A note from Mommy Frog: The Ikon Pass makes it even easier to plan for a multi-day ski trip! With multiple resort and length options, the Ikon Pass is a cool fit for the season — be sure to grab one before each season opens they're gone!
The 2021-2022 ski season is underway and all that snowfall over the holidays has us anticipating our next skiing adventure! Our frog family relishes the excitement of planning as much as vacationing. A good way to start planning your ski vacation is to decide its duration. Here are some factors to consider when planning how many days to visit the ski resorts.
Deciding How Many Days You Need for a Ski Trip
The ideal length of a ski trip is determined by many factors. How much time off from work or school do you have? What is your budget? How fit is your family? In general, we suggest a minimum of three days of skiing for a first trip. If you can manage four to seven days, that works well too. If seven days is more than your family can handle, divide your ski trip into two trips. A three-day trip and four-day trip can work well. Try new locations or different times in the season. Two shorter trips may work better with very small children. If you're considering four days or more of skiing, you will get more flexibility and potentially save money with a ski pass such as the Ikon Pass.
There is a lot of planning that goes into a family ski trip, such as finding appropriate clothing and gear, booking lessons and traveling. (Jump over to our ski lesson posts to get the lowdown on ski lessons and gain some hopful ski school tips.) If you are a beginner, you will be surprised at how much you can improve in a matter of days, especially if you have the consistency of attending one ski program. Four consecutive days of skiing will take you much further in skill level than four separate days of skiing. Part of it is warming up those muscles; another part is getting comfortable with the sport. New skiers may want to consider a two days on, one day off approach to give their bodies time to adjust.
Advanced skiers can take any length trip. If you are a good skier who already has the equipment and is not taking lessons, you can easily power through a two-day weekend trip (or longer). I have years of experience, but I find that by day three of any trip I feel like a much better skier than I was on day one. Sometimes it takes a few days to break down any psychological barriers and awaken those ski muscles.
One factor you cannot control is weather. Taking a longer trip allows you to ski during the best weather during your stay. Mountain weather can change drastically within even a few hours. We once took a seven-day ski trip in April over spring break. The week started with sunny, warm spring skiing conditions, then it began to rain, which developed into a blizzard. We ended the week with epic powder and cold temperatures along with sunshine. The length of the trip allowed us to experience it all. Plus, we could choose to ski during our favorite conditions and kick back when the weather was less than ideal. You cannot enjoy that flexibility with a shorter trip — you get what you get.
What is your budget?
How many days you need for a ski trip all starts with your budget. For each day of the trip, you will need to factor in a hotel stay, possibly a rental car, food, lift tickets, lessons and maybe equipment rentals. That plays a big part in determining how many days you need for a ski trip. Multi-day tickets, such as the Ikon Pass, can help you save money on a ski trip — up to 50 percent off regular lift ticket prices! Plus, they can be used over multiple trips at different locations. (Psst ... Hop to our ski vacation discounts to see how you can save even more green with your favorite frogs!) For each ski season, getting at least a 4-Day Ikon Pass and using it on one trip or splitting it between two trips seems to be the most budget-friendly plan.
Another thing to consider is the investment you might have made in ski clothes or equipment. If you have bought new skis, thermals, jackets, etc., you’ll want to make the most of them. A second trip might be in order before everyone grows out of their ski clothes. To save, we suggest borrowing or buying used items if possible. If you have booked flights to your destination, you might consider one longer trip rather than two shorter trips, so you don’t have to pay for a second flight.
Speaking of flights, we have some hoppin' tips for saving money on flights to popular ski destinations. Check out our ways to save when flying to Lake Tahoe. We've also uncovered some toadally easy ways to save when flying to Colorado. And don't froget about saving on flights to Utah ski resorts!
Are you skiing or snowboarding?
Whether you are skiing or snowboarding can also factor into how many days you need for a ski trip. Skiing is generally regarded as easier to learn but harder to master, whereas snowboarding is initially harder to learn but easier to master. The first two days of skiing are going to be easier on the body than the first two days of snowboarding. (We suggest a lot of body armor and pads for beginner snowboarders!) While skiing starts off easier, it has a slow building of technical skills that develop over the years. I have been skiing since I was a tadpole, and I am still learning. Tad has been snowboarding only a short time, and he is racing me down the mountain and exploring all types of terrain and obstacles already (being a fearless tween boy doesn’t hurt).
Once snowboarding “clicks,” from overcoming psychological fears and grasping the basics of turning, beginners quickly move on to terrain parks and backcountry. This is especially true once they get a taste for fresh powder on a snowboard. Give yourself four to seven days when learning how to snowboard. If you can take several days to master the skills, you will be well on your way to dominating the sport. A two-day first snowboarding trip can be physically painful and emotionally draining. It will take time after the initial pains to start having fun and reap the rewards of your hard work (and falls). Adding another day or two to that journey will help you end on a high note. Those extra days will make a difference in how you feel about the sport. Once it all becomes fun, you’ll be addicted and planning your next trip!
Skiers can also gain a lot from a five- to seven-day trip, but even a three-day trip will get them on their way. Skiers (and snowboarders) could even break their trip into two journeys: A three-day trip followed by a four-day trip later in the season.
How athletic is your family?
Are you an active family that plays sports, or do you enjoy lazy Saturdays on the couch? A more athletic family will have the stamina to take on a longer ski trip. A less active family might be tired after three to four days. You do not have to ski daily, so a longer trip can also work for a family who likes to take a break and have some winter fun off of the mountain. Parents may enjoy a massage or attend a yoga class. On longer ski trips, our frog family likes to have a day off of the slopes to enjoy other activities. We enjoy shopping, dining, snow play and other less strenuous activities.
Where are you visiting?
Are you visiting a ski resort with a lot of other fun activities off of the mountain? How are the après ski kid activities? It’s easier to stay longer in a place that offers a variety of restaurants and fun things to do. Staying five days or more will give you plenty of time to experience tubing, ice skating, snowmobiling, swimming, dogsled tours or horse-drawn sleigh rides without taking away from your ski time. Also, if you're visiting a place such as Lake Tahoe, there are a ton of other ski resorts nearby. You might want to experience a few on one visit.
How high are you going?
If visiting a ski resort at a higher altitude, especially if you live in a much lower one, you should plan a longer trip so you can acclimate. If your mountain base is 8,000 feet or higher, such as Breckenridge, you’ll need to acclimate on the front end of your journey. Drink a lot of water, take plenty of bathroom breaks and get plenty of rest. Take it easy the first day. Arriving tired and immediately strapping on skis is setting you up for altitude sickness, which can ruin your next day. Be smart, sleep as low on the mountain as you can and take care of your body. Follow these tips to learn how to prevent altitude sickness.
Are you enrolling in ski school?
If you are new to skiing or snowboarding and are enrolling in ski school lessons (which we highly recommended), then plan to take several days of skiing at the same resort so that you can progress within their program and have some consistency. The number of days in ski school (we recommend at least three) will help determine the length of your ski trip. You are likely to improve exceedingly by skiing several days in one trip. If you take several days to learn, you could be cruising the blues by the end of your journey.
How to Get the Most Time for Your Money
Purchasing an Ikon Pass is a great way to remove the financial and emotional strain of deciding how many days you need for your ski trip. If you are planning a single trip, consider the Ikon 4-Day Session Pass. If you are planning more than one trip, then an Ikon Base Pass is a great deal for use at several ski resorts. The passes can be used at a number of family-friendly ski resorts In Colorado, Lake Tahoe, Utah and other locations.
Now that you have a better sense of how many days you need for a ski trip, next step is to pick your ski resort and hop to it! For you seasoned skiers, how do you decide how many days you need for a ski trip? Share your tips below!
Related: Where to Splurge and Save on a First-Time Ski Trip
Related: Tips for Skiing and Snowboarding With Kids