Make this year’s ski vacation stress-free.

Family vacations are always tricky, even more so when you have to lug around a family’s worth of ski gear with you. There has to be a better way, right? Here are 12 tips that can help you simplify the planning and execution of your family ski trip:

1. Use a dedicated ski gear bag
Many families try to get by packing with whatever bags they have lying around the house, but the benefits of having a dedicated ski gear bag are amplified when you’ve got rambunctious kids to coordinate. Using only ski bags that are designed to appropriately fit all of the ski trip essentials you’ll need, it also allows you to keep everything in one place year-round, so you don’t have to go looking for odds and ends items come ski season. Ski boot bags are often designed to carry all your gear other than the skis and poles, and are great for traveling with.

2. Buy your lift passes in advance
Save yourself the time and hassle of buying your lift passes when you get there. It’s much easier to just drop by and pick up your passes than it is to wait in the often-lengthy line while your kids must wait alongside. Check the resort website to buy online before you even hit the road.

3. Create a “Ski Trip Checklist”
Everything is simpler with lists! Making a list the surest way to help you remember what to pack for a family ski trip. Use our Ski Vacation Checklist to help you keep track of everything that needs packing. Then, as you begin packing, start checking off everything you have successfully packed and have ready to go. By the time you’re ready to leave, give that list one last look through to make sure there isn’t any loose ends you glanced over the first time.

4. Pack food ahead of time
A day on the mountain is often hectic, so having ready-made meals and snacks can be convenient ways to save time and money. It’s a good idea to even stash some snacks in one of the pockets of your ski jacket in case anyone gets hungry on the hill.

5. Choose a family-friendly mountain
Not every resort is ideal for shuttling around bustling children. There are a number of factors to consider when looking at family ski resorts, such as: How close is the resort to the ski area? What other activities does the resort offer? Do kids ski free?

6. Get familiar with the trail map
It’s a good idea for everyone to become well acquainted with the trail map. It can be frustrating trying to find your way back to the lodge when you’re exhausted and in need of some lunch.
You don’t want to find yourself losing track of where you are on the mountain and having to ask for directions.

7. Have designated meeting areas
There will be times the family splits up while on the mountain. Maybe father and son want to take on a run by themselves, or the kids want to go it alone for a change. Pick out an area that will serve as the designated meeting area so you can quickly and easily find each other.

8. Don’t overbook
Scheduling down every last minute of your trip is a recipe for exhaustion. First and foremost should be ensuring everyone is relaxed and having fun, and trying to pack in too many activities will only complicate things.

9. Avoid the peak times of year
It’s no easy task trying to align schedules to find a time that works for everyone in the family, but, if possible, try to plan your trip away from some of the season’s busy weekends. Some of the worst times when it comes to overcrowding are Martin Luther King Day weekend, President’s Day and Spring Break. Go during any of these times and you’ll have to deal with long lines and overcrowding everywhere you go; not exactly a recipe for a relaxing vacation if you ask us.

10. Pack an “extras” bag
You’re bound to drop a mitten or two when shuffling an entire family from home to resort. Pack a bag full of extras for everything that might get lost, including gloves and mittens, hats, hand warmers and more. It may seem like overkill, especially when space is limited, but a missing piece of gear can be a huge downer on your day and cost you valuable ski time.

11. Book lessons in advance
If you plan on booking ski lesson for your kids, it’s a good idea to look into whether you can book your lessons in advance. This will ensure you get a time that is convenient for you, allowing you to better plan out your days ahead of time.

12. Color code your packing
Have each member of the family pick a different color. Then, anything they pack will go in a bag of that color. This is maybe the easiest way to keep track of what stuff is whose, and it allows you to quickly identify whether everyone’s bag is in the car just by checking that all the colors are there.

Bonus tip: pick out bright colors for your children’s ski wear so you can easily pick them out of a crowd and tell them apart from the other children on the mountain.

Nothing ever goes as planned on vacation, but by following these tips you can make your family ski trip go as smooth as possible. Round up the family, gather the gear and get out there and enjoy some wonderful snow adventures together this winter!

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