Flexibility the key to a successful family ski trip | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Flexibility the key to a successful family ski trip

However, with a little knowledge, some patience and the right planning, a ski or snowboard vacation with the entire family can become the trip of a lifetime. The important thing is to plan your trip around the interests and endurance of your children rather than having the expectations of a “grown-up” ski trip.

Planning makes for a painless trip: The key to a successful family ski trip is good planning. Involve your children in as many of the preparations of the trip as possible. Visit the Snowmonsters.com website with your children to get them excited about the world of snowsports.

Make sure that your travel times will coincide with the important daily routines of your child’s day (such as nap and meal times). Find lodging that will be comfortable for you and your family. Ensure that you have access to food and drinks whenever your child might be hungry.

When packing for the trip, make sure to bring plenty of warm clothes that can be layered for varying weather conditions. Waterproof clothing, warm mittens and hats are a must. If you know which resorts you will be visiting, call ahead and find out the policies and recommendations of the ski schools and daycare facilities to prepare yourself and your children. The minimum age for most of the Lake Tahoe ski schools is four.

Don’t pack the playpen: Wondering how you are going to lug all of your gear and clothing while still managing to bring the playpen, high chair and potty seat? Don’t worry. Baby’s Away Lake Tahoe offers reasonable rates for parents who want to rent many of the bulky necessities for those traveling with small children. Playpens, cribs, safety gates (a good idea for those ski cabin stairs) and many other items can be delivered to your condo, cabin or hotel room prior to your arrival, and picked up after you leave. To reserve your baby gear, call them at (800) 446-9030 or email them at tahoebasketcase@aol.com. You can find a product and price list at http://www.angelfire.com/moon/tahoebaby/.

Practice patience, not pole plants: Don’t go into a family ski and snowboard trip with the same expectations that you would for a “grown-ups” trip. Small children don’t have the interest or the ability to ski or snowboard all day, every day. Many children will enjoy the thought of “hitting the slopes” just like Mom and Dad, and will be happy just playing in the snow at the base area. If you feel that your children are ready for lessons, research what the individual resorts offer. Consider putting your children in a lesson for a short period of time, alternating formal lessons with your child skiing or boarding between your legs on a bunny slope. Remember to listen to your child’s needs and pay attention to his or her body language. Is your child cold, hungry, tired or bored? Have a plan to address all of these so that your kids will forever associate “skiing” with “fun”.

Elizabeth Young, editor of the family travel website Travelforkids.com shares tips from parents who have taken kids on a family snow trip.

“Do not put them in ski school, daycare and other structured things day after day,” cautions Young, “you want the kids to feel that being out skiing is fun. If they go day after day it won’t be as fun with them. Take time and scale back.”

Young also suggests that children will enjoy ski lessons more if they are enrolled in a class with a sibling or friend that will offer a degree of familiarity while skiing in a class.

Take Time to Stop and Smell…

whatever it is they want to smell:

When adults take a ski or snowboard vacation, the time spent on the slopes is of the utmost importance. Travel, meals and sleep are all secondary to the time spent on the slopes. When traveling with kids, the focus must be on their immediate needs. Break up the drive to the mountains to stop and eat, or park along the way for sledding and a snowball fight.

If you do opt to take a day off from skiing and boarding, Elizabeth Young recommends that parents avoid common kid-entertaining temptations.

“Do not have the kids staying inside watching movies,” says Young, “if you don’t ski, go do the things that you can do. Ride in saucers. Build a snowman. You don’t have to spend a fortune.”

And don’t worry if you don’t get as many turns in as you would like to on your family ski trip. Instead, cherish the memories of skiing and snowboarding with your young children, for as Young reminds parents, “before you know it, you are all going to be on the same slopes.”

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