Six Tips for Southerners Taking a Ski Vacation

I recently shared a list of packing essentials for a ski vacation with children. In addition to learning quickly what gear was useful and what gear could remain at home, we learned plenty about surviving a ski trip with young kids.

Altitude Sickness is real ::

 beautiful photo of sunset in ColoradoI was actually warned about this months prior to our vacation. But like much in life and motherhood, you really don’t understand until you experience it firsthand. I was basically told to hydrate and watch my alcohol consumption the first couple of days, ensuring that I followed every drink with at least 8 ounces of water. However, I would argue it is more than that. In fact, you need to start drinking double your normal water consumption two days before you depart.

We traveled to Keystone Resort, which at the base sits almost 10,000 feet ASL. Our house sat above the base. It should be no surprise that we all started to notice headaches as we made the climb from the airport to our accommodations. That first night, all of my children were restless, waking often with complaints of headaches and stomachaches. My husband suffered the same fate. I noticed that with every glass of wine, I felt the same, but it would go away if I drank water. I worried my family had come down with a stomach bug, but after getting everyone to drink plenty of water, the symptoms subsided. It took 2 full days for my kids to not wake throughout the night. I admit we weren’t as diligent with the kids water intake those first couple of days. For the rest of the week, we made our kids drink a cup of water, every 1-2 hours. It was not something I expected but if we slacked off, we were guaranteed many wake up calls by a restless and ill child.

Take my advice, double your water intake the entire time you are there. Also, remember that if you ski, you are going to reach even higher elevation (12,408 feet in Keystone), so drink plenty of water up there and drinks with electrolytes help. Every room in our house came with a humidifier that we ran all day and night per recommendation of the home-owner and travel agent.

It IS a different kind of cold ::

child sledding down mountain in ColoradoThe air is freezing, make no mistake, but it doesn’t feel as cold because it isn’t as humid as it is here. Our ski instructor told us the air is like the desert, so arid that it dehydrates you just being outside. Add the physical exertion of walking uphill through snow and skiing, and you can become dehydrated very quickly. Drink plenty water for the entirety of your trip. Pack Aquaphor for dry skin and lips. Also, remember that if anything gets wet, even from sweat, the cold will hit you harder. I highly recommend Hand and Toe Warmers to help. Gear matters! Aim for waterproof or repellant snow pants, jacket, boots and gloves.

Related to the above, but alcohol affects you differently at those levels of elevation, so you likely will consume less. Take heed when shopping as we sadly had a lot of waste in this department.

Get the Ski Lessons ::

We did one morning of lessons, and I can say with full faith and confidence that my family would not have been able to ski without them. My oldest (9 years old) went from the top of the summit (12k feet) to the bottom after a morning of lessons. He was a natural. My middle son and I took longer to grasp it. My baby threw his skis after the first time he fell in lessons, never to return.

father and son on skis in Colorado

Carry out when dining out ::

With COVID, there were many dining restrictions, and we knew this prior to arrival. We prepared most meals at home and did take out for the rest. Which, to be honest, is much easier with kids in my opinion. We did attempt one outdoor lunch in town and we were all so freezing, it would have been better to carry out. BUT the kids did have a blast building snow men and making snow angels while we ate. If you are traveling to Keystone, you must check out The Crepe Stand and The Cookie Store. We loved the pizza from Pizza on the Run. Just be mindful of longer wait times due to Covid restrictions.

child making snow angels

There will be plenty of down time ::

There will be many periods of the day where you will likely be indoors. Pack toys/games and books for the little ones and don’t forget fun games for the adults to play after the kids go to bed. Also, you will not want to be in ski clothes inside so think leggings, sweatshirts, warm socks and slippers. Light the fire, snuggle up and enjoy the view.

child taking nap in resort in Colorado

Let the kids take the lead ::

I promise if you try to force them to do an activity they don’t want to do, you’ll regret it. I find that true on most vacations with kids. We are all happier when we go with the flow and don’t over schedule.When the baby in our family stated he “was never skiing ever ever,” we told him that was fine. When the middle child threw his skis in frustration that he wasn’t “getting it” as fast as his older brother, we reminded him he had to finish the slope but if he didn’t want to get back on afterwards, that would be his choice. {Of course he finished and went back on about 8 more times that afternoon.} My eldest wanted to ski from sun up to sun down, from the summit all the way to the bottom. My husband, the more experienced of us, took him over and over. I wanted my middle child to feel comfortable so we did the same green slope about 23 times one day. He radiated so much pride that it was one of my best memories with him to date. We had to take turns being that we had a 3 year old who would not ski. One day they wanted to ice skate, so we did that. If they wanted to sled down the driveway, go to the playground, walk around town and get hot chocolate, we did that. We even built a snow fort and had a snowball fight.

child playing in the snow in Colorado

There is so much to take in and so much beauty in just being there. It was a great vacation and one we want to repeat for sure.

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