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Hitting the Slopes

5 Tips for Planning the Perfect Family Ski Vacation

Crisp mountain air, breathtaking scenery, acres of pristine, powdery snow: If this sounds like heaven, a ski vacation could be just the "lift ticket" your family needs this year.

"A snow getaway can be easy, exciting and economical," notes Mark Uhlfelder, VP Sales & Marketing for, one of the oldest and largest ski tour operators in North America. "But even more important is that everyone have fun together, an increasingly rare occurrence in many busy families." To insure that the only bumps you encounter are on the slopes, Uhlfelder offers these expert tips:

1. Choose a Family-Friendly Resort
If a resort touts its extreme snowboarding and untamed nightlife, it probably won't be the best fit for your family. Before booking, collect brochures and visit website. Some questions to ask: Is the resort renowned for its ski school, childcare and family activities? Does it offer programs for teens? Is there ample terrain for beginners? Are there family packages for teens?

2. Indulge in the Joys of Ski-In/Ski-Out
On-slope condo accommodations may cost a bit more, but what they offer can be priceless: convenience, freedom and the bliss of not driving a car ful of gear and bundled up children from one location to the next. Older kids can step into their skis and schuss off to join new buddies, and the whole family can meet up mid-day for a homemade and money saving lunch.

3. Buy Trip Insurance
A foot of fresh powder is a gift from Mother Nature, but it can arrive at an inconvenient time, like while you're still at the airport. Weather delays are a fact of life in the mountains, and airlines generally won't reimburse travelers for unplanned expenses (like car rentals, meals or hotel rooms) caused by canceled flights. It pays to protect your vacation investment by purchasing trip insurance, which ranges from $49 per person or $154 per family, and may be more depending on potential loss.

4. Pack the Right Stuff
Pass on those pricey designer parkas and focus on what your family needs for maximum warmth, comfort and safety. Mountain conditions are always changing, so dress in layers that can be added or removed quickly. Basics include thermal underwear, light turtlenecks, goggles, warm hats, insulated gloves or mittens and waterproof jackets and pants. Ski socks keep toes warm without cramping feet inside boots. And don't forget the sunscreen!

5. Rent vs. Buy
Ski and snowboard technology has changed dramatically in recent years, and if you've got growing kids, investing in equipment probably isn't a cost-effective option. Besides, renting the latest shaped skis or streamlined boots is a great way to test before you buy. To maximize fun time on the slopes, Uhlfelder recommends selecting one of the many ski vacation packages available that include equipment rentals reserved in advance.