Don’t plan a ski vacation without reading these tips first!

Don’t plan a ski vacation without reading these tips first!

Skiing in Red River

I like going skiing but it’s so expensive…
What am I supposed to do in the evenings?
How do I know the best trails to ski?

I hear people ask those questions (or make those complaints) all the time.  I’ve been skiing most of my life 30+ years and I taught skiing for more than 10 years.  Over all that time I’ve found some tips and tricks that make navigating this subculture easier and more cost effective and I’m going to share some of them with you today.  I spend most of my time skiing resorts in New Mexico since I’m a Texan but you can use these tips all over the world (I sure have)!

It’s expensive!

Yes, skiing is an expensive sport but there are ways to make it easier on yourself.

  1. If you ski more than a handful of days a year buy your equipment.  You’ll save a ton in rental fees and it makes traveling when you want easier with one less reservation to make and no time waiting in the rental shop instead of being on the slopes.  If you’re only going to buy one piece of equipment make it boots – the whole trip goes better when your feet don’t hurt all day.  I highly recommend The Boot Doctor for their boots and custom boot fitting which comes free with the purchase of new boots.  They will continue to tweak the boots for you for the life of the boot – score!
  2. Buy a season pass – take a good look at the benefits offered on the passes (and buy during the summer or as soon as the pass goes on sale, it’s when you’ll get the best deal).
    1. Use the special benefits on your pass; last season I skied about 15 days at four different resorts and I bought 0 lift tickets.  I had purchased a Ski Apache season pass which last year came with 3 days free at Red River, 3 free days at Sipapu, 2 off peak days at Taos and a whole list of other options.  You also got 10% off in the restaurant and the pro shop at Ski Apache… not a bad deal for the $200 I paid for my pass.
  3. Research the resort you’re going to and their deals.
    1. Last year Sipapu was running a special during the week off peak where if you bought a full price lift ticket ($45) you got a free night lodging.  You can find the deals they’re running on their specials page.  My friend and I had planned to alternate who bought a lift ticket and share the room bringing your total for lift ticket and lodging to $22.50 per person per day – pretty phenomenal!
  4. Take your lunch – pretty self explanatory but it’ll save you the $10 burger, $5 chips and $3 drink.  I’m a huge fan of going to the grocery store, picking up some bread and sandwich fixings and stashing them with my backpack in the lodge.  I drink water so I usually fill up my Nalgene bottle and hook it onto my bag.  Some places, like Red River, are even starting to add water bottle refill stations!  I also usually put some snickers bars in my bag too… they’re great for quick energy.

What to do in the evenings?

Most ski towns are pretty awesome places – there are usually a slew of good restaurants and interesting bars to explore.  If you want to know where to go, ask a local (most mountain personnel have a favorite place or two).  One of my favorite tricks for little ski towns is to stay the next town over.  For instance, one trip this season a friend and I were going to ski Sipapu one day and Red River the next; we stayed in Taos since it’s about 30 min from each resort and the lodging was cheaper on the days we were going to be there.  It also meant we didn’t have to change hotels each night.

Not a bar person or have kiddos?  Book a hotel with an indoor pool (for the kids) and hot tub (for you).  A nice soak in the hot water will do wonders for sore muscles.  Many of the resorts in Colorado are near hot springs: Steamboat has a collection of them in the middle of town.  Just like my previous point, do a little research before you arrive… lots of resorts have fireworks, torchlight parades and other night time activities.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your evening consider an early bed time – skiing’s hard work and you want to be fresh for the next day.  This triples if you have kids: food, lots of fluids and sleep for them (and you!)!


Where to ski

Here’s my biggest tip: take a lesson.  That’s not just the ski instructor in me talking, it’s legitimately one of the best ways to learn the mountain – and pick up some pointers on your skiing.  I have people tell me all the time they don’t need lessons because they’re already good.  I get it – but there’s always room for improvement.  Plus your instructor can show you fun, appropriate for your skill level, places to play; just let them know you’d like some tips on where to go after your lesson.

If you’re still looking for fun places to play talk to people: take your earbuds out on the chair and strike up a conversation with the person on the chair next to you: you’ve already got in common that you’re outside enjoying the day and snow sports.  Ask them what their favorite run that day was and why or what they’ve seen off the lift that looked sweet – people are usually more than happy to share and you might end up with someone to ski with for the day.



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