelines in advance. Weigh and measure bags at home using a bathroom scale and everyday household measuring tape.

Traveling with Your Equipment

Once you’ve decided how you want to travel, you will next need to decide if you want to travel with or without your ski/snowboard gear. If you have your own equipment and choose to bring it with you, you can pack your skis and/or snowboards, poles, boots, and helmets in bags designed for these items. If traveling by car, these bags can be stowed away either inside the vehicle or on racks on top.  If you’re flying and feel strongly about using your own gear, a hard ski / snowboard case is highly recommended to protect your skis and poles or snowboard.

Flying

Ski and snowboard bags are subject to the same set of rules as standard luggage across the board. These bags are not treated differently and are always a single piece of luggage, assuming they follow the airline’s individual, specific regulations. Typically, boot bags and ski/snowboard bags are considered “one” piece of luggage together, permitting the boot bag accompanies a pair of skis or snowboard and the bag contains boots only.

Another smart tip when packing is to fill your ski/snowboard bag to the max. While boot bags aren’t allowed to contain anything else, ski/snowboard bags are fair game for extra items. Pack as many little things in with your skis/snowboard as you can – hats, gloves, socks – all the small things that would bulk up a suitcase. If you pack your jacket in the ski bag instead of your suitcase, fill the pockets with the above items to take advantage of unused space. Leave the jacket pockets empty if you’re putting it in your suitcase, as filling the pockets will add bulk and prevent the jacket from flattening out.

Renting Equipment

You may choose to leave all your gear at home and rent once you arrive. Not to fear, Christy Sports provides top quality rental equipment and experienced rental techs to match all your ski and snowboard needs. We offer everything from the latest and greatest in skis and snowboards to our Premium, Sports, or All Mountain packages to a Basic ski or snowboard package for those just starting out.

And of course, our Junior ski/snowboard packages for the kiddos! Christy Sports’ kids rentals are designed to meet the changing needs of your children as they grow and become future enthusiast. In fact, Christy Sports offers a Kids Ski Free rental program, where for each adult rental of four days or more, a child’s rentals (ages 12 and under) are free.

In Store Rentals

Our in-store rental process with Christy Sports is super quick and easy. With the most dedicated and knowledgeable staff in the ski/snowboard industry, rest assured you will receive an unmatched ski or snowboard rental experience in any location representing the Christy Sports name. Stop in any of our rental locations across the country and let our expert techs show you just how simple and painless renting gear can be.

Door to Door Delivery Rentals

For even more convenience, Christy Sports offers Door To Door Ski Rental Delivery – the same unmatched quality equipment and customer service, but we bring the rental shop to you. D2D delivers the latest ski and snowboard rentals to your place of lodging at a convenient time for you. Our expert techs then personally fit your equipment to your specific needs.

When your vacation is complete, D2D will pick up your ski and snowboard equipment free of charge. Should you experience any problems with your rentals in between, our techs will respond immediately to resolve any issues.

With delivery service in Breckenridge, Aspen/Snowmass, Vail, Beaver Creek, Telluride, Crested Butte, Copper Mountain, Steamboat Springs, Keystone, and even in Sun Valley, Park City, and Jackson Hole, our goal is to get to know you personally while you are on vacation and make your future reservations easier. So, simply make a reservation with D2D, then sit back and relax while we arrange your delivery.


Whether you are looking to rent in store or prefer the convenience of rental delivery, let our friendly, experienced Christy Sports staff help you make the best of your ski/snowboard vacation.

Save Money Skiing and Snowboarding

At their most elemental, skiing and snowboarding are all about having fun.

A reality of having this fun, however, is that it can cost money.

Pioneering ski filmmaker Warren Miller famously put it this way, “The family that skis together, goes broke together.”

But, It doesn’t have to be this way.

Tip #1: Rent Before You Buy

Before you can ski or ride, you must look the part and that means gathering together a lot of stuff. While there are some items you should definitely buy new (a well-fitting helmet and goggles come to mind), here are some tips for saving money on some of the others.

Depending upon how frequently you plan to ski or ride, renting equipment can be more economical than buying. Renting has several advantages. The upfront cost is low. Gear from a good rental shop is well-maintained. Plus, there’s no long-term commitment. Renting allows you try skiing and riding, learn new skills and save for new gear in the future.

Keep in mind daily rentals can sometimes mean being required to stand in long lines first thing in the morning.

Season Rentals Make it Easy

Season rentals are great deal for kids and adults, especially when you factor in free mid-season tune-ups and the ability to switch out gear if your kids outgrow it or decide to switch from snowboarding to skiing midseason.

If You Want to Buy

As for buying used gear at a ski swap or online, be aware that all ski and snowboard gear wears out over time.

Skis and boards that have been tuned frequently may not have much edge left, meaning they can’t be tuned again. Bindings that are old may be non-indemnified, meaning ski shops won’t touch them.

And then there’s wear and tear. Heavily used boots can be packed out, while skis and snowboards can lose their responsiveness over time.

If you’re ready to buy, check out deals on last season’s models and new gear or watch for sales, especially in spring and fall.

Tip #2: Never Pay Full Price for Lift Tickets

Just as daily rentals are a grind, so to the daily lift ticket. Be assured, if you walk up to a ticket window, you’re probably paying too much.

Search Online

Do some planning this fall and decide where you and your family want to ski. Visit resort websites and find the best deals. Many resorts offer 3, 4 and even 7 day “packs” of tickets that will save you considerable money.

Multi-mountain passes, such as MAX Pass and the Powder Alliance offer access to mountains across North America for one price. These can be good deals if you plan to do some traveling.

Christy Sport’s Powder Daze takes place late summer each year and offers ski passes to a plethora of resorts for a discounted price. The sale normally kicks off late August. While pass deals will be posted online, all guests interested in securing a pass much be present in stores to take advantage!

Season Passes

Season passes often save skiers and riders the most money. Many passes come with bonus days at other resorts and ski areas, as well as discounts on rentals, lessons and more.

Christy Kids Bundles

Another clever way for families with kids to save money is to purchase a Christy Kids Bundle. Christy Kids Bundles combine season equipment rentals with a season pass at one economical price.

Bundles with Copper Mountain, Monarch or Winter Park season passes are available for kids 12 and under. Loveland or Arapahoe Basin bundles are available for kids 14 and under.

5th and 6th Grade Passports

If you’ve got 5th and 6th graders your kids are eligible for the best deal in Colorado skiing, the Colorado Ski Country USA 5th and 6th Grade Passports, presented by Christy Sports.

These passes, which are free for 5th graders and just $105 for 6th graders (before November 30th) provide 3 free days at each of 22 participating Colorado resorts for 5th graders and 4 days each at these same resorts for 6th graders.

Parents wanting in on the fun should consider a $25 Colorado Ski Country USA Gem Card and can get 2 BOGO tickets or 2 30% off tickets at ten Colorado ski areas.

Tip #3: Always Come “Home” to a Kitchen

We are blessed in Colorado.

While people from other states and countries travel hundreds and thousands of miles to ski our mountains, we can drive just minutes or hours from home and enjoy some of the world’s best skiing and riding.

When it’s time for a ski vacation, staying in state and driving to the mountain easily saves thousands of dollars. Likewise, avoiding busy holiday weeks and weekends.

Another way to save money?

Book a condo or home with a kitchen. Make your own coffee. Chill your own wine and beer. Prep your own breakfast while still in your pjs. Pack your own lunch.

And while it can be nice to enjoy a dinner out, it can also be more relaxing to eat in on your own schedule without worrying about crowds and reservations.

Bonus for parents with picky kids: prepare their favorite meals, keep their favorite snacks on hand and avoid any and all whining.


About the Author:

Kristen Lummis

Kristen Lummis is a freelance writer based in Colorado who focuses on family skiing and adventure. She blogs at braveskimom.com.

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!