A Week-Long Family Ski Break? Yes You Can!
I grew up in Connecticut, where my family and I were the weekend ski warriors. We headed up Route 91 to Vermont several times a season, the car filled to the brim with kids and gear for a three-to-six hour drive on Friday and Sunday nights. Once, our suitcases fell off the roof of the faux-wood-paneled station wagon and went flying down the highway.
I married a fellow ski fanatic and in 1996 some friends suggested a week-long trip out to Utah for all of us. It was the first time I’d even heard of anyone going all the way out there just to ski. My husband and I figured it was a one-time thing, like a trip to Hawaii; too expensive and too much work to make a habit of. Fast forward 16 years and four kids. Our lives are incredibly busy and we keep moving farther from good ski mountains (not all of Canada is ski country, believe it or not). We’ve attempted weekend trips, but they’re too difficult to squeeze in between work and the kids’s various teams and lessons. So several years ago we changed our game plan, trading in several hectic weekends for one leisurely week-long ski-fest out West every year.
At first, I was hesitant to go to a ski destination for a whole week. Disney World, of course, but the mountains? It’s worked out really well. Here’s why:
There’s Life Off the Slopes
I was surprised to discover that there are endless things to do besides downhill skiing in most Rocky Mountain ski towns. For starters, there are other active pursuits such as ice skating, tubing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and swimming. The ski towns are filled with restaurants, spas, museums and shopping. Moreover, Park City, our favorite destination, has three ski resorts. We need a full week to explore 10,000 acres of skiing in one town.
Fewer Crowds Make Better Skiers
As our kids have gotten older we’ve also come to appreciate the small ski-school classes, great snow conditions and short lift lines that are typical out west. These conditions—less hectic than small, crowded, icy NorthEast slopes—turned our kids into eager, incredible skiers in just a few years. With only one week per year under their belt from age 4, our kids have been skiing black-diamond trails by age 8.
The kids can’t miss several weekends of practice or lessons. But their coaches and teachers can live without them for a week. Skiing is a sport you have for a lifetime and it can bring you together for family trips for decades. This year or next, try trading in the ski weekends that never (or rarely) happen for a weeklong ski trip that’s extremely doable. I guarantee your family won’t regret it!
Kristen Haaijer resides outside Toronto with her husband and four kids, ages 4-14. She left her career in corporate relocation to stay at home with her kids and plan the family ski trips. Her latest endeavor is writing about her love of family snow sports and travel as an official Snowmama for Park City Mountain Resort.