When the seasons change and the weather begins to cool down, we immediately start 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 skiing trip into two, such as a three-day and four-day trip. Try new locations or different times in the season. Two shorter trips may work better with very small children. If considering four days or more of skiing, you will get more flexibility and potentially save money with a ski 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. 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, and 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 equipment and is not taking lessons, you can easily power through a two-day weekend trip or go longer. Even with years of experience, I still 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.
What is your budget?
How many days you need for a ski trip all starts with 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 Epic Unlimited Pass and Epic 4-Day Pass, can help you save money on a ski trip (plus they can be used over multiple trips or for different locations). You can also save a bundle if you package your hotel and ski lift tickets. (Hop to our ski vacation discounts!)
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. One way to save on a ski hotel is to book through Undercover Tourist. 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.
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 beginning snowboarders). But then 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 are quickly moving onto terrain parks and backcountry, especially 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 snowboard 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. 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 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 the mountain. Parents may enjoy a massage or attending a yoga class. On longer ski trips, our frog family likes to have a day off the slopes to enjoy other activities such as shopping, dining, and other less strenuous activities.
Where are you visiting?
Are you visiting a ski resort with a lot of other fun activities off 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 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 the base of your mountain is at 8,000 feet or higher, you’ll need to acclimate on the front end of your journey. Drink a lot of water, take plenty of bathroom breaks, get plenty of rest and 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.
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 Epic 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 Epic 4-Day Pass. If you are planning more than one trip, then an Epic Unlimited Pass is a great deal for unlimited use during the 2018-2019 season. There are no blackout dates, and the passes can be used at a number of family-friendly ski resorts such as Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City and more. You've got just a little time left to purchase the Epic Pass for this season, so hop on it!
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!