Travel Happiness: Skiing With the Kids
Skiing With the Kids
If you've skied, then it's likely that you've witnessed the priceless mixture of pride and terror that parents display when watching their kids take off down the slopes for the first time. It's a unique bonding moment in the life of a family and one of those "collective common memories" that can be regarded as a yearly benchmark of kids' development. "It's a classic family bonding experience."
It's almost a given that families constitute a significant part of the overall ski demographic. Fifty percent of the nation's skiers are families with children at home. There is also a steady increase in visits by first-timers and beginners.
In today's travel environment, people are taking the kids and extended family along with them on ski and winter trips, just like they are in other segments of travel. "Nobody's traveling without their kids" which is a trend in travel. People just don't have as much time off as they used to and so they have everybody come along when they go.
Today's families lend themselves to multigenerational travel: everybody can do their own thing during the day and then have dinner together, and share their experiences. It's not uncommon at all for some to be skiing different areas of the mountain while others are taking lessons, and while still others are shopping, snowshoeing or having a spa treatment.
What are the top things to keep in mind when addressing the concerns of a family that's heading for the mountains? Choice of accommodations is paramount, even beyond the selection of a specific mountain or ski area. The key is to figure out what kind of accommodation value--upscale, budget or condo? Convenience is also helpful. Don't get bogged down by the logistics of hauling and keeping track of equipment and bodies around mountains, lodges and hotels. It is wise to have accommodations as close to the mountain as possible; the new wave of pedestrian ski villages throughout the West is designed to accomplish just that.
Type of terrain? Make sure the terrain will fit your abilities. Fortunately all the mountains are seeing the financial benefit of having a ski school. You'll find ski schools practically everywhere you look. This will lend itself to beginner and intermediate terrain often favored by families. The smaller regional resorts are training grounds for skiers who eventually can graduate to more challenging and larger ski areas in, say, the Rockies. "Kids free" program at many resorts throughout the West, provide in many cases, free air, lodging and skiing when kids are with paying adults.
There is no better vacation than to spend some time with family in the great outdoors, so why not consider a ski vacation and make a lifetime of memories.
Art Richards is the owner of Richards World Travel, Inc. in Hagerstown. (www.richardsworldtravel.com)