Guide for Stress-Free Ski Vacation: 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Ski Trip

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Mistakes-Avoid-Ski-TripA ski trip can be a magical, memory-making vacation, but it can also turn into a logistical and financial nightmare. To make sure you’ll have a smooth skiing experience, you need to plan your trip carefully. Here are several key mistakes you need to avoid when preparing for your ski vacation.

Paying Too Much

Unless you make arrangements ahead of time, rental equipment, ski lessons, lift tickets, and lodging can hit your wallet hard. Planning a ski trip as you go along isn’t the best way to go.

At many locations, you need to make reservations to access the mountain due to COVID-19 measures. So, planning ahead is more important than ever.

Visit the website for your resort of choice and purchase your lift tickets at least one week in advance—you might get a discount. Sites like Ski.com or Liftopia.com offer discounted tickets, so be sure to check them out as well.

To receive a discount, you can also try bundling rentals and lift tickets. There is also the option of renting equipment from big-box stores in the city instead of waiting until you get to the slopes.


If you don’t want to pay top dollar for lodging, consider your priorities and your location. Many ski resorts have had to change their booking and cancellation policies due to the ongoing pandemic, so making a decision about which one to choose is difficult.

You will probably have to pay a premium price if you want to stay close to the slopes, even though ski-in/ski-out resorts are the most convenient. On the other hand, a place that advertises itself as being “just a few steps from the slope” could turn out to be an hour away.

If you are traveling with the whole family or a group of friends, renting a large home may be more affordable than renting multiple hotel rooms.

Also, some ski resorts offer ski-free/stay-free packages for kids. Others will bundle lodging, rentals, and lift tickets. So, when it comes to lodging, doing research ahead of time is of the utmost importance.

Thinking You Need a Car

Some ski trips don’t warrant an overpriced SUV (that may not even have decent snow tires or 4-wheel drive). In some places, not having the right chains or tires can lead to a hefty fine. And even if you rent the best ride, driving in the snow is still challenging.

Consider ditching the rental car altogether. Using a shuttle service, taking the train, or taking the bus can be a cheaper and more convenient solution.

Your lodging may even have its own shuttle service. Moreover, many ski towns have free bus services.

Not Having a “Plan B”

When everything goes according to plan, flying into a small regional airport is quite convenient. However, winter weather can easily lead these airports to cancel flights. If you’re traveling during peak season, this can be very frustrating

Have a plan B if you plan to fly into a small airport. Your plan B can include identifying another larger airport you could use as a fallback or getting travel insurance that will cover such surprise expenses.

Overestimating Your Abilities

Taking on bigger challenges and getting out of your comfort zone are great ways to build confidence in life generally, but this doesn’t apply to skiing. You may be a double-black-diamond skier back home in Maryland or North Carolina, but this doesn’t necessarily make you ready to take on the most difficult ski slopes in the French Alps.

The grooming, pitch, and fall line of runs vary greatly by the resort, despite the fact that the signage is almost universal (blue square, green circle, orange square, red diamond, black diamond). Be realistic about what challenges you can take on.

Skiers hanging around the base are just waiting to tell others which runs are best for their abilities or share the latest grooming reports. One of the best ways to ensure you won’t hurt yourself on the first day is to ask them questions. Make sure to pay attention when they mention out-of-bounds terrain or point out slow zones.

Not Taking Ski Lessons

Although there are many ways you can save money on your ski vacation, you must know that avoiding a private instructor or big ski school bill is not one of them. If you are completely new to skiing, keep in mind that DIY lessons usually come with extended learning time and increased injury risk.

Ski lessons won’t just make your ski trip much safer, but they will also make it more fun. Your ski instruction will help you around the mountain, tell you all about the skier safety code, as well as help you progress.

Forgetting That Other People Are Planning Ski Trips, Too

If you haven’t been on a ski trip recently, it’s easy to forget how many people want to ski during their holidays. So, you can easily get irritated and dismayed when you realize that the traffic is terrible, the lines are long, and there are crowds everywhere. Don’t assume that every resort controls lines and crowds because of the pandemic.

Lock your plans well in advance, or you may find yourself without access to the slopes. This is another reason why having a ski instructor is useful. Many ski areas have a special lane at the lifts that is reserved for the instructors and their students. So, even if you know a thing or two about skiing, taking ski lessons can still pay off.

Amy Adams Author

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